Gotham Knights gameplay analysis: Examining combat, crafting, and traversal
In early May, we saw Red Hood and Nightwing take centre stage in a blowout new Gotham Knights gameplay trailer from from DC and WB Games Montreal. The video was our first proper look at the game in years, and really cleared up some questions we had about the title – but does it impress? And should you care about a Batman game that doesn’t have Batman in it? That’s still up for debate.
One of the most concerning parts of the footage we saw was how choppy it looked. Alongside the new footage, we learned that Gotham Knights will only launch on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC – forgoing a release on the last-gen consoles, PS4 and Xbox One, altoghether.
Whilst that is good (it’s always nice to have games that aren’t constrained by old hardware), we’d have expected the footage on-show to be really impressive and flashy… not filled with texture issues and slowdown, and looking quite blurry in places. Let’s put that down to this being an unfinished version of the game. For now, at least.
At least the gameplay itself looks alright, though. Game director Geoff Ellenor talks us through the gameplay as the resurrected Red Hood and the acrobatic Nightwing go about their crime-fighting business in Gotham’s beleaguered streets. Let’s break down some of the most interesting bits of the footage on offer:
Between Nightwing and Red Hood, we get a good look at what Gotham Knights will feel like. Nightwing’s combat is all about momentum, and popping between enemies and using speed to crowd control is all part of the game, here.
Red Hood uses non-lethal guns (sure, okay) that pepper burst-fire shots at enemies, and can plant (assumedly non-lethal) grenades and explosives on enemies which can be detonated on a whim to cause more damage to groups of thugs.
Both vigilantes can team up to perform beatdowns on enemies, and it very much seems like keeping approaching goons at bay whilst teaming up to target more immidiate threats will be the key part of the game, here.
Given that there are visible damage numbers (you can turn them off, if you want) and more RPG elements in the game, it feels like this will play more similarly to, say, Marvel’s Avengers than it will previous Arkham games. Is that a good thing? In my eyes, no. But there’s only so much you can assess without getting your actual hands on the title.
To get around the city, Nightwing uses a Flying Trapeze – basically a glider – that mimics the way Batman flew in the past Arkham games to make getting from point A to B as painless as possible.
Red Hood, meanwhile, relies on a peculiar mystical leap to bounce across the air, which was apparently granted to him when he was brought back from the dead. Hm. That doesn’t feel in-line with the Bat-family, really, but I suppose everyone needs a way to get around.
All four heroes can drive on the streets on a motorcycle, which appears to move quite sluggishly and heavily – not what you want from a two-wheeler, usually. Maybe it feels better once you’re actually using it, with your hands. Jury’s out on this one, though – the animations that go with it are also a bit off.
You can also fast travel around the city with the Fast Bat mecha-glider, because parody is dead.
Destiny has a lot to answer for. The UI in the menus looks like something between Destiny and Diablo, complete with tiered colours for exotic and rare items, and resources that look like they could have been lifted wholesale from the Season of the Taken, or something.
What comes next is par for the course in anything like this: atomised stats, tabs for crafting, tabs for mods, the ability to dismantle whatever suit you’ve made, and nodes for upgrades and chips.
We’d hoped that the game would have customisation more in line with, say, Injustice 2 – where you can add modular parts to the armour – but it instead seems to be mostly wholesale outfits and looks you can swap for different resistences and perks.
Will there be as much love for the source material as Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4? We’ll see.
Gotham Knights is currently expected to release on October 25, 2022 for Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and PC after a delay from its initial release window of 2021.