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Batman: Arkham Origins devs detail relationships, setting

Batman: Arkham Origins creative director Eric Holmes and narrative director Dooma Wendschuh talk about how they're taking advantage of the prequel conceit with new twists on characters and settings.

Batman: Arkham Origins is rolling back to an earlier time in Batman's history, making for a tricky minefield of storytelling. We already know where these characters will end up, which runs the risk of making the plot lack stakes. But WB Montreal has explained more about how it will make this piece of the story stand out, notably by playing with its earlier iterations of characters. "He's used to winning at the start of our story," creative director Eric Holmes told Game Informer. "He's used to being the strongest guy in the room, the fastest guy in the room. That changes tonight, so on some level that's going to crush him, his ideas of himself but it's also a great opportunity to grow." Dooma Wendschuh, the game's narrative director, added that "up until now he's been dealing with the Maronis and the Falcones," a reference to Gotham's mob bosses that predated the supervillains that Batman usually needs to square off against. The assassins hired by chief antagonist Black Mask are a completely different league of enemy. Judging by a marketing display reported by CVG, some of the name-brand enemies appearing in this installment will include Joker, Bane, Killer Croc, Scarecrow and Deadshot. Each has previously appeared in an Arkham game in some capacity. Deadshot, and the previously revealed Deathstroke, make sense as two of the eight assassins that Black Mask sends after Batman, but the others aren't generally identified as hired guns in the Batman universe.

Batman: Arkham Origins Deathstroke

As a prequel, WB Montreal wants to make this game focus on Batman's earliest relationships, like his stalwart butler, Alfred. "We wanted to take a look at the Batman and Alfred relationship a different way, to make it more relatable," said Wendschuh. "Batman sees Alfred as an extension of the darkest time, the darkest thing in his life. He sees Alfred as an extension of the death of his parents, because Alfred's been around since his parents were around. Sort of as an overbearing parental figure. And Alfred, for his part, sees Batman as this spoiled kid who's squandering his parents' wealth on these nightly escapades. The two of them clash often throughout our story." Meanwhile, the dark themes are juxtaposed against the trappings of Christmas, a conscious choice to add an accent to the proceedings. "Christmas is really fun because it adds a sense of irony to everything. It's black on white," said Holmes. "Gotham is the worst place in the world, it's this horrible black lung of a place. Then you've got Christmas which is this wonderful, warm image that we have of being with your family, opening presents, eating together, and generally rejoicing. It's a good thing and a bad thing wrapped together, but it keeps the sincerity. It's black humor." As for comic inspirations, the two cited Year One (as we speculated) as a "seminal" part of this story. They also mentioned Legends of the Dark Knight, a series that began in the late 80s to tell stories outside the current comics' continuity. This allowed the writers to often explore Batman's early years, before he had Robin as a sidekick and had met many of his most notable arch-villains.
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