On June 23rd, “The End Begins” when Batman: Arkham Knight is released, bringing to a close one of the greatest video game trilogies of the modern era. Since 2009, fans have been able to actually become Batman in ways that you never thought possible. The amazing fight engine. The challenging stealth mode. The storyline and characterization. The argument is definitely there that this is the greatest incarnation of The Dark Knight.
Now that it’s over, WHAT’S NEXT? I mean, yes, there is still LEGO Batman, but that’s comparing apples and oranges. Where am I going to get my Arkham fix? Where can I transform into one of the world’s greatest super-heroes for a few hours (Or MANY hours if my obsession with these games is any indication)? Here are 5 heroes that would be perfect to take over the mantle of this great series (in no particular order).
The blind defender of Hell’s Kitchen would make great use of the Arkham fighting engine. As those that have caught the Netflix series know, the fight scenes were intense. Daredevil‘s fighting style would translate well into an Arkham-type game, especially with the free-flow combat system. Where Daredevil would level up in the game, for example, you could have the option of unlocking a new fighting move, or maybe even a new feature of his billy club. It reminds me a lot of Batman’s utility belt, as it, too, is magically prepared for any situation.
Matt Murdock’s radar sense is also a given for this game, making stealth mode more interesting. Used much like detective mode in Arkham, Daredevil would use this to take down the Kingpin’s thugs silently. There could also be the added challenge of certain background noise or stimuli that could mess with his radar, causing it not to work. Add to that the dark Gotham-like setting of Hell’s Kitchen and you have the makings of a great franchise.
Arkham Knight is rated M — a first for the series — which means making a game featuring the Punisher would continue that tradition. After watching his family killed in the crossfire of a mob war, Frank Castle rages a one-man war on crime, stopping it by ANY means necessary. While Daredevil would utilize the fighting engine, Punisher would utilize his weapons arsenal. You could make upgrades to your weapons as the game went on, and even use them during fight sequences, much like Batman uses the bat-claw or batarang. Of course, the results would be a tad different. A Punisher game would work for a fan of the grittiness of Arkham, and who like the fact that it is a little more adult. And after seeing the previews for Fallout 4, Gears of War, and Doom at E3 this year, a Punisher game would fit right in with that fanbase.
Natasha Romanov is the former Russian Super-Spy that defected to the U.S. and now a proud member of the Avengers (or helped found the Avengers, depending on where your comic/movie loyalties lie). In an Arkham style game, she would help improve on the “sandbox” aspect of them: instead of traveling through just one city like Gotham or New York, Black Widow could go all over the world to complete her missions. Be it as a part of the main storyline or some sort of bonus side mission situation. Just picture it: You’re on your way to stop Kang from destroying the planet again but have to make a stop on Hong Kong to prevent an assassination of a video game mogul. To help her keep track of her side missions she could utilize Isaiah, her “go-to” man from the current comic series. He could keep track of her progress, as well as her income — which is what she gains to acquire upgrades. From hero of Gotham to hero of the world, this would be a transition that gets my 100% approval.
Wait, what now? Green Lantern?! Explain yourself, Lederer! Okay, Derek, I WILL. With all the great releases and news from E3 coming out, some people like to bring up the point that a lot of games are remakes and sequels, and it’s a lot of the same stuff. While I don’t have an issue with it, I can see their point — and that’s why Green Lantern would be perfect to pick up where Batman left off from. Instead of having a “gliding” engine, you would now have a flying engine, which would give you new challenges from an “augmented reality” standpoint. With the whole Green Lantern Corps behind him, the different challenge missions would be plentiful. You could play as John Stewart, Guy Gardner, or Kyle Rayner. You could also play as Kilowog, Arisia, or even Mogo. The central storyline would be the rise and fall of Sinestro, which if written by, say, Geoff Johns, would be a great balance of top notch storytelling we expect from an Arkham game with the fun space battles that would replace the “street-fu” we are used to seeing. They say “Change is good,” and what better change than going from the Dark Knight of Gotham to the Emerald Crusader of sector 2814.
Along with all the great fighting and stealth mechanics of the the Arkham series, what really ties it together as such a memorable franchise is the Rogues gallery it employs to try and stop Batman. There are not many other heroes with an arch villain list as diverse as the Caped Crusader, but Spider-Man happens to be one. From the Green Goblin to Kraven the Hunter, A Spider-Man game in an Arkham style world would be diverse and action packed. A long form storyline could include a climactic battle against the Sinister Six. Using his spider-sense, stealth missions could be enhanced with the use of “wall-takedowns.” And with the entirety of New York City as your playground, the would be a plethora of side missions and achievements to explore. Arkham is known for its “skin-packs,” where you can play as a different version of Batman. With the recent Spider-Verse event, a you could beat the game 100 times over before you were able to utilize all those possibilities. Spidey got close to this format with the recent movie-tie in games, but an original storyline is what would take our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the next level.
Doctor Who (Honorable Mention)
The good Doctor gets an honorable mention because when it comes to an open world video game, you can’t get more open than all of space and time. A skins-pack of all 13 doctors would be a must. He only gets an honorable mention because the open world is the only thing that could compare it to Arkham. For those Whovians out there, let’s face it: he’s not much of a fighter, and asking him to be quiet is almost like pulling teeth. A good idea at first glance, but not quite the next Arkham we would want.
June 23rd hasn’t arrived yet, but it never hurts to look ahead. These heroes all have the potential to carry on the tradition of a classic franchise. While I look forward to driving the Batmobile next week, there is a chance I may secretly be wondering where his web-shooters or widow’s sting are.
So what do you think? Who do feel should take the reigns with an Arkham type franchise? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.
Image Credits: Phil Cho, Max Kennedy, nefar007, Rob Hough, aimo, SpineBender, and VGWallpapers via DeviantArt.