At long last, we have a new Batman game to look forward to, only WB Games Montreal’s new Gotham-set open-world co-op adventure doesn’t actually feature the Dark Knight. Instead, Gotham Knights is set after the death of Bruce Wayne, which leaves the city in the hands of his surrogate crime-fighting children. Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, and Red Hood must now work together to take on new threats to Gotham, including a mysterious new criminal cabal known as the Court of Owls.
The extended Bat-Family taking on the Caped Crusader’s duties as protectors of Gotham City is the logical progression of the story put in place by Rocksteady’s own Arkham series, which ended with Bruce activating the Knightfall Protocol and dying in the process. Except Gotham Knights is surprisingly not set in the same universe or continuity as the Arkham games…
While the initial trailer and press release for Gotham Knights seemed to indicate that the new Batman-less Batman game was connected to Batman: Arkham Knight, it sounds like WB Montreal’s title only takes inspiration from Rocksteady’s trilogy closer.
“Gotham Knights is an original story set in DC’s Batman Universe and not connected to the Arkham series,” WB Montreal told Comic Book hours after the game’s reveal at DC FanDome, which heavily suggested that Gotham Knights would pick up after the death of Bruce Wayne at the end of Arkham Knight. In fact, judging from the trailer, pretty much the only thing separating the Gotham Knights universe and the Batman: Arkham series seems to be the fact that WB Montreal said they’re not connected. The Bruce Wayne of Gotham Knights even died in pretty much the same way as Arkham Bruce: in an explosion.
It almost seems like WB Montreal wants to have its cake and eat it too, with marketing that helps fans draw a throughline between the Batman: Arkham games they love and this new property while also claiming complete originality. Perhaps the studio has made the distinction in order to entice players who have never played the Arkham games to try Gotham Knights as the perfect jumping-on point for Batman games? The fear that some newcomers might be turned off by all the Arkham baggage and not give Gotham Knights a shot is certainly understandable. But playing to both Arkham veterans and newcomers in the way WB Montreal has approached things has made things slightly more confusing.
Even the Batgirl backstory as outlined by the game’s press release acknowledges Batgirl’s past as the paralyzed Oracle we first met in the Arkham series and confirms the crime-fighter has recovered from her injury by the start of Gotham Knights.
“Batigirl, also known as Barbara Gordon, is a determined fighter and a skilled hacker. As the daughter of deceased Gotham commissioner, Jim Gordon, she had helped Batman as Oracle in the past. Now, after years of recovery and preparation, she is ready to step into her new role, wielding her melee tonfa, and harnessing her training in kickboxing, capoeira, and jiu-jitsu.”
Regardless of whether or not you choose to believe Gotham Knights is trying to exist in the vastly popular Arkham universe while claiming it isn’t, we know one thing for sure: these are dark times for video game Gotham.
In the game’s first trailer, we watch as Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, and Red Hood band together to take up the mantle as Gotham’s new protectors. A second gameplay video also confirms that the game will feature co-op play that allows players to team up as different heroes to fight bad guys all over the city. There will also be RPG elements that allow players to level up the characters’ abilities and gear.
WB Games also explained that the game is “playable either solo or as a two-player, online cooperative experience” and that players will be able to “explore the open-world action of Gotham and patrol the dark streets of the city’s five distinct boroughs using a variety of traversal abilities and heroic combat moves, as well as the iconic Batcycle. As Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood, and Robin progress, their distinctive gameplay skills will evolve, along with a growing arsenal of weaponry and gear.”
Gotham Knights is out in 2021 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.