Rumor has it that WB Games Montreal will reveal the future of Batman in videogames at DC FanDome next week. Maybe it's time for Batman video games to head into the actual future. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a game-changing experience when it released in 2009. Four games and more than a decade later, isn't it time for a change of scenery? Instead of returning to the "Arkhamverse" as we know it, there's a way to keep that canon intact while exploring a brand new setting with new characters and new gameplay opportunities. WB Games Montreal should take a page out of Batman: The Animated Series' playbook and make a Batman Beyond game.
If you aren't familiar with the Batman Beyond concept, the producers of Batman: The Animated Series came up with it when Warner Bros. executives told them to make Batman more accessible to children. The producers didn't want to tone down Batman: The Animated Series and instead came up with a better idea. They'd create a new, younger Batman to take over Batman's mission in the future.
That Batman is Terry McGinnis. Terry is a teen whose father is murdered in Gotham in the year 2039, approximately 20 years after the Batman disappeared. Circumstances bring him into contact with Bruce Wayne. Once Terry discovers Bruce's secret, he becomes the new Batman with Bruce acting as his mentor. Together, they take on a new breed of villains, and a couple of returning favorites, in the cyberpunk setting of future Gotham City.
The show had a decidedly different flavor from Batman: The Animated Series, but maintained its continuity and much of what The Animated Series great. That's the opportunity a Batman Beyond game offers WB Games Montreal. By the time Batman: Arkham Knight came out in 2015, it seemed clear that Rocksteady had pushed the core gameplay of the series to its limits, having to hamfistedly introduce vehicular combat into the mix to make sure the game had something new to offer. The narrative also reached a natural endpoint, making the easy and less-rewarding next move another prequel like Batman: Arkham Origins.
WB Games Montreal can avoid that trap, and avoid making another game like Batman: Arkham Origins that lives in the shadow of the core Batman Arkham trilogy, but taking a bold step into the future. Batman Beyond offers a brand new Batman to build a narrative around. It provides a brand new version of Gotham City to explore. It has an entire gallery of new rogues to put at the center of the game's encounters. And best of all, Batman Beyond's future-tech Batsuit offers the opportunity to develop new gameplay features. Rather than just swinging and gliding around Gotham City as in the past Batman Arkham games, Batman Beyond could allow players to fly across its smog-choked skyline with rocket boots. And that's for starters.
The reveal of a fifth Batman Arkham game set in the same Arkhamverse as all the previous Batman Arkham games won't excite me much. Let Rocksteady's Suicide Squad game pick up where Arkham Knight left off. WB Montreal's Batman game should instead break new ground by stepping boldly into Batman Beyond's the future. I know it's unlikely, but I can't help hoping that next week's announcement is for something like Batman: Arkham Beyond.