Warner Bros. brought the latest build of Batman: Arkham Origins to PAX Prime 2013 in Seattle last weekend to show it off to the most loyal gamers and bat-fans, but a lucky few saw even more of the final game including an encounter with the latest announced villain, Firefly.
As previously known, the game takes place on a snowy Christmas Eve in “Year 2” of Batman's one man war on crime. The crime lord Black Mask, angered at the vigilante’s interference, has placed a fifty million dollar bounty on Batman's head good for that one night alone. Not one to be intimidated, or perhaps suspecting that something larger is at play, our hero decides not to take the night off.
The demo (which starts with the same bit from E3, but we’ll recap again here for the uninitiated) begins a little ways into the game with Batman shaking down a goon for information about Black Mask's whereabouts in his own inimitable style: hanging upside down off the side of a building by one leg. Getting the information he needed, via a careless text to the goon's phone, Batman heads out into the city after Black Mask.
Here it was pointed out that this 'near past' Gotham is not only bigger in area than the section that made up the open air prison that was Arkham City, but the buildings are much taller than they were in the previous game, allowing for more room to glide and grapple. The open city area will also feature differing levels of random encounters. Batman can come across a random mugging on his own, or the polite radio tuner in his cowl will direct him to major crimes in progress.
In the demo these events led to one of the first of several new enemy types including an 'armored lieutenant' that fights like a more skillful version of the Titan-enhanced enemies from the previous games and a martial arts master that can counter your counter attacks (Batman can naturally then counter those if his timing is right).
In-game, the combat is as smooth as any veteran franchise player remembers, but now once your are done laying out your enemies the post-fight XP roundup will deliver more details of how you performed weighted against a rating of that enemy group's skill level.
Working his way still toward Black Mask's location, Batman is waylaid by the start of a “Most Wanted” side-mission. The anti-villain Anarky appears as a projection on the side of a building. Spouting his anti-capitalist rhetoric he announces that he's placed bombs nearby 'in the name of the people.' Even though Batman grumbles audibly that “[he] doesn't have time for this,” the player is advised to stop Anarky's plot and follow though on the side-mission, as even though he is not one of the assassins sent by Black Mask, a substantial gameplay reward is in the offing for completion.
With Black Mask's hideout in sight, Batman is delayed again by a police helicopter, one that is promptly shot down with one bullet and destroyed in a fiery wreak. Angered by the death of police officers, Batman fires up his crime scene analysis software. This enhanced detective mode allows him to rewind and fast forward the crash sequence as a hologram over the area the crash took place. After finding and scanning all the chopper pieces Batman discovers that the bullet came from through a dead police sniper who was perched and aimed to shoot Batman where he stood just a moment before the chopper went down.
Forced for now to put aside the idea that there are cops after the bounty and that someone killed three of them with one bullet to save his life, Batman enters a hotel and takes down a crowd of enemies in a classic predator sequence. This time however, Batman has his Remote Claw gadget that can fire a line between any two objects. Used to great effect by the developer at the controls, the Remote Claw can create a tightrope between two perch points, take down to enemies at once by clawing them both and slamming them together, hang them upside down remotely or even attach a heavy object to a goon and see it flung into his head. With upgrades the Remote Claw can be used more than once at the same time, making it a powerful weapon.
Reaching the penthouse, Batman finds not Black Mask but an ambushing Bane, who appears to have not yet taken up his Venom habit and so looks, while still large, comparatively normal and the one and only Joker; who taunts Batman by blowing up a building outside and threatening to do it several more times with fancifully decorated detonation plungers.
Behind Closed Doors Firefly Extended Demo
While that was the end of the public demo, behind closed doors select persons were treated to a segment of the game further along in the story. Firefly has sized control of the Pioneer Bridge and though an untrusting Captain Gordon has not agreed to let Batman handle it, the hero goes in anyway. Though this part of the game largely appears to be a series of brawls and disarming sequences before teasing the Firefly boss battle, the key take away is another new gadget: Shock Gloves.
Once charged though combat, the Shock Gloves allow Batman to take on certain special goons, like ones wearing armor or carrying a shield, in a more straightforward fashion. The always trouble some shock baton wielding enemies are also not only easier to take on with the Shock Gloves, attacking them charges the gloves so you can use them for longer.
Finally, a challenge stage featuring the pre-order exclusive playable Deathstroke was shown. Facing 100 enemies in a classic brawl stage, Slade Wilson got to show off some of his specific gadgets like his rifle-staff (which includes a grapple), proximity mines and his own version of Detective mode: Tactical Vision.
Batman: Arkham Origins, out October 25, 2013 for this generation's platforms is shaping up to be a worthy prequel in the franchise.