Next-generation is here!
Join us as we break down, year by year, the big comic book video game news and releases on what is now “last gen.”
Previous posts: 2013
2013 may have been the year when hardware manufacturers released new consoles, but there was also plenty of software that made players feel safe with sticking for what they had in the time being. Ramping up production coming off of their Game of the Year award winning The Walking Dead, Telltale Games was quick to launch the premiere for the follow-up season in late 2013. for example. Not only that, they also released the debut of the fan favorite The Wolf Among Us based on DC/Vertigo’s Fables line in a similar time frame. Both would run well into 2014 and receive next-gen versions late in that same year along with Season One of The Walking Dead.
While players patiently awaited for a sequel to 2011’s terrific Batman: Arkham City from series creator Rocksteady Studios, publisher WB Games and developer WB Games Montreal scratched the Batman itch with Batman: Arkham Origins in late 2013. Set before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, Origins explored the early years of the Dark Knight’s career and his first encounter with The Joker.
Arkham Origins didn’t bring much new to the table in terms of gameplay features, however its foundation, built upon Rocksteady’s work, story and performances have given this prequel lasting appeal with many feeling it doesn’t quite get the respect it deserves. Those hungry to see what was in store for Batman post Arkham City wouldn’t have to wait particularly long, as it was in March of 2014 where Rocksteady dropped the first trailer for the character’s next-generation exclusive debut: Batman: Arkham Knight.
This was the first time the world would get a look at Batman’s new armor and the freshly designed Batmobile, which would be Arkham Knight’s claim to fame. The last time an iteration of the classic vehicle was seen in the series was Arkham Asylum where it was only used to get an upgrade from the trunk before it was remotely driven into the river with Bane wrapped around it. For better or for worse depending on who you ask, players would be able to control the Batmobile for the first time in the series history in Batman: Arkham Knight. Initially slated to come out in 2014, Batman: Arkham Knight would get delayed into the summer of the following year.
Batman fans wouldn’t be left out in the cold completely though. WB Games along with developer TT Games would end the year with LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes before it, this game wasn’t truly “next-gen” as it would also see releases on the last generation devices and the Nintendo Wii U.
Though the Justice League would play a larger role in this adventure and it would take the Caped Crusader out of his home turf, LEGO Batman 3 still placed a large emphasis of its progression on Batman and Robin donning different costumes like the two previous games. For this entry, new hub worlds were introduced like the Hall of Justice and the Green Lantern home world, Oa.
A downloadable stage themed after the 1966 Batman television show wound up stealing the show in LEGO Batman 3 with the late Adam West even coming back to voice the character. An inexpensive Season Pass would extend the lift of LEGO Batman 3 well into 2015 with stages inspired by 2013’s Man of Steel, the CW’s at the time new Arrow program as well as the Suicide Squad among others.
DC Comics main competition, Marvel, was mostly focusing on the mobile and free-to-play space in the early years of the last console generation, but they still managed to make a sporadic appearance on consoles. After releasing games starring Spider-Man for almost fifteen years, Activision would publish their final outing with the web-slinger with 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, loosely based on the film of the same name. Like every other title discussed, it also arrived on the last generation of consoles as well as Wii U.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would end a partnership that produced such unforgettable games as 2000’s Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions on a low note. With a jumbled campaign that poorly blended Sony’s cinematic outing with the comics, not to mention a morality system that required players to grind tedious side-missions to keep swinging paths free of enemies, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 felt like it was rushed to meet the deadline of the film. It was the end of an era in that regard, as publishers would mostly refrain from releasing software on multiple platforms to cash in on a a popular movie license around this time.
What’s perhaps most notable about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was that it was announced to have versions for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Shortly before launch though, the ability to pre-order the Xbox One version was quietly removed for an unspecified region. Right before launch, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made it to the Xbox One digital store under the wire and would eventually get a retail release later in the summer.
Close to the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Disney would reveal the follow up to their 2013 toys-to-life outing, Disney Infinity. Dubbed Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition), the sequel brought in heroes and villains from The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man into the fold. The base game, released in the fall of 2014, would come with three characters: Iron Man; Thor and Black Widow plus a mini-campaign for The Avengers.
Like the first game, users could create their own content in the Toy Box mode and additional characters, as well as campaigns for Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, were sold separately. For parents, and Marvel lovers of all ages, Disney Infinity 2.0 was a big investment. However, the mini statues that came to digital life on your screen were more than worth the price of admission and made for wonderful pieces to display on your shelf.
Disney Infinity 2.0 was made available for every platform on the market at the time, however players in Sony’s ecosystem had the first chance to play as Hulk. A collectors edition was produced for use with the PlayStation 3 and 4 that came with a stylized base complete with a frost beast and the full Avengers roster. For those who played on the Wii U and Xbox platforms, Hulk would come as an individual purchase towards the end of the year along with Falcon and Loki.
The big Marvel Cinematic Universe movies for 2014 were Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, but whether audiences knew it or not, Disney had another Marvel feature in the same year. Disney’s animation division produced Big Hero 6, loosely based on characters from the Marvel Universe, that arrived late in the year. Though the team wouldn’t get their own console game, two characters, Hiro and Baymax, were added to Disney Infinity 2.0 for use in the Toy Box mode. Publisher GameMill Entertainment also released the forgettable side-scroller Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay for the Nintendo DS family of consoles.
Next time it’s 2015 where Batman comes to next-gen, Telltale announces new partnerships with Marvel and DC and the only X-Men adjacent title for the entire console life cycle arrives.