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Batman: Arkham City - What all the easter eggs and secrets tell us about the sequel

A tale of two cities

The next Batman game will not be merely set in Gotham. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the game will need to scale things up again, but I seriously suspect that neither Rocksteady nor fans will want to lose Arkham City’s immaculately detailed, meaningful density of world for the sake of a sprawling GTA-style metropolis. Two smaller, more detailed hubs are a better option.

Secondly, there’s another location just down the road from Gotham that’s hinted at very heavily during Arkham City, and which is thematically perfect for the characters and themes I think Arkham 3 is going to make use of. But first up…

Gotham

No more Arkham City. We’re talking about the real deal now. The wider city at large is explicitly referenced by Azrael as a target, but this makes sense regardless of that. One of the coolest things about Rocksteady’s world construction in their Arkham games is the way that they use geography to create a tangible sense of cohesion, both spatially and in terms of the chronological narrative progression of Batman’s story. In Arkham Asylum, it’s possible to look ahead from the island to the North Gotham coast, with the rest of the city - including the shimmering Wayne Tower - visible further off.

In Arkham City, set in North Gotham itself, we can both look back to the island and ahead to the rest of the city. Wayne Tower is again clearly visible, but despite its closer proximity it’s still unreachable. It’s a powerful but subtle method of narrative signposting, which strongly states that the greater Gotham is the next destination.

And if we’re talking about some kind of apocalyptic disaster, it will be really easy to use the destruction to plausibly cut down the available area of playable city, meaning another dense, intricate, compact design will be possible without the need for anything as unsubtle as invisible walls or roadblocks.

And that’s fine, because to make up the sense of increased scale, we’ll have…

Bludhaven

Bludhaven is just down the coast from Gotham. If anything, its levels of crime, gangland influence and police corruption are even worse than Gotham’s. It’s also really important in terms of the characters and themes that I think the next game is going to deal with. And what’s more, it’s mentioned repeatedly in Arkham City.

Loads of the street goons reference it as you pass overhead, mentioning it as the place they want to go when they get out of Arkham City. They mention that there’s a lot going down over there, and even more state that after being thrown into Arkham City they’re now done with Gotham completely. Rocksteady could hardly be more blatant with the hints here. Similarly, the unlockable Arkham City Stories files reference Bludhaven repeatedly. The infamous but still-unseen Falcone mafia family have already escaped there, leaving the rival Maroni clan to their fate within the city prison’s walls.

Above: A map of Bludhaven. Game devs like large expanses of water, you know. Makes map and scenery design way easier

The mafia contingent of Gotham is an important part of the Bat-universe, but so far the games have concentrated on the super-villains. There are however, far too many physical references to both families in Arkham City’s Industrial District to expect this to remain the case for long. So what I reckon is going to happen is this: Bats will split his time between dealing with gangland troubles and police corruption in Bludhaven, while shutting down the more traditional (for him, anyway) carnival psychotics in Gotham. The organised crime contingent in ‘Haven will consist of the Falcones, the Penguin and perhaps Black Mask. ‘Mask has worked with the Penguin before, and it makes sense that they might team up again, given the Penguin’s ongoing feud with Two-Face as of Arkham City.

Need any more evidence that Bludhaven is going to happen? A few years ago it suffered a devastating disaster itself, as part of a comic book cross-over event which saw it essentially nuked and irradiated by way of a chemical monster named Chemo. I’m not expecting the same thing to happen here, but Rocksteady know their comics, and they do like remixing existing Bat-themes into new, reworked storylines. As for who will be exploring these two settings, I reckon there could be...

Up to five playable characters

A quick look at themes at play here, the comic storylines they tie into, and the current evolution of the Arkham series’ gameplay implies that we might have a bit more of an ensemble piece on the go next time around.

First and most simply, with Catwoman Rocksteady have now established that switching between multiple characters and interweaving plotlines is both acceptable and something they can pull off rather smoothly in a Batman game. If we’re looking at a story playing out over two different cities this time, character switching to run parallel plot-lines will be easy to fit in. See the Catwoman stuff in Arkham City as a dry-run teaser of what they’re planning. Rocksteady have also dropped in more characters from the extended Batman Family, namely Tim Drake’s Robin and Dick Grayson’s Nightwing. Robin turns up (briefly) in the main story, Nightwing just pops up as a DLC character in the challenge maps. But both are fully formed, playable characters with their own move-sets and gameplay styles. That’s a lot of work for Rocksteady to put in for such relatively brief appearances. This won’t be the last we see of them. Overall, aside from Batman, I reckon we’re potentially looking at a roster taking in:

Nightwing

Bludhaven is Nightwing’s adopted city. When Dick Grayson graduated from being a sidekick to a hero in his own right, he moved to Gotham’s neighbour and began waging a one-man war on crime and corruption, taking a job as a cop to cut out the rot from inside. He and ‘Haven are synonymous, so we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him in the main story. In fact the campaign could even be split 50/50 with he and Batman taking a city each.

