It’s been years since the last Batman game, but we’re finally returning to the dark world of Gotham City with the new title Gotham Knights. However, this game isn’t being made by the team most would expect. In a somewhat confusing move, Rocksteady, developers of Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight, are creating the new Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League game, while WB Montreal, which created the often overlooked and ignored Arkham Origins, is taking the helm on the next Batman game. But Gotham Knights is not actually set in the Arkham universe, while Suicide Squad is. Despite both focusing on teams of heroes, these two titles are vastly different.
Gotham Knights will take place in a separate universe from the Arkham games and star four members of the Bat family. This is the first full game WB Montreal will have released since 2013, meaning it’s been in the works in some form or another for quite a while. Even after it was shown off, Gotham Knights has had a rough time, suffering multiple delays and confusion among fans with its relation, or lack thereof, to Suicide Squad and the other Arkham games. From the release date to story and gameplay details, we’ve done all the detective work on Gotham Knights and are ready to share everything we know about this upcoming superhero adventure.
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For those who have been following this game for a while, you may remember that Gotham Knights was originally planned to launch sometime in 2021, but was later pushed to “deliver the best possible experience for players.” From there, we only knew it was coming in 2022 until a final update shared via Twitter pinned down the final date of October 25, 2022. This feels like a perfect date for the gothic themes of a Batman game.
Gotham Knights was originally planned to be released on previous- and current-generation consoles, as well as PC. However, it was recently announced that it will no longer come to PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. That leaves just the PS5, Xbox Series X and S, and PC.
The second trailer for Gotham Knights is where many of the story details hinted at in the reveal or by the developers were confirmed. Titled “Official Court of Owls Story Trailer,” the footage opens on the grave of Bruce Wayne/Batman and statue of Commissioner Gordon, with a voiceover about how they only thought they had control over the goings on in Gotham. From there we get a look at the new cast of heroes attempting to fill in for the caped crusader: Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood, and Robin.
Cutting to various dark, moody, and dank environments, the voiceover continues mocking the would-be heroes. We then see Nightwing speaking to the narrator — The Penguin — replying that the Court of Owls is nothing but a myth. This, of course, is false. We see more shots of the heroes investigating this cryptic cult of masked figures and facing off against some feral-looking humanoids. The trailer ends simply with a gate locking, forming an owl insignia.
Before getting too deep into the story, it’s worth noting who each of the characters are in Gotham Knights.
Starting with probably the most well know, we have Robin. This version is Tim Drake, which is technically the third Robin in Batman lore. He’s the youngest member of the Gotham Knights crew, but also a skilled martial artists, using a staff as well as stealth.
Batgirl is Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Jim Gordon. For those who played Arkham Knight, you will recall her in that game as being the wheelchair-bound Oracle, though this is obviously not the case in the Gotham Knights timeline. Combat-wise, she is a hand-to-hand fighter, being familiar in multiple forms and disciplines of martial arts, including the use of tonfa weapons.
Dick Grayson, the first Robin, is back under his new identity as Nightwing. He’s somewhat of the leader of the team, having a prior relationship with Barbara, and of course long history with the late Batman. He once again fights with a combination of acrobatic moves he learned in the circus, plus dishes out pain with his twin escrima sticks.
Finally, we come to Red Hood, who is Jason Todd and the second Robin to graduate from that title into his own identity. Jason’s got a… long history to say the least. In short, he’s not exactly on super-friendly terms with Batman and the other members of the Bat family, though that seems to be put aside, at least enough to join up against this threat, in Gotham Knights. He’s less of a traditional Batman character in that he’s highly skilled with firearms, though still follows the non-lethal creed of Batman despite clearly being seen with pistols. Perhaps he’s simply using non-lethal rounds.
Now for the story proper. Despite focusing on the Court of Owls, WB has made it explicitly clear that the story of Gotham Knights won’t follow any Batman storyline exactly. Senior Producer Fleur Marty was quoted in a GamesRadar interview as stating that, “It’s a completely original story. We’re not reenacting any of the existing stories from any of the comics. Gotham Knights‘ story is fully original.”
