It's Christmas Eve in Batman: Arkham Origins, and while everyone else in Gotham City is watching A Christmas Story for the hundredth time, Batman is stuck outside battling bad guys in 40 degree weather. If Bats wants to get home in time to eat a Christmas ham with Alfred and find out if Ralphie ever got his Red Ryder BB Gun, he's going to need a little help. While most Arkham veterans should be at home in this new Arkham adventure, these tips should help you conquer the new "I Am the Night Mode," which challenges you to beat the game with no saves and one life.
The "free flow" combat system return in Arkham Origins, and there's a bit of nuance to it that you may not have realized before. Rather than frantically mashing the buttons, you'll want to take it slow and press them methodically, like you're playing a deadly game of Rock Band or Guitar Hero. To keep your combo, use the vault-dodge (just don't use it more than once, otherwise your counter will drop), and consider going on the offensive, breaking enemies out of their counter-ready attacks rather than just countering everything you see. Using a quick Batarang (double tapping the left trigger/L2) can also keep your combo going, as can a quick Bat-grapple. When enemies are dazed and on the ground (with stars above their head), you can use a melee takedown to instantly knock them out. Resist the urge to do this every time, as it can leave you completely open to attack from the mob. Instead, try to only employ a basic takedown when there's a maximum of two enemies on the screen, or you're completely isolated from the pack.
When looking for enemies to whittle down to get into this stunned state, use enemy model types to your advantage. For instance, one Black Mask thug may have a purple coat and a mask, while others have a different getup -- rather than pummel each enemy a tiny amount until the pack is knocked out, focus on that purple coat enemy and take him out first, then switch to another specific foe. It's important to not be oblivious to your surroundings while you're taking single enemies out, however. Always listen for a gun click while in a brawl, and don't be afraid to use Detective Mode in combat to find gun wielders (highlighted in orange); take them down first, or at the very least disarm them. This is also a great way to single out blade-wielding enemies, who are often the most deadly in the pack. To unlock the "disarm and destroy" move, you must complete the optional sidequest that unlocks after the morgue, and capture "Bird". You can also "pre-gadget" forced fights to make big packs a little less formidable. If you happen to see a bunch of enemies standing about in a circle, select your smoke pellet, aim it at the crowd, let it fly, then rush in.
You may also need some help on Deathstroke, which can be one of the hardest encounters in the game. At first, you'll be able to just pummel him into submission, topping off a rather easy starting phase of the fight. Next, you'll need to rely solely on counters, waiting for him to strike -- don't let up countering either, as he may look like he's done, then fade in another attack while you've dropped your guard. Don't get overly aggressive, just focus on counters, and if he's reeling, throw in some hits but then pull back. Be ready to mash (not press) Y/Triangle when he uses his smoke bomb, which signals the ushering in of a new phase. If you take a lot of damage early on (in phase one), press the start button and restart the fight to the last checkpoint -- you'll need that health when he becomes more aggressive later on.
Like the first two games, certain rooms in Arkham Origins are designated as "Predator" encounters. To progress with the story, you'll have to defeat every enemy in the room, preferably without being seen, as most (if not all) enemies in these sections have guns. To combat this, once you obtain the Disruptor weapon you can jam up to two guns, which turns their Detective Mode filter from orange to blue. The best way to use this limited tool is to tag two foes in two different patrols. If you happen to encounter a pair, attack the enemy with the gun first, then bash the goon who is just realizing his gun is broken. That way, you'll have no chance of getting shot. Enemies will not know that you jammed their gun until they attempt to fire it, but once they realize it's broken, they'll rush to a weapon cache and get a new one. Before you nab the Disrupter, you just need to be patient. Wait for enemies to break into single formations, then pick them off with a silent takedown. Using moves like the inverted takedown or takedowns from grates can cause noise, which can either work for or against your cause, so examine your surroundings and choose wisely.
Once you've gotten the combat system down, it's time to move on to upgrades. In Origins, you'll have access to two trees (combat, and stealth), with a third tree unlocking new abilities after you've accomplished certain challenges. As far as manual upgrades are concerned, I recommend heavily investing in the melee tree, specifically in hand-to-hand defense early on. The vast majority of the encounters in the game are melee based, and the stealth Predator sections are actually pretty easy given the default tools at your disposal. This is especially useful when you unlock the ability to instantly disarm those shield-wielding jerks with one punch while using the Shock Gloves you'll earn mid-way through the game. Before you unlock said upgrade, single them out specifically (right after gun wielders) and use your stun dodge ability to knock the shields out of their hands. In terms of actual fisticuffs-based fights, Origins is arguably the most difficult Arkham yet, especially considering the fact that the game tends to just throw tons of thugs your way with little warning. In that regard, investing in extra melee health is the way to go, and it pays dividends by the game's finale.
Multiplayer is completely new to the Arkham series. The way it works in Origins is two rival gangs (Joker and Bane themed organizations) are fighting over turf, and Batman and Robin are in the middle of it. When playing as the dynamic duo, it's important to isolate lone wolves, and pick them off one by one. If the team isn't splitting up, use gadgets to force their hand and make them split. Use height to your advantage, as thugs are very hard to control. Using explosive gel near key areas like crates is also a great tactic, and if a capture point is empty, you'll want to plant a scrambler on it immediately to prevent enemies from gaining points. You also want to put some variety into your takedowns, to boost your Intimidation meter (which is how you win the game).
When playing as the baddies, you'll alternatively want to stick together at all times: Splitting up is fatal. Keep in mind that heroes are extremely weak in close combat, as special takedowns are the only way to effectively take you out -- so watching grates, gargoyles, and anything above you is key to staying alive. If you happen to get caught in an impending explosive gel trap, look directly at it to avoid the impact. If the hero intimidation meter is high, hunt them down immediately. Halfway through the round, one player on each side will have the opportunity to play as either Bane or Joker by walking through a special door -- neither villain can regenerate health, but should be used whenever possible, preferably by the top player on the team. Bane is slower, but he's great for taking out multiple enemies with his throw moves. Joker is a more technical character, with ricochet bullets and an infinite sprint move. Work with your team through voice chat and determine what skill set is best needed to use these villains to their full potential.
There are a few other interesting tidbits in Arkham Origins, like the fact that you can periodically visit the Bat Cave and talk to Alfred, who will dole out a small amount of XP. You can also press both sticks in to view things in first person, which can make a number of scripted in-game events a little more fun. By using all of these above tips, you should be able to appease Alfred's constant need for attention, and save the city in one fell swoop. Wait, bats can swoop, right?