Batman: Arkham Knight is, according to Rocksteady Studios, the final game in their groundbreaking Arkham series. That’s a sad thing for Bat-fans and gamers alike, but it could also represent an opportunity. The Arkham series showed the world just how good Batman games could be, but now that Batman’s established as a true gaming superstar, maybe it’s time for ol’ pointy ears to branch out. This is the perfect time to try something different with Batman — to let new developers take a stab at making something as innovative and fun as the Arkham games.
With that in mind, here are seven ideas for games that should happen now that Batman’s Arkham adventures are at an end…
Note: I’ve tried to stick to suggestions that are realistic from a business standpoint. For instance, an open-world Batman from the makers of Grand Theft Auto sounds great, but it would never happen. Instead, all my proposed games would be created by independent developers, or studios already owned by Warner Bros. Interactive. Oh, and no, for the purposes of this list, “just make more Arkham games” isn’t an option.
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
An obvious choice, but sometimes the obvious choice is the best one. Batman has already appeared in the NetherRealm-developed Injustice: Gods Among Us, but they should take it a step further and make an all-Batman fighting game. Between Batman’s many sidekicks and allies, and his huge rogues gallery, there’s more than enough options for fighters. I mean, come on, who isn’t interested in an epic throwdown between all the different Robins? Or a Killer Moth vs. Orca the Whale Woman battle? OK, maybe only I’m interested in that last one. Don’t judge me.
Batman Beyond Brawler
Developer: Platinum Games
Busting heads in the Arkham games was certainly fun, but it wasn’t terribly challenging, so what about a game that truly puts your brawling skills to the test? The obvious studio to make a game like that would be Platinum Games, the guys behind the thumb-blistering insanity of Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. And if Platinum Games were to tackle Batman, the futuristic Batman Beyond universe would be a good match, given most of Platinum’s games take place in sci-fi settings. I mean, how can you say no to a game that would almost certainly end up containing giant Batman mechs?
The Gotham RPG
Developer: CD Projekt RED
The Arkham games always contained light RPG elements, but what if Warner Bros. took it all the way and made a full-on Batman action-RPG? Well, CD Projekt RED, the Polish dudes behind The Witcher series, have just finished up their trilogy and just may be available to work on something Bat-related. If you think about it, The Witcher games already have a pretty strong Batman vibe. Geralt, the star of the Witcher games, is a lone, grizzled protagonist who’s motivated by revenge, has badass combat skills and a ton of helpful gadgets in his belt. The guy’s even been known to wear a cape. Given CD Projekt RED’s love of virtual ugly bumping, maybe we can finally get some payoff to Batman’s rampant flirting with Catwoman, Poison Ivy and every other woman who crosses his path in the Arkham games.
Shadow of Gotham
Developer: Monolith Productions
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, made by Warner Bros-owned Monolith Productions, basically felt like an audition to make the next Batman game. With its dark, shadowy protagonist, a battle system straight-up lifted from the Arkham games and lots of stealthy creeping around, Shadow of Mordor didn’t even bother to be subtle about it. Also, the game’s Nemesis system, where enemy orcs are persistent, level up and can be turned to your side, would be perfectly suited to a Batman game.
Imagine a game that’s all about subtly manipulating Gotham’s underworld. Use your inside agents to, say, pit Two-Face’s crew against the Penguin’s, then swoop down and sweep up the pieces once they’ve taken each other out. Monolith Productions making the next Batman game is probably the most likely entry on this list, which is not a bad thing at all.
Detective Comics Featuring Batman
Developer: The Astronauts
The Arkham games made some glancing attempts at including mystery-solving elements, but they never really presented anything worthy of the World’s Greatest Detective. Personally, I’d love a game that mostly de-emphasizes combat and action in favor of some good old-fashioned crime-solving. The Astronauts are the developers of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, a beautiful first-person adventure game with really unique mystery-solving mechanics. Basically, when you stumble upon a crime scene, certain clues will cause a jumble of thoughts, represented by floating words, to fill your vision. Condense that jumble down into a single thought, and you’ll be pointed toward your next clue. This elegant system would be a great fit for Batman, who really needs a chance to exercise his brain alongside his punching and kicking muscles.
8-Bit Throwback Batman
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Until the Arkham games came along, what were the best Batman games by kind of a long shot? The classic, SunSoft-developed Batman: The Video Game and Batman: Return of the Joker for the NES, of course. These were just rock-solid little action-platformers that played a lot like Ninja Gaiden with a cooler hero. I’d be pretty into a retro-styled game in the vein of SunSoft’s NES Batman titles, and Yacht Club Games would be just the developer to deliver that. Yacht Club’s Shovel Knight perfectly emulated the style of old 8-bit action games, while simultaneously introducing a host of subtle modernizations and improvements. By the way, none of the ideas on this list are mutually exclusive. Doing an 8-bit Batman game doesn’t mean Warner Bros. couldn’t also do a Batman fighter or RPG at the same time, so why not try some simple, retro experiments?
Metal Bat Solid
Developer: Hideo Kojima
The Arkham games had their fair share sneaking around and lurking on gargoyles, but what if Warner Bros. decided to take Batman’s stealth game to the next level? As you may have heard, Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima recently left Konami, so imagine if Warner Bros. paid him a heap of money and set him up with a shiny new studio so he could basically make a new Metal Gear Solid starring Batman? Come on, you know you want to see the Batman/Joker relationship interpreted through Kojima’s uniquely warped lens.
So, there you are, a few possible directions for The Dark Knight’s virtual adventures. Some of these ideas are more likely than others, but I’d play the hell out of all of them. What about you folks? Got any ideas for B-man’s future games? You don’t have to play by the same rules I did – feel free to go completely crazy with your suggestions.