Batman: Arkham Knight
|Batman: Arkham Knight|
|Publisher(s)||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Distribution||Optical disc, download|
Batman: Arkham Knight is an upcoming action-adventure video game developed by Rocksteady Studios and released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One video game consoles, and Microsoft Windows. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it is the successor to Warner Bros. Games Montréal's 2013 video game Batman: Arkham Origins, and the fourth main game in the Batman: Arkham series. Kevin Conroy will once again voice Batman. Arkham Knight is scheduled to be released worldwide on June 2, 2015.
The game's main storyline is set one year after the events of 2011's Batman: Arkham City and follows Batman, at the peak of his ability, as he confronts the Scarecrow, who has returned to Gotham City to unite Batman's enemies in a plot to finally kill the Dark Knight.
Many gadgets and gameplay elements from previous Arkham games return, including the grapnel gun, line launcher, batarangs, the countering system and detective vision. Batman can use some gadgets while flying, such as batarangs or the line-launcher. The player can fly Batman throughout the city using his cape, with gliding now allowing for longer sustained flights, steeper dives and higher climbs. The grapnel gun can now be used to instantly switch directions during a glide, as well as being fired twice while in the air to chain grapneling moves together. There is also a new batarang sensor that can be thrown out to gain intel on the surrounding area.
Changes to the combat system include the ability to combine attacks on prone enemies without interrupting the streak. Batman can also counter enemy attacks, and throw them into other enemies for increased damage. Typical enemies are now capable of performing a charge and tackle attack only used by larger enemies in previous games; precision timed dodging and a batarang can instantly defeat some charging enemies. Batman can now access grates from far away, allowing him to roll forward and immediately get under the grate if in range, instead of having to be right on top of them, while also initiating multiple takedowns from within them. Arkham Knight introduces "Fear Takedown", where Batman can subdue up to three enemies simultaneously as long as he remains undetected; time is slowed after each take down, allowing the player to target the next enemy. Hazardous items within the area, such as power generators, can be integrated into combat for environmental attacks. Batman is also capable of disarming enemies wielding items like baseball bats, and using the acquired weapon on several foes before it breaks. Some enemies are armed with guns which significantly damage Batman. The game also introduces a controller rumble-driven, hacking mini game. Riddler Trophies also return.
The game introduces Batman's car, the Batmobile, as a drivable vehicle. The bulletproof Batmobile can be summoned to the player's location at will, while on foot or, if airborne, the car can be sent to meet Batman as he lands. The vehicle features the ability to perform jumps, speed boosts, rotate on the spot, smash through objects like barricades and trees, and fire missiles that can immobilize enemy vehicles. Batman can eject from the Batmobile and immediately begin gliding around Gotham City. Some enemies will run away at the sight of the vehicle, eliminating the need for Batman to fight them, and enemies attacking the car can be subdued by its automated taser defenses. Like Batman, the Batmobile can be upgraded with new abilities. Riddler Trophies also feature objectives requiring the Batmobile, such as a timed race in an underground tunnel that uses radar pulses to change parts of the track. The Batmobile has two modes, which can be switched into at anytime: Pursuit and Battle. Pursuit is for moving from area to area and completing specific driving challenges. In Battle mode, the Batmobile becomes more tank than car, allowing a full 360-degree range of movement, including strafing in any direction, while revealing the multiple weapon systems on board, including a Vulcan gun for quick damage, a 60mm hypervelocity gun for tank-busting, missiles for wide-ranging damage, and a non-lethal riot-suppressor. The Batmobile can also be controlled remotely, be driven in indoor locations, and help with solving the game's puzzles, such as lowering an inaccessible elevator with its attached winch.
Arkham Knight features Batman (Kevin Conroy), a superhero trained to the peak of human physical and mental perfection and an expert in martial arts. He is aided by his friend police commissioner James Gordon, and Gordon's daughter Barbara, who operates covertly as the superhero Oracle. Rocksteady stated that Oracle is "such a strong character," that they wanted to "bring her to life in this game rather than have her as just [a] voice." Arkham Knight brings Batman into conflict with the super-villains Scarecrow, Penguin (Nolan North), Two-Face (Troy Baker), Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), and Riddler (Wally Wingert). The game introduces the villain Arkham Knight, a character created specifically for the game by Rocksteady, DC Comics CCO and comic-book writer Geoff Johns, and DC co-publisher and comic artist Jim Lee. The Arkham Knight is described as a militarized version of Batman, with the "A" logo of the Arkham Asylum facility worn as an emblem on his chest.
