It has been almost four years since Rocksteady released Arkham Knight, the fourth entry the Batman gaming franchise that was born with the action-packed and atmospheric Arkham Asylum game. Arkham Knight expanded the gaming version of Gotham in significant ways, just as Arkham City did before it, but it also brought with it a sense of finality.
The final stages of Arkham Knight saw Bruce Wayne unmasking himself as Batman, and if you 100% completed the game, you will have seen Batman blowing up Wayne Manor and appearing to die. Of course, the game’s very last shot – of Batman on a rooftop, petrifying some criminals – strongly implied that Bruce had faked his own death and/or found a successor to take on the cowl. Despite that tease, it still felt like Arkham Knight was more of an ending than a beginning, which leads us to the big question of this article.
Here it is: what should Rocksteady do next its virtual version of the DC universe? We know for a fact that Rocksteady is gearing up for a triple-A release, as they’re hiring marketing people to promote it, but we don’t have a clue what that game will end up being.
It has also been rumored that Warner Bros Montreal, who previously made the prequel game Arkham Origins, is working on two games in the DC universe. But what could a new title from either studio mean for Batman and his Bat-chums? Let’s have a look at some of the options for what Rocksteady and Warner Bros Montreal, and what they could do next…
Make a direct Arkham Knight sequel
As much as it felt like a definitive end of the Bruce Wayne story arc that began with Arkham Asylum, the aforementioned ending to Arkham Knight did leave the door open – just a slither – to a sequel.
The main question the game left hanging is this: who, exactly, was the Batman that scared those criminals silly in the final seconds of the game? Is Bruce Wayne still alive, patrolling the streets as Batman but letting the world believe he’s dead? Or is that a new Batman, perhaps one of Wayne’s young wards who’s decided to don the cape?
Either way, after a gap of four years between games, we’d wager that a lot of players would welcome another mainline Arkham title. It’s been too long since we perched, brooding on a gargoyle, plotting the best way to take down some Gotham goons. And there are loads of DC villains that Rocksteady’s Batman hasn’t gone toe-to-toe with yet.
Spin out the Bat-family
Whether or not Bruce Wayne is dead, he left behind a Gotham that was stuffed with his former sidekicks. At the endpoint of the Arkham Knight narrative, Tim Drake’s Robin, Selina Kyle’s Catwoman and Dick Grayson’s Nightwing were all still active. Barbara Gordon’s Oracle and Jim Gordon were both still around to offer their support, as well. So, if Rocksteady or Warner Bros Montreal wanted to, they could press ahead with a sequel to/spinoff from Arkham Knight that puts the extended Bat-family at its core and lets gamers play as numerous cool characters.
Also, let’s not forget that Warner Bros Montreal’s last Arkham-adjacent output was Batgirl: A Matter Of Family. This DLC chapter, set in the time period before Arkham Asylum, showed us what Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl was capable of before she was crippled by the Joker. Could there be scope for more Bat-family gaming experiences that take place in different time periods? Again, it’s easy to imagine fans flocking to a Batgirl or Nightwing game that expanded the Arkham world.
Jump ahead to Batman Beyond
A popular request among online commenters is for Rocksteady to make a Batman Beyond game, inspired by the animated series that imagined a futuristic Gotham where a young chap named Terry McGinnis took up the Batman mantle. The show featured an elderly Bruce Wayne in a mentor role, a gang of maniacal goons that took inspiration from the Joker, and a trendy cyberpunk aesthetic that set it apart from the rest of the DC Animated Universe.
With the Joker dead and Bruce Wayne either dead or pretending to be, the events of Arkham City and Arkham Knight set the stage quite nicely for an adaptation of Batman Beyond. The game could jump a significant number of years into the future and depict a new Batman taking on new criminals with a new array of gadgets. Moreso than a straight Arkham Knight sequel or a Bat-family spinoff, a Batman Beyond game could properly evolve what a Batman game can be.
Branch out to other DC heroes
The Injustice franchise has provided a neat reminder that Batman isn’t the only DC hero that can look seriously cool in video game form. Is it maybe time, after four Arkham games and that VR spinoff, for Rocksteady and/or Warner Bros Montreal to branch out and cover some other DC heroes?
The quick-character-switch combat mechanics that appeared in the later Arkham games could work well in a Justice League title, for instance, or perhaps a Suicide Squad game – like the one that was teased in Arkham Origins but never followed up on. Either way, focusing on a whole team of heroes could be a nice way to mix it up.
Fans have also been calling out for a new Superman game for years now, although that’s one thing that Rocksteady has ruled out. On the topic of Rocksteady’s next project, game director Sefton Hell said this on Twitter: “When it’s ready to show, you’ll be the first to know. Spoiler: it’s not Superman.”
Make another Arkham Asylum prequel
If they didn’t want to reinvent the wheel by jumping too far into the future or focusing on different characters, Rocksteady and/or Warner Bros Montreal could always jump back in time a bit and slot in another game that takes place before Arkham Asylum.
After all, this version of Batman has a career that spans a number of years, and so far we’ve only played a select few days of his life. Each game is a brief snapshot – one very bad day in Bats’ storied career – which means there must be loads of adventures we haven’t seen.
Whether it was set before or after Arkham Origins, another ‘early days’ Batman game could be a lot of fun. It may not be the most imaginative idea on this list, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be enjoyable to jump back into this video game version of Gotham and crack some more skulls. Four years is a long time in video games graphics, as well, so any new Arkham game would probably look a lot more snazzy than the previous ones.
This article has all been speculation, though, so we’ll just have to wait and see to find out what Rocksteady and Warner Bros Montreal are actually plotting. If you’ve got your own wishlist for the future of DC gaming, please do let us know in the comments…