WB Games’ choice of developer does raise a few questions about the new Suicide Squad, as well as how it might connect with Rocksteady’s history with Arkham. Fans have already begun to speculate exactly what the upcoming title will mean for the developer’s previous series, as well as what it might mean for the rumored new Batman title from WB Games.
The previous success of the Arkham series has made Rocksteady a powerhouse in AAA game development, especially when it comes to adapting properties into games. This has even led to the Arkham series’ combat system somewhat defining the genre, with other titles like Shadow of Mordor being related back to these original Batman games. To a degree, all Rocksteady needs to do to succeed with Suicide Squad is to repeat the success of Arkham Asylum, which wouldn’t be too far off from the origins of the comic series in the first place.
Considering how well Rocksteady has also established the characters from Suicide Squad in the Arkham series as the boss fights from those games, there’s already a strong start to jump off from. In a number of ways, leaning into these previous successes could be the best decision for Rocksteady and WB Games with the next game in the DC universe. Beyond how highly rated previous games in the series have been, this could also finally be the opportunity to answer a question that has been lingering since Arkham Knight.
Arkham Knight, as the final game in the series, has some mixed experiences to say the least, from a disappointing Deathstroke fight, to requiring players to find every Riddler trophy for the true ending. However, it’s Arkham Knight’s “true ending” that might have the most controversy leveled on the entire series, and not only because of the insane requirements to unlock it. The reveal of an almost demonic Batman, one that looked like an effect of Scarecrow’s fear toxin, left the series with more questions than it answered.
If, and it’s a big “if”, Suicide Squad follows the same universe as the Arkham series, possibly being put together by Amanda Waller as a failsafe to replace Batman, it could finally answer these questions. That being said, it should be noted that continuing the storyline of Arkham isn’t the only way to go, as drawing the comparison may end up leading expectations. So, while riding the success could be a powerful step forward, looking at features from the Suicide Squad comics, as well as less explored features of past games may be the way to go from here.
While Arkham often focused on putting the player in control of Batman, DLC campaigns and challenge modes would often place the player in the shoes of other heroes. Most notably among these heroes that fought alongside Batman were Nightwing, Robin, and Red Hood. However, players have also been able to play as Joker before, originally as a PlayStation exclusive campaign with the original Arkham Asylum.
In the case of Suicide Squad, Rocksteady should lean into these multiple character options, letting players control a number of different villains throughout the game. This could appear in a number of ways, from emulating Watch Dog Legion with the dozens of characters that players switch through, to a more team based mechanic like Marvel’s Avengers. Regardless of how Rocksteady approaches the cast, being able to play as different characters throughout the game will be a requirement for a successful Suicide Squad title.
This may not be the most popular opinion, likely because of how poorly Arkham Origins performed when it launched, but it had an well-put together multiplayer mode. Unfortunately, while the multiplayer gang warfare available in Origins surprisingly excelled, the title itself drastically undersold, unlike the massively successful Arkham City. As a result, almost every new feature from the game was scrapped when it was time to work on Arkham Knight, fearing that if the next title resembled Origins, it might also flop.
So, while the multiplayer was well crafted in Arkham Origins, with two teams of players fighting for dominance over different sections of the city while Batman hunts both sides, it never made it past its introduction. The problem here being that the quality of the multiplayer mode wasn’t really what was at fault, it was the lack of players who had grabbed the title at launch. In this case, a new title like Suicide Squad could be the best place for Rocksteady to try its hand at multiplayer again, with the different villains competing against each other and redeeming at least one feature from Origins.
On the topic of redemption, the Suicide Squad brand needs this new game, and it needs the careful hand of a developer like Rocksteady to guide it. While the comic series continues to grow a dedicated fanbase and a number of animated films have released to steady success, most of what the general public knows of Suicide Squad is the 2016 movie. Some fans of the series, or even the individual characters may be divided, but the movie as a whole has been panned as a relative failure, giving the brand a bad name in the eyes of casual viewers.
Considering what Rocksteady has done for Batman with the Arkham series, this could easily be the chance to undo that damage. The games within the Arkham series define Batman now as much as the cheesy movies of the 90’s and the stellar Christopher Nolan trilogy do. If Rocksteady were to take Suicide Squad in a similar direction, and redefine the brand under another stellar, action title, then it could possibly make up for the bad press of the movie.
Suicide Squad is in development by Rocksteady Studios.