Gotham Knights: Let’s dig deeper into the game reveal and gameplay trailer
During Warner Bros. recent DC Fandome virtual event, game studio WB Games Montreal (the studio behind Batman: Arkham Origins) unveiled its newest game, Gotham Knights. Much like the Rocksteady-created ‘Arkhamverse’ which Arkham Origins is set in, Gotham Knights is very much a Batman-themed game…only it doesn’t actually star Batman. Instead, the game allows players to control four prominent members of the Bat-family as they take up the cause of protecting Gotham City in the wake of Batman’s mysterious and untimely death.
The cinematic trailer and accompanying gameplay preview video which WB Montreal shared as part of the reveal did an excellent job of setting the stage and getting fans stoked. However, there were also plenty of other details to be gleaned from both videos for those with sharp eyes and a detective’s keen knack for deduction. We’re rounding up all of the relevant clues, theories, story developments, and gameplay innovations we were able to spot while watching Gotham Knights’ reveal and gameplay trailers.
This section contains spoilers for Batman: Arkham Knight
Even at a surface level, the initial Gotham Knights unveiling offered plenty of hints pointing to the fact that the game, while borrowing heavily from Rocksteady’s previous Arkhamverse titles, isn’t actually a continuation of the Arkhamverse storyline. Of course, given how the most recent Arkhamverse game, 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight ended with the apparent death of Batman, one would be forgiven for assuming Gotham Knights was indeed a sequel.
There were several clear elements, though, which made it obvious that Gotham Knights exists in a separate continuity from the Arkhamverse, including the following:
- While Nightwing and Batgirl look very much like their respective Arkhamverse counterparts, Robin and Red Hood do not (the Arkhamverse’s Robin was taller and had a closely shaved head in both his Batman: Arkham City and Arkham Knight appearances).
- Jim Gordon has apparently been dead for a while in Gotham Knights even though he remained very much alive throughout the entirety of Arkham Knight.
- In the Arkhamverse, Barbara Gordon has already adopted her Oracle persona after being paralyzed from the waist down by the Joker (an Arkham Knight prequel campaign features her in her Batgirl role), yet in Gotham Knights, she’s clearly still operating as Batgirl (it should be noted she’s standing near a wheelchair in Gotham Knights’ reveal trailer).
- In Gotham Knights, Red Hood is an established member of the Bat-family, whereas in Arkham Knight he spends much of the game as a villain and doesn’t embrace the role of hero until the game’s climax.
- Mr. Freeze is alive and still causing havoc in Gotham Knights even though he died during the events of Arkham Knight’s Season of Infamy.
WB Montreal later confirmed to outlets such as PC Gamer what dedicated Arkhamverse fans already suspected. Namely that Gotham Knights isn’t a continuation of the Arkhamverse storyline and is instead set in what the studio is calling “a different continuity” despite the blatant similarities and connections to past Arkhamverse games. It might be a bridge too far to suggest this is WB Montreal’s way of creating some sort of “Arkham Multiverse,” but we’re not going to entirely rule out such a possibility either.
Gameplay, Gadgets, and the GCPD
Gotham Knights’ cinematic trailer was admittedly a bit confusing for Arkham Knight fans who were expecting a sequel, but it did at least offer a few tantalizing insights into how the game’s narrative will stand out on its own.
For starters, there’s the specific language Batman uses in his pre-recorded farewell message to his team. “We can’t count on the GCPD, they never trusted us since Jim died.” This suggests that Batman and co. are somehow directly linked to Jim Gordon’s death, so much so that the majority of the GCPD even thinks they’re directly responsible (an opinion which Barbara/Batgirl, Jim’s own daughter, evidently doesn’t share).
Of course, as viewers later see in the gameplay preview, prominent GCPD members like Detective Renee Montoya still consider the Bat-family to be allies. During the gameplay preview, Montoya is heard feeding information directly to Batgirl and Robin, ironically taking on a role, not unlike the one Jim Gordon served in the Arkhamverse games. Montoya’s presence also suggests that other prominent Batman/DC Universe characters like Harvey Bullock, Batwoman, and The Question could potentially appear as part of Gotham Knights’ story as well.
A few final things to note from the cinematic trailer:
- Nightwing is briefly seen traversing through some sort of deadly gauntlet of buzz saws and whirling blades, suggesting that one of the biggest staples of the Arkhamverse series, i.e. The Riddler and his deadly puzzles/challenges, will also appear in Gotham Knights.
- Robin can utilize some pretty crazy-looking gadgets including a personal cloaking device and a full-blown teleportation maneuver (more on that latter gadget in a moment).
- The thugs seen assaulting the church about halfway through the trailer bear a resemblance to the minor Batman villain Anarky who appeared in both Arkham Origins and Arkham Knight.
Oddly enough, the version of the gameplay preview that was shown during the initial DC Fandome unveiling didn’t include the commentary from WB Montreal Creative Director Patrick Redding that’s featured in later versions of the same video. Therefore, those who were present during the DC Fandome unveiling panel and who didn’t bother to re-watch the video later on actually missed out on a few key pieces of information regarding Gotham Knights. We went ahead and gathered Redding’s main talking points here as well:
- Robin can apparently tap into a Justice League satellite to utilize a short-range teleportation gadget (the eyebrow-raising implications of such a gadget are trumped only by the apparent confirmation that the Justice League also exists in Gotham Knights’ Arkhamverse-adjacent universe).
- There will be multiple storylines that each focus on a different villain, with Mr. Freeze and the Court of Owls encompassing only two of what will assumedly be a larger number of different storylines for players to pursue.
- The entire game is playable as a solo venture in a similar vein as the Arkhamverse games, and a second player can seamlessly drop in at any point for some co-op action.
- The game’s RPG mechanics, in addition to facilitating elements such as character leveling via XP and gear loadouts, mean that players will be able to craft what Redding calls their “preferred style and build” before using them to tackle enemy encounters as they see fit, using combat, stealth, gadgets, or a combination of the three.
- Redding explained during the Mr. Freeze boss fight sequence that enemies and bosses “will keep pace” with the player as they level up their heroes, meaning that the enemies players face will always be around the same level as them. More importantly, Redding also mentioned how enemies and bosses will actually start utilizing new attacks and abilities as they go up in level. This means, for example, that fighting a powerful boss like Mr. Freeze can be a drastically different experience if the player is level 15 rather than if they’re only level 5 or 10.
Gotham Knights isn’t set to launch until sometime in 2021, which means WB Montreal has plenty of time to further expand on the game’s unique new approach to RPG progression, co-op gameplay, and Arkhamverse-esque storytelling. Meanwhile, Rocksteady has its own new project in the works, a Suicide Squad game which is set in the Arkhamverse and which will pit up to four players against iconic Justice League members like Superman.