Robin (Tim Drake)

That brief cameo in Arkham City’s main story was a definite tease, and it implied two things for the future. Firstly, it told us that yes, Robin is active in this version of the Batman story and he’s keeping a protective eye on Bats’ activities. Secondly, it hinted very strongly at a frictional dynamic between the two, Batman almost seeing Robin’s attempt to help as an interference or irritation. There’s serious dramatic ground to be explored there, especially if Robin has to help out Batman at some point. Which I think, all things considered, it’s now pretty clear that he will.

Batgirl

Don’t balk. I’m talking about a different Batgirl to the one you might be thinking of. With a definite period of Bat-history established here by having original Batgirl Barbara Gordon appear in her post-Joker-inflicted-paralysis role as Oracle (not to mention the presence of Nightwing and Tim Drake), things are very much ready for the appearance of the second Batgirl, Cassandra Cain. Trained from birth as an assassin, all understanding of human communication drummed out of her in order to boost her understanding of physical movement as a ‘language’, she’s utterly deadly (sometimes literally), and certainly classifiable as a dangerous loose cannon. Her personal traits perfectly fit the brutal tone of Rocksteady’s version of Batman, as well as the themes of personal crisis and redundancy that may come along in part three. Also, she’s spent a long time operating out of Bludhaven assisting Nightwing. Pencil her in.

Azrael

Azrael has been everything from villain to hero to anti-hero, so there’s an equally good chance he’ll be an ally as an antagonist. With the Jean-Paul Valley Azrael having replaced Batman in the past (albeit in a way that got out of control), the chances of him being a replacement playable character - even as just a brief nod to that plot-line - must be very high. We're probably looking at a whole bunch of villain/anti-hero back and forth flipping from him, but I'm damnably sure he'll be playable at some point.

Anyway, that's the heroes. Who are the bad guys, and what will they be up to? Well...

115 comments

  • jesus-el-cholo-barraza - March 15, 2014 5:44 a.m.

    If you read the comics batman and gordon cremate joker so yeah he's not alive dude
  • Bat6996 - March 14, 2013 5:50 p.m.

    I enjoyed reading this, too much about azrael, not enough hush though. If you know the hush storyline, hush wants revenge on Bruce Wayne and teams up with riddler to discover that Bruce Wayne/batman are one and the same. If you listen to the riddler interview tapes, Hugo strange tells riddler how he discovered batmans true identity. Riddler becomes a major villain, along with hush and scarecrow and all of Gotham is in terror. I like the dr.hurt idea, and I'm glad you mentioned blüdhaven as a map
  • Drumguy818 - August 14, 2012 3:07 p.m.

    An idea that would explain the retcon of the pregnancy test in Harley Quinn's revenge. The original idea for Arkham 3 was probably to have Harley have a big revenge plot and have Joker's kid play a role in it, possibly evenbut they thought of a better idea (at least in their opinion, and, if I'm correct and it works out, my opinion as well). Harley Quinn's Revenge was basically a way to get rid of the old groundwork (making the first pregnancy test a mistake, having Harley's revenge fail) and pave new groundwork. I noticed while playing the DLC that there was serious friction between Batman and Robin. Would it be entirely out of the question to have Tim Drake be driven to the point of becoming a 2nd Joker? Rocksteady likes to bring in ideas from different sources when it comes to the Arkham games, and in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker *spoiler* Tim Drake turns out to be the new Joker. Even though in that, the Joker was essentially using mind control on Tim, I don't think it's entirely out of left field to assume that the Joker would return as a different person. If anyone were to become the second Joker, it would be Tim Drake *end spoiler*. I could be entirely wrong, but that's the vibe I got from the HQR DLC.
  • caincrow33 - August 9, 2012 4:57 p.m.

    I say no batgirl or Maxie Zeus. I'd love to beat the hell out of Jason todd as Nightwing and/or Robin (as if telling Batman that Jason todd isnt his fault.) Also, Drive Batmobile would be great. If the Scarecrow is main villain (and its pretty obvious he will be) then creepy villains like RatCatcher need to have some small amount of annoyance in the game. same with Madd Hatter. and Batman (or the gamer) not really knowing who is messing with him at all times. One playable character you left out that I would very much enjoy even in a limited amount like Catwomans in Arkham city, is James Gordon.
  • Duke1394 - August 4, 2012 6 p.m.

