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Gotham Knights resurrects Arkham Knight’s massive stuttering problems

Gotham Knights isn’t off to a good start, especially on PC. After the developer announced the game would be locked to 30 frames per second (fps) on console with no performance mode, I immediately saw visions of the infamous Arkham Knight PC port — and my worst fears were confirmed.

Although Gotham Knights isn’t as disastrous on PC as Arkham Knight was at launch, the game still has serious performance issues. It’s demanding without much of a visual payoff, but the real issue comes down to how much the game stutters regardless of the hardware you’re using.

Get ready to stutter

Robin fights the mob in Gotham Knights.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Arkham Knight is an infamous PC port. At launch, the game stuttered like crazy, performance was lacking even with powerful hardware, and the game was locked to 30 fps. Gotham Knights isn’t a repeat of Arkham Knight, but it’s close.

In terms of pros, the game has an upcapped frame rate — technically it’s capped at 360 fps, but you’re free to set that limit wherever you want. Performance is decent, though you’ll need a recent high-end PC to run the game (it has insane system requirements). Stuttering is the connective tissue here, and it’s nasty in Gotham Knights. 

Frame time in Gotham Knights at 1080p with ray tracing turned on.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Above, you can see a frame time chart when playing for about four minutes in Gotham City. This was with an RTX 3060 Ti and Core i5-12600K, which is close to the configuration the developer recommends for 1080p at 60 fps.

I actually capped my frame rate here to 60 fps to give the game the best chance possible, but you can still see massive spikes in the frame time, with many going above 100ms. If you’re not used to seeing this type of graph, each one of those spikes (particularly the large ones) is a stutter.

Frame rate in Gotham Knights at 1080p with a 60 fps cap.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Frame times are a bit abstract, so check out the plot of the frame rate each second above. There are sections where Gotham Knights stayed locked at 60 fps, but more often than not, the game fell far below that point. There are constant dips into the high 40s and some severe drops below 30 fps.

Gotham Knights frame rate with ray tracing turned off and no fps cap.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This isn’t an issue with the graphics setting, either. I had ray tracing turned on for the above tests, but I ran some with ray tracing turned off as well. I turned the fps limit off for these runs, and you can see that this configuration hits an average fps of around 115. The stuttering is still present, however, with the frame rate dropping frequently into 80 fps territory and sometimes as low as 60 fps.

RTX 3090 performance in Gotham Knights.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

I also tested with an Intel Core i9-11900K and an RTX 4090 at 4K — and again, got more stuttering. For reference, the chart above shows 60 seconds of gameplay on the RTX 3090 with a Core i5-12600K at 4K. In just 60 seconds, the average frame rate of 80 fps dropped below 50 fps five times. And anecdotally, even outside the open world, I saw stuttering when playing through closed story missions.

I tested with ray tracing on and off, at different resolutions, with a frame rate cap on and off, and with different GPUs, but one thing always remained consistent: stuttering. I don’t think Gotham Knights will get review-bombed like Arkham Knights did (don’t add fuel to the fire, folks), but I’d be hesitant to pick the game up on PC at launch.

It’s possible that a new driver will improve the stuttering, but this seems like an issue in Gotham Knights more than anything. I used Nvidia’s latest 522.25 driver, which includes support for Gotham Knights. My colleague Tomas Franzese reviewed the game on console and noted similar stuttering and inconsistent performance, as will, despite the fact that the game is locked at 30 fps. It’s a good thing the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Gotham Knights were canceled — we could easily be in another Cyberpunk 2077 situation if they hadn’t.

What’s the problem, and how do I fix it?

Batgirl fights a Freak in Gotham Knights.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There are a lot of issues that can cause stuttering in a game. Earlier this year, for example, the Unreal-based Elden Ring fell victim to shader compilation. Basically, Unreal Engine 4 compiles shaders on the GPU in real time, so you’d see a stutter when assets you’d never encountered loaded into the game. The same was true in Straywhich also uses Unreal Engine 4.

And sure enough, Gotham Knights uses Unreal Engine 4. That’s only part of the story here, though. Developer WB Games Montreal, while justifying the 30 fps cap on consoles, said that “due to the types of features we have in our game, like providing a full untethered co-op experience in our highly detailed open -world, it’s not as straightforward as lowering the resolution and getting a higher fps.”

But there are a few things you can do to limit the stuttering. For starters, the stutters are the worst when you’re in a new area. As you play the game, they will smooth out. A frame rate cap certainly helps make the game feel more consistent, as you’re not getting the contrast between extreme highs and lows.

Ray tracing plays a role, as well. Keep ray tracing on or turn it off, but don’t swap between them too often. The game has to recompile a lot of shaders when swapping between ray tracing modes, which leads to more stuttering once you close out of the graphics menu.

There is a lot more to talk about with Gotham Knights on PC. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had time to dig in and test all of the settings on different hardware. The game supports Intel XeSS, Nvidia DLSS, and AMD FSR 2.0, as well, providing a great opportunity for a three-way shootout — so there are some interesting features to test as I dive deeper.

Before I get to that, though, you need to know about the stuttering issues on PC. The game launches on October 21, and although it’s possible WB Games Montreal will release a patch in the meantime, the stuttering issues likely won’t be solved for a while. I also encountered one crash in my brief time with the game, while Tomas encountered three crashes on the Xbox Series X during a full playthrough.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
Gotham Knights’ great story suffers from this video game writing trend
All four Gotham Knights characters stand in front of Nightwing;'s logo.

Gotham Knights has a "we" problem.
WB Games Montreal's latest follows four of Batman's former sidekicks as they defend Gotham City and try to solve a case the caped crusader never could after Batman is killed. It's a bold narrative hook, and by far the best part of this newly released superhero game. Unfortunately, Gotham Knights' writing has one flaw that's become more prevalent in games as of late. Some game scripts, especially in multiplayer games or titles with more than one playable character, can feel impersonal, or even clinical, because they can't attribute any actions to a single character.
Gotham Knights is simply the latest game to encounter this issue. What should be a personal tale about four heroes coming into their own sometimes feels like it's following one conglomerate meant to replace Batman. The scripts of Watch Dogs Legion and multiplayer games like Destiny 2 and Marvel's Avengers also suffer from this issue, as they require story moments to be as general and widely applicable to all players as possible. That approach has created a challenge for modern video games, which struggle to balance mass experience with narrative ambition.
There is no I in team
"There is no I in team" is an old cliché, but it's something that the video game industry might want to give thought to. With an increased emphasis on both multiplayer and storytelling across the industry, more and more video game scripts find themselves having to account for multiple players doing the same things as different characters. Gotham Knights is an especially clear example of that. Players can tackle its missions as Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, or Robin -- four entirely different characters with distinct personalities. As a result, the script must find a way to bridge those differences and find a way to treat every experience across all of the story's events equally.

Gotham Knights does try to account for that, as cutscenes and the dialogue in cutscenes change depending on which hero you're playing. But that only works on a moment-to-moment level; on a grander scale, everything happens to everyone. When a hero out on patrol calls others after a mission, they'll typically speak as a collective group of individuals rather than a single character. And when referencing past events, the heroes will use pronouns like "we" or "us" rather than naming the specific character who thwarted a supervillain's plan or resolved a crime.
This issue reared its head for me at one point in Gotham Knights when a character gets kidnapped by the Court of Owls. In my case, it happened to Robin, and the following segment in the Court of Owls' Labyrinth was one of the most emotional levels of the game. That's why I was thoroughly disappointed when the Bat Family spoke as if everyone got kidnapped in any conversations that brought the event up afterward, using pronouns like "we" or "us." It made a personal moment feel clinical as this vaguer dialogue exposed how the game was solving for any possible experience, solo or multiplayer, in a machine-like manner rather than a narratively satisfying one. I began to feel like it didn't matter what happened to specific characters because it would have happened to any character I chose, regardless.
That choice solves one problem but creates another by making some of Gotham Knights' more intimate moments feel notably less personal -- and that's not a problem that's unique to the Bat Family. Watch Dogs Legion allows players to recruit and control any old character off the street and turn them into a member of the hacking collective DeadSec. Due to that gameplay hook, the group itself was treated like the main character in and of itself, as the game references the actions of the group rather than those of individual characters. That setup will also be familiar to players of live service games with ongoing narratives like Destiny 2 and Marvel's Avengers, as the writing treats each individual character as a member of a larger idea in service of a shared narrative. It feels like the plot is simply happening to the player, not that they are actively influencing and affecting it. 
We, the players
Writing games this way is the clearest way to ensure that all players get the same experience, but more personalization can go a long way. I'm a fan of Gotham Knights' story, but I wish I could have seen stronger character arcs from chapter to chapter, as opposed to a few lines of special dialogue within specific scenes. Watch Dogs Legion's gameplay innovations would've been even more impressive had the game's script built upon those foundations. Destiny 2's lore would be even better if more players left a lasting impact on it. 

