WB Games Montréal has finally debuted the long-rumored Batman project at the DC Fandome event, the game is called “Gotham Knights”. The game features multiple characters from the Bat-Family. The game is set to be released in 2021 on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
The game is following the storyline after the apparent death of caped crusader Batman a.k.a. Bruce Wayne. Before he went through, he pre-recorded a message to his very own Bat-family, to take care of Gotham City, tackle the rising tide of crime, and take on threats both new and familiar. The extended Bat-family including Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, and Red Hood – take to the streets and rooftops of DC’s iconic city to continue the Dark Knight’s role as its protector.
The original core of the Bat-family Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), Dick Grayson (Nightwing), and Jason Todd (Red Hood), and one newest team member Tim Drake (Robin) to carry the shared weight of lives lived under the tutelage of Bruce Wayne and heroics shaped by the shadow of his alter-ego. In the game, four heroes with their fighting methods and styles are noticeably distinct from each other, which will make for a potent mix of gameplay styles whether adventuring solo or in two-player co-op.
Red Hood is a brutal brawler with a focus on gunplay. Nightwing’s acrobatics lead to a more exaggerated style of fighting, while the current Robin favors stealth and is a dab hand at using status effects to disrupt enemies. And Batgirl? “She combines a laser-focused, targeted and efficient melee fighter approach with a lot of resilience and the ability to weaponize her environment using hacking,” says creative director Patrick Redding.
Pick a hero and head out on your nighttime patrol, returning to the Belfrey, the Knights’ base of operations, at any time to tag in a different crimefighter. You’re never forced to play a specific character; you can play through the entire game with one hero if you so wish. But each vigilante will have a unique ability tree and craftable gear, with XP gains earned through open-world activities.
The idea, Patrick Redding explains, is that the core gameplay loop intertwines with one of the narrative approaches. “It’s not one story set over one night, but really about the mid to long term growth of the hero. The game affords players a huge amount of growth and a huge amount of goal setting in an open world environment that they need to protect, that they need to go back to again and again.”
“It’s that idea of how this new guard of younger heroes – that are not Bruce Wayne, is not Batman — approach the problem of equipping and training themselves up, preparing and adapting for that next major threat, that next major menace that they’re going to need to combat?”
On the subject of equipment, I ask about a certain visual treatment given to each hero visible in the reveal trailer. The neon-like coloring to their weapons: aesthetic only or is there more to it?
“It’s funny you brought that up,” Redding muses, “Because it’s a very important platform for us to deliver game information.” He points to the gameplay walkthrough as an example. “Some of those visual effects tell you what damage type you have equipped on your weapons.
“So it’s a way for the player to receive signs of feedback… that lets them know what protection they have, what they’re going to use against their enemies, both in terms of ranged and melee attacks.”
The Knights will explore this world by grapple or Batcycle, battling baddies and gradually finding evidence, major clues that point to the larger storyline, the next chapter of the larger mystery. And they’ll uncover a new threat that has its roots in the very foundations of Gotham’s history: the Court of Owls.
“They are all about the 350-year history of Gotham,” explains Redding of the Court. A fairly recent addition to the Bat mythos, first introduced in the comics back in 2011, The Court of Owls is a secret society that has shaped Gotham since its earliest days, whose “wealth and corruption and entrenched power twisted the city into its current form.”
The creative director goes on to explain how the Court’s long history with the city and their inclusion as the main adversarial force made the studio look at Gotham “as a historical place” and influenced its design. “History is embedded in the architecture and bedrock, in the very foundations of every square of the city.”
And as much as the Court is intrinsically tied to Gotham itself, the other villains you’ll tax your crime-fighting skills won’t operate in a bubble; they’ll be part of and imperil the city you’re trying to protect. “We want to make you feel all that work you’re investing in protecting Gotham City,” outlines Redding. “Regardless of whether you’re dealing with a small street gang on a corner somewhere or dealing with a major supervillain like Mister Freeze.”
Villain Crimes will play out over multiple nights, “a series of encounters where the player has to do a certain amount of legwork and detective work to hunt down the villain at the next major confrontation.”
In all, WB Games Montréal presents a compelling pitch for its take on the Bat mythos.