    Joker still being alive? There's the problem. Batman would've been sure enough to check the body w/ detective mode and see its condition as "deceased" just as he did with many dead guards. Now that that's said, it would be a cop out if he just comes back to life. That's enough to ruin a large part of the story.
  • firos - July 11, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    Harley is not pregnant, you can see multiple negative pregnancy test in Harley Quinn's Revenge dlc.
  • Sjoeki - July 11, 2012 12:54 p.m.

    True but I wouldn't be suprised if rocksteady threw those in the room just to screw with us. In the original game there was only one test and that one was positive, also it happens in real life to a lot of people (women mostly) that tests come back negative but a baby falls out after nine months anyway.
  • XD00175 - June 12, 2012 2:06 p.m.

    Nice, everything seems spot on. The Catclysm/ No man's land seems like a logical choice, and I definitely want playable Nightwing and Bludhaven. I hope we get the whole bat family as playable; Batman, Nightwing, Robin, and both batgirls. Oh, and Catwoman better show up again. I hope Batman gets to fight Azrael at least once, would be an awesome fight.
  • mike-grieco - June 4, 2012 11:55 a.m.

    I personally feel that Two-Face will be in it in a bigger role because he was built up prior to Arkham City to be a big part and he wasn't. He should be more than just a behind-the-scenes guy. I'd love to see Black Mask, Scarecrow, the Falconis, and the rest. The Falconis would be an interesting way to go. Great article, makes sense.
  • SunniDee - May 21, 2012 8:08 p.m.

    My favorite article on Gamesradar. Well-written and based on their previous track record most likely to be true
  • nicholas-sagar - May 21, 2012 6:42 p.m.

    Joker IS alive causee this game is after jason's death, but before the red hood events.i remember joker saying in the challenge maps to tim "didnt i kill you already?"so he thinks jason is dead, and he killed him!and the red hood events did have joker in them.Maybe the red hood events could be a side mission.
  • lucas-white - April 13, 2012 7:19 p.m.

    i think it would be awesome if they can somehow put the batman beyond charactor in it. say that its 40ish years in the future and the joker did have a kid that grew up and the original batman can't fight him. so they use the new batman kid to do all the work for him.
  • aaron-hunter-pressley - March 27, 2012 3:19 p.m.

    NOBODY has mentioned anything about DRACULA Possibly being a villian in the game!I mean he was in a batman movie/cartoon.I mean it would be awesome if dracula bit the dead joker and joker was a vampire clown in arkham 3!And batman messes with him and he bites scarecrow!That would freaking rock!
  • aaron-hunter-pressley - March 27, 2012 3:07 p.m.

    in the cutscene before joker stabbed bats in the arm, the cure is in i think bats left hand.And when he woke up it was in his right could it be possible that joker SECRETLY drank some of the cure just so batman would walk him out of arkham's walls?And when bats dropped the cure joker licked some off the ground.So joker could still be alive! So lets go back bats got knocked out joker drank some of the cure and batman walked the ... WAIT! the lazurace pit brings people from the dead right? so clayface could of masqueraded as "sick" Joker plus clayface can copy looks right? SO JOKER COULD OF PUT MAKEUP ON TO LOOK SICK! I mean hes already got it on so i think that i have a good point!
  • sarah-alphonse - February 12, 2012 7:44 p.m.

    black mask is found in a tank in the museum so idk how he'd be there unless he was the jerimiah arkham version
  • daniel-wignall - January 14, 2012 11:05 a.m.

    I'm not sure if it's been mentioned before but did you notice at the end when batman passes out the cure is in his left hand but when he wakes up "the cure" is in his right hand any one else think that it's not a coincidence tha clay face fell into the Lazarus pit before batman passed out and that we don't know how long batman passed out for.
  • lewis-paton - January 4, 2012 5:48 p.m.

    On the dead shot side mission I saw a lightsaber in the place were his PDA is which is a reference to Mark hamill who voices the joker and was also luke skywalker
  • lewis-paton - January 4, 2012 5:36 p.m.

    Hey you missed something about scare crow . All of the number radio stations were left by him. The last the key is scarecrow and the message is Gotham will be torn to shreds by fear. I don't take credit for this discovery
  • amanda-stephens - December 22, 2011 2:41 p.m.

    dude i agree with you, but no one figured out that there is one more thing not making sense in this game. after batman fought mr.freeze he told batman to save his wife from joker. batman never did. in fact when he saw joker he didn't even mention anything.
  • Canos - December 27, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    Except that you do. One of the sidequests involves finding the building she is stored in, clearing it of Joker's goons, and telling Freeze where she is.

Showing 1-20 of 115 comments

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