Batman: Arkham Origins Gamescom 2013 Preview

At gamescom 2013 we got to see some new content for the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins. Our recent hands-on preview from E3 2013 provided most everything you need to know about the title, but we would be remiss if we didn't fill you in on all the latest updates from our most recent experience.

One of the principle announcements from the latest demonstration was the reveal of a new antagonist in the game, one of the eight elite assassins who are hunting down Batman on Christmas Eve in Gotham City. This new addition to the roster is Firefly, a pyromaniac costumed criminal who wields a flamethrower and takes to the air using his jetpack.

In the gamescom demonstration, Batman was struggling in a race against time to disarm several bombs that Firefly had planted on Gotham Bridge, which links the city's two islands together. The police were en-route to the scene, but if they arrived before Batman's task was done then Firefly would manually destroy the bridge.

We didn't see the police in the demo, nor are we sure what part the police department will play in proceedings. What we do know is that the plot of Origins is set prior to Jim Gordon becoming Commissioner, and that at the beginning of the game Batman is a wanted vigilante, being pursued by the police like any other high-profile criminal. It is not unreasonable speculation then to assume that Batman may have to avoid or even fight against the police forces during the course of the game.

As Batman progressed through the demo we got to see various stealth and combat sections unfold. As reported in our E3 preview, these elements remain mostly unchanged from the tried and tested formula established by Rocksteady in the previous two Arkham games. However, we did get to see one new gadget in action - the Shock Gloves.

Used primarily in a combat role, the Shock Gloves provide Batman with an electrical boost that has several different effects on the way he fights. Firstly, and most obviously, his electrically charged attacks do more damage than his standard melee moves. The shock gloves also allow him to bypass enemy shields easily, and defend himself against electricity-based enemy attacks. By countering the moves of thugs wielding stun sticks, Batman can even recharge the Shock Gloves mid-combat.

Although primarily a combat gadget, the Shock Gloves were demonstrated to have other uses that will benefit exploration and puzzle solving - namely the ability to restore power to uncharged electrical devices and machinery.

We also saw some more footage of the Remote Claw in action, which Batman uses to target two objects and pull them towards each other. Used in combat, this gadget causes two targeted enemies to smash into each other, or can be used to propel an object towards an enemy. The Remote Claw was also used to solve several environmental puzzles, and to create a wire walkway that Batman can use to reach out-of-the-way locations or set ambushes.

At the end of the demonstration we saw Batman confront Firefly and, upon hitting him with his Grapnel Gun, he was dragged through the air in a short scene which left him battered and bruised. The demo faded out before combat could begin, but it was clear that Firefly is going to be no pushover and that a substantive boss battle is likely.

Also shown at gamescom was an exclusive DLC bonus available to players who pre-order Batman: Arkham Origins. This additional content features an extra challenge map, in which a player-controlled Deathstroke will face off against 100 enemies in an effort to defeat them all whilst scoring the maximum possible points.

This section was playable and a brief hands-on with Deathstroke revealed him to be a slightly different combatant in terms of style; overall feeling slightly slower, but slightly harder hitting than Batman. He also comes equipped with his Power Staff and a number of unique gadgets to assist him in combat, as well as regenerative abilities that will almost certainly come in handy when facing off against 100 opponents.

Once again the highlighting factor in the gamescom presentation, as with the E3 experience, is that Warner Bros. Montreal are very much taking their cues from the previous entries in the series and not overly complicating the formula for Batman: Arkham Origins with sweeping changes. However, the new gadgets and new enemies will certainly go some ways to refreshing the experience and adding a little something extra. There is still more to learn and with new information slowly trickling out as we approach the October release date, we are very much looking forward to the next tidbit being revealed.

Ewok | 2nd September, 2013

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