A cynic may argue that it’s taken far too long for the cogs in the next-gen announcement cycle to really get turning, but Batman: Arkham Knight appears to have finally kicked the PlayStation 4 hype machine back into life. In production at series creator Rocksteady Studios, the London-based developer is aiming to conclude its superhero themed trilogy with a bang on Sony’s recently released machine. And speaking as part of a Game Informer cover story, the popular outfit has outlined exactly how it intends to finish the Dark Knight’s greatest ever gaming escapade on a high. Like the moody detective himself, we’ve analysed all of the details – and compiled a list of the five most badass things that you’ll do in the upcoming campaign.
You’ll drive the Batmobile
The headline addition to the impending sequel, Batman: Arkham Knight will allow you to drive the Batmobile for the first time in the series’ storied history. While the legendary vehicle has appeared in other titles starring the Dark Knight, this is the first time that you’ll be able to get behind the wheel in a sandbox context – and developer Rocksteady is really talking up the results.
According to the British company, its aim with the title was to create “the best car in any game ever”, and it’s piled a tremendous amount of resources into the futuristic four-wheeler. Apparently, the model alone takes up around 160MB of memory, meaning that it would consume an enormous chunk of the PlayStation 3’s power just to render on a black background.
You’ll be able to call the ride at any moment with the tap of a button, but the studio has also taken time to integrate it into the Caped Crusader’s usual roster of abilities. You’ll be able to eject out of the driver’s seat and enter a glide immediately, for example, allowing you to transition between the vehicle and more traditional Arkham City-esque navigation with ease.
The car will also be integrated into the Riddler’s challenge missions, with one example seeing the hero put to the test in a three-lap time trial through the underground tunnels of Gotham City. In a Split/Second-esque twist, you’ll need to employ your powers to open up new routes, which can be activated using a radar pulse that alters the world.
You’ll battle more baddies than ever
Batman: Arkham Knight takes place about a year after the events of Batman: Arkham City, in which crime has dipped significantly following the star’s success against the Joker. However, this period of inactivity has prompted the super villains of the city to join forces, with Two-Face, the Penguin, and Harley Quinn all set to cause mischief for our put upon protagonist.
The story starts with the Scarecrow having developed a new fear toxin, which he’s planted around Gotham City, causing it to be evacuated. Only the Dark Knight and his aggressors remain in the central district, giving you plenty of room to explore. However, despite the metropolis being deserted, you’ll still come up against more enemies than ever, with the engine able to render up to 50 foes at once.
Perhaps most excitingly, a number of noteworthy names will be making a comeback to voice the ragtag cast. Uncharted star Nolan North will once again perform his best cockney impression as the Penguin, while Troy Baker will play Two-Face. Meanwhile, Tara Strong will again lend her larynx to Harley Quinn, while Kevin Conroy will return as Batman.
You’ll fight an all-new enemy
While a number of famous faces will be making their return in Batman: Arkham Knight, the title will also introduce an even greater foe that will be unique to the game. The titular antagonist has been designed by DC Entertainment’s chief creative officer Geoff Johns, and will challenge our hero in a slew of different ways.
Not a lot is known about the enemy at this stage, but it’s possible that he will mimic the protagonist’s moveset, giving him a taste of his own medicine. It’s unclear what his relationship with the other super villains in the game will be, but it seems likely that he’ll be acting as something of a ringleader in the pursuit to bring Bats down.
Fortunately, the intrepid animal impersonator will have a number of nifty new abilities in his arsenal. For starters, he’ll get a new set of armour – but this won’t be unlocked until later in the game. This will add new skills to the star’s combative options, but it’s unclear what these are. One thing that we do know is that he’ll now be able to use all quick-fire gadgets in mid-air.
Moreover, the Dark Knight will be stronger than ever before, and will be able to smash through glass in order to enter buildings and take enemies by surprise. The combat system will remain largely the same, though all goons will now be able to charge and tackle you. Fortunately, you’ll be able to counter these with new environmental hazards, which you’ll be able to mix into combat.
You’ll explore a massive sandbox
Batman: Arkham Asylum may have adopted a more Metroidvania approach to its structure, but Batman: Arkham City took this idea into full open world territory. The upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight will be around five times bigger again, with wider streets giving you plenty of room to ride around in the Batmobile.
Despite this, the studio is not bothered about taking on Grand Theft Auto V and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in the open world stakes. “We're not trying to create the biggest open-world game ever," game director Sefton Hill explained. "We are trying to create a really rich, vibrant, dense open-world.” Much like a Rockstar title, this area will be split into three distinct districts, with each presumably boasting a slightly different feel and atmosphere.
However, unlike a number of upcoming sandbox titles such as Tom Clancy’s The Division and Watch Dogs, the developer is not really interested in blurring the lines between single player and multiplayer, as this will be an offline-only affair. “We don't have the time to do multiplayer,” continued Hill. “We don't feel that it needs a multiplayer element.”
You’ll marvel at the visuals
Unlike most games at the minute, Batman: Arkham Knight will not be compromised by a PS3 release. Rocksteady has instead opted to focus on the PS4 iteration of the sequel, and it believes that this decision will allow it to fully realise its vision, with Hill describing the title as “a real, genuine next-gen game”.
As a result, the sequel will boast a significant increase in character fidelity, with enemies and heroes boasting texture counts three-to-four times higher than in the studio’s previous games. Fascinatingly, one specific lead will boast more polygons than the entirety of Batman: Arkham Asylum’s pseudo-sandbox environment, underlining the gigantic leap between generations.
Of course, this isn’t the only improvement that will be immediately obvious in the hotly anticipated follow-up. Rain will now gather on the protagonist’s armour, and you’ll be able to watch it run down his body and create shiny streaks that will glisten in the game’s moody lighting. Moreover, the hero’s trademark cape will now react more realistically, dancing in the wind.
And the game will achieve all of this without any loading screens at all. While atmosphere draining message prompts would punctuate the wait between entering different environments in the previous games, you’ll now be able to enter buildings without any pauses whatsoever. “There is no feeling between outside and inside now," concluded Hill. "It's just one continuous experience."
What are you most looking forward to in Batman: Arkham Knight? Are you impressed by all of the announced improvements, or are you still cautious about some aspects of the game? What are your thoughts on the introduction of the Batmobile, and how do you think that it will adapt navigation? Punch us with your opinions in the comments section below.