That being said, the Court of Owls has appeared in comics before as a secret society of crime lords and assassins. In that comic, the same circus that Nightwing once was a part of was also used by this group as a training ground for Talon assassins, and that Nightwing may have been a potential recruit of theirs that got away. Gotham Knights begins after Batman had started making plans to leave Gotham’s protection in the hands of his Bat family, but an explosion in the Batcave cuts his life short. With no Batcave, the new team of heroes will base their operations in the Belfry, which again draws from the comics as the location Batman trained his successors.
What the Court of Owls’ plans are remain as enigmatic as the identity of its members. All we know is that even the other villains in the Batman universe fear them to some extent.
Speaking of other villains, we saw a glimpse of Penguin, looking as short and greasy as always, but another we know of that will appear is the popular Mr. Freeze. Odds are plenty more of Batman’s old roster of baddies will show up, with none being off the table in this new universe.
The gameplay has only been shown off officially for Gotham Knights once, and quite a while ago at that. However, it does show a ton of interesting mechanics.
First off, like it or not, vehicles are back. Batgirl is shown riding a motorcycle (Batcycle?) through the streets that appear to also have civilians present as she swerves to avoid traffic. Transitioning from vehicular to on-foot movement is just as smooth as ever, and a familiar grapple icon makes an appearance. Likely, unless dictated by a mission, you could potentially play the entire game traversing by foot, gadgets, and gliding exclusively.
Stealth is again a major component, with stalking across beams and performing aerial takedowns, as well as traditional ones, all appearing.
Melee combat is familiar, yet different. There are no more bright counter and dodge symbols, though both mechanics do appear to be possible. Combos are just as punchy, and there is an emphasis on doing combo moves with other players.
Gotham Knights is more of an RPG than the other Batman games. This is made most evident by enemies all displaying a level and health bar above their heads. Each encounter also results in XP gained and a level system. Damage numbers did show up during the boss fight against Mr. Freeze, as well as in normal encounters, to further emphasize leveling. The video also states that enemies will apparently scale to your character’s level, which they seem to hint could change what moves they do in addition to just making them hit harder and have more health.
The RPG mechanics don’t stop there, though. There’s also a gear and leveling system to manage as well. In terms of gear, you will apparently be able to modify each character’s melee weapon, ranged weapon, and suit to some extent that will alter that character’s style. Gear will apparently be crafted at the Belfry, which also acts as a hub where you can examine your clues, talk to Alfred, and make preparations before diving back out into the dangerous streets of Gotham.
Leveling is mostly tied to each character’s skill tree, which is also unique between characters. This was done to make each character feel unique, as Creative Director Patrick Redding stated. “They’re all trained under Batman, so have certain crimefighting approaches that are derivative of that. But at the same time, they have all kind of evolved in their own direction, and they have their different specialties. With things like traversal, we wanted to make sure that each character had a kind of different spin on that idea of being able to kind of party-crash on crime. So they might have access to some of the same tools, like the grapple and the Batcycle. But they also have ways of kind of approaching and entering into the fray that is really distinctive and specific to each of them.”
Another demo focused specifically on Nightwing and Red Hood released to give us the best look at Gotham Knights in action yet. The game director walks us through how the flow of the game will work around halfway through the game. Nightwing immediately is shown off using his glider to leap from a building and jet across the city. We are also introduced to a gang called the Regulators, which can perform different crimes with different objectives to stop them around the map.
Red Hood joins the action, and rather than use a tool to traverse, he can use his soul energy to continuously jump off green energy in the air like a double jump, as well as use a traditional grappling hook. For all characters, you will be building a momentum bar by landing strikes, and you’ll get more for timing attacks perfectly. When filled up, each character can perform a finisher, very much like past Batman games. Red Hood can use an ability that pierces armor, though it is hard to tell which enemies are armored or not. Once the enemies were finished, a screen pops up telling you how much XP and other rewards you earned.
