Slot Bat Family — Game Review
Gotham Knights Review – Batfamily’s Competent, But No Batman
Nearly nine years to the day have passed between the release of WB Games Montréal’s last game, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Gotham Knights. As far as we know, it’s the longest span any triple-A developer has been without releasing a new title.
While there is no official word on what WB Games Montréal has been doing all these years, rumors have spread through the grapevine. The Canadian studio suffered not one but two consecutive cancellations. The first project was a Suicide Squad co-op game reportedly in development between 2014 and late 2016 when it was axed after failing to impress higher-ups at Warner Bros. Games. Interestingly, a similar project is now being seen to completion by fellow studio Rocksteady, with a targeted early 2023 release window.
Gotham Knights Performance Has Much Improved from Launch
When they failed to get the green light for their Suicide Squad project, WB Games Montréal moved on to make another Batman game, albeit with Bruce Wayne’s son Damian as the protagonist. The rumor suggested an old Bruce would be tutoring Damian so that he may become the new protector of Gotham. However, even that project didn’t pan out, so we finally have Gotham Knights.
In this game, Batman (Bruce Wayne) has just died, leaving his protegees from the Batfamily to uphold his legacy and protect the city from any foes, whether from within or without. While the list of Batman’s supporting characters is fairly long, the developers picked the four most recognizable ones: Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Robin (Tim Drake), Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), and Red Hood (Jason Todd).
All of them are playable (mostly because of the co-op feature, which we’ll address later in the article). In fact, you can switch between them at any time whenever you are at the Belfry, the group’s base of operations during the game. As the developers had stated before release, Gotham Knights was designed around the so-called Belfry loop: after a night of patrolling the streets, stopping crimes, and gathering clues, the hero goes back to the base, gets a detailed report screen on how well the night patrol went, and the sun rises.
It’s a more structured approach compared to the Batman: Arkham games. Additionally, it has the benefit of allowing players to see the Batfamily in plain clothes, doing the investigative work that’s nearly as important to Batman and his trainees as the actual crimefighting. The Belfry has an evidence board that is constantly updated with the latest gathered information on the main villains featured in Gotham Knights. While you’re out on patrol, you also gather information on premeditated crimes that the various criminal factions in the game are planning to carry out on the following night. The clues are automatically gathered by defeating foes, but you can speed up the process by interrogating certain informants. Do note that this happens right in the middle of combat, and the interrogation (which only lasts a few seconds) could be interrupted by another enemy’s attack. Should that happen, you’ll have to deal with that enemy first and then go back to interrogating the previous one.
Each time you go back to the base, the game loads all of the evidence and unlocks the unveiled premeditated crimes on the map. However, those crimes will only stay on the map for one night and be removed should you head back to the Belfry without stopping them.
Premeditated crimes are usually among the most complex open world activities in Gotham Knights. They can involve a range of mission types, such as hostage situations, bank robberies, organ trafficking, assaults on GCPD officers, protecting witnesses, prisoner transport attacks, and other similar affairs. By the way, even if you haven’t managed to get the info on said crimes on the previous night, you can still stumble upon them while roaming Gotham.
Of course, there’s plenty more to do while out and about. Smaller crimes are happening here and there; Batman allies will ask for specific tasks to be completed; several collectibles can be found scattered throughout the city; and there are time trials for the Batcycle and heroic movement options such as Nightwing’s Trapeze Glider. Completing these activities can yield a variety of rewards, including new Momentum abilities, which we’ll discuss as part of the combat.
Gotham Knights developers certainly weren’t kidding when they said the rendition of Gotham City was by far the biggest ever seen in a game. It’s not the largest open world, granted, but it’s vast and varied enough to make it look like a proper place. More importantly, it is the first time Gotham City feels truly alive, thanks to the many NPCs populating it. Previous Batman Arkham games always had to come up with some kind of excuse for the sudden vanishing of the entire population, but that negatively affected the player’s immersion. This time, you get to see the people you’re saving, and they also comment on the heroes as they pass by. Their opinions will vary, but that’s understandable.
