Now that Batman: Arkham City, for a lot of gamers, is over and done with, it was time for developer Rocksteady Studios to allow a small peak behind their curtain. While the details Sefton Hill shared pale in comparison to his talk on the game's controversial ending, he does give some insight into important points of contention.
Among the issues that Hill discusses are the choice to include a staggering number of Riddler trophies in the game, why Robin only briefly appears in the game, and he touches briefly on perhaps one of the greatest fan service moments in the past couple years. Obviously, since many of Hill's answers deal with story content, if you've yet to finish Arkham City turn back now.
Speaking at DICE with Kotaku, Sefton Hill first and foremost was called out on the decision to include 440 Riddler trophies in the game — an exponentially larger number than were featured in Arkham Asylum. For Hill it was about achieving the right amount of saturation in any given area of Arkham City.
While the game largely consists of a handful of major interiors surrounded by an even larger exterior, there isn't much to do whilst traversing outside, save for beat down some thugs or find those pesky trophies. Putting so many of them in the game allowed for greater exploration rather than just travelling to the next interior.
Then came time to talk about the boy wonder, one of the bigger secrets in Arkham City, that was left unrevealed until much closer to launch. Sure, we knew Robin would be playable in the game's challenge missions, but his appearance in the game, while brief, was a highlight.
Though Rocksteady knew they were going to include Robin in the game, they didn't come to the decision to place him in the campaign, until much later. Hill was looking for an organic way to deliver Batman his gadgets, and Robin seemed like a good fit.
"We originally didn't have him in the main story. But we're always looking for authentic ways for Batman to collect his gadgets. Batman can't just open chests and find his own gadgets around the city. We had plans for Robin in the DLC, and we thought it was a good place to introduce him and show a relationship, but, for me, the most powerful Batman stories are the ones where it's Batman against these villains. We wanted to show that this Robin existed in this universe. And is pretty badass. But we didn't really want him to get in the way of Batman's relationship with the villains."
Finally, it came time to address the two-ton elephant, or should I say shark, in the room. A nod to Batman's more goofy side, Rocksteady chose to include a sequence in the game where Batman actually punches a shark that is mere seconds away from devouring him. It was absurd, to say the least, but felt note perfect in the context of the game.
While justifying this design decision could have simply come down to fan service, Hill makes quite the case for inevitably including the shark sequence, and shares a little piece of info regarding a moment that never made it into the game.
"We were thinking about traversal and puzzles for Batman and about what Penguin would do if he took over a museum. What kind of exhibits would the museum have? We had this concept of a natural history museum. And we thought it would be interesting that Penguin would repurpose it ... as kind of this torture chamber. So that was really how we started…and then we had this idea of the different weaponry in the torture chamber. We had the shark. OK, how does Batman interact with the shark? … One of the ideas we originally had is the shark comes out and grabs the raft. And then Batman pulls out shark repellent and he opens it up, and inside the shark repellent was a massive knuckle-duster. And he just smashes the shark on the nose."
Despite all of the proof that exists within both Arkham City and Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady Studios continues to demonstrate their appreciation for the Batman lore. The games certainly speak for themselves, but hearing the amount of care and consideration that went into even the most insignificant of details is pretty impressive. Head on over to Kotaku for the full interview, which includes discussion of the game's villains and the Batmobile.
Were you disappointed that Robin did take up a larger part of Arkham City's story? Did you feel that the amount of Riddler trophies in the game detracted from the experience or strengthened it?