Speaking of which, it is touched on that the entire UI is completely customizable, though not explored in this demo. This could be why no damage numbers appear during combat as they did in the older trailers.
Cutting ahead, we get some high-speed action of Red Hood in pursuit of an ice cream truck on the Batcycle, which can be used by all characters in Gotham Knights. By driving up alongside it, a button prompt appears to leap over, rip the door off, knock the driver out, and carefully crash the truck. During a brawl, Red Hood sticks a bomb to an enemy he can shoot to detonate when most advantageous.
While in the Belfry, you can move about as your character out of costume. The Bat computer is used as a map, fast travel system (using the awesome Fast Bat), and a way to take on challenges. We see Nightwing select a main mission titled 2.2- The Powers Club, which has a Very Low difficulty rating. You can also upgrade at the workbench using materials and blueprints for your suit, melee, and range. We see a full stat breakdown of the character, including Power, Health, Armor, and various attack numbers. Different gear pieces will use a rarity and level system, such as Uncommon and Legendary, that not only have different stats and slots for mods but visual appearances, too. Elemental resistances and effects on your weapons appear to be a big focus when making a build.
And it wouldn’t be a Batman game without some sort of detective vision, now called Augmented Vision. It appears to work exactly the same, highlighting clues in the environment to solve puzzles and progress the story.
As we briefly mentioned in the prior section, Gotham Knights has a strong focus on two-player co-op. The entire game, from beginning to end, will be playable in drop in, drop out co-op play where each player takes control of one of the four titular Knights, and even lets you both play as the same hero so no one has to play one they don’t like or haven’t leveled up. If it works as it did in the old gameplay trailer, then another player can hop into your game without interrupting the flow of gameplay at all. It is slightly odd that there isn’t a four-player option that brings the entire team together, but that could’ve ended up making the game too easy or difficult to balance. On the flip side, developers have stated that the game is more or less intended to be played co-op, and that playing in a pair is the ideal way to experience Gotham Knights.
There are also no restrictions on playing with friends in regards to character levels. Presumably the game will dynamically adjust difficulty and enemy levels based on each character, but however they do it, developers made it clear that no matter how big the gap is between you and a friend, you will still be able to play together.
On the flip side, if you’re not an online or co-op kind of player, Gotham Knights is totally playable as a single-player experience. The game doesn’t require you to ever be online, and the game has no live service elements to make you feel pressured into spending money.
Currently there are no announced DLC plans for Gotham Knights. That being said, every main Arkham game has had DLC of some sort, with Arkham Knight having quite a lot, and the style of Gotham Knights would easily lend itself to additional content. Aside from the old challenges we’ve seen, there could easily be mission packs for each of the main heroes, pre or post game, or even the introduction of an entirely new Bat family member to play as. The world is completely open, both for heroes and villains, in this new universe, and we hope that it’s taken advantage of by giving players some worthwhile expansions.
Now that the October 25 release date is set, pre-orders are up for Gotham Knights. You can reserve your copy for the platform of your choice on the Gotham Knights official website, choosing between the Standard, Deluxe, and Collector’s Editions.
The Standard Edition just comes with the game, plus the 233 Kustom Batcycle Skin.
The Deluxe Edition adds in the Visionary Pack to what was listed above. This pack has:
- Exclusive “Knightwatch by Jim Lee” Transmog
- Beyond Suitstyle, inspired by the Batman Beyond universe
- Salvage to build new Gear
- Boosted Gear
- Exclusive Emote
- Three Exclusive Suit Colorways
Finally, the big boy, the Collector’s Edition is for you superhero super fans out there. This box comes with:
- Everything in the Deluxe Edition
- Gotham Knights Exclusive New Guard Statue inspired by Jim Lee
- Promethium New Guard Transmogs
- Jim Lee Certificate of Authenticity
- Augmented Reality Talon Key
- Gotham City: City of Bridges collectible map
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