Moving across Gotham can be done in three ways (well, other than simply walking, which is hardly convenient). There is the Batcycle, immediately available to all heroes and summonable at will as long as you’re near or on an open road. The Batcycle looks pretty cool but is a bit underwhelming. For one thing, even at maximum acceleration and with motion blur activated, it’s hard to feel a sense of speed. The driving model is also extremely basic; there is a button to drift, but it is completely unnecessary as there is no benefit in doing so, given that the regular brake can slow down the bike more than enough in all cases. You can also do wheelies, but that’s only cool until you notice that your hero can stay up in that position forever without any penalty whatsoever. While driving the Batcycle, you can also perform very basic ranged combat, though it is far handier to just step off the bike and have the full moveset at your disposal.
The other main method of transportation, the grappling hook, is also shared by the whole Batfamily. You can zip up to almost any building or street light and then follow up with a jump that sets you on the way to the next grappling hook point. It feels great and not unlike Spider-Man’s web-slinging in the Insomniac games, where the developers may well have gotten the inspiration. Designing an entire city to be crossable by grappling hook and jumping likely was no easy feat, anyway, so hats off to them for succeeding.
Later in Gotham Knights, you can unlock heroic movement options that are unique to each hero (Nightwing has the aforementioned Trapeze Glider, while Red Hood uses the Mystic Jump), though these are really grappling hook complements rather than separate traveling methods. Lastly, Lucius Fox can unlock fast travel options in each neighborhood once you’ve taken down the surveillance drones set up by the GCPD. Fast travel occurs with the Batwing, though it’s a bit sad that you can’t fly the thing yourself.
Unlike any of the Batman Arkham games, Gotham Knights is an action RPG. That means you will level up as you complete the main and side activities. Most missions include bonus objectives, such as performing specific takedowns or not alerting enemies to your presence, which provide bonus experience points. Each time you level up, you receive an Ability Point that can be used in one of four skill trees available to each hero. However, those unlocks are mostly for complementary moves, such as an evade chain that allows Nightwing to keep dodging until he is ready to smash the ground with an area-of-effect attack. The real game changers are the Momentum abilities that can only be unlocked by completing specific challenges. Momentum abilities include powerful moves able to turn the tide of combat; except for the Ultimate-like ability, which is on a long cooldown, they are activated by expending Momentum gained during combat.
A key part of any action RPG is improving your character’s equipment, and Gotham Knights is no exception to that. Unlike most games in the genre, however, you do not simply drop equipment from defeated enemies. That’s entirely understandable since it would make no sense in the setting. You instead gather materials and designs for suits, melee weapons, and ranged weapons upgrades. The equipment has various quality tiers, and the upper tiers also come with mod slots where you can stick mods to improve certain character stats. The choice is relatively limited (for melee weapons, it’s mostly between improving elemental effects or increasing critical chance and critical damage), and Gotham Knights is hardly the action RPG featuring the most advanced character progression, but it works for the purposes of the game. Eventually, near the end of the game, you’ll start getting equipment that also includes bonuses of its own, such as increasing Momentum gains after performing certain moves.
Given the switch to the action RPG formula, the combat of Gotham Knights also feels a bit different from the Batman Arkham titles. Those games focused entirely on stringing along nearly endless combos, while Gotham Knights is far less reliant on combos. You have a basic melee attack, a strong melee attack, a basic ranged attack, and a strong ranged attack. You can also grab enemies once you’ve dealt them enough suffering or knocked them down. The key component of the combat system is arguably Timed Strikes, where you hit the attack button again just before your previous attack lands on the opponent for a damage boost. The rest is mostly up to the skills and Momentum abilities unlocked above.
In practice, it’s quite fun to play, although people seeking a challenge will probably want to change the difficulty setting to Hard as the Medium difficulty is hardly an issue once you’ve upgraded your character enough. It’s a good idea to switch between the various members of the Batfamily every once in a while, as you can dig into their e-mails, unlock new abilities, and even experience different cutscenes. Gameplay-wise, playing as Nightwing does feel a bit different than Red Hood or the others, though they all largely share Batman’s combat style, having been trained by the same man. By the way, you won’t need to level them up individually. The developers rightly opted for auto-leveling so no one hero falls behind.
