In 2007, a team of 40 people at a small, relatively unknown studio began a project that would become the gold standard for superhero video games. In under 21 months, Rocksteady Studios—who had previously worked on Urban Chaos, Riot Response—would release their latest project: Batman Arkham Asylum.
The title would go on to win numerous awards, including holding a spot as the top superhero game of all time in the Guinness Book of World Records. Although, it would later lose its place not to another superhero but instead to Rocksteady’s Sequel: Batman Arkham City—which it still holds to this day. Fast forward to 2015 and the Arkham trilogy would reach its final epic conclusion with Batman Arkham Knight.
Every year since, fans of the Arkham series have been eagerly awaiting what the next Batman game would be. They watched carefully at events such as The Game Awards, E3, PAX, and many others, hoping for any drop of information regarding the next game. However, nothing would come. After multiple leaks, rumors, officially cancelled titles, it wouldn’t be until 2020 that gamers would receive their first bit of proper information: The Batman Arkham sequel would not be a sequel. Instead, it would reboot the Batman IP
The Long Line of Batman Arkham Sequel Leaks
There has been a long list of rumors and speculation revolving around what exactly Rocksteady has been working on these past five years. Theories ranged from a new Superman game to a Batman Beyond title. Another leak claimed the next entry would be a Suicide Squad title, which made sense given Arkham Origins’ ending. None of these would come to be, however, in August of 2019, it was confirmed that a Damian Wayne game was cancelled before its announcement at The Game Awards 2016. A series of leaked screenshots were confirmed to be real provided by YouTuber Slcmof.
The concept art revealed a female Black Mask, a significantly younger Poison Ivy, and many other villains that had never been featured in a previous Arkham game such as Gorilla Grodd, more traditionally known as a Flash villain. Nonetheless, it’s cancellation caused many fans to become frustrated. It had been four years consisting exclusively of leaks and rumors but no official word on what was going on at Rocksteady.
Come September 2019, the stars seemed to be in alignment. WB Montreal revealed a tweet that had a changing logo featuring various organizations within Gotham featuring the phrase, “capture the knight.”—the League of Shadows Demon Head and a GCPD logo among them.
A related tweet from Scott Snyder, who had written for the previous Arkham games, also sent a tweet stating, “wait for it…#bewarethecourtofowls” which was quickly deleted. Finally, earlier in the year, developers from WB Montreal also posted images of them wearing Court of Owls t-shirts while concept art featuring Batman fighting Talon was posted by a former Warner Bros. employee.
An ‘Inevitable’ Annoucement At The Game Awards
Fans once again let their excitement rise as The Game Awards were just around the corner. Although the Damian Wayne game may not have seen the light of day, it makes sense to show what is really being worked on a few years later at the same event. Subsequently, a series of recent leaks pointed towards a Game Awards 2019 announcement. According to several industry insiders from multiple sources, a Game Awards announcement was incoming.
These leaks spread through the entire Arkham fanbase, and with no official word from either WB Games or Rocksteady Studios, gamers eagerly waited for the first reveal of the next title in the Arkham series. Three hours later, nothing. The anticipation gamers had built was thrown to Twitter. A plethora of posts expressed emotions ranging from anger to disappointment to sheer curiosity, questioning Rocksteady on what had happened, and whether or not a full reveal was ever intended in the first place. Once again, Rocksteady would resort to silence.
A Batman Reboot Is Unofficially Confirmed
In five years, the only officially confirmed information was that a new Batman game was in the works, with educated speculation that it would revolve around the Court of Owls. There were other leaks not previously mentioned, including the game would feature the entire bat-family as playable, but nothing coming from an official statement.
In the beginning of February, however, Geeks Worldwide would release an exclusive take with the first details on what players could expect from the next Batman game. Author James Siegfried states, “Sources close to GWW have confirmed that WB Montreal’s new Batman game is a ‘soft reboot’ of the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham franchise.” This would likely come as a surprise to many and a disappointment to some, as the story would not continue within the Arkhamverse with which everyone had fallen in love. He continued,
“The new Batman game will kick off a new, somewhat cohesive DC Game Universe. Shortly after it’s release this Fall, it will be followed up by a next-gen DC game from the creators of the Batman: Arkham franchise, Rocksteady Studios. The roadmap from there is foggy; sources have said that a next-gen Superman game (NOT ROCKSTEADY) is also in the works at WB, but nothing confirmed yet. Details on the story, plot, and gameplay are being kept tightly under wraps. We know that it will feature a playable Batfamily, the infamous Court of Owls, and have the introduction of co-op into the franchise.”
Why A Batman Reboot Is The Best Decision
Spoilers ahead for those who have not finished Arkham Knight.
Although some players may want to go back to the Arkhamverse, this reboot provides a lot of opportunity for a new story to be told—one that is not restricted by established lore created in four previous games and several comics. Arkham Knight also provided a clean cut ending for the Arkham games, with the “death” of Bruce Wayne.
Although the true ending of Arkham Knight can still be left to debate, the most likely theory is that Bruce Wayne is still alive and cleaning up crime on the streets of Gotham; only he chose to let Bruce Wayne die, and instead fully take up the mantle as Batman. In this, he had no attachments, nothing to hold him back, and no alternate life to live. He made the decision to fully embody the identity of the Batman, and continue his crusade as Gotham’s Dark Knight. As such, it is both a smart and respectable move to leave the Arkham story as is, and instead move on to newer projects.
The proposed idea of an overarching DC game universe also provides an interesting prospect to build up towards a potential Justice League title. Although other heroes were referenced in the Arkham games in the form of easter eggs, including Superman, the Flash, and Green Arrow, there was little room to bring them into the fold as a result of the story the Arkham series told. Once again, the lack of restriction based around established lore provides writers with much more leniency and creative freedom to establish a new universe from which to build.
As Sony prepares to host their own reveal event for the PlayStation 5, all eyes will be on them, as Rocksteady and Sony have had a good relationship in the past. If not then, E3 will be the most likely time fans will finally get to see what has been going on for over five years, lest they face another round of hungry and disappointed fans.