Prepare to suit up in pair of red underwear because Rocksteady is rumored to finally be moving forward with an open-world Superman game. Learning from the highs and lows of the developers' super successful Batman: Arkham games, what do fans want to see in a modern Man of Steel video game adventure?
Beginning in 2009, Rocksteady took the DC Comics world of Batman and delivered a game-changing juggernaut with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Effectively a New 52 reboot for the Caped Crusader on consoles and PC, the critically-acclaimed Asylum had a sequel with Batman: Arkham City in 2011 and rounded off a trilogy in 2015 with Batman: Arkham Knight. There was also a Batman: Arkham Origins game in there but from developer WB Montreal, and for some reason Rocksteady ignores that one even though it was great too.
While there were once hopes of a fourth game (by Rocksteady, specifically) to explore ideas like the Court of Owls alongside villains like Maxie Zeus and Dusan al Ghul and the introduction of Damian Wayne, the years have rolled by and nothing came to pass. Now, as Rocksteady reportedly plans to take on a whole new world of heroes and villains by exploring Metropolis, here's what Superman's upcoming game needs to include.
Rocksteady's Superman Game Setting: A Giant Metropolis
The crime-riddled streets of Arkham and Gotham City have been explored plenty by Rocksteady and Warner Bros. Interactive over the years, it's time to show more of the DC universe. With each of Rocksteady's Arkham games, developers expanded into a bigger playing field. Starting with the dimly-lit confines of Arkham Asylum, the series moved to Hugo Strange's personal prison and eventually found the sprawling Gotham City in its entirety.
Gotham is all well and good, but battling at night should be replaced with some daytime sunlight as players take to the skies in the vibrant hub of Metropolis. Given Superman's power set, it is easy to imagine fast travel across a much bigger map. Using the Batclaw to traverse and swoop down over Gotham worked for Arkham, but players expect something more innovative and grander this time around. Also, who's to say that the game has to stop at Metropolis? A moonlit section of the game could conveniently take Kal El to the glum backdrop of Gotham and a trip down memory lane to see what's left after the Arkham Knight's fiendish plan.
Rocksteady's Superman Game Needs Gritty Villains
Say what you want about Jesse Eisenberg's take on Lex Luthor in the DC movies universe, but there is no denying that his performance in Batman v Superman (and Justice Leauge) was a unique one. It was this kind of bold reinvention that the Arkham games thrived on, taking well-established villains and turning them into something new. Mark Hamill shone with his typically unhinged portrayal of the Joker, but elsewhere there was the Cockney Penguin, a nerdy hacker version of the Riddler, and a Harley Quinn that clearly inspired Margot Robbie.
The big reveal of Jason Todd as the Arkham Knight may have been a low of the series, but given the huge backdrop of Superman villains just waiting to be tapped into, Rocksteady can easily repeat the success of the Arkham games. Just as Hamill's Joker was a huge presence across the trilogy, it would make sense that a new version of Lex Luthor leads the title. However, just as Arkham slowly weaved in other huge names, the likes of Brainiac, Doomsday, Mr. Mxyztptlk and even General Zod could all play a part. It may be a strange mix of villains to pack into one game, but who's to say that Superman couldn't form its own trilogy akin to the Arkhamverse? It's expected at this point.
Rocksteady's Superman Game Should Have More Playable Characters
The Arkham games were all about Batman and only Batman at night, meaning they straight up sidelined Bruce Wayne in favor of his superhero alter ego. Running around Gotham as a billionaire playboy may not have the thrill of clobbering villains in the cape and cowl, but a Superman game should make the most of both Clark Kent and Kal El. Even more than Bruce and Batman, Clark and Superman live completely separate lives, which lends itself neatly to a Superman game splitting its time between playing as the Daily Planet reporter and the Man of Steel.
A similar idea is already promised for Insomniac's Spider-Man game. Mary Jane Watson is confirmed to be a big part, apparently putting her journalistic talents to good use in missions of her own. Imagine having Lois Lane tackle crime or find a hot scoop as an innovative take on the hidden Riddler trophies that Arkham fans either loved or loathed. Other Daily Planet staples like Perry White and Jimmy Olsen could also pop up, and who wouldn't want to see Cat Grant get a reprieve after her tragic sidelining by Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The Arkham games sometimes allowed players to slip into Catwoman's PVC or twirl a baton as Nightwing on a couple of occasions, but Superman should push this gameplay even further.
Rocksteady's Superman Game Should Include Ties To Arkham
Players may be bummed that another Arkham is off the cards (for now), but it doesn't mean that Superman should forget the franchise altogether. With the close proximity of Batman and Superman, it would be foolish for Rocksteady to not litter its Superman game with nods to the already established Arkhamverse. The Arkham games did a wonderful job of teasing villains to come, iconic locations, and well-known storylines through the trilogy, so Superman is expected to do the same.
Also, why not put the icing on the cake with an actual appearance of Batman himself? Even if Kevin Conroy's portrayal of Batman only appears in an introduction video or a post-credit sequence, fans of the Arkham games and anything DC need the Dark Knight in action once again. Even if there is only one game, expect homages to Superman's comic book history to be everywhere in the game. Also, this should pave the path towards more team-ups and crossovers. This will all lead to Justice League a some point, right?
Rocksteady's Superman Game Would Benefit From A New Storyline
With the Arkham trilogy was inspired by storylines including A Serious House on Serious Earth, No Man's Land, Hush, A Death in the Family, The Killing Joke, and Knightfall, developers had their pick of Batman storylines to craft the trilogy. While none of the games were a direct adaptation of any of these titles, there were moments where players could pinpoint exactly which story Rocksteady was inspired by at that particular moment.
Heading back to Arkham Knight again, the game was the series' most visually-stunning and most ambitious entry, it undoubtedly fell down on its storyline. Superman can learn from this blip though, creating a brand new storyline from all the best bits of Superman's career while avoiding an Arkham Knight-esque twist that is a little too obviously signposted. Comics like Secret Identity, Last Son, and Kingdom Come would be easy to bring to life in an action-packed gaming experience and include some major faces from the DC back catalog.
The big question now is, can Rocksteady do it again? Rumors of an open world Superman game have been doing the rounds for quite some time, but E3 2018 could be a great place to start when it comes to marketing the title. One thing's for sure, with Arkham Asylum taking the crown as one of the best superhero games of all time, Rocksteady is undoubtedly the right developer to bring the Man of Steel to the next generation of consoles.
Now that the dust has settled on the Arkham trilogy and fans have given up hope of returning to Gotham for another "dark night" with Batman, Superman seems like the logical choice of where to go next. Whether it pays off remains to be seen, but Superman could be one of the most exciting games in living memory, let alone another much-needed boost to the maligned superhero gaming genre. Thankfully, with 1999's Superman on the N64 being dubbed one of the worst games of all time, it's not exactly like it can get any worse, is it?
Screen Rant will keep readers updated when more details about Rocksteady's Superman game become available.
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