The lights are on
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By now, many of you have finished Batman: Arkham City. Some of this game's side missions and secrets hint at possible sequel directions, such as (SPOILERS from here on in) Batman saying he'll track down Hush tomorrow, Harley Quinn having Joker's baby, or Azrael saying that Gotham and Batman will both burn. Devoted players have even found secret radio messages that hints at a "nightmare" returning to Gotham, which of course points toward Scarecrow.
All of these teases would make great backbones for the next Batman game. Before DC Comics completely ruined Tommy Elliot as a character, Hush was one of Batman's most promising foes. If Rocksteady is willing to move this universe's timeline forward 20 years, I wouldn't mind seeing a showdown between Batman and Joker's offspring. Azrael, as many of you know, filled in for Batman in the late '90s and is a certifiable freak. A story similar to Knightfall, where Batman is crushed by all of his villains and Jean-Paul Valley (Azrael) has to fill in could be cool. Of course, the one that excites me most is the possible return of Scarecrow. His hallucinogenic attacks were the highlights in Arkham Asylum, and if he were in the leading villain role, the next game could be a mind-bending assault much like the Gamecube game, Eternal Darkness.
While it would seem Rocksteady has an idea of where they want to go and is willing to share it with gamers through side content, the death of Joker brings a conclusion. With that in mind, I wonder if Rocksteady will instead try something new. I may be completely wrong here, but it would seem the "Arkham" foundation has run its course, as well. The obvious next step is opening up all of Gotham's boroughs, which would make a gigantic open world for players to explore. Think The Elder Scrolls: Batman. It would be interesting seeing how Rocksteady handles a city full of pedestrians, not to mention vertical navigation on a much larger scale. I would love to see Rocksteady's take on Wayne Manor and the actual Batcave.
I doubt Rocksteady will explore Batman's lore outside of Gotham, but at some point, I hope they explore Batman's ties to other characters in the DC universe. The dream is a Justice League game that allows players to suit up as Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman (yes, he could be cool). Rocksteady could also play off of the amazing World's Finest stories of Batman and Superman teaming up. Just a cameo by Superman in the next game would be amazing. Of all of the Justice League characters mentioned, Green Arrow seems to fit Rocksteady's mold the best and could add an interesting short- and long-range mechanic to melee.
Even with villains made out of clay already a part of Rocksteady's formula, Justice League may be a little too fantastical. I wasn't a fan of Grant Morrison's Batman Incorporated concept which spanned through all of the Batman comics for the last two years, but it would make an interesting backdrop for a Rocksteady game. The thrust of it is Bruce Wayne creating a Batman army across the globe. That means there's a Batman in Japan, a Batman in Africa, and a Bat-guardian in every major city. Shifting perspective to these different Bat-characters, which could be scaled back to Nightwing, the nest of Robins, Batgirl, and Batwoman, could be a cool way of telling a story, especially if Harley Quinn's tease of "the whole damned world" in Arkham City is a direction for the new game.
I also wouldn't mind seeing Rocksteady's take on classic Batman comic books, such as Long Halloween or The Dark Knight Returns. Obviously, The Dark Knight Returns would be next to impossible with Mark Hamill retiring as The Joker, and Long Halloween's focus on detective work might be a bit much given how great Rocksteady's combat mechanics are. Regardless, these classic stories are great fits for games, and even if they don't retell the comic stories panel-by-panel, lend themselves nicely as settings.
We'll have to wait and see where Rocksteady goes next – if they are even working on a Batman game – but one thing is for certain, there is no shortage of awesome ideas for Batman video games. I'll even go as far to say Batman Beyond would work. It's just sad that it took a developer this long to get it right. Now I'd like to turn the discussion over to you. What direction would you like to see Rocksteady go in for the next game?
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