Gotham Knights devs talk the game’s evolving “Gotham ecosystem”
It’s hard out there for a superhero. Gotham Knights will have big shoes to fill when it comes to consoles on October 25, 2022. As a follow-up to the Batman Arkham series, some of the most celebrated superhero video games ever, Gotham Knights will return to a Gotham mourning the loss of Batman. Players will take control of Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood, and Batgirl as they take over as the city’s protectors.
At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, developer WB Games Montreal showed off a new trailer spotlighting Batgirl. But in addition to the four playable heroes, there is another main character — the city of Gotham. As players fight crime and try to make the city a better place it will change and react in what the developers call the “Gotham ecosystem.”
In the wake of Batman’s passing — yes, he really is dead in Gotham Knights — the remaining Bat Family needs to fill the void left by Bruce. Stepping up to protect Gotham isn’t an easy task and part of the journey will be convincing the city’s residents that you are an agent of good.
“They’re not super keen on you being there,” Creative Director Patrick Redding tells Inverse. “They’re scared to see where Gotham is headed, but they’re not sure that more vigilantes is the solution.”
Crime is still prevalent in Gotham, isn’t it always, and citizens who still roam the city at night when our heroes are patrolling will often find themselves brushing up against that crime. But as both you and the Gotham City Police Department attempt to keep order, the city of Gotham will take note of what you do.
“As you work your way through the progression, you start to turn the page with them. They start to realize that maybe you’re taking a better approach than what the police are doing,” Redding explains. This tension between the citizens, police, and criminals makes up the Gotham ecosystem. Through managing these tensions, “maybe you’re showing them a better way,” he adds. All these interacting systems could help make the world feel more alive, much like how the Nemesis System helped create naturally advancing stories in Shadow of Mordor.
By focusing on the living breathing world that is Gotham City, the team believes players will be more actively engaged in the open world.
“We really wanted to make sure Gotham city was a character in itself,” says Cinematic Director Wilson Mui.
With four playable heroes to choose from, each character will have their own story to experience, highlighted by the unique interactions with the citizens of Gotham, as well as a varied enemy roster.
Instead of a complex emergent crime system in the world, the developers opted to define the criminal ecosystem into three set factions with different defining mechanical traits. This choice was made so that players could actually understand what they would be going up against in each situation and properly prepare for encounters by selecting the appropriate gear and upgrades.
“That allowed us to build the kind of iconic spectrum of what Gotham crime is about,” says Redding.
While the Batman Arkham games told interesting Batman stories, Gotham Knights puts the focus on the city itself and the people who call it home. Superheroes are all about helping people and Gotham Knights may be the first video game in the genre to take this sentiment to heart and make it a driving force in the gameplay.
Jake Kleinman contributed reporting to this story.
Gotham Knights is coming to PS5, Xbox Series consoles, and PC on October 25, 2022.