What If: The Next DC Comics Game Is Threshold: The Hunted?
For the last few years we’ve had a steady stream of Batman: Arkham games coming, with the last in the series–Arkham Origins–having released on October 25th. Since Warner Bros Montreal developed the game in Rocksteady’s absence (while oddly using Rocksteady’s engine and assets) it not only made me curious as to what other game(s) Rocksteady could be developing, but what other properties DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive could (or should) be working on.
With Injustice: Gods Among Us storming the fighting game genre, what other kinds of games and genres could DC Comics’ franchises explore?
Well, what if the next DC Comics Game is:
While the New 52 title didn’t last very long, the premise of Threshold: The Hunted would make for a perfect videogame, taking several cues from various titles; mainly The Running Man (both the original Stephen King “Richard Bachman” novel and the Arnold Schwarzenegger film adaptation).
You are a hero or celebrity, but in the eyes of the space queen Lady Styx, you are a criminal of the Tenebran Dominion. For your crimes, you have been kidnapped and forced to participate in The Hunted, where the entire planet of Tolerance is after your hide. Hosted by beloved and sensational celebrity “Bleeding Adonis,” The Hunted is the most popular game show in Styx’s sector of space, a sector where even the Green Lantern Corp and L.E.G.I.O.N. have little power.
Those labeled a threat by Lady Styx are turned into fugitives, whose bounties can be collected by anyone who dares to capture them, although specialized bounty squads–cheered on like sports team franchises–usually get the most dangerous and expensive fugitives.
The Hunted asks: how long can you survive? What will you do to stay alive? And will you ever gain your freedom?
The Plot Thickens
At the start of a video game adaptation of The Hunted, you are a freshly kidnapped fugitive who is given a one day grace period to travel the cities of Tolerance unharmed and armed with little information about a world full of strangers who want to kill you for money.
But soon you get involved in a large conspiracy that brings together the best of DC’s cosmic heroes in a crisis that could threaten to dissolve Lady Styx’s empire forever. Along the way, we may even learn that your character is not entirely innocent, an individual of questionable origins that could add dimensions to the narrative over the course of the game.
You should never, ever feel completely safe during the game: you are the number one star of The Hunted after all, and that means your blood could give someone a fortune to last a lifetime.
The Open World of Tolerance
Influences: Just Cause 2, Watch_Dogs
The world of Tolerance should be a vast, alien metropolis, a cosmopolitan city with its own unique brand of denizens, cultures, businesses and architecture. Ultimately it should still feel familiar–Tolerance is still, at heart, a giant tourist attraction and market-driven planet–but designers should be given free-reign to make references using all kinds of visual gags while also adding their own unique touches.
The city needs to have a personality, as it will be a huge part of the game: after all, players will be spending most of their time running through it, hiding in it, and destroying it to escape the clutches of their enemies. The city should also be as open as possible, making most, if not all, of the buildings accessible in some way: be it through climbing up, or through special vehicles.
Like the Arkham series, players should be able to explore the environment and learn to use it to their advantage, whether as an extension of their arsenal by leading enemies into your traps, or as a back up option to escape through secret passages or into safe houses.
Like Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, players should also be given the tools to disguise themselves, as maneuvering around a city with the most recognizable face on the planet may make your goals a little harder to achieve.
With some confiscated technology and help, players could also be able to turn the city against their foes, by hacking into the city’s mainframe or simply blowing things up like in the upcoming Watch_Dogs and the mayhem-heavy Just Cause 2, respectively. And like Just Cause 2, there may be a “HEAT” meter that balances out how much destruction you cause by attracting more attention to your whereabouts. The most “noise” you make, the easier it is for authorities and hunters to find you. Stealth will probably be your best option for surviving the game.
Staying Alive In The Hunted
Influences: The Assassin’s Creed series, the Batman: Arkham series, Watch_Dogs
Following The Hunted‘s premise, stealth is easily the best option for most players. Of course, like other popular open-world stealth games, there will be certain sequences that may require a more action-oriented approach. But again, you’ll be usually trying to avoid attention, not get more of it.
With this in mind, the tools, skills, and weapons of the heroes in the Assassin’s Creed series and Batman: Arkham series, and what may be available in Ubisoft’s upcoming Watch_Dogs, should be the template for picking off enemies or avoiding detection, with an emphasis on using distractions, tricks and traps to accomplish swift, silent takedowns.
Of course, as the narrative goes on you may come across special weapons and resources that make your journey less… troublesome. Those items should reflect DC’s larger space setting, with references, homages, and easter eggs to DC’s most popular space heroes, weapons and races.
Your character, for instance, may come across a proto-Darkstar suit which grants limited strength and defense boosts. Or your character may find an engineer who can make a black market version of an Oan Manhunter’s shock baton, allowing your character to stun an enemy for long periods or ground-shock a group of foes, but with the need to recharge it in between use with power grids (which could garner negative attention). Or players may find a New Genesis Mother Box, whose super-intelligent A.I. can interface with computers of all types, or open up Boom Tube wormholes–but at the risk of alerting enemies to where you are arriving because of its deafening sound.
The Hunted should be all about giving you options for surviving an alien planet in a science fiction sandbox, and letting you figure out your own way through peril.
We’ve had a lot of open-world sandbox games set in a variety of worlds: but surprisingly not many set in a futuristic, alien planet, and based around stealth. Threshold: The Hunted could be an interesting new take on the genre, marrying the freedom and fun of most sandbox games with the best of the sci-fi and survival genres, all of which to make a memorable game that players want to come back to.
Hell, it could even create a new comic series.
DC Comics, make this game, please.