Gotham Knights also adds the co-op feature, where two users (even using the same hero) can play together without any tethers to each other. You can take a look at some co-op footage below. Playing in co-op is very much the same with few differences, such as the option for a team-up attack that pops up once you’ve grabbed an enemy. Overall, it is a nice addition but one that hardly feels like it’ll majorly improve the game’s longevity. That could change with the Heroic Assault mode for up to four players due to be introduced with a post-launch patch.
The story of Gotham Knights, while decent, is not one of the game’s strengths. It is too predictable and there is too little character development, with the brief scenes at the Belfry between the Knights hardly succeeding in building up the relationships to something really meaningful.
There’s also a degree of cognitive dissonance in that during actual gameplay you will never see one of the other heroes at your side when you’re not in co-op. At one point, after a key main mission, the characters mention something that happened to ‘them’ during the mission. But it didn’t; the others were all back at the Belfry, providing remote support, which really doesn’t make sense when you consider that these characters would never stay back idling when such threats are scouring through their city. It would have been far better if there was at least one AI companion to your side, at least in key moments.
Lastly, we get the real thorn in Gotham Knights’ side: its performance. Worries began circulating even ahead of its launch after it became known that there would be no Performance Mode, limiting frame rate to 30FPS on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X. We reviewed the game on PC, where the performance was greatly hampered by stuttering, especially when moving quickly through the city with the grappling hook or the Batcycle.
Even with DLSS (2.0) set to Performance Mode and ray tracing turned off (by the way, you cannot turn on lighting, shadows, or reflections, it’s either all disabled or enabled), the gameplay experience was far from smooth on a powerful hardware equipped with an RTX 3090 GPU and an i7 12700KF CPU. When trying to activate ray tracing, the experience got worse even with DLSS on Ultra Performance mode (at 4K, that means rendering from a base of 720p).
The Unreal Engine 4 powered visuals are more than satisfying even without ray tracing, but it’s nonetheless disappointing that such a configuration would suffer similar struggles.
Regarding the display and graphics options, Gotham Knights includes a field of view slider, which is an unexpected bonus in a third-person game. However, it’s yet another game to forget full screen mode and proper HDR display setup settings. Other upscaling options include Intel XeSS, AMD FSR 2, and the UE4’s TAAU.
Beyond the performance, the game also crashed a lot, mostly when loading from the open world to the Belfry and vice-versa. When it comes to bugs, we only noticed one when the last enemy of a premeditated crime glitched and started floating, immune to any attack. However, as far as open world games go, that’s more than acceptable.
On the subject of longevity, you can expect Gotham Knights to last around the same amount of time as Batman: Arkham Knight, which is to say 30-35 hours to complete all the content.
Reviewed on PC (code provided by the publisher).
Gotham Knights – Review
When leaks came out about a new Batman Arkham game, I was excited until Warner Bros. (WB) Games introduced Gotham Knights led by its in-house development team Warner Bros. Games Montreal. Since the studio’s huge project, Batman Arkham Origins, I already had my expectations set very low. After seeing Gotham Knights’ reveal and gameplay trailer in 2020, it looked quite similar to Crystal Dynamic’s Marvel’s Avengers but with more of the Batman Arkham formula.
Back then, I was excited to see how WB Games Montreal can pull off such an intriguing game with the Court of Owls in the mix with Batman dead, but after playing the disappointing Marvel’s Avengers a month after Gotham Knights was revealed, everything started to become dim.
I had a feeling that Gotham Knights may suffer the same fate as Square Enix’s failed attempt at being a games-as-a-service (GaaS) title. However, after playing the game since last week, what I can say is: where Marvel’s Avengers failed is where Gotham Knights succeeded… kind of.
Gotham Knights also struggles with an identity crisis, trying to be something else while doing something different.
Gotham Knights opens up with a decrypted video named Code: Black. It’s a recording from Bruce Wayne that’s immediately sent to all of his subordinates if a tragic incident ever happens to the Batman. It’s confirmed, the Dark Knight is dead and it’s up to Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin (Tim Drake) to take up the mantle as the protectors of Gotham City. The premise is certainly strong and attracts a lot of fans to witness how the story unfolds.
