The Batman Arkham series is rightfully credited by many to have pushed the gaming space by miles. Rocksteady‘s iconic take on the legendary Dark Knight is something that’s always brought up when talking about the best video games ever made, especially when it comes to superheroes in general. The smooth combat and traversal mechanics, top-notch textures, and a killer story in every single game are just some of the things responsible for putting the franchise on the map.
Praise aside, the franchise includes multiple AAA games that were released over the course of many years. For some, it’s confusing finding out where the story of the Arkham-verse initially took root. So to get you started in a jiffy, I’ve listed all of Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games in order below.
Batman Arkham Games In Order of Release Date
While the actual number of games with the title “Arkham” may be overwhelmingly high, only 6 of them are considered to be fully canon. Below you’ll find all the Batman Arkham games in order of their release dates:
- Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) — Main
- Batman: Arkham City (2011) — Main
- Batman: Arkham City Lockdown (2011)
- Batman: Arkham Origins (2013) — Main
- Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (2013)
- Batman: Arkham Knight (2015) — Main
- Batman: Arkham Underworld (2016)
- Batman: Arkham VR (2016) — Main
- Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League (2023) — Main, Spin-off
The titles with the “Main” tag are the major games in the storyline and must all be played to understand the Arkham-verse. Another thing you should note, these games are only playable on consoles and PC.
The ones that don’t have the main tag beside them are mobile games set in the same universe. Although they’re quite fun, there’s no harm in skipping them. Even as a die-hard fan of the franchise myself, I wouldn’t recommend playing them unless you’re really intrigued or are just bored.
On the other hand, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, which you might think initially is misplaced but isn’t, seems to be a very eye-catching title. It’s one appropriate for Rocksteady’s next installment into the Arkham-verse. The game is a direct spin-off sequel to Arkham Knight. And as the name implies, it follows the Suicide Squad as they attempt to bring down the Justice League.
The JLA has been wreaking havoc in Metropolis after Brainiac brainwashes them. So Amanda Waller assembles a group of misfits to deal with them. And if it wasn’t obvious, yes, Batman’s in it— but he isn’t saving people.
Batman Arkham Games In Chronological Order
So you’ve read about the release order above, and playing according to that would give you the same feeling of getting the “original experience” that everyone else throughout the years got. But the release order of the Batman Arkham games isn’t chronologically correct. WB Montréal’s game is a prequel and an origin story, hence the name.
Some might argue that playing the Batman Arkham games in chronological order proves to be more enjoyable. Witnessing how Bruce Wayne became the Dark Knight, and how each plot point led to another in future games can be considered bearing more emotional depth. And if that’s what you would personally lean towards too, then you can view the chronological order of the mainline story games below:
- Batman: Arkham Origins
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Batman: Arkham City
- Batman: Arkham VR
- Batman: Arkham Knight
- Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
The plot definitely is more convincing if you play it in this order. But the catch that accompanies it might feel restricting. While you would become more invested in the characters and world, playing in chronological order would make Arkham Origins come before Arkham Asylum and City which have less gameplay depth and features.
It may feel uncomfortable that you could do more stuff in the first game you played. While in the latter some features are missing. So that’s totally something you’ll have to decide for yourself. But if I were to recommend a play style, the release order works best.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Release Date: October 25, 2013
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
Among the mainline entries, Batman: Arkham Origins is the only game that didn’t involve Rocksteady Studios. Instead, the game was developed by WB Games Montréal. It’s another one of DC’s studios that had previously helped with the creation of Arkham City. Later, the studio also helped make Arkham Knight.
Arkham Origins is the third game in the franchise’s mainline story, but it serves as a prequel to the first game. Although this definitely is a game about the origins of Batman, it picks up a bit later when whispers of the masked vigilante start to stir up Gotham’s underworld.
Untangle the complexities of Bruce Wayne’s early cases and witness how he became known as the World’s Greatest Detective. With a $50 million bounty on your head, you’ll have to fend off multiple sadistic supervillains like Deathstroke, Bane, and Black Mask. While simultaneously you’ll be cracking a rather cold case pertaining to a string of murders.
In many ways Batman: Arkham Origins fails to hit the mark with its open world design. But the story is so good that it easily outweighs the negatives. The meticulously planned origins of Batman and Gotham’s brilliant world-building, although comic-inspired, couldn’t have been brought alive in this specific way as a movie or animated show. So it’s an experience you’ll only be able to cherish by playing the game.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Batman: Arkham Asylum is credited as the title that laid down the foundation for what would become one of the greatest video game franchises to ever be made. The plot of Arkham Asylum, no doubt, is pretty basic with Joker seizing control of the facility and the Caped Crusader trying to stop him. But back in 2007, the game was very much ahead of its time.
The contrast of personas you witness between Batman and Joker throughout the storyline is thoroughly engaging. And the added spectacle of it being based in a grim and sinister part of Gotham, the Arkham Asylum, leaves you with no shortage of baddies to take down. The game couldn’t have done a better job of embodying how a Batman game should play.
Also worth noting is that you may have come across the word “Return to Arkham“. This happens to be a remaster of Batman: Arkham Asylum, and City for the Playstation 4. So it’s better if you opt for the remastered versions of both games when starting your Arkham journey.
Batman: Arkham City
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Often regarded as the best Batman game ever made with regards to the story, Arkham City outdid its predecessor in every aspect. And showed the industry how sequels are supposed to be done. Bruce Wayne is wrongfully incarcerated in Arkham City, a mega prison where all of Batman’s fiercest foes have been lying dormant. When all hell breaks loose, the prison turns into a city run by supervillains.