One year after the death of the Joker during the events of Arkham City. Batman is struggling to come to terms with the absence of his nemesis and the uncomfortable feeling that the pair shared a bond deeper than either could admit. Without the Joker's chaotic presence, Gotham's citizens have never felt safer, and crime in the city has dramatically declined. However, this gives Batman's enemies, including Penguin, Two-Face, and Harley Quinn, a chance to unite with the singular goal of killing Batman. On Halloween night, Scarecrow threatens the city with his newly created strain of fear toxin and bombs planted throughout Gotham, forcing the evacuation of the city's six million civilians. Only criminals remain in the city, leaving Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham City Police outnumbered. Anticipating a new threat, Batman continues to develop crime-fighting technology, and maintains a vigil over the city.
Arkham Knight's Gotham City is approximately five times the scale of the open-air Arkham City prison in Arkham City. The game takes place in the center of the city, which is split into three island areas, with various districts such as the neon-tinged Chinatown, and the industrial shipping yard. Oracle has set up her communications headquarters in Gotham clock tower, which also houses a makeshift Batcave.
In August 2012, Paul Dini, writer of the first two games in the Arkham series, said he would not be involved in writing a sequel to Arkham City. He did not write any of that game's downloadable content (including the story-based "Harley Quinn's Revenge" downloadable content (DLC)), and said that Warner Bros. and Rocksteady suggested he accept other work if offered. Rocksteady opted to use its own team of writers, headed by game director Sefton Hill, and returning writer Paul Crocker, with script elements by Martin Lancaster; Geoff Johns served as a consultant on the plot.
Arkham Knight was announced in March 2014, following leaked marketing material at the end of February, with series creators Rocksteady Studios returning to develop the game, following the development of 2013's Batman: Arkham Origins by Warner Bros. Games Montréal. Arkham Knight is described as the concluding chapter of the Arkham series from Rocksteady; they had a finale for the series in mind since the development of Arkham City. Kevin Conroy returns as the voice of Batman, having done so in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, after stating at the 2013 Dallas Comic Con that he had been working on "the next Arkham". This statement led to speculation that he would reprise his role as Batman in Arkham Origins, which was not the case.
Rocksteady decided early on in development to make Arkham Knight only for the then-upcoming next-generation of consoles, which was considered to allow them to focus on using the system resources to their fullest without reining in their ideas to accommodate the older generation systems. The game allows for up to five times the number of on-screen enemies as were possible in Arkham City, and riots can feature up to fifty on-screen enemies interacting with the environment to smash items, and spray graffiti. The technical changes also allowed for cutscenes to be rendered in real time in the game engine, where previous installments had used pre-rendered videos to compensate. Describing the scale of difference between Arkham Knight and earlier games, lead character artist Albert Feliu said that a single character model in Arkham Knight could contain the same amount of polygons used to render the entirety of Arkham Asylum's environment. Arkham Knight is the first in the series to use the Apex physics simulation engine to have items like cloth, such as Batman's cape, react realistically to movement or wind. Warner Bros. supported Rocksteady's concept for the game, but both parties felt that three years was too long to wait between games, so Warner Bros. Games Montréal was tasked with creating the prequel, Arkham Origins, to fill the gap.
The game will not feature a multiplayer component, as Hill explained: "This is a single-player game. There is no multiplayer. Right at the start this was our vision. It's going to take all of our effort for all of this time. We don't have the time to do multiplayer. [The team plans] to focus on making the best single-player experience we can. We don't feel that it needs a multiplayer element. Warner Bros. backed that up right at the start."
Batman's Batmobile was an aspect of the character that Rocksteady had wanted to include in its other Arkham games, but were limited by technical constraints. The designers, who worked in conjunction with DC, chose to look at their earlier design from Arkham Asylum, instead of models from the history of Batman comics and media, and evolve that to meet the necessary gameplay requirements. The vehicle was designed to integrate with Batman's on-foot traversal without being a burden; Hill stated, "We didn't want it to be like, 'Okay, the Batmobile is so good I'll just stay in that all the time.' or 'Batman is so powerful gliding around I won't be using the Batmobile.' There's a definite need to use both of those." The world's challenges were set out on the vertical and horizontal plane to discourage players from using only one form of movement, with the Batmobile providing a faster method for moving large distances. It can be summoned with a button press, and Batman can both enter and be ejected from it quickly, with ejection allowing the character to begin gliding instantly. Unlike Arkham Origins, Arkham Knight does not feature a fast travel system as the designers considered moving around the city to be part of the game, and allowing players to skip that would detract from the experience. During early development, Rocksteady placed a prototype Batmobile in the existing Arkham City map, and learned that the claustrophobic city designed for Batman to glide and grapple did not work well for driving a vehicle. Gotham City was thus redesigned with wider streets to allow space for the Batmobile and other street traffic to drive without colliding into walls, and buildings were made taller to accommodate the vehicle's ejection ability. Buildings hit by the vehicle suffer cosmetic damage without slowing the car, as it was considered that being impeded by a collision while turning a corner would diminish the power fantasy of driving the Batmobile.
