How The Next Batman: Arkham Game Can Go To The Next Level

Ever since the 2009 release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, countless fans have fallen in love with the Arkham series. Many consider those four releases a major component of Batman’s longevity as an appealing superhero thanks to the quality and care that went into the games themselves.

Arriving a year after The Dark Knight allowed the developers to tap into the grittier, darker and more psychologically-complex Gotham setting, but also push the technological limits of what a superhero console game can be. The Batman Arkham series has done just that, with free-flowing combat engines, which only added to the immersion of the experience.

Fans of the series have been waiting a long time for a follow-up addition to the series, it’s been no less than 7 years since the last game hit the market. In light of the news that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League – the likely fifth installment to the series – has been pushed back to 2023 for release, customers have been left wondering what to expect from a game that could end up being almost a decade in the making, and how the developers will utilize the next-gen consoles the title will be played on. 

Into The Virtual World

Batman: Arkham VR was one of the first forays into the virtual reality world for the game developers Rocksteady who built the Arkham games. It was at E3 2016 when the news was released that a VR Batman game was in the making. A game centered on stealth, fluid combat and exploration made the prospect very interesting. In the end, it was criticized for feeling too short and rushed at moments, never quite letting players enjoy the interactions with familiar faces, and expecting fans to understand a lot of background information on characters before playing. With the advancements made in VR equipment like the Oculus, taking the Suicide Squad game into VR isn’t necessarily a bad idea – the developers just need to learn the lessons of the previous game before trying it. 

Stellar Storytelling

The Arkham games were lauded for branching out and featuring characters that moved away from the more antithetical worldview of Joker or The Riddler. No matter how good a game looks, or whether it’s in VR or not, it needs a rich storyline to bring it to life. The duality of heroes, villains and their ‘civilian identities’ are often part of what shapes the complex storylines in Arkham games – it’s why the Joker was so chilling with no sense of self, and Freeze (aka Dr Fries) was so tragic, trying to save his cryogenically frozen wife. 

Without dropping any spoilers from previous titles, the character of Robin has been a tragic and complex figure historically, and really challenges a player’s moral choices. To see him reprise his role as a potential anti-hero or even sympathetic villain in the Suicide Squad release would be an interesting and popular choice. 

New Faces?

The Arkham games always did a stellar job of fleshing out the world of Arkham Asylum and pushing graphics to the limit, to bring to life some lesser-known villains. Deathstroke, Mr Freeze and Scarecrow were all really good-looking characters (in a graphics sense – they’re actually pretty scary to see) and the excellent voice acting and motion capture helped make their motivations feel real and tangible. This next release needs to be building on the visual quality of its predecessors and ensuring the combat engine, so lauded for its flowing natural feel, is preserved and improved in 2023. 

Whatever tools the developers of the new Batman game choose to use, their main aim must be to understand what made the Arkham games so popular in the first place. With more processing power behind them than ever before, the potential to drop a larger world to explore, even all of Gotham, is within their fingertips. Equally, releasing a truly immersive VR game that doesn’t feel artificial or a token gesture to the technology, but a real embracing of its potential to let players see Gotham through Batman’s eyes would be truly special and bound to win countless more fans to the series.