Is Arkham Insurgency the next Batman game?

Opinion Editor Jack Matthams looks closely at what might be in the next Batman game

There were many highly expectant games missing from E3 2017, including a new Smash Bros and The Last of Us 2, but perhaps one of the most intriguing ventures to make a no-show was that of Batman. More specifically, his next run-out in a solo game following 2015’s Arkham Knight.

Despite the lack of announcements, there seems to be a large amount of information and anticipation circling the web, most of which comes from a supposed Warner Bros. leak which also provides the potential title: Arkham Insurgency. Most of what is going around is largely speculation and rumour, but if there really is a new Batman adventure coming our way, what should we expect? What should it improve on from previous games? What could it add?

First of all, the general consensus is that, like Warner Bros’ other Batman game, Arkham Origins, Insurgency will be a prequel, this time set somewhere between Origins and Asylum. This way they can avoid the messy and somewhat unexplained ending to Knight – which is most definitely the sensible option. As to whether there’ll be many references to the future Arkham Asylum nobody knows, but you can bet there’ll be many in regards to Origins. Oh, and the Joker, because, of course, he isn’t dead yet. Sadly, however, Mark Hamill’s contribution is. Which is a damned shame.

“Arkham Insurgency could take inspiration from titles like Dishonoured and allow players to tackle problems in whatever style they feel”

In terms of improvements, Warner Bros. has four previous games to learn from, so they must identify where struggles and issues were encountered before. Arkham Knight was, in some ways, a masterpiece in gaming, but many were disappointed by various elements of it that made select parts boring or weak. Perhaps most complained about of all was the use of the Batmobile, which, whilst certainly not dominating the game to the extent that some people claim, was overused in various missions that Batman no doubt could have done a better job on by himself. Arkham Insurgency must learn to balance this gameplay: it cannot force many Batmobile sections on us at once, but instead, must provide a solid mixture and variety to the action.

What would be even better is if they employed a choice system; how ground-breaking would it be to actually have multiple ways to tackle missions, with each player planning their own methods? Arkham Insurgency could take inspiration from titles like Dishonoured and allow players to tackle problems in whatever style they feel appropriate, and given the potential arsenal in Batman’s belt and garage, this could be an incredible amount of fun whilst also providing much need replayability.

The other major complaint from Arkham Knight, in particular, was the nature of the boss fights, or rather, the complete lack of them. Whilst some were disappointing, such as Deathstroke’s tank war and the Arkham Knight’s …giant …drill, others were downright non-existent, with big enemies like Firefly, Deacon Blackfire and Harley Quinn getting no real fight at all. Arkham Insurgency must learn that whilst using certain gameplay elements as boss fights can sometimes work well, such as the Mr Freeze stealth fight in Arkham City, sometimes it really is better just to have a more traditional encounter, one where the villains can show off their talents and abilities to really test Bats.

next Batman game

And what about these villains, and even other heroes? Well, since we don’t know if this will be the last Batman game, it’s hard to know how many characters they’ll throw at us. Catwoman, Robin and Nightwing could all appear, but given that this is a prequel, I think it would be more likely to be simple appearances from Dick Grayson’s Robin, the original. Villain-wise, it would be nice to see a larger roster than what appeared in Arkham Knight, as that was my biggest gripe with the game; I didn’t like that I needed to pay DLC to see four of the series’ biggest villains, and I especially didn’t like that some didn’t show up at all. Ahem, Bane, ahem.

From the leaks, it is rumoured that the Court of Owls will be the big baddies of the game and that various new villains will be making appearances, including Maxie Zeus, Dollmaker, Killer Moth, Blockbuster, Ventriloquist, Dusan al Ghul, Tweedledum, Tweedledee and Mad Monk, as well as the return of Riddler (and his trophies, unfortunately), Anarky and Two Face. It remains to be seen how many of these are true.

Ultimately, Arkham Insurgency is still very much in the air. What we know is limited, and might even be complete nonsense, but if what has been rumoured has any semblance of truth to it, Warner Bros. Montreal has listened to fans and tried to tackle the biggest issues from Arkham Knight and Origins. As far as Batman goes, it seems his future is safe, unlike the citizens of Gotham, it seems.

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