The lights are on
Rocksteady is wrapping up its Arkham trilogy this year with the release of Batman: Arkham Knight. We’re all very excited to see more of the game – we wouldn’t have put it on our cover if we didn’t think it looked cool – but a few elements are particular standouts. Here are five aspects of the game that look especially interesting.
It’s the end of a trilogy (SPOILER FOR ARKHAM CITY)Rocksteady says they always envisioned their Arkham series to be a trilogy. I enjoyed the prequel that Warner Montreal created with Batman: Arkham Origins, but by its very nature it did little to propel Batman’s story forward. When Arkham Knight is released, Batman’s arc – as far as Rocksteady is concerned – will finally be finished.
Game director Sefton Hill was naturally tight-lipped about how the series would wrap up (we had to ask, anyway), but he said that it’s an ending the team has envisioned since they were still working on Arkham City. That game ended with the death of the Joker, and we rejoin Batman one year later. Hill says Joker’s absence has left a void on several fronts. Criminals are banding together in new enterprises now that the clown’s chaotic presence is gone. Bruce Wayne is also struggling in some form, perhaps with the uncomfortable feelings that he and Joker shared a bond deeper than either one would readily admit.
I’m looking forward to how Rocksteady handles it all. Warner has a lucrative IP on its hands with the Arkham games, but I’d love to see a conclusion that leaves permanent consequences to everyone involved.
It’s truly a new-gen gameMake no mistake, Batman: Arkham Knight looks great, but that’s not the entire story. A number of subtle enhancements and features simply wouldn’t have been possible on the previous generation of consoles. Glide through the streets of Gotham City for a short while, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
“You can see interiors of buildings as you fly past, and you can actually see inside, through windows, into some of the buildings,” says studio director Jamie Walker. “And I think for me, that’s an amazing feeling of being lifelike, and it’s definitely something that we’re doing here. You go by and you see in and you say, ‘Oh, that’s really cool,’ and then you can go in as well, which again makes it very believable and authentic.” If Batman heads into Oracle’s clock tower headquarters while a riot is happening outside, for instance, you’ll be able to hear the gunshots and other ambient noises, and even spot the participants using his detective vision. That kind of fluidity between interior and exterior sections wouldn’t have been possible on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, Rocksteady says.
The BatmobileAs I’ve written about before, Batman drives the Batmobile in Arkham Knight. It’s awesome.
Batman gets around easierBatman’s navigational abilities have been given a major upgrade in Arkham Knight, even when he's not behind the wheel. His new suit allows for steeper dives and higher climbs while gliding, and he can maintain altitude longer as well. That means players won’t feel like Spider-Man with a grappling hook as in past games, but a flying predator. The grapnel is still a handy tool in flight, since players can fire it off while airborne to perform a quick in-flight 180-degree turn. It sure beats landing, rotating, and then taking off again.
One of my favorite tweaks is an upgraded line gun. This item was previously used to create a zipline for Batman. The beefed-up version still fires a cable between two points, but Batman can now perch on the wire. During our demo we saw it used against a group of thugs. Batman swooped toward them, fired the line, and took a strategic position above the group and out of sight – all in a few quick motions. As someone who really likes the predator-style gameplay in the Arkham series, I’m looking forward to using this technique a lot.
Batman's been trainingBatman has learned a few new combat tricks during the one-year in-game gap between Arkham City and Arkham Knight. We saw one of those moves as Batman leapt from his line-gun perch down toward the enemies. Time slowed as he targeted three thugs and hit them with batarangs mid-glide. Once he landed on the asphalt, he took down the few who weren’t stunned – using a wall-mounted air-conditioning unit as an environmental finisher. Batman can also chain together ground takedowns now, so dealing with prone enemies doesn’t end his combo streak.
Rocksteady also implemented a new fear takedown system, as Hill explains. “When you have multiple enemies in close range, if you can get to those enemies without being seen, you can take down up to three enemies in a single move. You can do that in any predatory situation, as long as you can isolate three enemies.”
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