Batman: Arkham Origins sits at the top of a lot of comic book and video game fans lists for this fall, and as we discovered at E3, it's for good reason. Join us as we cover the panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2013 live, where hopefully we'll see the reveals of some new characters and gameplay. Maybe another of the eight villainous assassins will join the ranks of Bane, Deadshot, and Deathstroke! Refresh throughout for all the latest news.
Official Description: Witness the next installment in the blockbuster videogame franchise. Developed by WB Games Montréal, Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline set several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City's most dangerous criminals, the game showcases a young and unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crimefighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight. As the story unfolds, players will meet many important characters for the first time and forge key relationships. Get the latest reveals from a panel headed by WB Games Montréal creative director Eric Holmes, creative director of the portable game Mark Pacini, and actors Roger Craig Smith (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Troy Baker (The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite), the voices of Batman and the Joker, respectively. Batman: Arkham Origins will be released worldwide on October 25.
The line for the Batman: Arkham Origins panel ran all the way down a second hallway, as fans filled one of the larger panel rooms at Comic-Con to capacity, anxious for any new tidbits about the game.
Victor Lucas, host at EP Daily introduced himself saying how excited he is to be bringing new Batman: Arkham Origins game news to the fans. Eric Holmes, creative director at WB Games Montreal, the new Batman, Roger Craig Smith, the new Joker, Troy Baker, and Chief Creative Officer, DC Entertainment, Geoff Johns are all on the dais.
Holmes starts things off by introducing the story. "Black Mask puts a $50 million bounty on Batman's head on Christmas Eve, and 8 assassins come to claim it." Pacini, creative director on the portable companion title Blackgate explained that his game takes place after the console version.
Johns, asked by Lucas what it's like to see Batman kick ass in video games, said that "the characters and stuff these guys are pushing are things we haven't seen in the Batman universe. I hope we can show some stuff soon." Which Lucas promised was coming throughout the panel.
"Games just keep getting bigger and better," said Johns, which he credited in Warner Bros to Arkham Asylum. "There's a bunch of things coming up that we can't talk about just yet, but we'll continue building great games with these great studios."
Lucas then turned to the new cast, starting with Roger Craig Smith, stepping into Batman. "Steppin in is a good phrase, because those shoes are enormous."
"All day I've been stammering over the question "what's it like to be Batman," it's overwhelming. It's a huge honor."
When prompted, he did a new voice for Batman, doing a high-pitched joke voice that brought a lot of laughs.
Troy Baker, who is voicing the Joker, was praised by Lucas for his work on Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us. Baker said that any job, "you're just trying not to get fired!"
"This whole process started about a year ago for me at comic-con over drinks. When they asked if I wanted to do this I said 'what?!' It's not lost on us that we're stepping into amazing shoes. There's an amazing lineage of people that have played Batman and Joker, especially Kevin and Mark.
"I used to rush home from school every day to hear the iconic theme from Batman: The Animated Series. That ten year old kid that watched that show religiously never thought I'd be in this chair, on this panel with you guys."
Baker said that he and Smith want to just "focus on the character." He said "there's literally nothing I can bring to this character that those amazing talents haven't done - so I just want you to see the Joker."
A video clip was teased, but Troy Baker did indulge with a little low laugh to introduce his take. Smith prepped himself, took a moment, then said "Alfred." to lots of laughs and applause.
Asked first about how the story came to be, Holmes said that they started early with the idea of this being a young Batman, learning who he is, echoing what he told Newsarama in June at E3 2013. Lining up the character parts and the other supporting cast is what was fun for his team. "We wanted to answer those questions."
"Black Mask was a really natural choice" as the main villain. It spawned from the idea that in the early days, Batman went after the mob, took down the low-level guys and that leaves Mask. He said that when Batman starts fighting these amazingly skilled assassins "it really upsets his worldview," as these battles are a struggle, especially compared to your average mob thug.
He is excited to bring the villains back to their beginnings and show their growth throughout the story, as well. An interesting antagonist of a sort is Alfred, who isn't necessarily supportive of Bruce's one man war.
"I had so much fun handling the scenes with Alfred," Smith said, careful not to reveal the voice actor of the Butler. They teased as much as they could that the relationship will be very different from prior interpretations.
Johns, when asked about how much rope he gives Eric Holmes and his team on these characters, praised Holmes. "They're huge fans, and while sometimes we're surprised about what they want to do, we let them do it, because we know they love these guys as much as we do."
A video then started up, promising to reveal a new surprise. Copperhead, in a female version, is the first female assassin in the game. She slinks around snakelike in the trailer and takes Batman down with surprising ease in her first attack. The two battle - she moves like a deadlier, faster version of Catwoman.
Holmes said that the character is creepy and attacks from the shadows, is a contortionist and uses poisons. They decided to make Copperhead a female, working with Geoff and concept artists to make the change from the male version in the comics. It took three motion capture people, including a stunt woman, a woman from Cirque du Soleil, and a martial artist to combine to create Copperhead - everything she does is done by real people.
Johns revealed that this new female Copperhead will be making her way to the New 52 "mainstream comic books" shortly after the game is released, because DC Comics liked this take so much.
Pacini talked about their 2.5D game, Blackgate, which has some similarities to the Metroid series, which many from their team worked on. Johns teased that the game also "really opens up the rest of the DC Universe to the Arkham franchise," implying that new characters are coming into it.
While Holmes was pulling up some new costumes on his computer, he showed off the other, already revealed ones, first, showing off the Adam West 60s Batman costume and the Azbats Knightfall costume, both exclusive to Sony PlayStation 3.
Deathstroke is also playable for those who pre-order the game, with unique movesets and gadgets in the challenge rooms.
The newest reveal? Batman: One Million. Asked to give a sample voice for the character, Troy did a spot-on Christopher Walken impersonation doing some Batman-themed dialogue to tons of laughter - that skin will be available on all platforms, as will the next.
The "Worst Nightmare" Batman with spikes coming out of his arms, is a skin that shows how thugs on the street "see" Batman. This skin will be "for absolute masters of the game" who take the game to completion.
After the reveal, it was time for fan questions.
The first fan asked if these folks have any ideas for other characters, and "what can we learn from the Arkham series" in making a good comic book video game.
Holmes said "I'll tell you what I learned from the Rocksteady games. The pacing in those games is absolutely fantastic. You're never doing any one thing for too long. You finish a fight with the sense of wanting more guys around, but moving to a new gameplay like the Predator stuff or the puzzles.
"What Rocksteady did was a masterpiece. I think my previous games, like Prototype the pacing was kind of like an infinite bowl of french fries, eventually you'll get sick of french fries. So the pacing is the number one thing."
The next fan asked Troy Baker if he's heard from Mark Hamill about his Joker. "I'm not sure if he's heard it yet! I've worked with him in other things in the past. Hopefully he hears it, and that would be the best thumbs up I could get, is from him."
A fan asking about Robin and Batgirl was told by Holmes, "Robin doesn't exist in this point of the timeline. There is no Robin yet. As for Batgirl, you'll have to play the game to find out."
The next asked about the possibility of a Batman Beyond game, and Johns said that "we talk about everything." The fans racously cheered when asked if they'd be interested in one.
Just how powerful is Deathstroke in this game? Holmes said, "He's one of Batman's peers, maybe a little stronger thanks to his enhancements. He'll stay one step ahead of the other assassins. We have some easter eggs, some things hidden around the world for Deathstroke which add up to something in the game."
The next fan asked about any "trippy" characters who challenge Batman's mind instead of his strength, like Scarecrow and Mad Hatter in the first two games. Holmes said "absolutely we'll have some of those. There are details in the new issue of OXM of one of those abstract sequences!"
A question for the voice actors, "how do you plan to make Batman and Joker sound younger, since this is Year 2 of Batman?"
Baker, after joking that he's too old to do it, said that "we have a crack team of animators that is really doing a lot of the work. For me specifically for Joker, the approach was more firehose versus laser. In the other games, in his later times, he has a focus, where when younger he's just... chaos."
Smith said "my approach, to make him younger, I added in a lot of "Alfred. Dude," and some things like LOL and OMG" to more laughs.
Any Co-op possibilities? Baker joked that the young fan may have meant times when Batman teamed up romantically with another character. Holmes said "Wouldn't it be great if there was a sequence like that? I'd love to make a sequence like that," cheekily.
A fan asked if Troy Baker would ever play the Joker in live action. "I've done TV and done Film, I love it, any time I get to work, it's a win. I will say this, I absolutely love the video game space, I believe in it as a medium, as a form of a narrative, it's definitely something I want to explore more of. Thank you for your kind words, though!"
Holmes, asked about the Assassins and who else will be there, said he loves the enthusiasm about the assassins cast. "We'll be rolling them out, I hope we don't share all of them, because I want surprises in this game."
That's all for Batman: Arkham Origins!