So it’s pretty much obvious who’s going to save the day— Batman. And while you’re facing off against the likes of Two-Face, The Joker, and more, behind the scenes, a mad doctor by the name of Hugo Strange seems to be running the circus.
Arkham City’s story by far is the greatest one in the franchise. Rocksteady also upped the ante with its signature “Free Flow Combat” system. So bashing skulls in the game couldn’t be any more satisfying. It’s an overall well-rounded experience and one that’ll be memorable after you complete it.
Batman: Arkham VR
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
The Batman Arkham VR game was released along with the PSVR back in October 2016 as a launch title. The game in general is relatively short, the experience lasting for about 2 hours at most. While it definitely wasn’t extraordinarily received, this VR spin on the Masked Vigilante did put the PSVR’s limits to the test.
The story is a prequel to the events of Batman: Arkham Knight. It’s centered around how Nightwing and Robin have been reported to be murdered. And now Batman must figure out who killed them. The enigma surrounding the culprit and the thought of him being someone formidable enough to take down Batman’s heirs definitely adds a chunk of mystery and fright. That is a concept that easily hooks you in the first few minutes of the game. It also does a remarkable job of lasting for the entirety of the journey.
There’s a bit of detective work here and there throughout. And these small mystery scenarios are pretty exciting to solve, especially when looking through the eyes of Batman himself. So it’s a very unique title overall and totally a must-play if you’ve got the PSVR at hand.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
It’ll take you some time before you get this far into the how-to-play list of Batman Arkham games in order. But once you do, Batman: Arkham Knight will blow you away on every level. Especially with its stunning graphics, amazing traversal maneuvers, a huge neon-themed city full of life, and a beast of a transportation system— the Batmobile.
Originally launched in 2015, Arkham Knight still plays, feels, and looks better than most games released in 2022 or after. Rocksteady’s climax of the Arkham Batman is a stellar sight from start to finish. It leaves no stone unturned in delivering a deliberately crafted work of art. Due to that, it caters to the hopes of both newcomers and veterans of the series alike.
The Dark Knight’s final crusade against evil breaks all boundaries as he battles against a militia led by the “Arkham Knight”. He’s someone Batman hasn’t met before. But somehow this assailant knows everything about Bruce Wayne and his nightly rooftop adventures. The plot intensifies even further when Scarecrow threatens to spread his fear toxin throughout Gotham. Due to this threat, the city is eventually evacuated.
Now with the streets completely free of citizens but full of gangsters, unleash the all-new Batmobile, and Takedown every menace roaming about. Batman: Arkham Knight is a fitting conclusion to the absolutely wonderful game series. Without it, this saga wouldn’t have ever felt whole.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Release Date: May 26, 2023
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S , Windows
After nearly 5 years of silence, Rocksteady announced at the DC Fandome event in 2020 that their next AAA project is Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. It was later revealed to be a narrative-driven game albeit with a totally new concept. Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Dead Shot, and King Shark are the world’s last hope of survival after Brainiac puts the Justice League under his mind control.
Now with no one else left, the greatest lunatics to walk the DC universe must band together and put an end to the Justice League’s rain of terror— talk about a switcheroo. While it was really sad seeing them walk away from the Arkham-verse, Rocksteady assured fans that Suicide Squad will in fact be set in the same continuance.
The studio has done a stellar job of intriguing every gamer’s interest while not giving away anything pivotal to the story. After the climactic ending of Arkham Knight, Batman’s appearance in Suicide Squad was the subject of hot debate ever since the confirmation that Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad will share the same continuity.
But finally, at The Game Awards 2022, a trailer for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was released in which Batman was featured. Aside from the trailer paying homage to the late Kevin Conroy, Batman’s voice actor, the teaser showed Batman being under Brainiac’s control as he ruthlessly beat up a cop.
Imagine having to fight the Arkham-verse’s Batman, someone who has practically never lost a fight. By the looks of it, Rocksteady has once again managed to make a game deserving of the franchise. But that’ll be for the fans to decide once the game releases on May 26, 2023.
Is Gotham Knights Connected To The Arkham Games?
Gotham Knights is the latest game fresh out of the oven at WB Games Montréal. It was released in October 2022 for the current generation of consoles, making its debut a whopping 7 years since the studio put out its last game. Its story is based in an alternate reality completely separate from the Arkham-verse, although it’s quite obvious some inspiration can be found in Gotham Knights.
It’s a totally different iteration of the comic book heroes based in a world where Batman allegedly dies. But in the end, the game is still based in Gotham City and is made by a studio that has worked on the Arkham series. So even though it doesn’t fall into the Batman Arkham games’ order, it’s a great play if you’re a fan of the characters.
Not On Par Yet Fun To Delve Into
Even though Gotham Knights’ story isn’t related to Rocksteady’s in any way, playing it feels like a refresher when you get too caught up playing the Batman Arkham games in order.
Comparatively, I’d say Rocksteady’s Arkham-verse remains superior in every way, especially Batman: Arkham Knight. But even so, Gotham Knights is its own thing, and while it doesn’t live up to the past DC Batman games, it’s certainly fulfilling when you traverse Gotham’s rooftops as the Bat-family.
So that sums up everything you would need to know about how to start playing the Arkham games in order. It’s true that Rocksteady’s widely acclaimed universe has become a bit stale now. No new title has made its way into the Arkham-verse in many years. But even so, every game in the franchise was still able to age beautifully.
Fortunately, the story isn’t over just yet. By the time you finish catching up on the Batman Arkham games, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will be out. So there will be loads more waiting for you to jump right back in.