E3 2014: Batman doesn’t kill people

Among fans of the series, and fans of Batman in general, only one question came to mind after watching the E3 gameplay footage (which was rudely interrupted by one Johnathan Crane – not cool): did Batman just murder scores of people?

The gameplay footage showcased the revolutionary Batmobile gameplay, which made this particular fanboy giddy, until an enemy car rolled up and started firing. That’s no match for Batman’s explode-everything guns! But wait. The aforementioned weapons turned everything it hit into literal smithereens. Wasn’t there someone driving that vehicle?

As the developer confirmed, the tanks he was firing at were unmanned drones controlled by the titular villain, the Arkham Knight. Rocksteady cares about Batman, and Batman doesn’t kill.

It does seem like Rocksteady is not simply bringing back the same, but beloved, Arkham gameplay, but it’s innovating and expanding its arsenal of hits, gadgets and free roaming. With the Warner Bros. Montreal Arkham Origins being a disappointment, especially among fans of the series who expected something new, this seems like the Akrham game we deserve.

The worst part about Arkham Origins is a tie between 1) its decision to tease the crap out of the Black Mask as a villain and change it ten minutes in to the joker disguised as Black Mask and 2) it’s awful Frozen Heart downloadable content that added new depth with enemies having freeze weapons, but then removed that depth by immediately providing the solution in a convenient “extreme environment suite” (how convenient it is that he had this laying around).

Arkham Origins was fun, but it was disappointing because nothing was new. Even playing as Deathstroke felt like I was playing a re-skinned Robin from Arkham City. It just left us with the feeling like this didn’t need to be a new game.

Arkham Knight is adding new everything. The Batmobile aside, they’ve added new fight animations, made the gliding smoother, and the best part is the expansion of Scarecrow as a main villain. That they were able to create the next-gen graphics on display, including incredible draw distance of Gotham City, while still using Unreal Engine 3 is an amazing accomplishment that alone shows Rocksteady is putting their best foot forward.

The best part of Arkham Asylum was teased in a secret room on a boat in Arkham City and, as Scarecrow showed at Sony’s press conference, is going to make himself known in this game.

Scarecrow also looks pretty messed up in the face, under his hood, possibly having to do with his watery, Killer Croc-related exit from the first game and subsequent Titan-Formula return after the credits. The developer hinted that it might be fused to Scarecrow’s face.

Arkham City did it right. The difference between Arkham Asylum and Akrham City is huge. Between City and Origins, not so much, but hopes are high for Arkham Knight.

Now if he takes off his mask and reveals himself as the Joker, I suggest a march on Rocksteady.