The plot certainly kept me going despite all the gripes I had with Gotham Knights. It doesn’t just focus on Batman’s death, but rather, how the story builds up within the team and stayed consistent with the right kind of emotions it’s trying to evoke. Nightwing is pressured on leading the pack while grieving Bruce’s death, Robin is at a loss and misses the presence of his former mentor, Red Hood feels like an outsider and copes with the death of Batman while trying to be a better teammate and Batgirl is trying to move on from her father’s passing.
However, some key story points just became convenient, especially with the build-up to the Court of Owls’ reveal and the story arc’s end. WB Games Montreal poorly handled the Court in a way that everything just fell into place without adding more to the thrill and mystery. I don’t want to spoil anything about the missions leading up to the greatest crime organizations of all time in the Batman universe, but the build-up leading to the Court was meant to be just a total grindfest.
Even with the issues I had with Gotham Knights’ main story arc, the Case Files missions are the most engaging content throughout the game. There’s a short narrative that doesn’t entirely contribute to the main plot, but it expounds the lore that’s set in this universe and you get to fight against these iconic villains in a final battle. I love how the missions happen mostly in enclosed areas that are more linear as this deviates from the distractions of Gotham Knights’ uninspiring open-world.
Talking about open-world, Gotham City is greatly built but there are tons of missed opportunities for solid world-building. It’s rather filled with crime events where you can simply grind for experience points to level up. While there are other characters that can give you side quests called the Contact Missions like from The Penguin, don’t be fooled; it’s still tied with taking out a number of premeditated or opportunistic crimes, even taking out a number of brutes. Unlike Batman Arkham Knight’s side missions, these Contact Missions provide little to no value to the world-building whatsoever as they only provide experience points, gear blueprints, and/or crafting materials.
Exploring Gotham City can be done by foot, glider, or the Batcycle. Unfortunately, the Batcycle is the most underwhelming, useless piece of tech Gotham Knights has to offer; the controls are clunky and stiff that you would even think of avoiding the Batcycle throughout the entire game because I did. No missions that would utilize the Batcycle for chases except for time trial side activities. It’s such a waste.
If you’re expecting missions that are exclusively for a member of the Bat Family, there aren’t, aside from it being a side activity that focuses on their own story which ends fairly quickly. You can play Gotham Knights by just using one hero, and when you go through the missions alone, you’re literally alone without any backup even though the mission’s story would have made a great opportunity for an AI-controlled hero to come in. Even in the cutscenes the other heroes are absent and are only heard through comms which is disappointing.
After pouring tons of hours into Gotham Knights, it made me realize that the game was made with the sole intention of being a single-player-only title for one particular hero. How? Let me break it down for you.
First, whenever you go through missions, the other members of the Bat Family aren’t really felt aside from them giving you advice or comments through comms.
Second, the other playable characters won’t even show up in any cutscenes outside the game’s hub, the Belfry, aside from one mission where Nightwing and Red Hood interacted outside the hub for the “Dick’s Story” side activity and that’s that.
Third, after playing a certain mission where I decided to use Red Hood and the enemy threw him into a pit where people are supposed to die. When I played the next main mission as Nightwing, the enemy then said he thought he killed me during the last encounter really made me say: what??
Fourth, when playing Gotham Knights co-op multiplayer mode, both of you and your buddy will only see the host’s character in the cutscenes. The entirety of the co-op, while it plays great, in terms of story missions, it feels detached knowing that there would have been decent conversations back and forth between the characters in the cutscenes.
Even if Warner Bros. Games marketed Gotham Knights’ co-op more prominently, it doesn’t feel that way throughout the game’s story progress, unfortunately.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the co-op experience, it’s actually one of the biggest highlights of Gotham Knights. The game progression starts to be challenging as enemies become stronger when I team up with another player, we get to do tag team attacks when able, silently takedown enemies in stealth together, and I get to hear some tidbits of conversation during combat. It’s a huge letdown knowing that your buddy is simply there to support you and isn’t entirely involved in the story’s progression.
Gotham Knights’ customization feature is amazing. Aside from installing modchips to enhance your power and abilities, you can fully change the colorway, cowl, emblem, wrist armor, and boots. All of the 15 suit styles, which can be unlocked by crafting the suits from blueprints, are mostly inspired by other source materials (from films to other games and comics) and have about 3 different customization options for every piece. It’s great a way to uniquely represent your hero in every way you want.
Gotham Knights’ character progression is quite similar to those games-as-a-service looter titles, especially Marvel’s Avengers. Mission rewards, chests/crates, and drops from defeated enemies give you a specific type of gear (Suits, Melee, and Ranged) but are not entirely specific as to what perks they offer until you open your Gear list, modchips for suit upgrades, and crafting materials. These equipments are also categorized based on their rarity: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Heroic, Epic, and Legendary.
While these gears and crafting materials are easily obtained by completing missions and defeating thugs, they can be a total chore to do. There are crafting materials you need to make the best suit that offers two slots for modchips that can only be obtained by going through specific Case File missions, and if you don’t have a lot of time to play the game, then it can be a total grindfest if you want to get the best gears out there before you take on a certain mission. It’s taxing and grinding takes much of the fun away when the game doesn’t really offer much content after finishing the main campaign.
Even your Momentum Abilities are tied to challenges; you need to defeat a specific number of thugs or clear out two dangerous Court of Owls areas. It’s a lazy game design by choice as it appears that WB Games Montreal wants players to put more time into the game rather than making character progression fun and engaging.
Each of the heroes plays fairly the same but is unique when it comes to their abilities. Before you could use any of the abilities your hero has to offer, you need to gain momentum first hence why they’re called “Momentum Ability”. You need to deal damage or perfectly dodge an attack to fill up the momentum ability bar. It’s actually a great trade-off as inflicting more damage to enemies than waiting for a cooldown is more satisfying before you get to use your heroes’ abilities.
Movement animation varies per attack per hero, however, as it is exciting to button smash your way through combos, in Gotham Knights, you need to time your attacks to execute a faster chain combo. Combat is pretty much grounded, attacks can surely impact more and you get to appreciate the acrobatic moves Nightwing can execute, Red Hood’s style of shooting with his pistols, Robin’s bo staff skills, and Batgirl’s punches.
At first, you may feel that combat might be a bit sluggish since all of us are more accustomed to the fast punches by Batman in the Batman Arkham franchise. Once you get used to the combat ace, everything that follows becomes natural. I have come to understand the nature of Gotham Knights’ combat to be more RPG-like with a sense of tactics involved which makes the slow movements fitting.
Even with slower-paced combat, Gotham Knights struggles to maintain 30 frames per second (FPS) on PS5 regardless of resolution, and it also doesn’t have a Performance Mode feature like most other games. As shared by WB Games Montreal’s executive producer via Discord, Fleur Marty said that it’s all because of the “features” like “providing a fully untethered co-op experience” and that it’s not easy as lowering the resolution to boost the game’s frame rates. Regardless of such an answer, Gotham Knights performs inconsistently on the PS5.
Gotham Knights can prove to be a great game in certain aspects but it struggles to find its own identity. It’s lost and doesn’t really know what it wants to be, but regardless of its identity crisis, Gotham Knight’s characters, co-op, and enjoyable combat made my time memorable and bearable.
Gotham Knights Review (Xbox Series X|S, PS5 & PC)
I’ve been in limbo since 2015, wondering what will become of Gotham City after Batman dies in Batman: Arkham Knight ‘s Knightfall protocol. The question on my mind: what’s Gotham City without Batman? Will anyone ever be able to fill Batman’s shoes? Surely, the city will devolve into chaos, so is there someone else powerful enough to instill the same “fear of the (K)night” in villainy’s hearts, or at the very least, help us forget about the match made in heaven that is the Dark Knight and Gotham City?
Enter Gotham Knights , a new title in the Arkham series in which four DC Comics characters from the Bat-family step out of the shadows of the Dark Knight and attempt to fill his shoes. Of course, these are pretty big shoes to fill, which is likely why Rocksteady felt they needed to add up to four playable DC characters. Furthermore, the trailer reassured me that I had nothing to worry about; great things were on the way. So I clung on tight, anticipating yet another mind-blowing Arkham game.
And after a long wait, Gotham Knights is finally here, available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC from October 21st, 2022. If you feel unsure whether Gotham Knights is worth your money and time, we’ve got you covered with a thorough Gotham Knights review, so you know exactly what to expect to help you decide. Let’s get to it then.
An Untimely Death to Remember
Screenshot by Gaming.net
At the premise, Gotham K nights kicks things off with the tragic death of Batman. That alone is enough to get anyone hooked, especially since the last Arkham game ended things abruptly with Batman dying. With such a specific connection from one game to the next, it makes you wonder whether Gotham Knights is a sequel to Batman: Arkham Knight .
The tragic death of Batman is one to remember, especially given how long it dragged out. Gotham Knights begins with a lengthy opening scene where Batman attempts to fight off Ra’s al Ghul but is outmatched, and the Batcave comes crashing down on him. As the Gotham Knights – Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood, and Batgirl – stand over the rubble, grieving their mentor’s death, they decide to stick around Gotham for a while, picking up where Batman left off and solving the mystery that led to his death.
Gotham Knights is Not a Sequel to Arkham Knight
Screenshot by Gaming.net
Before we get too far, though, it’s important to note that Gotham Knights is, in fact, not a sequel to Arkham Knight . Sure. The Gotham Knights pick up where the Arkham Knights left off. However, the two games are set in an entirely different, somewhat parallel universe. Essentially, the Batman that died in Arkham Knight is not the same one who dies in Gotham Knights .
That said, it’s pretty easy to spot similarities between the two games, from the game design to the shared characters and villains to the freeflow combat, so much so that if you’ve played any of the games from the Arkham series, you’ll transition pretty smoothly into this one. I’m putting that disclaimer here because of how aggressive players are comparing Gotham Knights to the Arkham series, thus placing them on the same caliber of gaming.
And how can you not? Because no matter how dead the Dark Knight is, Gotham Knights still manages to lean quite heavily on his legacy, including similar villains, some of whom exist solely because Batman did. And since Gotham Knights uses the same old script from Rocksteady’s Arkham series, even though it holds great potential to set itself apart and be its own boss, I’ll go right ahead and compare it to the Arkham games.
A Lackluster Story
Screenshot by Gaming.net
In the wake of the Dark Knight’s death, Gotham descends into chaos, with all sorts of villainy characters seeking to wield power. As you take down one power-hungry opponent after another, you’ll soon come to face the worst threat of them all, an ancient order called the Court of Owls that has been controlling Gotham’s leaders from the shadows.
It seems exciting to take down a secret society, doesn’t it? All the twists and turns you might expect from an order that controls every inch of Gotham for hundreds of years? Essentially, knowing everything that goes down? But sadly, when you come off the high of Batman’s demise, expecting the story to develop more interesting story arcs down the road is but a layman’s wish that goes unfulfilled.
There’s nothing that throws you off your seat or makes you truly want to find out more. No twists or surprising turns you’d expect to come from the compelling takes on Batman’s adventures. Surely the four Gotham Knights can conjure up more interesting story arcs. Perhaps from their backgrounds?
It Gets Worse
Screenshot by Gaming.net
There’s Red Hood (Jason Todd), who was a former Robin, kidnapped by the Joker, killed, and resurrected, which turned him into a vigilante out for blood. Later on, though, he was revived and got back to the good side. Nightwing (Dick Grayson), also a former Robin and Batman’s first protege, used to be a circus performer before his parents died.
Current in-game Robin (Tim Drake) is more detective-y, then there’s Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), who’s Police Commissioner Jim Gordon’s daughter turned teen vigilante and tech wiz. None of these backstories are talked about to explain how they might affect the rest of the Gotham Knights . Instead, the game just drops you into a chaotic Gotham filled with nothing but pleasantries, solely focused on the missions at hand.