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Two years later, the PS5 could never live up to its performance promises
A PS5 standing on a table, with purple lights around it.

The seams of the PS5 and Xbox Series X are starting to crack. Over the past week, two games launched that challenged the status quo for performance on current-gen consoles: A Plague Tale Requiem and Gotham Knights. Unlike nearly all console releases since 2020, both games shipped locked at 30 frames per second (fps) without a performance mode.

In late 2020, when the Xbox Series X and PS5 debuted, the norm was that players could opt for a high resolution at 30 fps or sacrifice a bit of visual fidelity for a smooth 60 fps. Sony never explicitly said the PS5 would always deliver a smooth 60 fps (Microsoft hinted at it), but that has been the expectation over the past two years. That's changing, and the situation won't improve going forward, especially for these third-party releases.
Next-gen, aging

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Gotham Knights’ ending explained: Batman’s death, the Court of Owls, and more
The four heroes of Gotham Knights walking in a purple street below text of the game's title.

WB Games Montreal’s Gotham Knights, which finally launched on October 21, follows the adventures of Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin after Batman is killed. This bold move sets off an unpredictable plot that ultimately centers around two secret societies that want Gotham for themselves.
While the game’s middling reception and a plethora of performance issues might turn you off from picking the game up, Batman fans might still want to learn about its entertaining story. As such, here's a recap of what goes down in Gotham Knights and how it all comes to a head in its exciting ending.
Gotham Knights - Official Cinematic Launch Trailer
How does Batman die in Gotham Knights?
Gotham Knights kicks off by showing you exactly how Batman died. Ra’s Al Ghul ambushes Bruce Wayne in the Batcave, resulting in an entertaining brawl throughout Batman’s iconic base of operations. Batman sends out a call to his sidekicks, but none of them are close enough to help him in time. When it becomes clear that the only way to defeat Ra’s Al Ghul is by blowing up the Batcave, Batman does so and also kills himself in the process.
Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin arrive on the scene soon thereafter and find Bruce’s dead body. We then see his funeral, where Kane Industries CEO and Bruce Wayne’s uncle Jacob Kane gives a speech about how Bruce Wayne served Gotham City well. The former sidekicks quickly realize they now must defend Gotham City and decide to investigate Batman’s final case. Their efforts bring them to the murder scene of Dr. Kirk Langstrom, where they learn they need to infiltrate the GCPD to get a biometric key off his body.
There, they run into Talia Al Ghul, who’s burning the body of Ra and claims that she is not in charge of the League of Shadows anymore. From there, the case continues as the crew sets up a base of operations at the Belfry in Gotham City and confronts the likes of Harley Quinn and the Penguin, who is now reformed but knows about Gotham’s secret society.
The secrets of the Court of Owls in Gotham Knights 
Penguin directs the Bat Family to The Powers Club, an old-money Gentleman’s Club in Gotham City. There, they find an entrance to an underground cave network and the Court of Owls, a secret society thought to just be an urban legend, even by Batman. They are led by The Voice of the Court, who eventually catches the heroes and throws them into a death pit. The heroes escape and obtain a key in the process.

Using that key, they find information about how the Court of Owls murdered the brother of Judge Elena Moreno as she tried to stop construction at Gotham City’s Chelsea Tunnel. Sneaking into that build site, the Bat Family comes across feral zombified creatures called Talons, who the Court of Owls revived with an element called Dionesium. After escaping the tunnel, Talia reveals that Dinoseum has the same properties as the Lazurus pit, causing the League of Shadows to declare war on Gotham.
She asks the heroes to take down the Voice of the Court to stop the conflict, and they comply. After more investigating, they learn that Bruce’s uncle Jacob Kane is the Voice of the Court and knows Bruce was Batman. He escapes in the chaos of the League of Shadows, murdering many Court of Owls members at a masquerade. Penguin then calls, asking for the heroes’ help, but it turns out to be a trick, and whoever you’re playing as is sedated and brought to the Court of Owls’ Labyrinth.
The Labyrinth is a massive mechanical stage that, combined with toxic gas, makes the captured hero hallucinate and question whether Batman actually cared for them. Eventually, the captive hero breaks out of the illusion, but the Court of Owls starts to attack Gotham City more publicly. The Bat Family decides it’s time to take down Jacob Kane and work with Renee Montoya and Judge Moreno to get a warrant for his arrest.

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