Like any diehard Caped Crusader fan, I'm a teensy bit excited for Batman: Arkham Origins. So excited in fact, I've made a list of seven improvements or additions I'd like to see come the game's release on 25th October. Point eight was just going to be 'BatcaveBATCAVEbatcaveBATCAVE' typed over and over again, but in an uncharacteristic display of I willpower, I refrained. Thought of any improvements of your own? Let's talk it out in the comments below.
A denser, richer Gotham
WB Montreal have confirmed that the world of Batman: Arkham Origins will be twice the size of Arkham City, split between the dilapidated district of 'Old Gotham' and the more modernised 'New Gotham.' A bigger playground sounds nice and all, but this time around I want to see a living, breathing world. Arkham City was beautiful, but it felt empty; desolate and devoid of any life save for an endless supply of nameless prisoners to beat to a pulp. I want to see the people of Gotham that Bruce fights for. I want to see the hustle and bustle of a snowy Christmas Eve. I want that moment when a lone citizen, laden with packages and presents, looks up from the street below, points excitedly and yells "Hey! It's the Batman!" I want a world that shapes Batman, not a world shaped for him.
An inexperienced Batman
We've been told that the Batman we'll meet won't be the one we've come to know in previous Arkham games. It's an Origins story, so we need to see a hero who pushes his limits and is plagued by self-doubt. He isn't yet the symbol he will one day become; he is whispered about on street corners and regarded with hostility by the GCPD. WB Montreal have cited the brilliant Year One as a source of inspiration; that book suggests a Batman who makes mistakes, who is still finding his feet in a citywide cesspool of corruption. Perhaps we'll even see more of the man behind the mask.
This will probably be a point of contention for many, but I want to see fewer distractions. No more Riddler trophies, no more collectables - for the simple fact I find them totally detrimental to the experience the game is trying to craft. If you're skulking around rooftops, hunting that one last trophy to hear an achievement ding, you aren't Batman - you're a player controlling Batman. It draws you out of the world and allows game mechanics to assume supremacy over the character and the story. Would Bruce really hang out in a dingy alley and play by Nigma's rules whilst elsewhere in the city, serious guano was about to hit the fan? Somehow I doubt it.
Other playable characters
Playing as Catwoman provided a welcome change of tone in Arkham City. Instead of getting only Batman's stoic sense of justice and brutal but effective combat, players had regular, refreshing interludes of Selina Kyle's recklessness and moral ambiguity. Arkham City was her home, and she allowed us to stalk the shadows where Batman couldn't go. It'd be nice to see WB Montreal take this idea further in Arkham Origins. Instead of only heroes, let us walk a mile or two in a villain's shoes.
The world's greatest detective
Batman isn't just a brawler. He's the world's greatest detective; he's careful, considered, and very, very clever. I was disappointed at how infrequently the previous Arkham games alluded to this side of Bats, and felt that so much more could have been done with the all too brief detective sequences like the one in the Courthouse of Arkham City. Origins has promised to make more of Detective mode, with the introduction of plenty of side missions requiring Bruce to solve cases and gather clues. We'll be able to scrub through CCTV and run simulations via the batcomputer, providing a welcome counterbalance to all that hand to hand combat.