It would be an understatement to say that Rocksteady Studios is currently sitting atop a high horse in the games industry, having more than exceeded expectations with this year's Batman: Arkham City, and receiving the nod for best Action/Adventure game from the Spike VGAs - check out our review if you doubt it deserved it. The game wasn't the only thing to earn some praise at the show, as Batman's main villain was crowned as the fans' favorite character of the year.
In his acceptance speech, the Mark Hamill-voiced Joker let more than his gratitude show though, apparently 'leaking' the title of Rocksteady's next journey in the Arkham universe. Could Batman: Arkham World be the next game in the series?
No. Unequivocally, indisputably, no. Let's put a stop to this speculation right now, since the ridiculous absurdity and obnoxiousness of the proposed title is enough to say that Batman is more likely to become Joker's sidekick than for this to be real. Aside from the fact that the title makes no sense within the context of the games, the apparent lack of a sense of humor among some news outlets is mostly to blame for any speculation that this is actually a 'reveal,' 'leak,' or 'unofficial announcement.'
First off, the accidental 'reveal' of the title, and Joker's reaction of 'Whoops: Spoiler!' is clearly meant for a bit of levity, and if the executives at Rocksteady could see the fervor and enthusiasm that some are already reacting with online, they would surely be rolling their eyes. Is there a sequel coming from Rocksteady? Almost definitely. Anytime soon? In our collective dreams.
If it took the developers over two years to bring Arkham City to the world after releasing Arkham Asylum, then it will most likely take at least that long to bring the next game. So there's no use wasting any time or energy speculating on what the game may focus on, since the developers themselves are unlikely to have made those decisions themselves.
It's reasonable to think that the next game will be bigger and better than previous ones, but only if there's a story good enough to bring the developers back. Lest we forget, the studio still has big plans for episodic story DLC, not to mention completely designed - and completely underutilized - characters in Nightwing and Robin, both of whom are begging to be given more screen time. It's a safe bet that the team will be working to make the most out of the massive game they've already spent years perfecting, before thinking about the next project.
If the next game does go bigger, and seeks a city-sized environment, it stands to reason that it would be Batman: Gotham City. Unlike 'Arkham World,' this title does not imply that the game will be an MMO aimed at young adults, but a logical step forward for Batman's video game incarnation. The title could be neither of these, and Rocksteady might actually be in the planning stages of bringing an entirely different superhero to life. But if there is one thing we can say with absolute certainty, it is that the next game will absolutely not be Batman: Arkham World.
The larger map, the expansion of possible transportation modes (batmobile, please?) and the inevitable increase in villains and criminals that setting the game within Gotham City - you know, the city Batman lives in - makes far more sense. We can't even think of a story convention that would make the existence of an 'Arkham World' plausible. The world's worst theme park, perhaps?
Of course, for those of you who have finished the game's main campaign - No Spoilers! - know that the entire premise for this leak is impossible and clearly just played for laughs. Believe us, when Rocksteady is working on a new game, and when it may or may not have a working title we'll bring you all the details. But for now, spare yourself the future embarrassment and don't ask your friends questions about the possible plot of 'Arkham World.' You'll thank us later.
To get an idea of what Rocksteady has already accomplished, be sure to pick up Batman: Arkham City for the PC, PS3 or Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.