A couple of months ago, Warner Bros. Interactive announced that we would be getting a new addition to the Batman video game franchise before the end of the year, and more recently rumors began spreading that the game would be called Batman: Arkham Origins, which was one of the domain names registered by Warner Bros. last year.

The rumors have now been confirmed with the official announcement of Batman: Arkham Origins, and a handheld game game called Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, details of which were given by Game Informer along with the reveal of their Batman: Arkham Origins-themed May magazine cover.

Fans of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City can look forward to the next  core addition to the game series on October 25, 2013, and the handheld spin-off will be available for 3DS and Vita on the same day. Here’s some early promotional images, as shown on the magazine cover:

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Batman: Arkham Origins on the cover of Game Informer

Arkham Origins is not being developed by Rocksteady Studios, who helmed the previous two games, but by the newly-established studio Warner Bros. Games Montreal who worked on the Wii U port of Arkham City, Armored Edition. Game Informer has also released an interview with the developers (included at the top of this post), which outlines what gamers can expect to see in Batman: Arkham Origins, and how they handled the responsibility of coming to such a strongly-established franchise and making it their own.

The thing that jumps out most from the interview is the impression that the game’s title is somewhat misleading. One of the developers explicitly says:

“We’re not telling the story of Batman’s beginning. We’re not telling the story of Arkham Asylum.”

Arkham Origins is a rather odd choice for the title of a game that is neither about origins nor Arkham. The game will be a prequel to previous games, with Bruce Wayne already established as the hooded vigilante, and will not be set in Arkham Asylum or Arkham City, but will instead, the developers excitedly explain, be set on the streets of Gotham on the night before Christmas:

“We really wanted to add that layer of life and make it look like a functional place, even though it’s Christmas Eve, even though it’s super-cold, even though everyone’s at home with their families, we did want to show that it’s a functional city and it’s not a deserted wasteland.

“We have eight of the best assassins in the world, who have come together in Gotham City for one night – Christmas Eve of all nights – to kill the Bat.”

One of the eight assassins is Deathstroke, featured in his new incarnation of the back cover of Game Informer. Other assassins from the Batman comics who could potentially be making an appearance include Lady Shiva, Ra’s al Ghul (one of the bosses in Arkham City) and his daughters Nyssa and Talia, David Cain, and expert marksman Deadshot. There are many assassins who make an appearance in the comics – an entire League of them, in fact – but from the way that the game is described, it sounds like the antagonists and allies that feature in the game will be central to the comic books’ canon:

 “This is a story about the first time Batman meets certain characters that are very important to him, and defines the relationships which ultimately start to define him.”

Batman: Arkham Origins will be set in Gotham on Christmas Eve

The “origins” of the title seem to be referring to the origins of Batman’s relationship with certain characters from the series, and it’s possible that the game will somehow tie into the story of Batman: Arkham Asylum in other ways, or will perhaps conclude with a set-up for a future Arkham game. It’s more likely however, that “Arkham” was used to securely link this new title to the two previous games, which both achieved a great deal of both financial and critical success.

Putting the misleading title and the changing of hands aside, there’s absolutely no reason not to get excited for this new addition to the Batman video game franchise. The idea of the hunter becoming the hunted, with the world’s best assassins all out to get the Batman, is definitely an intriguing one, and hopefully we’ll see Warner Bros. Games Montreal stepping away from the better-known villains like the Joker and Poison Ivy to let some members of the League of Assassins step in.

Batman: Arkham Origins will be available on Wii U, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC from October 25, 2013.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate will be available on Vita and 3DS, also from October 25, 2013.

Source: Game Informer