Earlier this week we reported that the CFO of Time Warner had outed the next Batman: Arkham game, which would release at some point this year. Sadly, that’s about all the information we have so far on the game, and the developers/studios aren’t talking about it (technically it still hasn’t been officially announced). The games in the Arkham series have both been amazing and set high standards not just for comic book licenses, but for action games in general. Even so, there are some additions I want to see out of the next game, that could take this franchise to the next level.
Gotham City and The Batcave
Logically speaking, the next step for the franchise would be to expand outwards. I mean, we started just within Arkham Asylum, then the next one moved on to a large section of the city turned into a massive prison, so why not expand the third one further to incorporate all of Gotham City. I’m not suggesting that they set up Gotham in the same way as Arkham City was, with nothing but lunatics running around, instead, why not something akin to what we get with the previous Spider-Man games (before they started sucking)?
Imagine a fleshed out Gotham City with various boroughs and neighborhoods that Batman could actually ‘patrol’. Some areas of the city might be controlled by gangs (an idea already explored in Arkham City) and players would have to try and break their hold on those places, while other areas could be upscale requiring more of the detective work than brute strength. Not to mention any other random things like muggings, random gang wars, etc that could take place (we saw a little of this in the last game).
Those are just ideas for sidequests! There’s hours of entertainment that could be had, just by opening it up more and giving us the entirety of Gotham to patrol as the caped crusader. The Batcave would of course be part of Gotham City and would allow gamers a central ‘hub’ to start missions from, do investigations, and of course upgrade weapons (perhaps even a customization bench).
One of the key things that makes up who Batman is has always been his badass array of vehicles. While the Batmobile and even the Batplane have made passing appearances in the last two games, some gamers have been disappointed with the inability to truly interact with the iconic vehicles. I honestly can’t say I want to drive the Batmobile through Gotham. Don’t get me wrong, that could be incredibly cool, but gliding/grappling system made me feel more like Batman than driving a car could.
So why am I wanting the vehicles to be in the next game? A couple reasons actually. If they expand the game world to inlcude all of Gotham City, they place is going to be massive. It might not be a bad idea to have the vehicles around as some sort of ‘fast-travel’ option. We don’t even really have to take control of them either (GTA style with), just use them to interact and travel from one neighborhood to the other, when the distance is too great to glide to.
Other Playable Characters for the Main Story
One of my favorite parts of Arkham City was the fact that the main story allowed for another playable character to come in...and not feel out of place. While I can’t say I was thrilled it was Catwoman, the brief missions in which you play as someone other than Batman was kind of fun. I know the main appeal of any Batman game is to be the dark knight himself, but considering the stable of awesome secondary heroes available, it seems a shame to not utilize them.
If they do decide to expand into a larger open world setting, then having a playable Robin or Nightwing during the story would make even more sense. Say you take Batman to investigate a disturbance in one area of town (a mission) and while you’re doing that, you get word from Oracle about another big deal going down on the other side of town, which could lead to a necessary clue for a larger part of the story. Even Batman can’t be two places at once, so it’d be a neat opportunity for him to ‘call in’ help and send Robin to check it out, and then players can choose to swap over and do that.
I’m not saying the game has to be a completely back and forth affair (Batman should still be the main guy), but villains aren’t the only Bat-people we want to see in a game.
The Passage of Time
So far the Arkham games’ stories have taken place over one long, horrible evening for Batman. I think it’s time to change that up and give the players a larger story that could take place over several days. Thus a day/night cycle would be a good idea to throw in there. Again, this could be handled similar to how the earlier Spider-Man games did, where the game world rotated from night and day and various elements within the city would change depending on it.
Since Batman mostly works in the evenings the next game could utilize the daytime cycle to focus on other aspects of the story, or even feature sections where gamers can play as Bruce Wayne. I know that doesn’t sound as exciting as playing the ass kicking vigliante, but there’s still lots of potential there.
Allowing for the passage of time also makes the story seem bigger. While the last two games had epic moments, the fact that they essentially take place over just one evening makes it seem like just another day for Batman. By taking place over several days it can make the threat (whatever it may be) seem more potent and menacing; a tougher challenge for Batman since he can’t handle it in an evening.
Rumors have been floating around for quite some time that the next game may in fact be a prequel of sorts rather than a follow-up to Arkham City. While I can see the potential in something like that, I can’t say that’s what I really want. Arkham City was filled with tons of little things that were never expanded on and in fact hinted at there being a sequel. The Azrael sequences spoke of a prophecy that had nothing to do with the game’s story, making it seem like fodder for a sequel.
A couple of the side missions (especially the ones dealing with Hush) weren’t fully fleshed out and were left dangling and untied by the end of the game. I’d love to see those wrapped up in a sequel. On top of that, I want to see Batman post-Joker. The clown prince of crime’s death had an obvious impact on Batman (hinted at even more in the Harley Quinn DLC), and it’d be interesting to see that explored even further. These are things a prequel couldn’t give us. While it would be fun, it’s not what we need at the moment.
Those are the bigger changes I’d like to see, but there are some minor things that could be tweaked too:
* Batman should be able to swim - Seriously, why can’t Batman swim? He’s a super-ninja detective but he can’t handle water.
* Longer Story - Pretty much all the big things I mentioned above would go better with an extended campaign. Let’s get the most out of our story here.
* Court of the Owls - The New 52 storyline dealing with the Court of the Owls was pretty interesting. I’m not saying the game should adapt the whole comic, but it’d be interesting to see some mention of them.
* Expanded Reasons for Interrogation - Interrogating thugs for Riddler clues was a neat addition, but I say take it one step further. Let’s shake down thugs for actual information or even the chance to open extra side missions.
* Return of Scarecrow - Do I really have to explain why?
* More Mini-Games - Hacking, lock-picking, actual riddle solving and more seem ripe for some fun mini-games.
All in all, even if we got more of the same, I’m sure I’d be a happy camper and play the hell out of it. Yet with video games you always want to see the developers take the franchise further. These are just some ways I thought this stellar series could become even greater. What about you guys?