Which Arkham Game to Play First?

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Image credit: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

The Arkham series is known for raising the bar for superhero games. They set a new standard, but where do you start with the series? While it’s one continuous story, some players might be considering skipping the first installment and wondering which Arkham game to play first.

There’s something to be said for starting at the beginning. However, Arkham Knight was a free game on some platforms. Being made for new hardware too, it’s tempting to begin here. 

Even if you’re going chronologically, there’s that kind of tricky. There’s a prequel game to consider. This can leave even big fans in two minds about where a re-play starts. 

It’s easy to end up struggling to decide if Origins is worth it. Or if you can understand Arkham Knight without playing the earlier titles, this is what you need to know about which Arkham game to play first.

Which Arkham Game to Play First for the Story? 

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

The Arkham series of games really lived up to making the gameplay everything you imagined being Batman would feel like. Although, the story is a major draw. If that’s what you’re after then Arkham Asylum is where you start.

While the gameplay is fun, the story of Arkham is what really fleshes it out. Without following the plot, you’re not getting the whole experience. Arkham’s story progresses through all of the games, building an ongoing saga for this Batman.

While the Batman movies and other Kevin Conroy cartoons are great, the Arkham games are a highlight for Batman fans. For its story, you’ll need to start at the beginning.

That makes Arkham Asylum the right Arkham game to play first. It’s the start of the story, the first one made, and establishes the rest of the series.

Every other game in the series builds from Asylum. Even if you’re familiar with Batman, you’ll need to learn what happens in Asylum to get the most out of the rest of the series. 

It is this game that establishes where the characters are, and what stage in Batman’s career this is. Even with a prequel out there, this is the game that established how the world differs from the Batman you know.

The bottom line with which Arkham game to play first is that Asylum can’t be skipped unless you’re willing to miss out. Even with a recap, you won’t get the longer form of character development.

Without it, you’re missing that connection with the world and characters. Arkham City drops you into pretty crazy territory without explaining how you got there. 

Which Arkham Game to Play First for the Gameplay?

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

Not everyone is interested in story games. While the Arkham series has some of the best story-driven gameplay, that might not be your thing. If you’re just looking for raw gameplay, you have two options.

The first would be to start at Arkham Asylum anyway. That game is really the basic level of gameplay for the series. Every adventure afterward builds on what it does. The mechanics you learn here will pay off when you get to the later games.

Starting further in can give you more options like getting the Batmobile to drive, but you’ll miss out on a very solidly constructed game.

The second option would be to skip straight to City. This can work if you’re only looking for open-world games, but really Arkham Asylum should be your proper starting point. Unless you’re completely opposed to the more linear gameplay that is.

Both of these are included in the Arkham Collection too. That title is the starting point no matter which of the two you pick. It’s also one of the best superhero games on PS5 and other platforms.

Recommended Order

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

Below we’ll break down which unique benefits each game has to be played when. If you’re just looking for the basic play order though, this is what’s recommended for Arkham.

  1. Arkham Asylum 
  2. Arkham City
  3. Arkham Origins (Optional, explained in detail below)
  4. Arkham Knight
  5. Arkham VR (Extremely optional)
  6. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League (Eventually)

That’s the basics. Keep going for a better look at why each of these fits where they do though, like Origin’s placement. 

Arkham Asylum – Is it Always the Best Game to Play First?

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

We’ve laid out why Arkham Asylum might be the answer to which Arkham Game to play first. However, is it really the only starting point?

Arkham Asylum is the beginning of Rocksteady’s Arkham Games. It introduces their version of Batman and his rogues’ gallery. Although, its gameplay is different from what the series will become.

Arkham Knight is a tightly constructed and fairly linear game. There’s an argument to be made that it’s actually a Metroidvania, and one of the best 3D Metroidvanias for that matter.  It’s at least one of the best third-person games on Steam, along with consoles.

You’ll be exploring linear levels and progressing in a relatively contained story. There are some side quests for you to check out and collectibles to backtrack for, but it’s fairly straightforward.

In terms of that style of gameplay, it is a master class. That might not be for everyone, but when you consider that the story is such a strong element it does make Arkham Asylum the starting point. It’s the natural answer to which Arkham game to play first.

If for some reason you’re not looking for the complete experience, then there are some other starting points you could entertain that might suit your specific needs. 

Arkham City – The Best Starting Point for Open World Fans

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

Arkham City is the second game in the franchise. It’s the one that really kicked things up into high gear.

Asylum had you limited to the titular hospital/prison. City is also set in a prison, but this time it’s a full city given over to the villains. Batman in an Open World really kicked off here.

Asylum had limited opportunities for you to do some of the most iconic Batman moments. Gliding and navigating open space make a big difference. 

