Arkham Origins: How the rush to beat next-gen seems to have broken Batman

At first, like many, I was somewhat dubious of an Arkham sequel without series creator Rocksteady on board as developer. I was also unsure as to what another open-world Batman game, set partly in the same city map as Arkham City, could possibly add to the series without the original developer at the helm. Coming so late in the console generation, I feared that it was to be a quickie sequel, thrown out to squeeze a bit more cash from the franchise while Rocksteady worked on something new for next-gen.

But then I met new developer Warner Bros. Montreal, a month or so ago, and by the Old Gods, did they set my mind at rest. While the game still didn’t look to greatly innovative over the existing series, the effort that the Canadian studio was putting into telling a very different, much darker story made me a very happy bat-nerd indeed. So it was with a fair degree of contentment that I settled down with Arkham Origins just before the weekend.

That contentment lasted all of 24 hours.

Those first 24? Pretty great, as it happens. Yes, I found the game overly familiar, in that frustrating, can’t-really-complain-about-it way that comes when something is too similar to something great. Like putting on a warm, comfy dressing gown after a bath on a cold, autumn night, and discovering that while it’s only become slightly threadbare over the years, you’re now craving an ultra-plush three-inch thick bear-skin gown, simply because you’ve become too used to the current one. Like a big, decadent twat.

But 24 hours later, all the stitching of that old, trusted garment fell out, the gown fell off, and I became very aware that my heating was knackered.

The horror started, as these things often do, with a day one patch. It’s a testament to how screwy those supposedly game-optimising last-minute tweaks have been over the course of this generation that having played the game quite happily before launch, I greeted my Xbox’s announcement of the update with a default response of trepidation and gritted teeth. The additional code should have been a reassuring sight; a warm blanket bestowed with a cuddle by Warner Montreal, to show that they knew of the game’s last remaining issues and wanted to make absolutely sure that I had the best experience I could now that they were on the case.

But I know that it doesn’t always work that way. And sure enough, by the end of the weekend, not only was I standing wet and freezing in my living room, but some swine had also put a brick through my window and let in a stream of cold, stormy air.

Batman: Arkham Origins, as it stands now, is potentially a wreck of a game. There’s no more accurate way to put it. It isn’t going wrong for everyone, but when it does, it really does. Every sub-species of glitch is there, making up the dubious passenger list for a throbbing Noah’s Ark of technical horrors. Failed start-ups. Failed boots. Crippling frame-rate drops. Missing mission triggers. AI shutdowns. Full system crashes. Dialogue glitches. Ineffective checkpoints. A world map that loses mission waypoints at random. Corrupted save files. Any of these alone would be the big stand-out errors in any release. I suffered all of them within roughly 10 hours, spread across a single weekend’s play. A single weekend’s play that, perhaps inevitably, ended with the last, most monstrous glitch on the above list, after my fourth crash of the day, and the second requiring a pulled plug as a result of my Xbox’s on-console power button becoming unresponsive.

And it’s not just me. Naturally, like any well-adjusted man of the modern age, I took to Twitter to catalogue my anguish to strangers. And lo, between that initial burst from my Akira-style satellite laser of pain, and some more sober enquiries I put out yesterday morning on my personal Twitter account and that belonging to GamesRadar (not to mention what's turned up in the vast glitch thread on Steam's forum), I have discovered an echoing catacomb of wailing gamer voices suffering similar fates. Allow me to relate a few of them to you over on the next page.

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  • Shinn - October 31, 2013 3:30 a.m.

    Oh great, now I can't get past Deathstroke. After I beat him, Batman was stuck in a loop examining his new tool, after I quit, the save reloaded before the fight. Now whenever I fight him, he disappears after the first round. I cannot progress.
  • Shinn - October 31, 2013 3:05 a.m.

    The PC version has been stable for me, no crashes or corrupted saves so far. But no matter how I play, or what I do, every takedown alerts every enemy to my exact position. It doesn't matter if it's a stealth takedown, inverted takedown, ledge takedown, anything I do makes every enemy stop what they're doing, scream "he's here!" and start shooting in my immediate direction. Even enemies on the other side of a wall start shooting at the wall in a straight line to my location, with no line of sight at all. It's making the game's stealth sections boring as hell. It's just takedown, grapnel away, move move move, stealth takedown over and over for me.
  • allen-martin - October 30, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    I've played through all of story mode and honestly the bugs weren't that bad. I had a couple failed boot ups and crashes through the course of it, and a few other odd bugs come up. Calling the game borderline broken though is just a gross overstatement. It's not half as buggy as a lot of other games that have come out in the last few years. Honestly my bigger issues are with game play and story which I honestly didn't think lived up to the standards set by the first two games. It's not a bad game at all, but it's not as good as the first two. Though the bugs are minor nuisances at best. Lost save game info could be a big problem, but so far haven't run into that. The other bugs are just mildly annoying, they don't break the game.
  • N7Spartan95 - October 30, 2013 6:07 a.m.

