A lot of people were surprised to discover at this year’s E3 that Rocksteady Studios were developing Batman Arkham VR. It’s anything but clear that the game offers a new perspective and allows the gamer to get closer to Batman than every possible before. We got to chat to the Brand Marketing Producer at Rocksteady, Dax Ginn.
He let us inside the world of Rocksteady to tell us why PlayStation VR felt like the perfect fit for the World’s Greatest Detective. He also spoke to us about the future of Rocksteady and why it feels like the time is right to move on from the Batman franchise.
Batman Arkham VR will launch digitally alongside PlayStation VR on October 13th.
Why did Rocksteady see VR as a perfect opportunity for the Batman Arkham series?
VR as a new and exciting technology offered us the opportunity to go much deeper than we ever had been able to before in terms of creating gameplay around the idea of Batman being the World’s Greatest Detective. We have always been committed to creating Batman games that make players feel like they are Batman, but the unique nature of VR created an opportunity for crime scene investigation and forensics that we wouldn’t let pass us by.
How does Batman Arkham VR differ from the regular Batman Arkham games? Will we see any combat or is it purely exploration based?
The primary point of difference is the perspective and the focused nature of the narrative. Batman: Arkham VR is entirely focussed on Batman’s capacity as a detective so there are no scenes in which Batman directly engages in combat however he is able to reconstruct and scrutinise highly aggressive combat encounters by way of forensic investigation. The first person perspective also brings a very different feeling to the experience as the gamer is that much closer to the action resulting in a much more intense connection with other characters and super-villains.
How long of an experience is Batman Arkham VR?
The core narrative is about 60 minutes in duration, however additional content is unlocked that provides about another 90 minutes of gameplay on top of that. So there are plenty of reasons to play through the game multiple times in order to see everything that we have put into it.
Do you think VR is tailored for full gaming experiences, or is it better for more tailored experiences like Batman Arkham VR?
Across the industry it feels like we are all just beginning to learn the strengths and limitations of the technology. The highly focussed design of Batman: Arkham VR felt right to us as we were making the game but i’m sure there are other talented developers who are eyeing VR as a vehicle for games of expansive scale and scope. It is exciting to be part of the development community at this very early stage as we will really be able to appreciate the efforts that other teams make to go beyond the current state of VR into the future.
Does Batman Arkham VR significantly expand the story told by the Arkham trilogy?
The story of Batman: Arkham VR is a murder mystery and as such the ‘how, where and why’ of the game is part of the mystery that players are challenged to unravel as the World’s Greatest Detective. I won’t say any more than that except that this game does exist as part of the Arkham continuity.
Did you have any input with the Arkham Collection remaster? What are your thoughts on it? Are you happy gamers get to experience some classic Batman games with a newer generation?
The ‘Batman: Return to Arkham’ collection is an initiative by Warner Bros and as such we have had very little input into its development. The team at Rocksteady has been exclusively focussed on getting up to speed with VR technology and creating as high a quality VR experience as we have been able to.
We all feel that Rocksteady are maybe looking to move on from the Batman brand, despite how appealing and successful it’s been. In terms of another Arkham sequel or even Batman spinoff game, would you have any input towards where the Arkham universe is now going? Or is Arkham Knight truly the last of the Batman Rocksteady games?
We came out and said after the release of Batman: Arkham Knight that it would be our final Batman game, and then we went ahead and made Batman: Arkham VR. So in that respect I guess we should never say never. But, as a team we feel that it is time to set ourselves a new challenge and move ourselves into some more uncomfortable territory. This is how we felt as we were developing Batman: Arkham Asylum and so we are looking forward to having the chills again that we are building something completely new and unknown.
Rocksteady have crafted arguably one of the best modern combat systems in recent memory, are you completely turning away from it for future games? Or is this a system that will continue to be refined and expanded on?
The FreeFlow combat system has been an incredibly gratifying component of the Arkham series and feels as if it belongs to that universe. Whether we refine it for a future title is yet to be seen and will depend entirely on what we choose to do next as a studio. We are still in the process of weighing our options and setting our future direction so I’m as interested to see where we end up as you are.