Two big video games were revealed as part of DC FanDome event. One is a game being handled by Rocksteady Studios called Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Rocksteady Studios is a company known for their incredible Batman: Arkham games, the first of which was heavily praised for the way in which it captured the feeling of being Batman. The other reveal was for a game called Gotham Knights. The Suicide Squad game is the one that will be set in the Arkham Universe and that has some fans surprised and upset. So what’s the deal with this unexpected swerve?
While questions regarding Rocksteady’s next game began a while ago, more recent events really heightened the speculation. On August 7th Rocksteady Studios posted an image of Superman, or at least a character that looks like Superman, to their official Twitter account. On Superman’s head was a logo that looked like a target reticle except the crosshairs were replaced by the words Suicide Squad. Accompanying the image were the words “Target locked.” Fans immediately began speculating. Some were very excited at the novel premise, others were disappointed that it didn’t look like they would get a chance to play as Batman. At this time, it was also known that Warner Bros., the company that owns the rights to Batman, had registered multiple domains ahead of their upcoming DCFanDome event. Some of the domains they registered were “SuicideSquadGame.com,” “SuicideSquadKillTheJusticeLeague.com,” and “GothamKnightsGame.com.” What was actually going to play out was anybody’s guess, but a lot of people were hoping to play in the Arkham Universe. And, at the time, there was no reason for fans to lose hope that they might get to play as Batman.
The Arkham Universe is the setting for a myriad of games, a couple novels, some comics, and a film, that was initially developed for the game Batman: Arkham Asylum. In those pieces of media, the central protagonist is typically Batman, who, in typical fashion, thwarts villainous plots and dispatches members of his rogue’s gallery. It is also a universe where the Joker is, apparently, dead. Of course, Joker deaths are rarely very permanent.
The hope of playing as Batman has significantly diminished now that Gotham Knights has been revealed. In that game, which isn’t in the Arkham Universe, Batman is purportedly dead. Gamers will be able to inhabit the roles of three characters who have been Batman’s sidekick, Robin at some point. The currently announced roster of playable characters consists of Red Hood, Batgirl, Nightwing, and Robin. This group is sometimes referred to as the Bat Family, and they’ve been left instructions on how to go on without Batman. The Court of Owls, whose story has historically been pretty cool, will serve as the villains and players will be able to undertake the game in both single player and cooperative modes. It’s a far cry from what we are used to from a game set in Batman’s universe.
Still, this can be a very good thing, although it might seem surprising at first that the Suicide Squad game is the one set in the Arkham Universe, even if those characters have famously had a lot of interactions with the titular Arkham Asylum. Aside from the film, Batman: Assault on Arkham, which featured the Suicide Squad, these have historically been Batman games. The Suicide Squad and all of its chaos is a far cry from the methodical vigilantism of Batman. That is what is exciting, though.
For one, Rocksteady Studios have earned a degree of trust for what they managed to accomplish with the other games in the Arkham Universe. And they definitely got their mileage out of them. But change is good and now we have the opportunity to see this universe from a new perspective with a new type of gameplay. Surprises can be good and it is typically great when developers take chances. Besides, do we really want to keep fighting Batman villains, many of whom we have already defeated?
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is already an exciting title that implies very interesting conflict with very powerful characters and the fact that it will offer co-op play for up to four players has a lot of potential. We will also get to see a lot of familiar faces reinterpreted like we did with the other Arkham games. The Suicide Squad also has characters with more nuance and could be a nice break from the less complicated nature of the brooding, code-driven Batman.
Meanwhile, the trailer for Gotham Knights gives the impression that the game will have a strong dramatic punch of its own. The characters in it have decently varied styles of fighting and cool technology. It should be very interesting to see how their styles combine, especially in multiplayer. We are also given a glimpse of Mr. Freeze, indicating that the game will put us up against more than just the Court. Unless Mr. Freeze is somehow serving as an ally.
As much as I would love to play another Arkham game as Batman, I am actually more excited by these two reveals. It’s always nice when a surprise comes along and you get to be excited about something you didn’t even know you want. Hopefully the developers do a great job with these games. If not, they can always try their luck with a regular Batman game in the future. But that just sounds kind of boring at this point, even if I also acknowledge that a Batman-centric game would still, in all likelihood, be a very quality title.
Writing Team Lead