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Batman: Arkham Shadow interview: The secrets to becoming the Batman in VR

Batman: Arkham Shadow interview: The secrets to becoming the Batman in VR

Batman: Arkham Shadow is the next step in becoming Batman

Batman: Arkham Shadow is the next game that lets players truly be the Batman in Rocksteady’s beloved Arkhamverse.

Set a few years after Batman: Arkham Origins, Roger Craig Smith is back as the dark knight for possibly his toughest challenge yet, saving the city from the Rat King and whatever other criminals appear to take advantage of the chaos.

Check out the latest trailer for Batman: Arkham Shadow below

Unlike Rocksteady’s previous titles, Batman: Arkham Shadow will be played entirely in VR, exclusive to the Meta Quest 3, and while I was also sceptical about the next Arkhamverse game not taking place on a home console or PC, I’ve still got high hopes that’ll be a solid addition to the franchise.

What I’m most excited for is the promise that Arkham Shadow will truly let us be the Batman, a popular tagline for the series that will apparently be fully realised with this upcoming VR title.

The idea of putting on the cowl, pummelling goons and holding the caped crusader’s wide range of gadgets and gizmos excites me, even more so after an interview with Ryan Payton, Founder & Studio Director of Camouflaj which is the studio behind the VR title.

Payton spoke to me about what fans can expect from the new game, the creative process was like while trying to capture that authentic feeling of being in Batman’s boots.

Speaking about the game, Payton said “It's been an absolute blast working on Batman Arkham Shadow over the last three and a half years or so. We got started on development on the game pretty soon after we finished Ironman VR back in 2020 and it all started with uh with a phone call … they called us up and said, hey, we want to do something even bigger than what your previous project was … what do you think about Batman?”

Batman: Arkham Shadow-
Oculus Studios

Now the Batman Arkhamverse has a clear beginning, middle and end when you put all the titles together, not counting Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League which I’d rather consider as a multiverse story… So with that in mind I was eager to learn how the team slotted Batman: Arkham Shadow into that timeline with little to no disruption.

“It was a massive challenge to become quick experts on the Arkhamverse and then to to work really closely with Warner Brothers Interactive and DC to establish where in the timeline Arkham Shadow was going to fall.

He went on to say that the game is set “set earlier in Batman's career between Origins and Asylum.”

Story aside, since it’s a game made for the Meta Quest 3 there’s going to be a level of interactivity that wasn’t seen in the core games, with the player themselves throwing hands with thugs and lobbing batarangs at things. If anything can accomplish that it would be the Meta Quest 3, which is a decent bit of kit when it comes to immersion, but I was still somewhat sceptical that all the core elements we’ve come to know and love from the Arkhamverse could be done successfully in VR, and it sounds like I wasn’t alone on that.

Payton said “As this being a not only a VR game but a Quest 3 exclusive it allows players to become Batman, like you've never become before.

He went on to explain that the team picked five things that “make Arkham, Arkham,” with one example being “exploration as Batman grappling around, running and sliding into vents navigating areas, going into floor grates, you know, sneaking up behind the guy, pulling him down and then zipping up to a vantage point.”

Batman: Arkham Shadow-
Oculus Studios

Now admittedly there are some parts of the Arkhamverse games that I just can’t picture translating into a VR format, one of those being combat. As Payton rightfully said, Rocksteady Studios “Revolutionised third-person melee combat” with freeflow, so much so that loads of other games have tried to replicate it to varying degrees of success.

Speaking on how the team approached such a mammoth task, he said “coming from a guy that's typically known as an optimist, I just couldn't see it.” He went on to say they were deeply inspired by titles like Beatsaber and Superhot VR, describing Batman: Arkham Shadow’s combat as “spinning plate gameplay.”

Combat in the game will involve a form of bullet time, where everything slows down as you plan your next move, like punching whoever is in front of you, or blocking an incoming strike, or going in for a grab, your every move will matter.

It all sounds really interesting, even more so when you bring gadgets into the mix like the batarang, which Batman will pull from his chest “inspired by the Robert Pattinson/Matt Reeves Batman,” a detail I adore.

The last thing I wanted to touch on was which actor would be lending their voice to Batman, as it can no longer be a job for Kevin Conroy after his unfortunate passing. We now know that Roger Craig Smith will be reprising his role from Batman: Arkham Origins, and he’s apparently thrilled to be back under the cowl.

Batman: Arkham Origins-
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

While speaking more about what it was like to work with the actor, Payton said “he has been one of my favourite collaborators on this project, over the last three and a half years … because he cares, and he is just a force of nature on the mocap stage. We spent many many days. Many, many weeks with him and, yeah, he's incredible and he is dialled in and loves this, and it comes across in his performance.”

Batman Arkham Shadow might not be the continuation of the Arkhamverse many hoped for, since it’s exclusive to the Meta Quest 3, but one of the key themes of the series is giving players the chance to be Batman, and what could accomplish that more than a VR title?

Gameplay is yet to be shown off, but I’m hopeful and excited for Batman: Arkham Shadow’s release, and can’t wait to see how the team at Camouflaj have transformed Rocksteady’s world, and of course seeing Roger Craig Smith return as the Dark Knight.

Featured Image Credit: Oculus Studios

Topics: Interview, Batman, Warner Bros, VR, DC