By BatWatch 16 Comments
4 Reasons Arkham Origins Might Not Contain Multiplayer
Every gamer knows that beating up bad guys by yourself is awesome, but beating up bad guys with a friend is even better. For this reason, everybody who enjoyed the first two Arkham games would love to see a fully integrated multiplayer mode in Arkham Origins, but as nice as that seems in theory, there are some good reasons we might not see multiplayer mayhem in Gotham just yet.
I'm not an expert at video games by any stretch, but here are some of my thoughts, and you can take them for whatever they are worth. I'll start with the reason I think is least important and move towards the reason I think is most pertinent to a delayed Batman multiplayer experience.
#4 – There Is No Obvious Partner for the Dark Knight
If Arkham Origins were set after Arkham City, then there would be very little justification to keep a second player out of the game. Nightwing and Robin are both well established in the Arkham universe, and Robin was given a brief role in the last game both as a guest appearance and as playable in a campaign specific DLC package. Also, it would be hard to believe that yet a third major crisis, this one prophesied to be worse than anything seen previously, would affect Gotham without Batman calling in some backup. It feels like Arkham City's sequel is preparing fans to play as Robin or possibly Nightwing alongside the Dark Knight Detective.
However, Arkham Origins is set in the past before Dick Grayson ever became Robin or Tim Drake even likely knew of the Batman, so the obvious and expected route is not obligatory this time.
That is not to say that another partner in crime fighting could not be found. Catwoman guest starred with Batman in the latest Arkham game even if the two were not playable at the same time. Perhaps she could star alongside Batman in Origins. Any number of characters could take the role as Batman's assistant, but bringing in a character with a different skill set opens up its own set of problems that we will discuss later.
#3 – The Dark Knight May Have Contracted Call of Duty Disease
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out in 2007 and absolutely blew people away. It was amazing, intense, and better than anything shooter fans had ever seen. Having raised itself to a pinnacle of excellence that few ever achieve, the Call of Duty franchise looked at all the innovation and boundary pushing work that brought them to their success and turned their back on it. Rather than coming up with something significantly different for their next game, Call of Duty has been pumping out pretty much the same game every year ever since much to the chagrin of some.
Now, I'm not a Call of Duty hater. Critics say each new installment is basically the same thing with different maps, and I agree. As a fan of the series, I encourage Call of Duty to keep it up. Their philosophy is simple. If it's not broke, why fix it? Sure, they could try changing things significantly for each installment, but they would run the risk of losing their throne as the king of shooters. By keeping the core game exactly the same while pushing the ball forward just a tad in each installment, Call of Duty has continued to rake in the cash.
The same holds true with the Arkham franchise. Pretty much nobody expected Arkham Asylum to be near as good as it turned out, but it was amazing, and Arkham Origins gave us nearly the exact same game only with a longer campaign, more side quests, a larger world and Catwoman. Other than than the addition of Selina Kyle, the series played it pretty safe, and now that they have sewn up several Game of the Year awards with Arkham City, why would they want to take the chance of trying something new and opening themselves up to a host of new problems? Keeping Batman solo is the safe bet.
#2 – It Has Never Been Done Before
I'm willing to be proven wrong on this one, but I've never seen a game similar to Arkham City integrate multiplayer.
Has stealth been done as multiplayer? Yeah, there's Splinter Cell and a few other games. What about massive open world environments working together across different gaming consoles? Have we ever seen that? Sure, games are doing that all the time these days, so where is the hangup?
The combat is the main issue. Again, prove me wrong if you know something I do not, but there are very few action games with the same level of acclaim as Arkham and none of them feature real multiplayer. God of War and Bayonetta art two top of the line combat games, but neither of them lend themselves well to multiplayer integration. Assassin's Creed is a game with a combat system somewhat similar to Arkham's, but try to get involved in multiplayer with Assassin's Creed, and you just end up walking around stabbing others in the back.
I don't think Arkham style multiplayer combat has ever been done, and just trying to think about it theoretically, ignoring all those pesky programming issues, leads to some problems. The entire combat system of Arkham deals with being able to work through opponents in a systematic manner and attacking when the opportunity presents itself. The idea of adding a second player to the mix might sound appealing, but it might actually make the game much more difficult to play. Imagine striking at an enemy trying to build a combo only to have your compatriot down him first. Your rhythm is broken, and you're starting fresh. Another factor is that time slows down in Arkham combat. That might be cool for one player, but having the game slow for non-crucial moments for player #2 would get old pretty quick.
#1 – It's All about Batman
The Arkham games have been massively successful for one reason and one reason only: they make you feel like Batman. The city feels like Gotham, the combat feels like it was ripped from the pages of the comics, and using the cape and grappling gun to traverse the city is amazing. The way Batman uses his tech to solve problems and overcome obstacles makes you feel like you are the Dark Knight Detective.
Putting in a second player could damage that feeling of being Batman in many ways.
It's hard to feel like Batman if you can't string together a nice combo and you keep on missing targets because your friend hits them first.
If we were playing as Robin, city traversal and problem solving would be no problem since he would be similarly equipped as Batman, but what would be the justification for Catwoman, Lady Shiva, Bronze Tiger, or whoever they threw in for player #2 having the exact same abilities, tech and skills as Batman? Unless you give the two playable character the exact same abilities, you are talking about redesigning every obstacle with multiplayer in mind. Even moving across the city is a problem. How cool would it be to swoop quickly from rooftop to rooftop only to have to wait every few seconds as your sidekick catches up.
The technical demands for the processing would certainly put a greater strain on the system. Generally speaking, you could expect either a fidelity drop if you are playing locally or potential lag if playing online, and neither of those are exactly fun.
Arkham Origins might contain multiplayer, but though it is easy to say the game designers should include it, it really is not as simple as it might at first sound. Whatever the final product looks like when this title hits shelves, I can pretty much guarantee you this. The priority will be on making you feel like Batman, and multiplayer will only be included in the package if it adds to that experience.
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