When Warner Brothers handed over the highly successful Batman Arkham series to a new developer, many fans began to question not only what Rocksteady is currently working on, but if this new studio would live up to the high quality expected of the series. After spending some time with the WB Montreal developers as they demoed Batman: Arkham Origins, it's clear that the game is on the right track.
The game is a prequel to the previous two adventures and takes place on Christmas Eve. Black Mask put a $50 million bounty on Batman's head if anyone can bring him down that night. The open world environment of the game is twice the size Batman: Arkham City, and you'll be able to explore it thoroughly, gliding around town and using Batman's grappling hooks to stay afloat.
A new progression system allows players to improve their fighting skills, in addition to a new "crime-in-progress" HUD that makes it easy to find crimes currently going down. Add in Anarky, an anti-government, anti-corporation terrorist who supports Batman but still poses a threat to the world, and you won't run out of things to do in Arkham Origins.
Alongside the appearance of Anarky, there are a few new enemies, including the martial artist and the armored enforcer. The martial artist poses more of a threat than most enemies. They can counter Batman's attacks, requiring you to think more than you would with traditional enemies. Meanwhile, the armored enforcer doesn't take damage like a standard opponent, so you'll have to come up with ways to get through his armor. All of this has to be done while defending yourself against a horde of other enemies.
During our battles, we were able to test out the remote claw weapon. This new gadget allows Batman to target two enemies at a time. The claw hits the first target, then ricochets off to take down the second target. This is a great technique to use when an area is crowded with enemies and you need to even up the numbers a bit before making a grand entrance.
In addition to the standard battle system, there's also a detective system that has been integrated. Once a crime has taken place, Batman can scan the area for evidence, send it back to the Bat computer and gradually solve the crime. In the E3 demo we investigated a crashed helicopter. First we inspected the crash site to find that it was shot down, then we headed up to the roof to find more debris and figure out where the shot came from. Once we had enough evidence, we discovered there were actually two shooters (one aiming at Batman), and were about to investigate further, but our main objective called us away.
From our limited time with Batman: Arkham Origins, the game is shaping up to be everything you'd expect from the third installment in the popular franchise. It may be awhile before we know what the original developer (Rocksteady) is working on, but rumors persist that it's a next-generation Justice League game. Until we know more about that, rest assured you'll have your hands full on October 25th when Arkham Origins hits the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC.