Batman: Arkham Origins's multiplayer will mark the series debut in the online arena. Developer Splash Damage understands that there's some skepticism among players about Invisible Predator Online mode but says it isn't just a half-assed feature to sell more copies.
"This isn't a sort-of cynical, box-ticking exercise of some suit saying oh, this has to have multiplayer so let's just bang some in there," creative director Alastair Cornish told OXM UK. "It wasn't that at all; it was a discussion about, what would the natural growth of the franchise be like? And it's a really cool premise! That simple premise of, hold on, what would invisible predator be like if you were stalking other human players? And again, not just gang members but elite gang members."
In Invisible Predator Online matches, two players take on the role of Batman and Robin. Through furtive moments and clever use of gadgets, they must take down Bane and Joker's gangs. Each gang tries to pull off a heist while fighting off the heroes and the opposing gang. Occasionally the henchman players can become Bane or Joker and use their special powers. If Batman and Robin manage to take out enough gang members before the criminals can complete their heist, the gangs will retreat and the match is over.
The multiplayer is based on the stealth-action segments of the single-player experience. Cornish feels this makes it an "organic" addition to the game. Its presence actually makes sense.
"Organic is one of the words that we throw around as well. That's precisely what we were going for, is for it to feel natural and not like 'what's this jarring extra experience that's been bolted on to the side of my smooth, sleek single player experience?' It's much more like a natural extension of something that players would really want to do - I want to challenge myself as the Dark Knight to take down the toughest AI in the world - other humans - the most dangerous prey, right?"
Though WB Games Montreal is handling the single-player campaign, the multiplayer is being headed up by Brink and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory studio Splash Damage. The two sides of the game are being developed in parallel by the separate companies. Cornish says that this two-headed operation has prevented the multiplayer from taking away from the campaign's development, or vice versa.
"If it's the same team doing both, then I think it's a bit more understandable that people have reservations, to be like 'well hold on, can't those guys be making me more single player levels instead?' so it was important that there were two separate studios, both playing to their strengths."
It's doubtful that anything Cornish is saying here will win over the skeptics. The multiplayer itself is going to have to convince players that it's a worthwhile addition to the series rather than a frill to make the game more marketable. We'll find out in October.