With rumors continuing to rumble over the potential for a remastered Batman: Arkham collection, one writer asks whether such a bundle even needs to be released.
When Rocksteady released Batman: Arkham Asylum back in 2009, it was clear that the developer had tapped into something special. Combining fun, rhythm-based combat with enthralling stealth mechanics, the game certainly made the player feel closer to the Caped Crusader than ever before. Finally, it seemed as though a studio had worked out how to bring Batman into the world of video games successfully.
It was no surprise, then, to see follow-up Batman: Arkham City reach even greater heights. The sequel improved upon the original in every way, becoming one of the best games to see release in 2011. Although the third part of the series, the non-Rocksteady developed Batman: Arkham Origins, failed to impress gamers, those two original entries were perhaps some of the greatest gaming experiences of the previous console generation.
According to recent reports, however, the duo is set to make a return to gaming in the form of a remastered collection. A leaked image from an alleged GameStop employee suggested that both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City would be available together in one package, with optimized visuals and a wealth of additional content. Although some Batman fans may be happy about a potential collection, the exact positives of this rerelease are a little more nebulous.
Quite simply, there are Riddler-esque question marks over whether a Batman: Arkham collection is needed at all. Remastered versions of games, and collections of titles, work best when there has either been a long amount of time between releases or when the gaming community is able to get something exciting and new out of the experience. In fact, plenty of the most beloved remastered editions back up this theory very well.
One of the standout examples of a remaster done right is The Last of Us for PS4. The original game was released in 2013, exclusively for the PS3, and therein lay the problem that both Naughty Dog and Sony faced: the game dropped very close to the end of the system's life cycle as a primary home console, with the PS4 releasing mere months later. What's more, the PS3 by that point was a second fiddle console to the Xbox 360, which was the commercial powerhouse of the two elite gaming brands.
As such, although The Last of Us was undoubtedly one of the best horror games of modern times, there were a few limitations that it immediately faced. Therefore, it made perfect sense for Naughty Dog to bring the game to a potential whole new audience for the PS4, which has turned out to be by far and away the most popular console of the generation so far. What's more, the impressive visual improvements and thrilling gameplay made the title one of the best remastered releases yet.
An alternative reason for creating an updated version of an older game is to bring a well-trodden classic up to modern gaming standards. There are a wide variety of remasters such as this, including Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green, which added plenty of additional features to the iconic original Pokemon games. Meanwhile, Capcom's Gamecube release of Resident Evil completely turned the survival horror classic on its head, and even made the dated scares of the first game into something terrifying once more.
With this in mind, the issue of a Batman: Arkham collection becomes even more perplexing, as the series can do little to improve upon either of these points. To begin with, the Arkham games were released nearly as widely as publisher Warner Bros. Interactive could manage. Arkham Asylum saw release for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, while Arkham City launched for the same consoles, along with an eventual Wii U release too. It's not as though Rocksteady would have an entire new market to tap into.
Equally, there is not much to offer in terms of additional content. Arkham Asylum and Arkham City could perhaps do with a new lick of paint, but the inclusion of all DLC is not going to be much of a pull for players. After all, Warner Bros. and Rocksteady have faced criticism over their DLC strategy, with gamers complaining that some additional content is too short, or that the creation of DLC is given too much of a focus over actually fixing games.
There is one good reason why a Batman: Arkham collection could prove to be useful for fans of the franchise, as it would allow gamers to get the series in one handy bundle. These kind of collections are well known, with Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection showing exactly how well a compendium can work. Meanwhile, Microsoft found some love with The Master Chief Collection, although the game's multiplayer problems were very much unacceptable.
Both those collections have one thing in common, however: the upcoming release of another game in the series. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is due to arrive in May, while Halo 5 launched just under a year after The Master Chief Collection hit the market. With Rocksteady's series, the last iteration of the Batman: Arkham franchise arrived some time before this potential collection, in the form of last summer's Batman: Arkham Knight.
What's more, this alleged Arkham collection is apparently only made up of two games from the series. Arkham Knight itself is not mentioned as part of the bundle, and neither is the much-maligned Batman: Arkham Origins. Although Arkham Knight might not be expected as part of a this release, ironically enough Arkham Origins could be the game with most to gain from a remastered edition.
After all, Origins is clearly the black sheep of the Arkham family. The title, which was not developed by Rocksteady, suffered from a disappointing dip in quality overall from the previous games in the franchise, while it also delivered game-breaking bugs before similar issues with the PC version of Arkham Knight were but a glint in Warner Bros. Interactive's eye. As such, a remastered version of the game could actually improve matters through an increase in quality across the board, and could even give those who skipped the title a chance to see if it was unfairly overlooked.
However, whether it be down to a Rocksteady focus in this alleged collection, or Warner Bros. simply trying to forget that Arkham Origins ever existed, the game was not mentioned in the leak. Should this remastered collection see release, then, there's the very real chance that it struggles to either be a must-have collection of games with obvious improvements, or an all-encompassing bundle of the entire series. As it stands, the point of releasing this compilation is still a little muddled. Hopefully, Rocksteady has something exciting in store.