It’s been five years since Rocksteady Games brought their Arkham story to an end with the flawed yet excellent Batman: Arkham Knight, and it goes without saying that – given how much time has passed – people are getting more than just a little antsy to hear about what’s next for the series. That was true a couple years ago, and it’s only become truer with each day that passes where we don’t hear something concrete about the Caped Crusader’s next appearance.
But there are other factors at play that make that wait seem even more unbearable. With it looking quite likely that Rocksteady are working on something that isn’t a new Batman game, it has fallen to Batman: Arkham Origins developers WB Games Montreal to take up that mantle and take the series forward. But Arkham Origins came out in 2013, which means that WB Montreal have been silent for seven years.
Well, not completely silent. What’s made the wait for the next Batman’s release – or even announcement – even more excruciating is the fact that WB Montreal have been teasing something for a couple of years now– something that they’ve never explicitly said is a Batman game, but based on all the teases (and numerous leaks) is definitely going to be just that. The fact that the intensity of these teases has only ratcheted up in recent weeks hasn’t made things any easier either.
But while we’re probably going to have to wait who-knows-how-long until they’re ready to openly talk about their new game that may-or-may-not-be-but-most-definitely-is a new Batman title, we can at least look at all the teases, leaks, and rumours about it and try and decipher what it’s going to be about. Here, that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing. Though these are all going to be educated guesses (or attempts at them, at any rate), do remember that these are still just guesses– so don’t blame us for not accurately predicting things if a few months from now it turns out that the game will see Batman and Mr. Freeze playing ice hockey while Poison Ivy and a disgruntled Robin watch from the sidelines.
The one thing that we can all be quite confident of even in the absence of an official announcement is that the Court of Owls is going to be heavily involved. For those who don’t know what that is, the Court of Owls is a shadowy criminal organization that first appeared in Batman’s very first arc as part of DC’s The New 52 continuity. Co-created by Scott Syder and Greg Capullo, the Court of Owls were revealed to be an organization with endless influence and resources that had been pulling the strings in Gotham from shadows for centuries, effectively having been controlling the city since the 1600s, thanks in large part to extremely skilled and capable assassins called Talons.
Since the very first day WB Games Montreal began teasing their next game, the Court of Owls has been front and centre and dominating speculation, while several subsequent leaks have suggested that they will be heavily involved in the story as well. The most conclusive piece of evidence comes from Court of Owls co-creator Scott Snyder himself, who tweeted about a video game adaptation of his work in September 2019, before promptly deleting that tweet.
And so, the next Batman game being focused on the Court of Owls is as close to being a lock as it can be in the absence of an official confirmation. But how exactly is the game going to make use of this formidable foe? What we have to work with here is far less conclusive than what we’ve talked about till now, but we can still make guesses based on previous teases for the game.
Just a few days into 2020, WB Games Montreal dropped one of their meatiest teases for the game when they shared three separate parts of a single image on various social media platforms, images that then came together to form a single crest. That crest, as luck would have it, looks very reminiscent of the Gotham City Police Department badge, from the eagle on top of the crest, to the wreaths on the sides, to the scales of justice between the wreaths. That latter specifically would point to a law-related entity- putting two and two together and arriving at GCPD as the answer here is not much of a leap.
But of course GCPD will figure into a game about Batman, right? How the hell does it tell us what the Court of Owls are doing and how they’re going to figure into the game? Now, this is purely conjecture, but as a shadowy organization that has been controlling Gotham from behind the scenes for centuries, Illumati-style, is it not possible that their undue influence may have found a way to corrupt the GCPD as well? And if the Court of Owls were indeed butting heads with the Dark Knight, might it not be possible that they could divert the GCPD and its resources into halting the crime-stopping activities of said Knight?
Speaking of Knight- a phrase that WB Games Montreal have been using with many of their teases for the game is “Capture the Knight”– a clever if obvious play on words, it’s also entirely possible that they’re being very literal with its meaning here. Corrupted by the Court of Owls, the GCPD could be hellbent on capturing and stopping the Dark Knight of Gotham, which means that the Bat might have to go up against the Law as he fights off the criminal organization. It wouldn’t be the first time a Batman story sees the Caped Crusader butting heads with the police, though the context here might end up being much more sinister than it typically has been in the past.
And it’s possible, in fact, that that won’t be all the Batman will have to deal with. He may very well have his hands full in terms of the people trying to bring him down, and people, in turn, that he has to stop himself. That, too, is something that we’re basing on a WB Montreal tease- one that followed the GCPD badge tease very shortly, in fact.
A mysterious webpage on the studio’s site shows the two crests they have shown through teases up until now slotted into a pattern that has the space for at last eight more crests. One of these is the aforementioned GCPD crest (assuming that that is what it is, of course), while the other looks very reminiscent of the Demon’s Head, and Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins. And while the slots that are still open in that pattern might be pointing to more weeks and months of a drip feed of vague teases from WB Montreal, the entire picture might also be hinting at the nature of the game itself.
And so, Gotham might find itself in the midst of a good old-fashioned faction war, with the Court of Owls, the League of Assassins, and other groups fighting for supremacy and complete control over the city. Again, this is pure conjecture based on vague teases, and very well might not be accurate, but it is a very interesting idea. Arkham City sort of touched upon this (in a way), with various villains carving out territories of their own within the walled-off prison city, but that never really materialized in any meaningful way as far as gameplay was concerned. If the next Batman game were to do that, it could lead to some very interesting gameplay ideas- maybe it could even blend its faction-warring with something similar to the Nemesis system from Shadow of Mordor.
Finally, there’s another piece of info we can extrapolate from unofficial sources. Leaks have indicated that this game will feature the entire Bat-family as playable characters – which means co-op might be on the cards – and that it is going to be called Batman: Arkham Legacy. While the bit about the Bat-family is quite self-explanatory, the name – if it is an accurate leak – could be indicative of the game’s central conceit. Because the word “Legacy” in its title might be suggesting that the game deals with the aftermath of the Arkham series. Of course, there’s every chance that that isn’t the game’s actual name, or that it doesn’t hold as much meaning as we’re thinking it does- which means there’s every chance that the game is completely removed from the Arkham series’ stories and is doing its own new thing.
So that’s all that we’ve got to work with up until now- leaks, rumours, vague teases, and conjecture based on all of that. Some of it seems pretty likely, with evidence piling on top of evidence, while other bits are on shakier ground and might turn out to be inaccurate. More than anything else, what we need now – after an excruciatingly vague and drawn-out pre-announcement marketing cycle – is an actual announcement, and some proper, concrete information on what the game even is. As always, we remain hopeful that that’ll happen soon- and if it so happens that our (somewhat) educated guesses were on the money, we might just be in for the most exciting Batman game ever.