Licensed games, which borrow the intellectual property and characters from an existing franchise, used to be considered boring cash-grabs that traded dynamic gameplay mechanics for a recognizable face. This perception was altered when Rocksteady released Batman: Arkham Asylum, a fan favorite that allowed players to become the caped crusader in an action/stealth adventure that remained true to the DC comics.
Rocksteady continued that trend of excellence with Batman: Arkham City and now fans eagerly await the final installment, Batman: Arkham Knight. One of the reasons for the high-level of fan anticipation is that Rocksteady includes allies and villains from the Batman universe as playable characters, each with their own unique style, mechanics and personality.
Previous Arkham installments allowed players to select familiar Batman characters like the Joker, Catwoman, Robin or Nightwing. Rocksteady already confirmed that Red Hood is a GameStop exclusive and that Harley Quinn will join the roster of playable characters in Batman: Arkham Knight. However, a recent Amazon listing reveals that Harley Quinn will be playable in DLC story missions alongside the already announced challenge maps:
“For the first time in the Arkham series take on the role of Joker’s psychotic side-kick Harley Quinn and wreak havoc inside the Blüdhaven Police Department. With this exclusive Story Pack experience events in the lead-up to Arkham Knight as you infiltrate Blüdhaven to rescue your partner in crime: Poison Ivy.”
Harley Quinn, a psychiatrist turned super villain, will likely play a large role within Batman: Arkham Knight given her new status and ties to the Joker after the ending of Batman: Arkham City. It appears that Poison Ivy will also return to trouble Batman since her debut in Arkham Asylum, as the rescue mission DLC story takes place before the main campaign in Arkham Knight. During Arkham City, Ivy was a villain within the Catwoman DLC story missions instead of an opponent to the world’s greatest detective.
Speaking of opponents, given that Poison Ivy is held in Blüdhaven instead of Gotham, players should expect for Harley to fight the original Robin turned solo-vigilante, Nightwing. In the comics, Nightwing is the only hero in Blüdhaven – a city considered more corrupt, tarnished and hopeless than Gotham (maybe all these people should just move to Metropolis instead).
Another piece of information to note in the listing is the word exclusive, it doesn’t call out if this exclusivity is for all pre-order copies or will only be available if purchased through Amazon – previous reports of Harley Quinn only mention her being playable on challenge maps and do not reference the DLC story mission.
Either option of retailer exclusivity or pre-order bonus would be in keeping with the release strategy of Batman: Arkham City. During the Arkham City release Catwoman was a pre-order DLC character and there were alternative Batman costumes available at differing retailers.
The Arkham City costume variants limited players' choices within the initial launch, as some content would remain unavailable depending on where the game was purchased. Eventually, all exclusive content for Arkham City was released as DLC or bundled with the game of the year edition but it was still initially off-putting for diehard fans to be forced to choose where to purchase their game based upon variant content. Batman: Arkham Knight might follow its predecessors and force players to make a choice between Harley Quinn story content or Red Hood.
Already completionists must purchase Batman: Arkham Knight on the PS4 due to an exclusive story mission on the Sony console centered around Scarecrow. The Scarecrow Nightmare DLC differs from the Harley Quinn DLC story mission as players still control Batman in this one-off mission as Gotham is “at the mercy of Scarecrow, the fate of the city hangs in the balance as he is joined by a huge roster of other infamous villains.”
In the end, despite a day one DLC release strategy that will infuriate some gamers, expect to see Batman: Arkham Knight continue the strong sales of its predecessors and be a contender for game of the year 2015.
Whose story would you rather play, Red Hood or Harley Quinn? What other heroes or villains from DC Comics do you want to see in Batman: Arkham Knight?
Batman: Arkham Knight will be available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One on June 2, 2015.