Gotham Knights: Warner Bros unmasks a Batman game without Batman

Batman is dead. Well, probably — that’s what Gotham Knights wants you to think, in any case. And with the Bat broken, Gotham is going to need a new clean-up crew. If only there was a group of powerful people close to Batman who might not take too kindly to his death, and could… oh yeah, there is. And here they are now.

Gotham Knights will see Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Robin (Tim Drake), Nightwing (Dick Grayson), and Red Hood (Jason Todd) step into the starring roles in poor Bruce’s stead, taking to the streets either solo or in two-player co-op to do a spot of avenging, DC style. We get an even better idea of how that will play out thanks to this gameplay reveal, which dropped alongside the trailer.

There are a few interesting things we can take away from this footage without even having to activate Detective Mode. First and foremost is the clear inclusion of RPG-lite elements, with enemies having visible levels and health bars above their heads, damage numbers pouring off punks as they get clobbered, and players earning XP and currency/loot for takedowns. It’s reminiscent of a lot of modern Ubisoft open world games such as The Division and later Assassin’s Creed games in this regard, or even its comic counterpart, Marvel’s Avengers.

Second, online co-op seems to be a drop-in system, again akin to something like The Division, since we see a pop-up informing us that ‘Robin has joined the session’ just under a minute into the gameplay, when Batgirl is already racing across Gotham. And thirdly, in case it wasn’t already clear, Gotham Knights will tell an original story unrelated to the Arkham series — it can’t be a prequel as Batman didn’t seem especially dead in the Arkham games, and it can’t be a sequel unless Barbara Gordon has made a miraculous recovery from being shot in the spine and paralysed.

Gotham Knights is in development at Warner Bros. Games Montreal, while Arkham dev Rocksteady is busy on the other big DC announcement from this weekend, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. It’s coming to both Xbox Series X and Xbox One next year, so expect to see much more of it in the coming months.

Gotham Knights is the latest in the long line of delays in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, with chances of the game launching in 2021 now deader than Batman. Gotham Knights will instead be releasing sometime in 2022, giving the team more time to make the Batman-free Batman game as good as it can be.

The news was shared on the game’s official Twitter account earlier today, where it was promptly shouted at by hundreds of infants who don’t seem to be aware that making video games is kinda difficult even when there isn’t a global virus outbreak going on. We’ve not heard a whole lot more about the game since it was announced in August last year, so it’s not overly surprising to learn that it needs a little more time in the oven (that’s how games are made). A slew of recent high-profile games have launched buggy, broken, bad, or some/all of the above, and Warner Bros. — a publisher which typically delivers a significant level of polish — clearly doesn’t want to end up on The Pile with that lot.

Gotham Knights will now launch in 2022 for Xbox Series X|S,Xbox One, PS4 and PS5.