What will happen to Gotham City if Batman stops protecting it? We’ll soon find out in Warner Bros.’s Gotham Knights. Montreal, a story-based role-playing/action title that begins with Batman’s death. As criminals try to take advantage of Batman’s absence, his subordinates are trying to keep order. Batgirl, Red Hood, Robin and Nightwing unite to maintain order, but quickly learn Gotham has now succumbed to the will of the Owls’ mysterious Court.
I spoke with Gotham Knights executive producer Fleur Marty and game director Geoff Ellenor about what players can expect from this superhero experience. We discuss alternate suits, Batcycles, quests, and cooperative play that will make it feel like DC’s 52 worlds have collided once again.
The trailer shows us a variant suit with a ninja-like design. Can you tell us what that suit is and how players can get it?
Geoff Ellanor: As you play through the story, you will receive various blueprints that allow you to craft different types of equipment and suits. It’s one of the styles we let you create.
How many clothes will Nightwing have in the game?
Fleur Marty: Each of our knights has 11 different outfits. As Geoff mentioned, those are full styles. In one style you can customize with different pieces and different color lines.
Geoff: Every suit style is essentially a silhouette. Every time you craft a suit, think of it as an example of that silhouette that comes with stats and a specific colorway that you can then override by unlocking more colorways when you move.
Nightwing is a former site of Batman and Flying Grayson. In the trailer, it looks like his battle draws from both backgrounds with gadgets, brutal attacks, and some acrobatics. Can you talk to me about the design of Nightwing for this game and what you want to achieve from his moves and transmissions?
Geoff: You hit one of the gems for us: He’s an acrobat. Nightwing in our story is a smug character. He’s dealing with Bruce’s death his own way, mostly by making jokes and not talking about it. He is one of the characters with the most constant acrobatic ability. His combat ability is centered around him taking to the air and dealing more damage in the air. It’s one of the foundations of who he is as a character and the way he fights.
Fleur: For the horizontal line, we took inspiration from the existing comics, but it’s the flying slide.
How old is Dick Grayson in this story and how long has he been under Bruce? Can you walk me through the timeline?
Fleur: He’s the oldest of the bunch, and he left Bruce. They didn’t skimp on the best terms. He’s back because Batman is dead. That’s why he’s back. He is his own hero. He’s dealing with both pain and guilt about where he left everything with Bruce before he died.
Does the game begin with Batman’s death? Is the trailer what we saw in the first trailer with the reveal of his death and the Bat-family reunion?
Fleur: Exactly. It was an interesting starting point for us because each of the four [characters] there’s another way to deal with grief and take on the mantle [of the Bat].
Geoff: They all got back together and had different relationships in the past. Red Hood is the person least connected to the group at the beginning of the story. Our version of Robin is a relatively young character, so his way of handling situations is also different from everyone else’s. [The death of Bruce] begin their journey through the game and also set the tone for a really important aspect of the story, which is how they take on Batman’s business and learn to get along with each other.
Is your version of Jason Todd, Red Hood the same as in the comics? Did he die and come back to life from another Earth?
Geoff: He came back to life and was recently murdered. You will learn more about that throughout the game and what happened to him. Apparently, that was what made him different from the other knights. As some of the comic book interpretations of Red Hood we like, he’s a mystical character. He was changed by his experiences. It’s part of what he brings to the table and how he presents himself in his capacity.
We’re seeing some clear DNA from the Arkham series – like the fighting line, for example. One of the big, new wrinkles is the cooperative gameplay. What can we expect from it?
Geoff: You can invite your friends to your game and control your combo settings to determine if you’ll be surprised by who shows up. You can also play alone. We have cooperative takedown requests that are designed to physically represent the characters working together. There’s really a lot of synergy in how one hero’s abilities affect the fight compared to another. Nightwing is the strongest indicator of this; a lot of his abilities are about buffing friends and protecting others.
If my lead is Nightwing and my friend’s lead is also Nightwing, is one of us another hero, or can we have an Elseworlds situation of two Nightwings together?
Geoff: You can make it as weird as you want.
Fleur: We’ll give it to the player. We know some people will want different characters, but some people won’t care. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s a funny moment in the game if you’re playing with two identical characters. We are giving you complete freedom.
In some early gameplay clips, we see Batcycles heroes roaring along long highways. Those photos make it look like the world is bigger than the cities of Arkham. How many properties are we looking at?
Geoff: It’s pretty big. I haven’t put one map on another, but our Gotham is a big place. I tend to spend a lot of my Zoom calls driving the Batcyle around Gotham. This is one of the fastest and coolest ways to move around in the city. It’s like a big place.
Fleur: It’s definitely the biggest version of Gotham ever shown in video games. What matters most to us is its density and verticality. It has many layers. Batcycle is a long-range vehicle.
How customizable is the Batcycle?
Geoff: We let you color your bike to express yourself. Much of the abilities surrounding the Batcycle are focused more on the hero, like how you jump out of it and get into combat.
Fleur: The Batcycle itself is not upgradable.
Geoff: You can change how it looks and how it makes noise.
Those colors: Are they bound to the blueprints? Are you looking for them for bicycles around the world?
Fleur: You’re getting colors for both the suit and for the bike.
Geoff: We followed the same color philosophy for the Batcycle and the clothes. We think people might want to match their suit with the Batcycle. We offer you a wide range of options in that regard.
We don’t know much about how missions work yet. Can you talk about the story quests and side activities?
Geoff: Without giving away anything we’d like to talk about in future communications, the city has a lot of different things you can do. You can find it by scrolling around. We have an AR vision that we featured in the gameplay trailer, which is a great way to find things to do. In terms of mission structure, if you’re an action/adventure fan, you’ll be familiar with it. We have an ongoing case file that you are investigating. If you play through the story, you’ll unlock new chapters in the case file that tell you where to go.
Is anything designed specifically for cooperative games? Or can you tackle it all on your own?
Geoff: You can totally play it all in single player. We don’t have anything that requires you to have a friend to perform a quest.
Fleur: Also, you can play everything in co-op.