The best Batman Arkham game still isn’t on PS5, and that’s a problem

Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League is almost here, but I can't revisit the best Arkhamverse game on PS5 without sacrificing quality.

Batman Arkham Origins PS5

Undoubtedly the most influential superhero gaming franchise on the planet, the Batman Arkham franchise has a sensational track record.  I’m hoping Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League can add to that. There’s a lot of love for the Rocksteady Studios trilogy, but therein lies the problem. Developed by Gotham Knights studio WB Games Montreal, Batman Arkham Origins is often left out of the conversation.

It doesn’t help that it hasn’t had the same treatment as its Rocksteady counterparts, leaving it on the sidelines, especially for PlayStation owners. At present, DC Comics fans can revisit the Arkham trilogy through the Batman Arkham Collection or the Return to Arkham bundle. The former includes a download code for Arkham Knight, while both feature the Unreal Engine 4 remasters of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. As both iterations of these bundles were released for PS4, that means they run through backwards compatibility on PS5.

However, if I want to play Arkham Origins, the options are disappointingly slim. I can of course play the game on PS3 or Xbox 360, pending I dig one out and hook it back up, or I can find a copy to play via backwards compatibility on Xbox Series X. The Series S is where my Team Green home is at though, ruling that option out immediately.

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So that leaves playing Arkham Origins on PS Plus through retrofitted PS Now streaming features – and let me tell you, it is rough. My internet is more than capable of streaming the game, but even then, the results aren’t exactly inspiring. Textures are incredibly muddy, inputs often don’t work correctly, and various sound issues plague the game’s otherwise impeccable sound design. It should be criminal to maul Christopher Drake’s excellent store this badly.

It’s hardly the premium experience you’d expect from an Arkham title, let alone any selection of all the free PS Plus games available. Arkham Origins deserves better treatment, but it is unlikely to get it due to its reputation as that other game in the Arkhamverse. Yet, Arkham Origins is the undisputed king of the franchise in my eyes. Batman is meaner, angrier, and less experienced, with Arkham Asylum’s events transpiring eight years later in canon. There are still the foundations of the World’s Greatest Detective, though.

You feel it as you dig for clues in crime scenes dripping with blood and calling cards from The Joker, or his observations of the Gotham City underworld. This version is on the verge of letting his emotions consume him, letting the flashback of his parents’ death ensnare his mind. It all lends itself to channeling the franchise’s core mantra: ‘Be The Batman’. Sure, I love the feeling of utilizing a peak 200 high IQ Batman in Arkham Knight, but there’s something so satisfying about destroying criminals as as a grizzled Bruce Wayne in this painting of a seriously distressed Gotham.

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Gotham City feels tangible here, evoking the sense of realism that Matt Reeves would serve up with Robert Pattinson in The Batman. It feels like I could run my fingers across the TV screen and be met with dirt in return. Smashing enemies into piles of broken bones never tires while using gadgets like the Electrocutioner gloves is S-tier Batman gameplay. You need this kind of brute-force power in Arkham Origins, as the stakes are exceptionally high. Ole Batsy has a $50 million bounty on his head, and whipping out the Wayne Industries credit card isn’t going to clear it.

That brings villains like Deathstroke into the picture, giving us the best boss fight in the entire Arkham franchise. It’s a true brawl with mechanics that haven’t been utilized in any other Arkham fight since. Well, that was until the excellent and unfairly maligned Gotham Knights arrived.

With that game’s reputation and lack of meaningful post-launch content, it makes the case for getting Arkham Origins ported over to PS4 and PS5 extremely slim. I’ll be leaning on Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League to quell these woes soon, which promises some great post-launch DLC. Though, I’ll always be pining for Arkham Origins.