Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is out this week, and a lot of people have been enjoying it. Not surprising, given that Human Revolution was also great, and also good to hear. Here’s hoping that we don’t have to wait another five years for Adam Jensen’s next adventure, but should that end up being the case, there’s something that Square Enix and Eidos Montreal can do in between that time: Batman Beyond.
90s kids will remember the show fondly, but for everyone else: in 1999, the DC Animated Universe created by Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, and Paul Dini created a spinoff series to the Dark Knight’s adventures that jumped to the year 2039. Bruce Wayne is too old to keep doing the whole Caped Crusader business, and anyone who was remotely in his corner has either died or has an incredibly strained relationship with him. Teenager Terry McGinnis steals his high-tech Batsuit to hunt down the man who killed his father, then becomes the protector of Neo-Gotham with Bruce as his teacher. With that in mind, isn’t it about time that we get a game on the Caped Crusader of the Future?
With two Deus Ex games under their belt, it makes total sense for Eidos Montreal to be the ones to handle this. Deus Ex and Beyond share a lot of DNA, both in terms of general visual style and aesthetic, in addition to themes (and no, not just in the sense that Jensen effectively has Bruce’s personality as an emotionally distant ninja). Beyond, like Square Enix’s sci-fi series, touched upon the troubles of physical augmentation via technology and how they would affect society. Also like the first two entries of Square’s series, Beyond took a brief, but no less important detour into the concept of genetic experimentation and cloning. (Okay, so bear with me on this…)
In the show’s unofficial series finale, “Epilogue,” Terry believes that he’s actually the genetic clone of Bruce, but it turns out that he’s wrong. Amanda Waller (hey, remember her?) used her Cadmus resources to essentially rewire the DNA of Terry’s father so that when he was born, the child would have the genetic traits of his mother and Bruce Wayne. All she needed was for his parents to die horribly, so she hired Bruce’s ex-fiancee to do the deed, but she backed out believing that killing was completely against Batman’s MO. But it didn’t matter, since Terry’s father died later on, and the kid went and became Batman anyway. In any case, Bruce is effectively Terry’s father, which is probably going to be awkward when he and Damian meet each other in the future.
A Batman Beyond game in general isn’t even out of the realm of possibility, Deus Ex influences or no. WB said last year after the release of Arkham Knight that they consider the Dark Knight one of their “cornerstone IPs” and that “the possibilities are endless”. Bats’ extensive, and frankly absurd, history means that you can do pretty much anything with him as far as games are concerned, which is what we’ve seen now with the upcoming VR venture and the Telltale game. The Arkham games did a great job of making players feel like Batman, and this would go one step further by continuing the first person perspective that Eidos is clearly comfortable with. It would give players an opportunity to see the distinct changes from Gotham to Neo-Gotham through completely new eyes. With Terry being an ordinary teenager, he’s able to blend in much easier than rich boy Bruce Wayne, allowing him to get information and be Batman even when he’s outside of the suit. It wouldn’t be out of the question to implement a feature where you cloak the new Batmobile to drive around and gain vital information or stop random crimes that pop around the city.
The Arkham games made stealth fun, and Beyond could capitalize on this with the high-tech Batsuit. Terry’s gadgets are mostly geared more towards stealth than Bruce’s are, with magnetic boots, cloaking, frequency scanners and lenses transmitting visual data to the wearer. Even his offensive abilities aren’t completely out of line with what’s been established, with the typical Batarangs and utility belt, an electric burst through the hands, and claws in the gloves. Along with the aforementioned cloaking and boots that could make takedowns and zipping away from enemies even more impishly fun, the tech implemented is a good way to make players feel like a detective. It’s one of the big tentpoles of Batman, but Arkham Origins was the one game to truly embrace that part of him.
Batman games at their best have always had strong narratives that bring together the best parts of his rogues gallery and comics history, and a Batman Beyond game can follow suit in that regard. With a majority of books in the prime DC canon being set in the present day, anything past that is essentially up for grabs. Terry’s history is comparatively younger than his father’s by a wide margin, even taking the various comics over the last five or six years into account, making it effectively a blank slate for writers to make a compelling story out of. There’s a lot about Bruce’s time before retirement that we don’t know about that can resurface and be a problem for Terry, “sins of the father” and all that. If they wanted to keep Terry distinct from Bruce, they could just create a wholly new villain to join his already fairly extensive list of villains.
Rocksteady effectively closed out Bruce Wayne’s story last year with Arkham Knight, but there’ll undoubtedly be a point where someone comes to either pick up from that point or start a whole new Bruce story. While being Batman is his whole thing (of course it is, he literally created the identity), there’s no reason we can’t experience what it’s like as someone else donning the cowl. Plus, Terry has Ace, the Bat-Dog, and it would be totally cool to use him in combat.