Batman: Arkham Knight can be surprisingly difficult in spots, even for Arkham game veterans. At this point in the series, a batch of new abilities join an already-massive list of returning mechanics, and it’s easy to become flustered with the sheer number of options you’re given when assuming Batman’s cape and cowl. Here are some spoiler-free hints to help you get started on the right foot, or to correct your course if the Scarecrow is winning the war for Gotham.
Batman’s combat expertise will make you want to punish your foes as quickly as possible, but the Arkham games reward timing and accuracy, rather than the speed of your button presses. Time your attacks with individual button taps after each successful strike or counterattack and you’ll emerge from combat with more health and a bigger experience boost. Better still, the “Critical Strikes” combat upgrade doubles the multiplier boost you receive from perfectly-timed hits. Listen for telltale cracks and crunches as you pummel your enemies, time your successive attacks accordingly, and you’ll rack up multiplier bonuses faster than ever before.
Take out the most threatening enemies first.
Arkham Knight introduces several dangerous new enemy types in addition to every battle’s standard grunts. At the start of a combat sequence, take out any medics as quickly as possible, to prevent them from reviving their teammates. Foes armed with guns are another top priority. From there, your targets are a matter of personal preference. If you haven’t mastered blade dodges, take out sword-wielding enemies first. If you need to weed out electrified foes, deal with them next. Also note that larger “brute” enemies take longer to subdue, and you’re likely to be attacked by their friends if you don’t eliminate them beforehand. This is especially true of chain gunners, who should always be your final targets in any battle. Avoid them at all costs until they are alone.
If you get stuck, try out your latest item or upgrade.
Follow the Metroid rule: if you encounter a new problem, the weapon or item you most recently acquired probably offers a solution. Arkham Knight features a ton of puzzles that require creative use of Batman’s arsenal, and his grappling hook will only get you so far. Remember that the Line Launcher will get you across gaps, the Batclaw can tear down faraway walls, and Remote Batarangs can trigger out-of-reach switches. I recall at least one tricky situation that even required the Voice Synthesizer to proceed. Try everything, use Detective Mode to uncover hints, and use stealth to your advantage while hunting for a solution.
Items are useful in combat, too.
It may be tempting to launch yourself into a crowd of enemies head-first, but the new tools featured in Arkham Knight allow you to thin out enemy numbers before most encounters. Observe your surroundings and act accordingly before every battle. If some thugs are standing in a pool of water, try the Remote Electrical Charge. Use the Voice Synthesizer to lure enemies away from groups and pick them off one-by-one. If you can drop a medic before the battle begins, you’ve already earned yourself a huge advantage.
Use the Remote Hacking Device as much as possible.
Arkham Knight‘s Remote Hacking Device is one of the most versatile additions to Batman’s arsenal. The tool can be used to temporarily blind enemy turrets and drones, giving you the drop on any thugs they might be protecting. One of the Remote Hacking Device’s most useful applications requires some patience, however. Single out a drone operator, then drop down behind him. Now, instead of following through with a silent takedown, use the Remote Hacking Device to download his drone’s data. From there, you can grapple to safety and order the drone to take out any nearby enemies. This can be difficult to set up, but it’s incredibly satisfying to pull off, and keeps Batman out of harm’s way.
Experiment with alternate control settings.
If you’re a veteran of the Arkham series, you might be inclined to stick with the game’s default controller settings. If you’re still coming to grips with the Batmobile’s control scheme, however, try enabling “Battle Mode Toggle” in the Game Options menu. By default, the game requires you to hold down your controller’s left shoulder button to engage the Batmobile’s combat mode – a less-than-ideal setup, as Batmobile combat scenes often stretch for several minutes at a time. “Battle Mode Toggle” instead lets you change Batmobile modes with a single button press, saving you some finger pain when Scarecrow rolls out his tough-as-nails Cobra tanks in the campaign’s latter half. As a bonus, this option also enables a more traditional control setup for acceleration, mapping the gas and brake to your controller’s triggers.
Noise is not a factor in Batmobile stealth sequences.
The Batmobile is a hulking, clumsy thing, which makes it an odd fit for late-game stealth missions. Unlike enemy grunts, however, stealth targets for the Batmobile do not react to environmental noise. This is definitely a good thing, as you’re going to be steamrolling Gotham’s street-level architecture while you line up your shots. Cobra tanks only react when they are struck by your firepower or the Batmobile itself, and they will ignore you if you stay out of their lines of sight. These parts of the game can be frustrating, but with patience, you can emerge unscathed.
Side missions award a ton of upgrade points in a short amount of time.
Arkham Knight‘s story missions increase in difficulty exponentially as you approach the end of the game, and if you haven’t invested several points into Batman’s defenses by that point, you’ll regret it. Between story missions, take some time to see what Two-Face and Azrael are up to. Defuse any bombs you find around the city, and complete some AR challenges. These side-missions take very little time to complete, and they award you far more upgrade points than you’d earn by simply progressing through the story missions back-to-back.
Upgrade the Batmobile’s armor as much as you can, as soon as possible.
This is a big one. Even if you’ve mastered the melee combat in previous Arkham games, Batmobile battles are another matter entirely. Later combat sequences will find you surrounded by dozens of tanks and targeted by homing missiles from multiple sources while a swarm of drones buzzes overhead. You will get hit – a lot – and the more punishment the Batmobile can take, the better. While the Batmobile’s optional weapon upgrades are useful, increasing its armor capacity is crucial to completing the later story missions. You do not want to take on the churchyard mission with the Batmobile’s default armor. Trust me on this one.
If all else fails, dial back the difficulty.
As far as I can tell, difficulty does not affect the achievements and trophies you earn during your first playthrough of Arkham Knight. Unless you enjoy the challenge, there’s no benefit to keeping the game at its default difficulty if you’re taking a beating in the difficult late-game encounters. Swallow your pride, and choose the difficulty level that will get you the most enjoyment from your purchase. You don’t want a few poorly designed battles to taint your overall impression of Arkham Knight. I had to repeat many difficult battles later in the game on Normal mode, and looking back on the experience, I regret not dropping the difficulty to Easy when I became frustrated.