What would happen to Gotham City if Batman stopped protecting it? We’ll soon find out in Warner Bros. Montreal’s Gotham Knights, a story-based action / RPG that begins with Batman’s death. When criminals try to take advantage of Batman’s absence, his undergraduate studies try to keep order. Batgirl, Red Hood, Robin and Nightwing unite to maintain order, but quickly learn that Gotham is now bowing to the mysterious Court of Owls.
I spoke with Gotham Knights executive producer Fleur Marty and game manager Geoff Ellenor about what players can expect to experience from this superhero experience. We discuss alternative costumes, Batcycle, missions and how collaborative games will feel like DC’s 52 worlds have collided again.
The trailer shows us a variant of a suit that is ninja-like in design. Can you tell us what that color is and how players can get it?
Geoff Ellanor: As you play through the story, you get different drawings that allow you to create different types of equipment and costumes. It is one of the styles that we let you create.
How many colors will Nightwing have in the game?
Fleur Marty: Each of our knights has 11 different costume styles. As Geoff mentioned, these are full styles. Within a style, you can have customization with different pieces and different color schemes.
Geoff: Every costume style is basically a silhouette. Every time you create a suit, think of it as an instance of that silhouette that comes with statistics and a specific color scheme that you can then override by unlocking more color schemes as you go.
Nightwing is a former division of Batman and Flying Grayson. In the trailer, it turned out that his fight dragged from both backgrounds with gadgets, brutal attacks and some acrobatic. Can you talk to me about designing Nightwing for this game and what you wanted to achieve with his moveset and traversing?
Geoff: You met one of the touchstones for us: He’s an acrobat. Nightwing in our story is a kind of cocky character. He handles Bruce’s death in his own way, which is mostly by making a lot of jokes and not talking about it. He is one of the characters who is most capable of doing constant acrobatic things. His fighting ability focuses on getting up in the air and doing more damage from the air. It’s one of the basics of who he is as a character and how he fights.
Fleur: When it comes to the intersection, we have taken inspiration from the existing series, but it is the flying trapeze.
How old is Dick Grayson in this story and how long did he study under Bruce? Can you guide me through the timeline?
Fleur: He’s the oldest in the gang, and he had left Bruce. They did not end in the best way. He’s back because Batman is dead. That’s why he’s back. He was his own hero. He handles both the grief and the guilt for where he left things with Bruce before he died.
Does the game start with Batman’s death? Is the intro sequence what we saw in the first trailer with the revelation of his death and the regrouping of the Bat family?
Fleur: That’s exactly it. It’s an interesting starting point for us because each of the four [characters] have another way of dealing with grief and putting on the mantle [of the Bat].
Geoff: They all come back and have different previous relationships. Red Hood is at least connected to the group at the beginning of the story. Our version of Robin is a fairly young character, so his way of dealing with the situation is different from everyone else’s. [The death of Bruce] begins their journey through the game and also sets the tone for a really important aspect of the story, which is how they approach Batman’s job and learn how to agree.
Is your version of Jason Todd similar to the Red Hood series? Did he die and come back to life from another earth?
Geoff: He’s resurrected and was recently murdered. You will learn more about it throughout the game and what happened to him. That’s obviously what sets him apart from the other knights. Like some of the comic interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood that we like, he is a kind of mysterious character. He has changed from his experiences. It’s part of what he brings to the table and how he expresses himself in his abilities.
We see some clear DNA from the Arkham game series – like the battle flow. One of the big, new wrinkles is cooperation games. What can we expect from it?
Geoff: You can invite friends to your game and check your matching settings to determine if you will be surprised by people showing up. You can also play yourself. We have co-op removals designed to showcase the characters working together. There is really a lot of synergy in how one hero’s ability affects the fight against another. Nightwing is the strongest indicator of this; Many of his abilities are about having buffs for his friends and protecting others.
If my main is Nightwing and my friend’s main also happens to be Nightwing, would one of us need to be another hero, or can we have an Elseworlds situation with two Nightwings together?
Geoff: You can do it as weird as you want.
Fleur: We leave it to the players. We know that some people will want different characters, but some do not care. I do not want to spoil anything, but there is a fun moment in the game if you play as two of the same character. We give you complete freedom.
In some of the early game clips, we see the heroes of Batcycle’s roar along long highways. These images make it look like the world is bigger than the Arkham cities. How much property are we looking at?
Geoff: It’s pretty big. I have not put one map over the other, but our Gotham is a great place. I usually spend a lot of my Zoom calls on Batcyle running around Gotham. It’s one of the fastest and coolest ways to get around the city. It feels like a big place.
Fleur: Certainly it is the largest version of Gotham that has been represented in video games. The most important thing for us is its density and verticality. It has many layers. Batcycle is the long-distance mode of transport.
How adaptable is Batcycle?
Geoff: We let you adjust the colors of the bike for self-expression. The majority of the abilities around Batcycle are more focused on the hero, such as how to jump off it and go into battle.
Fleur: Batcycle itself cannot be upgraded.
Geoff: You can change what it looks like and how it sounds.
These colors: Are they attached to the drawings? Can you find them for cycling all over the world?
Fleur: You get colors both for the costumes and for the bike.
Geoff: We went with the same color philosophy for Batcycle and costumes. We thought people might want to match their suit with Batcycle. We give you a bunch of options in that regard.
We do not know much about how missions work yet. Can you talk about story assignments and side activities?
Geoff: Without giving away anything we want to talk about in future communications, the city has a lot of different things you can do. You can find some of it by moving around. We have an AR vision that we showed in a gameplay trailer which is a great way to find things to do. When it comes to mission structure, if you’re an action / adventure fan, you’ll know it. We have an ongoing case file that is of the mystery you are investigating. If you play through the story, you unlock new chapters in the case file that tell you where to go.
Is something designed exclusively for cooperative play? Or can you deal with everything solo?
Geoff: You can absolutely play everything in singles. We have nothing that requires you to have a friend present to go on a mission.
Fleur: At the same time you can play everything in co-op.
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