Gotham Knights releases in just a couple of weeks, and Batman fans have been excited – and eager – for the Bat clan’s big family adventure. To find out how the project is taking shape, I made a trip to Warner Bros. Montreal to play the game for two hours. I spent time fighting crime as all four characters, exploring the open world of Gotham, and taking down criminals together with a co-op partner. I also chatted with the development team to find out more nuggets about what adventure brings to the table. Here are some general hands-on impressions and intriguing fun facts I’ve learned about Gotham Knights as it heads toward its October 21 release.
Combat feels totally different from the Arkham games
I dressed as all four heroes at different points during my two-hour-plus gaming session. The combat feels markedly different than the Arkham games, which, if you haven’t kept up with Gotham Knights, might surprise you.
The game has a single melee attack button used to execute simple combos. Gotham Knights feels less snappy than the combined fast-paced Arkham games, mainly due to the elaborate animations that accompany each assault. It was off-putting at first, but I gradually fell into the more direct approach to the game, although I would like to have a little more weight behind the offense.
A ranged attack launches projectile weapons, such as firing Red Hood’s pistols or throwing Batgirl’s batarangs. Holding the melee or ranged button unleashes a more powerful variation each round; Batgirl unleashes a spread of projectiles similar to a shotgun, for example.
Mixing them into combos while dodging incoming attacks builds momentum, a meter segmented into two bars. Spending these meters activates a character’s special ability, which each Knight can have several equipped. Earning special moves by successfully performing basic attacks reminds me of the psychology of fighting games like Street Fighter, and I think the formula translates well to a third-person shooter. Robin’s teleportation portal is one of my favorites as it allows him to open a rift that transports distant enemies towards him. Nightwing can drop a healing device that heals himself and a co-op teammate.
WB Montreal hopes that the initial simplicity of combat will help players quickly adjust to the Knights before they gain more abilities, unlocked by spending skill points in a skill tree. It’s worth noting that I’ve played the base versions of these characters and only upgraded them a few times, so while the combat starts relatively on a single note, it hopefully becomes more solid and entertaining as you progress.
Surprise: playing cooperatively is more fun
Playing Gotham Knights solo is perfectly viable, but teaming up with a developer for a co-op session became my favorite part of my time with the game. I took on Robin while my partner took on Nightwing, and we worked together to stealthily take down gangsters before getting into fights when things went awry. I also like that you can grab and hold enemies to initiate dual team moves, which is reminiscent of executing team moves in a fighting game, oddly enough.
Players can also play together regardless of their levels. WB Montreal promises that the game’s balance allows rookies to fight alongside veterans with fully leveled Knights and have a good time. Even better is that each player can play with their own level of difficulty. If someone likes the challenge of Hard mode while your friend wants to navigate through the experience on Easy, that’s fine. But the best news is that…
Co-op partners can explore Gotham City separately outside of story missions
Story missions understandably keep players relatively close together, but teams can split up and go their own way when it comes to moving freely. That means you could be on the south side of Gotham fighting street crime while your friend is on the other side of the map exploring the university for secrets. By not making players feel handcuffed, WB Montreal hopes to capture the superhero fantasy of biting off more than you can chew only for your friend to swoop in deus ex machina style to save your butt before disappearing again. in any activity in which they were involved. Plus, it makes chatting with each other more fun if one of you discovers something exciting.
Having only two players is a narrative decision
Many gamers were puzzled that Gotham Knights only supported two-player co-op despite having four protagonists. When I asked why, the game team said they chose this format because it served the narrative better.
“Storytelling is also one of our really important pillars of the game,” says game director Geoff Ellenor. “We really wanted to deliver on that. So as we go through our initial prototyping, at some point we draw the line that four players together is like a party moving in one general direction. And it’s fun, but it’s not a narrative if the experience becomes more and more about the social experience and less about the story that you’re experiencing in the game.”
Important scenes have four variations
Depending on who you’re controlling, key story moments will be tailored to that character, meaning all four of their versions of each big moment. While the narrative essence of the scene remains the same, the interactions change along with the cinematography. When I visited Harley Quinn at Blackgate as Batgirl. Joker’s former partner referred to me as “Bratgirl” and seemed wryly excited to have some girl time with me (much to Barbara’s annoyance). Robin, however, has never met Harley in this universe, so they will have a very different conversation. But with that in mind…
You will get the complete story in a single match
In light of that point above, I was wondering if Gotham Knights was the kind of game that required multiple playthroughs for each hero to understand the full scope of the narrative. Fortunately, that is not the case.
“You can absolutely get the entire story from one game,” says narrative director Ann Lemay. “But if you want to get the nuances that we’ve done for each character, I highly encourage you to make the plays. [at] different times. There is a different flavor.”
Civilians let you know how good of a hero you are
Unlike the Arkham series, this version of Gotham City is populated by both normal citizens and criminals. These regulations are not here just to invigorate the city; they serve as constant reminders of your progress as a hero.
“At first, they don’t think you’re as good as the last superhero that defended the city, and they’ll tell you,” says Ellenor. “And as you progress through the story, little by little you win over the citizens. You gain more trust from the people around you. They are happier with what you are doing.
Strolling through the streets, people regularly reacted to my presence. In most cases, they were very supportive, cheering me on while occasionally making funny comments that reminded me a lot of the street interactions in Marvel’s Spider-Man.
The Belfry features over 40 cinematics
Between nights fighting crime on the streets, you’ll return to Belfry’s hideout to change teams, unlock new gadgets, and most of all, hang out with the team. In the Campanario many stories unfold and relationships are built. So much so that the central area alone features more than 40 cutscenes, according to the game’s cinematic director Wilson Mui.
“There’s an underlying tension with them early in the game, but you’ll see that melt away as they find their spaces and their comfort zones with each other… I think we’ve managed to do something pretty amazing. because that’s not something we’re used to seeing in a superhero game.”
These scenes are evenly divided to weave individual narrative arcs for each Knight. Many will focus on how each teammate deals with the trauma of Bruce’s death.
Robin’s costume was not inspired by Damien Wayne’s
Some fans mistook Tim Drake for Damien Wayne when Gotham Knights was first revealed, largely due to Tim’s Robin costume sporting the hood and poncho-like design made famous by Bruce’s son. According to art director Jay Evans, the resemblance is purely coincidental.
“I heard that comparison for him. At first, it was more of this kind of streetwear, jackets were some of our influences. [It] turned up a bit, almost like a poncho. But these suits, like the default suits or the starter suits, you know, they’re a mix of real-world wearable suits and a mix of a super suit. They’re somewhere in between, you know? And that’s where we wanted to start.”
Harley Quinn is a total villain
Harley Quinn’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to the suicide squad/Birds of prey movies and animations harley quinn Serie. These adaptations have portrayed the Joker’s former main squeeze as more of an anti-hero with occasional heroic tendencies, but Gotham Knights returns Harley to his evil roots. Despite going back to what brought Harley to the dance, WB Montreal teases their version of the character that it will be a new version.
“…What [a] Huge Harley fan, what we’ve done with her, I don’t think you’ve seen before,” says executive producer Fleur Marty. hero. The full-fledged supervillain. They’re doing very poorly, and she doesn’t need anyone but herself to do that.”
Gotham Knights launches on October 21 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.