At its core, Gotham Knights is a patrol game about tracking down a string of villains, from Harley Quinn to Mr. Freeze, to Penguin, to Clayface, to Dr. Kirk Langston (who’s the villain Man-Bat from the comics), to the mysterious Court of Owls. If you happen to wonder who these people are, how important they are, whether they are working with the mysterious Court of Owls or whatever Lazarus Pits is.
It’s as if you’re expected to have read the comics or look clueless about whatever’s happening. Just throw me into absolute chaos, assuming I’ll figure it all out, will you?
Keep ‘em Busy, That’ll Fix Things
Screenshot by Gaming.net
Hours i nto the game, you’ll probably realize it’s time to throw in the towel on the story ever getting juicier. So, you move on to moment-to-moment combat. After all, this is what you came for.
Gotham Knights is a co-op game that you can grind with a plus one. All four characters have their own unique skills, and you can choose to play either one at will. But we say grind because you will have to grind. Seriously.
Tracking down a string of the dodgiest Gotham villains isn’t a one-day job. You’ll be spending precious time jumping from one mission to the next, tracking down and bringing to justice one villain after the other. In the end, you’ll need to take down the Court of Owls. The core concept isn’t particularly bad. What’s most annoying is the repeated busy work you’ll have to do just to get to the finish line.
From the repetitive interrogations of villain factions to the side quests forcing you to go down to every part of the map looking for clues, scanning for drones, and pacing down Gotham aimlessly, all with restrictive gear and RPG elements that can only be upgraded by making it through to the next story mode. With time, it all gets painfully linear with no unique, exciting moments or reveals to keep you engaged.
Screenshot by Gaming.net
Gotham Knights is a game that squeezes too many RPG elements, all to solve Batman’s death. Several mission locations are scattered all over the map. An entire roster of potential villains to investigate. A whole lot of gear stats, mods, effects, and rarities. The villains have their own loot too, from snipers to drones to big guns with shields.
Unfortunately, the end result is a disorganized, cluttered screen. But it’s the only way to level up: crafting stronger versions of the same gear to stay competitive with opponents. At some points, you’ll have to spend a few hours on side missions. Not because it’s exciting, but just so you can level up.
Each character unlocks their skills and levels up their gear individually too. So when you switch from Red Hood to Batgirl, for instance, you’ll have to start all over doing the same heavy busy work to get her up to speed.
Let’s Talk Combat
Screenshot by Gaming.net
Especially whe n compared to the Arkham series, Gotham Knights ’ combat is overly simplistic. It doesn’t nearly feel as satisfying or as in control as the Arkham series. At best, you’re relying on the same attack system, constantly waiting around for your skills meter to level up.
At least each of the four Gotham Knights has unique abilities. They all play differently, so you can always jump from one character to the next to keep things interesting.
- Batgirl’s got her combo attacks and tech wizness for disabling security cameras and such.
- Nightwing’s acrobatic skills and healing abilities.
- Red Hood’s muscle for tanking hits and crowd-control.
- Robin’s stealth game, pacing through Gotham when you don’t want to make a scene.
Still, you never really reach the level of the tank, support, and DPS from the Arkham series, which is disappointing considering how similar the combat is. Unless you’re willing to grind, earn XP rewards, level up your gear, and gain extra mods, you’ll always feel like you’re playing a watered-down version of Batman from Arkham.
Screenshot by Gaming.net
Considering the Arkham series was released years ago, Gotham Knights ought to play much better on next-gen consoles. Unfortunately, the game has bugs, glitches, and framerate issues that run at low frame rates, dropping to 30 fps when it gets busier.
When frame drops kick in and the game crashes at the most opportune times, it makes the game a pain to play, or even unplayable on lesser hardware. It’s especially disappointing because the other technicalities: graphics, animations, and even the open world itself, look really good.
Screenshot by Gaming.net
As much as Gotham K nights claims to be a standalone game, it leans heavily on its predecessor’s Arkham series, which we can’t help but feel is a disappointing entry attempting to follow in the footsteps of much greater Batman games.
Playing Gotham Knights with a friend can be fun, exploring the vast open world of Gotham as entirely different characters. However, the lackluster story, unsatisfying combat, and performance issues ultimately deem it an unworthy successor of both Arkham’s and Batman’s legacy.