A third game in the celebrated Batman: Arkham series is on its way, according to a press release just sent out by Warner Bros. Interactive. The two big takeaways: it’s a prequel, and it’s not being made by the devs who created the first two entries — Rocksteady Studios.
The press release provides precious few details about the game, only that it’s being made by WB Games Montreal and that it’s scheduled to release October 25th of this year. WB Montreal handled the port of Arkham City over to the Wii U, so if Rocksteady’s not doing it, then these guys are the logical choice.
Game Informer‘s latest cover story provides more info about the new game. It’s set on a Christmas Eve night years before the other two games, when eight famous assassins — including Deathstroke — converge on Gotham City one Christmas Eve night to try and kill a less experienced Batman. WB Montreal promises that the heart of the game is the relationships Bruce forges with friends and foes alike, and how these important people will change the trajectory of his life. What gamers will be most excited to hear (aside from the Deathstroke thing) is that Arkham Origins marks the first time a game in this series has been set in Gotham City proper, and it’s depicted as a fully-inhabited city. Arkham Origins uses the same customized Unreal engine that Rocksteady used to make the first two games, and in the Game Informer promo reel below, WB Montreal’s execs pledge on their firstborn that they’re creating a game that will live up to the series’ legacy and Rocksteady’s standards.
There’s also a handheld game in the works called Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. It’s being made by Armature Studios as a “companion” to the console’s story, and is expected to come to PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS.
As intriguing as all this sounds, the only question on my mind is why Rocksteady isn’t making this game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not biased against franchises being handed over to new developers. (Treyarch makes better Call of Duty games nowadays than series creator Infinity Ward. 343 Industries made a much better Halo than any of Bungie’s efforts. Etc.) It’s just that if Rocksteady isn’t making the next Batman: Arkham game, then that can only mean one thing: they’re making something new. Are we looking at a situation kind of like how Irrational Games handed off BioShock 2 to 2K Marin so they could go make BioShock Infinite instead?
What could Rocksteady be working on? It’s been two years since the release of their last game, Arkham City. Are they developing a brand new IP? Or are they tackling another larger-than-life franchise? DC Comics would be nuts not to pursue getting them to take on another big superhero from their catalog, but who even knows if Rocksteady would be interested? Maybe they’re burnt out on superheroes and are ready to do something different.
Whatever they’re up to, it’ll probably be a while longer before we hear anything about it. They’ve earned the kind of leeway and budget to make pretty much any game they want.