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

@StevenPears Serious frame rate issue when fighting large numbers of thugs and 10 minute login wait first time I logged on with my WBID (360)

@Luca_WR yes! Fair few glitches and then today after making sure it saved have a corrupt file with 10+ hours played

@passthemstickss Plenty of glitches and some freezing when attempting to load new areas. Had a bunch of tweets about it last night.

@SillyMikey Yes, crashes every 45 minutes on 360. Very annoying

@Eriatha I had a bug, on PC, where I fell through the floor in The Bowery. And one of the comm towers is inaccessible due to another bug.

@BeximusHad trouble getting the game to start on 360 and shockingly slow load times - took me four attempts to start a new game

@TheKiddNova bad lagging n glitches on PS3 deathstroke challenge map glitch stuck under random crate n thugs killed me by throwing bricks

@MwLpNo1FaN I'm on the PS3 version and I was killed during a mission but the checkpoint didn't register or something so I go back to the location of the mission and nothing is there for me to keep continuing the mission.

@CplDHicks huge drops in frame rate, sound cutting out, npc's disappearing....

@BobShoy 90% through - load save to be falling endlessly through blackness. no way out of it = broken game. gutted.

@mikeprw Xbox 360 - TERRIBLE frame rate. Corrupt save. Freezing. Glitching. 40 pound well spent...

@cleverexcuses Tons of issues. System has frozen twice, and tons of lag, bugs, and glitches. Game is a HUGE disappointment.

@JackOfIreland got to the start screen. Stuck on that bit now.

So yeah. Suffice to say that Batman: Arkham Origins is not working out as Warner Bros. might have wished it to. A release like this is bad for consumers, company reputation, and the reputation of a hitherto flawless nigh-franchise that its previous developer crafted to within an inch of its life. Not to mention the reputation of the new studio, who--in terms of game design at least--have otherwise done a great job in picking up the mantle from their predecessors.

Now just to be clear, not everyone is running into problems. Based on my current anecdotal evidence, PS3 and Wii U owners seem to be safest from the technical earthquakes ripping through Gotham right now, and I’ve had a few Xbox 360 owners claim to be okay at the moment too. But the fact that technical failures this serious are happening, in such catastrophic combinations, on such a seemingly widespread basis--I had no problem accruing 23 negative reports on the game yesterday morning alone--raises some serious questions, a couple of which go way beyond Arkham Origins.

In regards to this specific game, assuming that the day one patch did break the game (I’m not currently sure that it did, but the fact that pre-release and review play was fine is possibly a big hint), how on Earth did Warner Bros. let an update go out that it (in the best case scenario), wasn’t 100% sure was safe (because surely it couldn’t have put the patch out knowing that it was defective)?. If the patch isn’t the cause of the problem, how on Earth did Warner Bros. let a whole game out without knowing what a technical mess it was (because surely it wouldn’t have released its tent-pole title of the last year of a whole console generation knowing it that was defective)? In terms of scope, Origins is not the rushed-out sequel I feared, but on a technical level it currently feels like exactly that. A good game taken out of the oven too early, in order to to avoid being buried by next-gen hoo-ha.

But the bigger issue is why this stuff keeps happening. Broken games, whether busted at launch or smashed up later by the unforeseen side-effects of supposedly medicinal patches, are not an uncommon thing. In fact at this point, they’re par for the course. When was the last time you didn’t expect a big game release to have problems? When was the last time you felt confident that multiplayer would work from day one, and that you could play through a campaign without any graphical issues or game-killing bugs?

As I've said before, we keep accepting this sort of treatment, and we shouldn't. Imagine if Arkham Origins was a Batman film instead of a Batman game. Imagine if, two-thirds of the way through a screening of The Dark Knight, the projector started stuttering, and then eventually caught fire, melting the reel in front of my very eyes (in my mind, cinemas have not gone digital and never will).

Say the lights came up and the doors opened. Say the cinema staff gave me the option of starting the whole film again, or just leaving and not bothering with the last act. Would I accept either of those two options as good enough? Would I happily start all over again without feeling the need for compensation for my wasted time and money? Would I balls. But gamers do that all the time. And by doing so, we just invite more of the same shoddy treatment, over and over again.

I got in touch with Warner Bros. for a comment. To their credit, they looked into the issue very quickly and got back to me this morning. The official line from Warner Bros. Montreal is that "We are currently reviewing and validating issues that have been reported to us. Updates will be deployed once we have fixes available." That at least, is heartening news. Fingers crossed that those fixes become available soon.

Because I really hope that Warner Bros. fixes Arkham Origins. Despite the game’s flaws, I was enjoying it. No, it’s not quite up to the same standards of polish and design flair as Rocksteady’s games. And I’m not convinced that Origins’ free-flow combat works as well as that of Asylum and City. But it’s an enjoyable game regardless, and one that I want to keep playing. But right now, I can’t recommend it to anyone. Before launch, I could, and I did. I want to be able to do that again. But at the moment I just can’t.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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