Much like the final film in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, the announcement of Batman: Arkham Knight exploded into the spotlight to the fanfare of gamers and Batman fans alike. Looking to provide an experience that will exceed all past instances of Gotham’s cowled hero, hopes are high for this finale to the Arkham series of games.
With the official announcement less than a week old, it would have been understandable for the team at Rocksteady Studios to take a few weeks off to let the news sink in. This is not the case though, as new details and a possible release date for Arkham Knight have already begun to arise.
When the game was first announced as GameInformer's next cover story, it was clear that the Batmobile's addition to the franchise was the focus. Rocksteady’s game director Sefton Hill has explains that while cars are nothing new in the world of video games, the Batmobile is more than "just" a car, and Hill is determined to tap its full potential. Being the only vehicle Batman will have access to, he states that the Batmobile is “pretty much an unstoppable force.” Even so, balance had to be kept for playing in and out of the car:
"We wanted to make the best car in any game ever. That was our mission statement right from the start."[Balance] was something that we were very conscious of. 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 Batmobile looks to have all the amenities that one could expect it to have, like bulletproof armor for crashing through all manner of city obstacles, the power to boost for that little extra speed, and the ability to summon Batman’s car of choice to his position at the press of a button. Perhaps most exciting is the vehicle's ejector seat which will allow Batman to, also at the press of a button, launch himself sky-high at top speed in order to continue his skulking from a higher vantage point.
Again, Sefton Hill explains that the studio's version of the iconic vehicle won't disappoint:
"Basically, you can see nothing stops the Batmobile. It's pretty much an unstoppable force. But one of the coolest things we've worked on is not just creating a Batmobile, but creating a Batmobile that segues perfectly with Batman and his navigational abilities. This is something that was a big focus for us."
On the character front, fans of the first two Arkham games will be excited to hear that Kevin Conroy will be returning to don the cape and cowl after ceding it to Roger Craig Smith in Batman: Arkham Origins. In addition to Conroy, players can expect the return of series favorites with Tara Strong reprising her role as Harley Quinn, Nolan North donning Penguin’s monocle once more, Troy Baker playing Two-Face, and Wally Wingert returning as The Riddler.
Turning to the gameplay, Arkham Knight aims to take hold of the power of next-gen consoles and drop players into a "rich, vibrant, dense open-world." Not only will Gotham City be five times bigger than Arkham City, but it will also be much more lively with crowds of up to 50 characters possible on screen at once. This, coupled with the fact that there will be no loading screens will go a long way in providing players with the most immersive possible Batman experience.
In terms of the mechanics of being Batman, gamers can expect to see a more agile caped crusader when it comes to traversing the city. Not only will he have the ability to move faster, but his moveset will also be expanded, allowing for a greater degree of flexibility when in the air. This means that the Batmobile's ejector seat will no doubt be getting a good amount of use over the course of the game. Couple this with new throw counters and fear-based takedowns and Batman will be quite the force to be reckoned with while keeping the series' combat simple and rewarding.
The Batman-based excitement doesn't end at gameplay and casting though. In the same vein as the possible leak of Driveclub's release date via tweet, GameStop has begun listing Arkham Knight with a release date of October 14, 2014. Not only this, but the same release date is printed on the store's pre-order ads for the game which advertise series favorite Harley Quinn as a playable character.
While this image and product listing are quite convincing the new date doesn't quite fit with the previously-rumored October 8th. As such, until there is official word from Rocksteady, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Actual release date or not, the recent news surrounding Arkham Knight is incredibly exciting. After the positive, but less than enthusiastic response surrounding WB Games Montreal's Batman: Arkham Origins (check out our review), it will be nice to get back to a mainline, Rocksteady-developed experience.
Are you more excited to blast around Gotham City in the Batmobile or grapple through the night in person? What villain would you most like to see make an appearance in this "explosive finale"?
Batman: Arkham Knight is rumored to release on PC, Xbox One and PS4 on October 14, 2014.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.
Source: Game Informer, GameStop