To redesign Gotham City, the designers attempted to build on the previous games' gothic architecture while making a more believable and dense city. Alongside minor elements like neon lights, billboard advertising, and American-style cars, the team developed ideas for shops that could be found in the city, while retaining a grimy, dystopian theme. Describing the design, Hego said: "every kind of element we've added in there... makes the entire experience feel a little out of time. You couldn't pinpoint whether it's twenty years ago, now or in ten years time." "We want to make sure the world is rich and full of interesting things to do," Hill said. "We're not trying to create the biggest open-world game ever. We are trying to create a really rich, vibrant, dense open world."
Batman's armor was redesigned to match that of the Batmobile to make them appear visually similar—featuring the same shapes and material textures—and appear functionally compatible with the high-speed methods in which the character enters and exits the vehicle. The design also added armor over Batman's shoulders, covering the previously exposed cape, to make it appear more feasible that it could hold Batman's weight without failing during gliding. For other returning characters, art director David Hego said that the designs were conceived to keep them interesting after players had seen them several times before in previous games, while the game's autumnal setting also necessitated a change in character clothing over the winter setting of Arkham City. The Penguin lost his long coat, and was made to look dirtier, his clothing showing signs of sweat and food stains, and his head was shaved. For Two-Face, the designers felt the character did not require changing significantly, and instead emphasises existing character traits, particularly his disfigured flesh, using references of burnt flesh as inspiration. Similarly, they wanted to retain the typical Riddler characterizations like green shirts emblazoned with question marks, but instead had the character design evolve throughout the game, modifying his own costume in response to the events of the plot.
Nick Arundel returns to compose the music for the game, having worked on Arkham Asylum and Arkham City previously. Arundel is helped by David Buckley, replacing Ron Fish who had worked with Arundel on the previous games. Arundel stated, "One of the good things about doing a sequel, is you get the opportunity to redo [things you wished you changed], to revisit things. 'I didn't quite do that track as good as I could', so let's do a version of that; let's improve it... We have a set of material that we want to keep consistent, like the Batman theme... We wanted to keep [that] theme and tailor it more to the story for this game. How can we get the Scarecrow element out of that one theme." Arundel added that Buckley was willing to work within the music he had already created, as opposed to wanting to add his own personal touch to it. Buckley received Arundel's work from Arkham Asylum to help create new variations on the chords and melody from the original theme.
Batman: Arkham Knight is scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows on June 2, 2015. Two Collector's Edition editions were also announced: the Limited edition contains the game in a Steelbook case, an 80-page concept art book, an Arkham Knight issue #0 comic book, three alternate costumes for Batman based on DC Comics' The New 52, and a statue of Batman. The Batmobile edition contains the Limited edition items, but replaces the Batman statue with a transformable Batmobile statue.
Harley Quinn is a playable character via pre-order downloadable content in a story-driven mission, featuring her own weapons and abilities; the content also includes four challenge maps for the character. The game was originally scheduled to be released on October 14, 2014. On the delay, Rocksteady marketing game manager Guy Perkins stated, "If we didn’t give the team more time to do it, then we would be releasing something that we weren’t happy with. We want to make sure we’re absolutely nailing it 100%." The PlayStation 4 version will exclusively feature the "Scarecrow Nightmare" DLC. The content depicts a Gotham City that has succumbed to the Scarecrow's fear gas transforming it into a twisted nightmare image of itself, overseen by a towering Scarecrow and his undead army. Red Hood is also a playable character via pre-order downloadable content in a story-driven mission.
The game was originally scheduled to be released during Batman's 75th Anniversary celebration in 2014, and DC will present the "Cape/Cowl/Create" art exhibit at San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2014. The exhibit will feature contemporary artists painting on a cape and cowl designed by Asher Levine and based on the batsuit from the game.
Batman: Arkham Knight received Game Informer's award for Best Action Game seen at E3 2014 in June 2014. It also received IGN's Best Xbox One Game for their E3 2014 awards, while becoming runner up for Game of Show and Best PlayStation 4 Game. The 2014 Game Critics Awards awarded Arkham Knight as the Best Action/Adventure Game, while nominating it for Best of Show and Best Console Game. At the 2014 Golden Joystick Awards, Arkham Knight was nominated for Most Wanted game.
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- Official website
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