Batman’s dead! For real this time, and not even a quartet of sidekicks dressed in colourful garb that conveniently distracts gun-toting thugs from the bat-themed maniac with parental abandonment issues, can bring the world’s greatest detective back from the dead. Anyway, that red herring aside, Gotham Knights is shaping to look like a whole lot of fun.
Batman: Arkham Oranges developer Warner Bros. Montreal has been hard at work for a number of years on the game, which gives you control of not one but four heroes. Batgirl, Red Hood, Nightwing, and Best Robin are on the roster, but sadly Ace the Bat-Hound isn’t. Cowards. All of Gotham City is waiting to be explored, its five boroughs are under attack by various criminal organisations and metahuman threats, and the Court of Owls is up to something. What could it be? Hoo knows?
The big difference here, is that Gotham Knights isn’t going to be just a lone caped crusader simulator. Warner Bros. Montreal’s game wants you to bring some dynamic duo action to the urban battlefield, following on from the Arkham games mechanically but adding brand new systems to the familiar combat to make co-op play a part of its DNA. “We have entirely redesigned the combat system in order for it to work well in co-op,” executive producer Fleur Marty explained to GamesRadar.
Of course, we’re still a brawler, and some of the mechanics won’t feel totally alien for people who played and enjoyed the Arkham series, but it is in many ways very different.
To accommodate the co-op design, Warner Bros. Montreal rewrote the book on the Arkham formula. Environments are now open so that they feel less claustrophobic, character progression is shared between the entire roster, and you’ll be able to switch between vigilantes whenever you rest up for the day at the Belfry. “Since the story progression is shared between all the characters, it also makes sense that you don’t have to level them up from scratch every time you want to switch. It also stays very coherent in terms of our narrative,” Marty said.
Since the other members of the Batman family are always present in some way in the background, while you’re out in the world fighting crime or unravelling the mystery, they don’t stay inactive. So it makes sense that they are also progressing and getting stronger.
Co-op gameplay, even if it is of the drop in and drop out variety, has always been a hit or miss affair. Gotham Knights is also coming at a time when a similar game, Marvel’s Avengers, was released to resoundingly negative reception. Mechanically, Avengers had a ton of great ideas but the end result was a boring mess of a game that has spent the last few months working on fixing its many flaws. That still can’t save it from being a boring live service slugfest, something which Gotham Knights is aiming to avoid when it releases in 2021 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Last Updated: January 11, 2021