    I was considering getting this, but if things are this bad, I might as well pick up Arkham City for cheap instead.
  • sagakarikikkaru - October 30, 2013 4:01 a.m.

    I had framerate dips but calling it a borderline failure is just overstating it. It's not even that bad.
  • R_U_Guys_From_British - October 29, 2013 5:12 p.m.

    I've been growing frustrated at the free flow combat too, thought I was nit picking at first but soon realized it wasn't as good as Rocksteady's.
  • GoldenEagle1476 - October 29, 2013 1:29 p.m.

    Goddamn. This sounds even worse than the GTA Online launch. At least with that the single player wasn't broken.
  • Fuzunga - October 29, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    I have the Wii U version and have experienced no problems thus far.
  • Unoriginal - October 29, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    Alrighty Then: -I randomly become unable to Interrogate thugs after fights. -The game freezes 50% of the time a pre-rendered cutscene starts. -Framerate drops below 1 FPS after I fast-travel. -Sidequests and Riddler icons sometimes disappear from the map until I restart the game. -If I do anything other than stand still during autosaves the game freezes. -Dialog stops playing and I have to read the subtitles to know whats going on. -The Camera has a tendency to enter walls during frantic fight scenes. -Sometimes Batman takes out his Cryptographic Sequencer when in-engine cutscenes begin and the camera goes nuts trying to show me both the Sequencer and the event being portrayed. This is just the things I stumbled into frequently during one playthrough. The PS3 version of the game should not have gone on sale in this condition. I find it alarming how few reviews mention this.
  • Redeater - October 29, 2013 2:34 p.m.

    And here I was, almost regretting getting the 360 version. I've found severe problems with the combat as well. I keep getting hit yet in AA I could pull off the all gadets/all moves combo flawlessly. It's now sitting on my shelf while I dip into AC 4.
  • jh4911 - October 29, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    I've found the PC version fairly stable. I really enjoyed the game, what I really don't understand why the console version is so much more expensive than the PC version.
  • jh4911 - October 29, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    I've found the PC
  • bebl09 - October 29, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    I've found it too, it brought me peace and enlightenment
  • jedisamurai - October 29, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    And that, my friends, is just one of the many reasons why I almost never buy games the day they come out. Paying 60.00 for a game is bad enough. 60.00 for a broken game? It would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad. I'll wait for the game-of-the-year edition with all DLC for 19.99 (hopefully with all glitches fixed). And if the glitches are NEVER fixed? Then copies of this game will be floating around for nothing and I'll grab it for pennies. Forget buying new games this Winter. Time to hit the back catalog. I still need to beat Mass Effect 3 again...and Gran Turismo 5 is calling...and I barely started Twilight Princess...oh crap I have over a hundred unplayed games on steam!
  • Bercilak - October 31, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    Precisely, old chum! Except that I'm going to wait for the collector's edition and buy it used. WB Montreal will never see a dime from me. They didn't earn it. I'm tired of broken games being released so that video game companies can use consumers as beta testers--testers who actually *pay* to do so, mind you, by buying the game. Unfortunately, so long as consumers continue to tolerate such shoddy quality, there's no real incentive on the part of companies to change their business practices.
  • CharThom - October 29, 2013 10:42 a.m.

    This game has Bioshock2'd (its an adjective). I've played the same mission from the start 3 times.. when I started I played it for about 7 hours. In that time it froze 11 times and the game bugged during high enemy number fights, 10+. To quote Yahtzee Croshaw, this game is buggier than a big bug bugging out on a dune buggy. My own opinion about the game (ignoring bugs) It's sad because it seems rushed and uninspired, don't think I'm the only person annoyed about the riddle-based riddler challeneges been removed and the guy doing a pretty bad Kevin Conroy impression. But those are my own quams. The state of the bugs in this game and errors etc though are astounding.
  • bread_or_decide - October 29, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    And gave it a rave review...okay.
  • Bloodstorm - October 29, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    He clearly said he didn't have problems until after the day one patch.
  • bebl09 - October 29, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    Not only did Dave not review the game, he clearly states in the article that the review build was fine and that it appears to be the patch that has caused all the issues.
  • Redeater - October 29, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    This game is shit. I've come to this decision. Not being able to play it for the first 5-6 hours because of the WMIB (or whatever). Having a newer 360 and constantly having it freeze after 20 minutes. A completely boring/underwhelming intro that doesn't even hold up to AA let alone AC. Inexplicably NOT having Conroy's voice because they wanted a younger sounding Batman yet he sounds even older because he is trying to do a more gravely Conroy but it just doesn't work. The City design is one of the worst I have ever seen. You have to go through narrow archways all the time because they won't let you go around when moving from one are to the next. One of the worst/complicated menu system I have seen in a while. Ugh, I'm going to stop here. There are too many complaints for this game. Whoever scored this on GR was completely off. Destructoid seems to be the only site who has given it the shit it deserves. (Aside from this great GR article).

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