Multi-BAFTA award-winning Rocksteady Studios presented Batman: Arkham Knight on Saturday at MCM London Comic Con, kicking off a panel with brand new gameplay footage. It started with a close up of Batman’s new, shining armour clicking together (reminiscent of the Iron Man suit-up scenes) in the middle of his high-rise apartment. Striding out onto the balcony, Batman jumps over the edge and falls through the rain before his cape opens and he glides through Gotham City, now five times bigger than in previous games.
Scarecrow is back and working with the Arkham Knight to create a chemical bomb, and Harley Quinn, Riddler, and Two-Face are also returning to take down Batman. But that’s not all: for the first time in an Arkham game, you get to drive the Batmobile! Stunning footage showed the Batmobile being driven up stairs, power sliding down streets, and firing missiles at enemy vehicles – as well as, of course, its ejector seat!
The rest of the gameplay trailer showed Batman take out three mooks in one combo attack, swooping down from a ledge and disabling one after the other. He proceeded into a dark, dilapidated building, the broken glass windows inside looking down onto a crime boss surrounded by stacks of money. Sneaking into the vents, Batman crawled beneath the floor, burst out from under the crime boss and proceeded to take out the other hostiles in the room.
The final image was of Scarecrow sitting in a blacked out room, delivering a message threatening to destroy Batman’s beloved Gotham.
Once the trailer ended and lights came up on the panel, eight members of the Rocksteady Studios team came out on stage one by one, grinning at the audience and ready to answer questions. In attendance were Sefton Hill, David Hego, Adam Doherty, Ian Ball, Zafer Coban, Albert Feliu, Guy Perkins and Gaz Deaves, who each discussed different aspects of the development process, including game design, narrative, art, character design and animation.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the conclusive title to the series of best-selling Batman games by Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City.
The discussion began with Ian Ball explaining how the Arkham Knight was created with Jeff Johns at DC. As this will be the final game in the series, the team wanted someone who could go “toe-to-toe” with Batman. The Arkham Knight commands a huge military force to take on Batman, working alongside Scarecrow who is back for revenge. They wanted to bring a new character to the Batman universe with Rocksteady’s stamp on the character’s design.
They confirmed that the Joker is definitely dead and will not be returning in Arkham Knight. “It’s really interesting to think about a world without Joker,” Ball said. “You really feel Joker’s presence by the fact he’s not there and how supervillains change their behaviour and start working together now he’s no longer in the picture. He was a force keeping them apart and now they can unite against Batman.”
“A big part of this game is the allies Batman works with,” Ball said later in the panel. “You will see in some of the screenshots we’ve released that you get to meet Oracle again, and to go up the clock tower and see her HQ in the middle of Gotham City. So you’re definitely going to find out a lot more about who she is. She’s a big character for us and we’re really happy to bring her into the game world this time and to have Batman meet her in person rather than her just being a kind of voice in his ear.”
They described in greater detail how the Batmobile is designed not to kill anyone, despite its ability to barrel down streets, crush lampposts in its way, and fire a crazy amount of heavy weapons. If anyone gets too close to the sides of the vehicle, an electric pulse pushes them away, and when the Batmobile’s weapons target a human, they immediately set to stun.
The developers reiterated once again that the Joker not being around to define who Batman is will be an interesting twist to the narrative and that they hope Batman: Arkham Knight will be an explosive, epic conclusion to the series.
The panel came to a close with another sneak peak at a “yet to be released” gameplay trailer. On another rainy night in Gotham City, the Batmobile spins down the road towards a chemical factory. A plane shoots down the bridge leading into the building, but hitting his ejector seat, Batman soars on inside. Sneaking further in, Batman incapacitates people by dropping ceiling lamps on them and giving them electric shocks. It’s a stunning-looking game with dynamic action and smooth controls. With Kevin Conroy back as Batman and Arleen Sorkin returning to voice Harley Quinn, it should prove to be a brilliant conclusion.
Batman: Arkham Knight is due to be released in June 2015. The upcoming game will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows.