Gotham Knights was announced last weekend and it wasn’t quite the Batman game that we’d been expecting for the last few years. With WB Montreal now set to take charge of the Batman franchise, we had the chance to speak to Fleur Marty, Senior Producer at WB Montreal and get all of the juicy Gotham Knights details.
We covered everything from Batman being dead, to crafting, to the mention of the Justice League to the incredibly long teaser campaign that the game had.
A lot of people were surprised about the choice not to play as Batman? Why was that choice made?
Fleur Marty: That’s a choice that came pretty early. There’s two main reasons for that. The main one is that we really wanted to create disruption and to open up possibilities. The death of Batman does that. It opens up a bunch of possibility, and gives us a lot of opportunities for exploration of other avenues. The other reason is that we really wanted to do our own thing. We didn’t want this to be continuation of something, or the end of something, we wanted this to be the start of something new and this played nicely into this decision.
So Batman is definitely dead?
Fleur Marty: He’s dead. Our only playable characters are Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing and Red Hood.
The game isn’t set in the Arkhamverse. Who was behind that decision and what does that mean for the story?
Fleur Marty: Because we wanted to do something entirely new, it made sense for us to get away from Arkham. The DC Batman universe is so vast and there are so many opportunities for things for us to explore, it just made sense. We wanted to bring those four characters into the light and create that course for them to become the new Dark Knight
Will each of the four protagonists have a unique story arc that will entwine into the overall plot?
Fleur Marty: The story doesn’t change based on which character that you play as, but of course there are nuances because each of those characters have their own relationship, because each of those characters have their own relationships with some of the other protagonists of the game, so those nuances play there and they each have their moments, but the story is the same.
It was mentioned in the walkthrough, that there will be live elements. What does that mean for the game? Will there be Games as a Service elements?
Fleur Marty: There there are no Games as a Service elements in the game. There are some RPG mechanics and I think that’s where the confusion came from. We are an Action RPG game and there are ability trees for our characters and there is gear that you craft, but it’s not a Games as a Service.
On that, we saw levels above enemies. Is there level gating or anything that would stop you from playing certain areas at certain times?
Fleur Marty: No, there’s no level gating any kind in the game, so from the get go the whole open world is accessible to you and you won’t be in a situation where would like venture to part of the city and you realise you can’t go there because everybody’s so overpowered compared to you. it’s more the leveling of the player and of the enemies. Think of it more as a sliding scale that allows us to introduce and present new challenges to the players as they come back to the same areas of the city and we’re introducing new mechanics, and maybe new type of enemies in the faction that they’ve already encountered, but there is absolutely no level gating.
You touched on crafting. I do remember a point in the trailer where one of the characters picked up some kind of loot?
Fleur Marty: Yeah, so we do have crafting and while you’re fighting crime or going through missions, you pick up blueprints and materials. Part of the game loop is that so you’re basically out fighting crime at night and in the daytime, you come back to your home base in the Belfry and you analyse the evidence that you’ve gathered through the night and you also use whatever you’ve picked up to craft your gear and your gear is not only your weapons, or melee or ranged stuff, but you can craft elements of your suit with the loot that you’ve got.
There was a lot of chatter online about damage markers. Why was the decision made to include these and are they final?
Fleur Marty: I want to mention that we’ll have plenty of options for customising whatever you want to show up on screen or not. So for whoever it bothers, they can just remove them. It’s part of that of that RPG aspect that we’re exploring.
At one point in the walkthrough, we saw a Justice League satellite. With Batman dead, does the Justice League manifest itself in any meaningful way in Gotham Knights?
Fleur Marty: So the gameplay demo mentioned the Justice League satellite, because of Robin. He’s very crafty and our little tech wizard. He found a way of tapping into Justice League satellite to use short range teleportation which is one of his of his unique abilities and his mean of of traversal. There’s not much more that I can say about that at the moment.
Are you forced to play certain missions as certain characters or can you just change between characters at any time throughout the story?
Fleur Marty: Yeah, you can play as any character at any point in the story. It’s really totally up to you, you can decide that you’re going to play the game from beginning to end with just one of the characters. You can decide that you want to switch back and forth. Switching is whenever you decide to, but the only thing is that you have to go back to the Belfry to to do that, but you can do it at any point in the story.
There’s four playable characters, but a maximum of two players in co-op. Why was this decision made?
Fleur Marty: We really wanted to make sure first and foremost that the single player experience would be absolutely flawless. Even though we care very much about the the two player Co Op experience, it’s very important to us. When you when you have a four player brawler game, you start to be constrained to design levels that are designed around that and that would feel weird if you’re just playing them solo.
The other reason is more philosophical. We like the fantasy of the dynamic duo, so it’s something that’s very much present in the comics and we like that idea of two heroes that are fighting crimes on their own and then maybe they just they cross each other’s paths, didn’t realise they’re after the same thing and they go and chase after the bad guy together and then either they stay together or split ways. The dynamic duo is something we really like.
If you’re playing alone, does an A.I character fill that second spot, or is it purely just you playing single player?
Fleur Marty: If you’re playing solo, you’re purely playing single player.
What are some of the exciting things gameplay wise that you weren’t able to do within the Arkham franchise, that you’re now able to do in Gotham Knights?
Fleur Marty: One of the things that we’re really excited about is having a living, breathing, Gotham City, a populated one. You know, it’s still Gotham, it’s a dangerous place. Our game takes place at night, and there are criminals roaming the streets everywhere, so it’s not a theme park experience where everybody’s happy, but still, it was really, really important for us to have citizens and they are at the heart of this and those four heroes are here to protect them before anything else. That’s a very big thing for us. To populate Gotham and have it feel really alive.
Does that mean you’ll be helping citizens as you run through the world on your way to main missions?
Fleur Marty: You could be running into crimes that are being committed against the population. Our ecosystem is very much, the citizens, the criminal and factions.
The original Arkham game was huge in pioneering combat for Superhero games. How has the team reinvented or expanded on this this for Gotham Knights?
Fleur Marty: We have four characters that are very distinct from each other, that have different approaches to combat and we want to empower players in doing so. We want to give them the opportunity to approach any situation in any way they like. Our combat system is still is fairly different.
That being said, it’s third person brawler game, so it will feel familiar for people who are used to playing those types of games and the people who have played Arkham are not going to be lost at all. As you saw in our gameplay demo, we were like creating moments where the two co-op players can team up for a move and that’s very important to give them that ability.
In the walkthrough, we saw Mr Freeze and the Court of Owls. Have we seen the main villain in this game?
Fleur Marty: I’ll try and not spoil it. But we have that main overarching mystery that you you unravel night after night, but of course it’s the DC Batman universe. We have this buffet of characters, so we can’t we can’t really just have one.
Lastly, I wanted to ask about the marketing for this game. The game had a record long teaser campaign. What happened there?
Fleur Marty: I think we were just very excited about wanting to speak about it. We are so excited to be able to speak about this game finally and show this game. It’s definitely just that, we’re very excited.
Gotham Knights releases in 2021 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.