Anyone wandering the streets of London, Tokyo or New York on Saturday night may have been surprised, and perhaps a little worried, to see Bat Signals illuminating buildings in these and 11 other cities around the world. Luckily for them, however, this didn't mean that the Joker was loose in the area, as instead the iconic symbols were lit to celebrate Batman Day, which this year marks the 80th anniversary of DC's most brooding son. While fans gathered and tributes were given, the games industry marked the occasion in its own way, with Fortnite, the Epic Store and Warner Bros Montreal all stepping up to celebrate the Caped Crusader's 80th.
Six Free Games
The Epic Store was the first to make an official announcement, kicking things off on the 19th with a giveaway of some of the best Batman games out there. The six titles on offer are spread over two trilogies, each with an extremely different take on the Batman universe.
For fans of the darker, more gothic Batman exemplified in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, there is the Arkham Collection, a set of three games developed by Rocksteady Studios, which are widely-regarded as some of the best in the DC universe. While the first two titles in the Collection launched to critical acclaim, the third, Arkham Knight, experienced a shakier start, with a lukewarm reception for the new Batmobile as well as a PC port so badly optimized that publisher Warner Bros was forced to suspend sales and even offer refunds. However, despite these early issues, Arkham Knight was eventually patched into a more-playable state.
Whether in the crumbling architecture of Arkham Asylum, the lawless anarchy of Arkham City, or the haunting emptiness of an evacuated Gotham in Arkham Knight, the core game-play has remained little changed over the course of the series. In each title, players guide the Caped Crusader through open-ended stealth sections, button-mashing brawls against hordes of henchmen, and puzzling detective-work.
If this all sounds a little too grim, then the second of the free trilogies on the Epic Store offers a lighter take on Gotham City. Following on the success of the Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones games, the Lego Batman trilogy brought to Gotham City all the slapstick humor, in-jokes and pop-culture references that fans of Traveller's Tales' Lego games expected. Unlike many of the previous titles in their series, however, the Lego Batman Trilogy is fully-voiced, although fans of the Arkham Collection or Batman Animated Series' may find themselves missing the giggling perfection of Mark Hamill's Joker.
Whether it's Batman being silly or serious, all six of the games will be free until the 26th of September, so grab them now to don the bottomless utility belt and clean-up Gotham's underworld one punch at a time.
Fortnite x Batman
If there's a reason players may not want to get themselves lost in Epic's giveaway just yet however, it's because there's only a week left to earn the unique rewards in Fortnite's Batman crossover event. Leaked on the 18th of September and officially announced on the 20th, the event adds the Grapnel Gun and Explosive Batarang, skins for Catwoman and Batman, and replaces Tilted Town with a miniature Gotham City. As with previous crossover events, these additions are accompanied by the Gothic Mission Challenges, a series of seven achievements that can be completed for Battle Stars, backgrounds and even a new glider.
Epic has a tendency to go all out with their superhero crossover events, the most notable of which was their second Avengers-themed event, Fortnite x Endgame, which added an entirely new game-mode with dozens of unique weapons to play around with. The Batman event doesn't go quite that far, but a week of hurling batarangs, gliding down dark streets and activating bat signals is still a welcome relief for a community that has been feeling more divided than ever in the wake of the Season 10 Mech controversies.
The Fortnite x Batman event will continue to run until the 1st of October, after which the challenges and rewards will no longer be available to earn.
New Game Teased
Perhaps the most intriguing gaming news to emerge from Batman's 80th came in the form of a single tweet from Warner Bros. Games Montreal. The tweet contains a clip of the Montreal bat signal, interspersed with 4 cryptic images that each flash up for a single frame. Speculation is already running rife on forums and news sites as fans dissect the meaning of the images. To some the fact that one of the symbols is vaguely owl-like confirms that the villains of the new game will be the Court of Owls, a secret society of Gotham's oldest and wealthiest citizens, who wield silent power from behind a web of conspiracy and assassination.
This theory has been around since late last year, and was further strengthened yesterday by hastily-deleted a tweet from Court of Owls author Scott Snyder, which included the hashtag #bewarethecourtofowls. Another of the symbols provoking discussion has a vaguely demonic appearance, indicating a connection to Ra's al Ghul, often known as the Demon Head, and suggesting that the game may have multiple villains.
Speculation aside, the tweet may prove to be a confirmation that there is some kind of Batman game in development at Warner Bros. Montreal. This will be the second full Batman game developed by the studio, the first being Arkham Origins, which is the only Arkham game absent from Epic's free Collection. There has never been an official answer as to why Arkham Origins hasn't been included in any of the major collections of the Arkham games. Possible reasons are that it's the only game in the series not developed by Rocksteady Games, or that fact that it received only average reviews on launch, with most critics regarding it as holding too closely to the original game to be worth the price tag.
The bat signals may have been extinguished, but with six free titles on the Epic Store, Gotham in Fortnite and the promise of a new Batman game on the horizon, there's plenty for gaming and Batman fans to celebrate this week.