This makes City the game that finished off the “Be the Batman” promise of the series. In many ways, it’s a middle ground between the other two games. One goes further with freedom and the other is much more constrained. City is the best of both worlds. 

To many, City is the best game in the entire franchise. That might be a good reason to start here, but there are other factors to consider with which Arkham game to play first.

Arkham City’s plot is a direct sequel to Asylum. This matters if you’re looking at which Arkham game to play first. The game does open with a recap though.

This can catch you up to an extent. If you just want to play open-world Batman, then Arkham City might be your best starting point. Although, you are missing out on story details and a very well-constructed earlier Batman game. 

Like Asylum, City has been made available fully remastered. If you’re starting here though, be sure to backtrack to Asylum if you like what you see. The more contained style of game makes for some of the best character moments in the entire series. 

Arkham Origins – Can You Skip the Prequel?

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

Arkham Origins is very much the black sheep of this series of games. It’s for good reason too. Not everyone would even agree that it’s a full part of the series. The game was developed by WB Games Montreal rather than the main developer Rocksteady.

While the developer changes, this is still in the same style. You play as the same Batman, Mark Hamill returns with his iconic Joker Performance, and the world matches up to the later games.

The big question with Origins is can you skip it? The answer is yes, at least to a lot of people. 

Arkham Origins has a well-constructed story. It’s a nice opportunity to see an earlier part of this Batman’s life. However, the game doesn’t really evolve the Arkham format too much. 

It’s basically the same gameplay as what you’ve seen before. This has led to the game being considered something you can skip. Although, it is worth thinking about playing at some point in your Arkham journey. 

Arkham Origins has a lot going for it. Most of its reputation probably comes from direct comparisons with the other Arkham games though. It was a bit disappointing at the time, especially with the big wait for Arkham Knight.

If you go in knowing what you’re getting, a side story in the same world, it can be a very enjoyable experience. The fuller Gotham depicted here makes for a great world, and the less experienced Batman is a nice change of pace for this series. 

Should You Start with Arkham Origins?

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

Arkham Origins is a prequel, so should you play this Arkham game first? Probably not. It runs into a lot of the problems that prequels often hit.

While entertaining, the title was devised with knowledge of the later games in mind. It’s not a good introduction to the world of Arkham, the characters, or the gameplay. Most players would benefit from starting somewhere else.

It’s never great to begin with a lesser title. You can play Arkham Origins in its original release slot, between City and Knight, or after the series as a whole. One character in Origins will have a greater role in Knight though.

This means it’s probably best to throw in when it was released, after City and before Knight. Although, since development teams were entirely different you don’t lose a whole lot if you miss it.

It is probably best to avoid playing this before City though. This game feels like it is built off of that tile, and it can take away from City’s impact by playing it first.

Arkham Knight – Can You Play The Final Arkham Game First?

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

The final chapter of the Batman-focused Arkham games is the latest release and the only one made for modern hardware off the bat. Along with being given away free to PlayStation customers over the years, this could make Arkham Knight the more accessible Arkham game to play first.

If you’re looking to experience the full Arkham story or even see the development of gameplay mechanics, it’s a poor starting point though. It relies a lot on past knowledge. Coming as the third game of a trilogy, you don’t exactly get a full recap this time around either.

Parts of the plot directly rely on you knowing the past games. While knowing the comic book stories that inspired them helps, this is a different version of events. You can easily get lost if you have no idea why certain characters don’t seem to be around when they should be.

Arkham Knight isn’t the best starting point. Even for gameplay, it gets bogged down with some poorly-implemented mechanics. Giving this to a friend for their first experience might leave them thinking that the iconic Batman series of games is mainly about repetitive tank combat segments!

Arkham Knight is a lot of fun and a worthy ending to the series. You should probably consider playing it after City though, keeping to the originally intended order. 

When to Play the Rest of the Arkham Games

Which Arkham Game to Play First
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

The Arkham series was massively successful. That means Warner Bros pumped out Origins when Rocksteady needed some more time. They’ve also taken to getting an Arkham game across loads of platforms. There are mobile games, VR games, and sidescrollers on the 3DS and Vita.

None of these are the right Arkham game to play first though. They are all also optional. It doesn’t matter if you play them or not, they don’t massively factor into the story. 

Which Arkham Games to Play Before Suicide Squad?

The upcoming Suicide Squad game is probably going to be best played after the whole series is concluded though. If you’re trying to avoid spoilers too, maybe avoid all marketing! 

Some major plot developments are mentioned as a key part of the setup for this new game. Asylum is the best Arkham game to play first to get caught up, or if you’re just new to the series as a whole.


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