WB Montreal’s upcoming Gotham Knights game has more riding on it than it may seem at first. While it is still based on characters in the Batman universe, Gotham Knights is the most ambitious DC video game since the Batman: Arkham The series began, and one of the first in a long time to not feature Batman. Following the highly regarded series will be tough for Gotham Knights to pull off.
The first of a few DC games slated to come out over the next few years, Gotham Knights is releasing on October 25 for Xbox Series X / S, PlayStation 5, and PC, after canceling Gotham Knights‘PS4 and Xbox One versions. The game is a co-op RPG centered around the Batfamily fighting Gotham City crime in the aftermath of Bruce Wayne’s death. The game will also feature some anticipated villains, with The Court of Owls making one of its first appearances outside of comic book pages.
Overall, Gotham Knights has a lot at stake regarding both the future of projects set in Gotham City without Batman and other DC video game projects. After Batman: Arkham, Gotham Knights is the next big foray into AAA game development for DC. Because of this, there’s a lot of pressure riding on the game’s success or failure.
Gotham Knights Holds The Video Game Future Of The Batfamily
For a first in video games, Gotham Knights will focus entirely on the Batfamily. However, some of the game’s designs, like Jason Todd, were mocked by Gotham Knights fans. Many changes and adaptations WB Montreal has made have been met with strong opposition from fans, but the game is at least trying to be different from iterations of the family.
However, other features look exciting. An entirely co-op game with an open-world Gotham City is an interesting prospect that will draw in many players, whether they previously played the Arkham series or not. However, this co-op also comes with some caveats. Despite having four playable characters, Gotham Knights will only support 2-player co-op, not the initially expected four. While there is likely a good gameplay or story explanation for only featuring two players, it seems like an odd choice to only allow two players to team up at a time in missions. There have been leaks stating Gotham Knights may support four players, but it seems two is still the expectation set by WB Montreal. Despite risks with gameplay and appearances, though, Gotham Knights may have the most to lose within its story.
Another obstacle Gotham Knights will have to overcome is how much it commits to the premise of its narrative. The Batfamily’s crime-fighting missions mostly stem from the supposed death of Batman. However, comics are no stranger to death fakeouts, and comic-based games are no different. It would not be entirely impossible for WB Montreal’s action-RPG to still feature Batman in some capacity. However, this decision would ultimately take a lot away from the idea of having the Batfamily grapple with being the primary defenders of Gotham City.
It would minimize the Gotham Knights characters’ reactions to the death of Batman. Bamtan’s death can even make Gotham Knights‘Villains like the Joker more terrifying, which is an exciting prospect. Taking away the death of Batman, no matter where it would happen in the game, would take away from the effects that his death would have. Overall, with a Batfamily-centered story, Gotham Knights can’t afford to do it halfway, or it risks missing the mark on what a game without Batman can and should be.
Other DC Games Are Also Depending On Gotham Knights
In addition to Gotham Knights possibly deciding the fate of future Batfamily projects, other DC games may have a lot to lose from it performing poorly. For the last couple of console generations, the only AAA DC games players had to look forward to were entries to the Batman: Arkham and Injustice franchises. While both of these series were well-received, their gameplay was always very similar to previous entries and got a bit stale.
There are now three very different DC games in development (not counting the long-rumored return of the Injustice fighting series): Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, Wonder Womanand Gotham Knights. Suicide Squad and Gotham Knights have already been shown to have pretty differing gameplay, with Suicide Squad being more focused on third-person gunplay rather than the stealth and melee-oriented Gotham Knights. No gameplay for Wonder Woman has been shown yet, but it seems a safe guess that it will be a third-person action game like Gotham Knights with less of a stealth emphasis.
This new era of DC video games seems to be worrying for fans, though. Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad game especially is concerning, given the studio’s lack of experience in the shooter genre. Gotham Knights can show fans that DC games breaking into different genres with new elements is not a bad thing at all, and can succeed critically and commercially.
However, the inverse of this is also true. If Gotham Knights ends up being DC’s Marvel’s Avengersit’s very likely that future DC games will instead be closer to the typical Arkham formula, and not introduce many new mechanics in gameplay. Gotham Knights‘combat is essentially the same as the Arkham series, but new wrinkles like the RPG elements in gear are, at the least, an interesting idea, and it would be a shame if this change ends up being the game’s downfall.
Overall, Gotham Knights is a big risk for Warner Bros. that could have a large impact on their future in the gaming industry. By telling a Batfamily story instead of a traditional Batman one, the company is showing that it is willing to take risks in the story department. What remains to be seen, though, is whether it stays committed to a big risk, or if it gets cold feet and includes the Caped Crusader in Gotham Knights‘biggest version of the eponymous city anyway.
These risks, in addition to affecting Batman’s future games, could affect other DC games as well. Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League and Wonder Woman are both risks that WB is taking in the AAA games industry, with Suicide Squad‘s gameplay especially looking very different than other DC video games. Gotham Knights is going big for WB Montreal and DC Comics, and players can see for themselves if the risk pays off on October 25 on current-gen consoles and PC.
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