What would happen to Gotham City if Batman stopped protecting it? We’ll find out soon in Warner Bros. Montreal’s Gotham Knights, a story-based action/RPG that begins with the death of Batman. While criminals take advantage of Batman’s absence, his students try to keep order. Batgirl, Red Hood, Robin and Nightwing team up to maintain order, but soon discover that Gotham is now bowing to the will of the mysterious Court of Owls.
I spoke with Fleur Marty, Gotham Knights executive producer and game director Geoff Ellenor, about what players can expect from this superhero experience. We’ll discuss alternate colors, the Batcycle, missions, and how cooperative play will feel like DC’s 52 worlds have collided again.
The trailer shows us a variant suit that is ninja-esque in design. Can you tell us what that color is and how players can get it?
Geoff Ellanor: As you play through the story, you’ll be given different blueprints that allow you to craft different types of gear and suits. That’s one of the styles we let you make.
How many colors does Nightwing have in the game?
Fleur Marty: Each of our knights has 11 different costume styles. As Geoff said, those are full styles. Within a style, you can make adjustments with different pieces and different colorways.
Geoff: Every style of suit is basically a silhouette. Every time you make a suit, think of it as a copy of that silhouette that comes with stats and a specific colorway that you can then ignore by unlocking more colorways as you work.
Nightwing is a former wing of Batman and Flying Grayson. In the trailer, his fight seemed to come from both backgrounds with gadgets, brutal attacks and some acrobatics. Can you talk to me about designing Nightwing for this game and what you wanted to achieve with its moves and traversal?
Geoff: You hit one of the touchstones for us: he’s an acrobat. Nightwing in our story is quite a stubborn character. He deals with Bruce’s death in his own way, usually by making lots of jokes and not talking about it. He is one of the characters best able to do acrobatic things constantly. His combat skills are focused on him taking to the skies and dealing more air damage. It’s one of the foundations of who he is as a character and how he fights.
Fleur: As for the traversal, we were inspired by the existing comics, but it is the flying trapeze.
How old is Dick Grayson in this story and how long did he study with Bruce? Can you guide me through the timeline?
Fleur: He is the oldest of the bunch and he had left Bruce. They didn’t leave on the best terms. He’s back because Batman is dead. That’s the reason he’s back. He was his own hero. He has to deal with both the grief and guilt of where he left things with Bruce before he died.
Does the game start with Batman’s death? Is the intro movie what we saw in the first trailer revealing his death and the regrouping of the Bat family?
Fleur: That’s exactly it. That is an interesting starting point for us because each of the four [characters] have a different way of dealing with the grief and taking on the mantle [of the Bat]†
Geoff: They all get back together and have different relationships from the past. Red Hood is the least connected to the group at the beginning of the story. Our version of Robin is quite a young character, so his way of handling the situation is different from everyone else’s. [The death of Bruce] begins their journey through the game and also sets the tone for a very important aspect of the story, which is how they take on the task of Batman and learn how to get along.
Does your version of Jason Todd, the Red Hood look like the comics? Did he die and come back to life from another earth?
Geoff: He was resurrected and was recently killed. You will learn more about that during the game and what happened to him. That is clearly what makes him different from the other knights. Like some of the comedic interpretations of the Red Hood that we like, he’s kind of a mystical character. He has been changed by his experiences. That’s part of what he brings to the table and how he expresses himself in his abilities.
We can clearly see DNA from the Arkham game series, such as the flow of battles. One of the big new wrinkles is cooperative play. What can we expect from it?
Geoff: You can invite friends to your game and control your matchmaking settings to determine if you’ll be surprised when people show up. You can also play alone. We have cooperative takedowns designed to show the physical nature of the cooperating characters. There really is a lot of synergy in how one hero’s ability affects the fight against another. Nightwing is the strongest indicator of this; many of his skills are about having buffs for his friends and protecting others.
If my main is Nightwing and my friend’s is also Nightwing, should one of us be a different hero, or could we have an Elseworlds situation of two Nightwings together?
Geoff: You can make it as crazy as you want.
Fleur: We’ll leave it up to the players. We know that some people like to have different characters, but some won’t care. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there is a funny moment in the game when you play as two of the same character. We give you complete freedom.
In some of the early gameplay clips, we see the heroes on Batcycles roaring along long highways. Those photos make it seem like the world is bigger than the cities in Arkham. How much real estate are we looking at?
Geoff: It’s pretty big. I haven’t put one map over the other, but our Gotham is a big place. I tend to spend a lot of my Zoom conversations on the Batcyle that drives through Gotham. It’s one of the fastest and most relaxed ways to get around the city. It feels like a big place.
Fleur: It’s definitely the biggest version of Gotham represented in video games. The main thing for us is its density and verticality. It has many layers. The Batcycle is the means of transport over long distances.
How customizable is the Batcycle?
Geoff: We let you customize the bike’s colorways for self-expression. Most of the skills around the Batcycle are more focused on the hero, such as how to jump off and go into battle.
Fleur: The Batcycle itself cannot be upgraded.
Geoff: You can change how it looks and how it makes sound.
Those colors: are they linked to the blueprints? Can you find them all over the world for cycling?
Fleur: You get colorways for both the suits and the bike.
Geoff: We went for the same colorway philosophy for the Batcycle and suits. We thought people might want to match their suit with the Batcycle. We give you a lot of options in that regard.
We don’t know much about how missions work yet. Can you talk about story missions and side activities?
Geoff: Without giving away anything that we want to talk about in future communications, the city has a lot of different things you can do. You can find some of it by moving. We have an AR vision that we showed in a gameplay trailer that is a great way to find things to do. As for the mission structure, if you are an action/adventure fan, you will be familiar with it. We have an ongoing file on the mystery you are investigating. As you progress through the story, you unlock new chapters in the file that tell you where to go.
Will anything be designed exclusively for cooperative play? Or can you handle it all alone?
Geoff: You can absolutely play it all in single player. We don’t have anything that requires a friend to go on a mission.
Fleur: At the same time, you can play everything in co-op.