After what feels like a lifetime of teasing, we got our first proper look at not just one, but two games based on DC Comics over the weekend. At their DC Fandome event, DC showed us Gotham Knights and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Here’s a look at what each game has to offer.
This is a game centered around Batman’s various apprentices carrying on his mission of justice across Gotham City. The entire game is playable solo, or you can pair up with a friend to play in two-player cooperative. The cast of playable characters revealed so far is Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, and Red Hood. It’s not clear exactly how large Gotham is in this incarnation, but given the emphasis on vehicles, we think we can expect lots of scope for exploration.
This is being developed by WB Games Montréal, the studio behind 2013’s Batman: Arkham Origins, and nothing else since then, aside from some DLC for Arkham Knight. There have been multiple rumored projects that they were working on over the years, including a canceled Suicide Squad game, and a canceled Damian Wayne game. It’s not clear to what extent, if any, Gotham Knights has repurposed any of their work on those two prior games, or why exactly these other titles were canceled.
In this gameplay trailer, we see Batgirl and Robin taking on Iconic villain Mr Freeze, in the midst of a classic comic book scheme of trying to freeze Gotham. We get a first look at how some of the cooperative combat systems will work, with players teaming up for special moves. It’s going to be interesting to see how they are able to include stealth elements in a coop game, where it’s going to be potentially frustrating if you get spotted because of a mistake your ally makes.
I’m less familiar with Red Hood/Jason Todd than the other characters here, but I’m curious how Bruce Wayne would feel about a masked vigilante using a set of pistols to continue the Batman legacy?
Next up is Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad game. This game is a little further off, for now, so all we got here is a CGI trailer. It’s introducing us to the cast of playable characters, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, and some guy with a boomerang. This game is taking place in Metropolis City, and centers around the Skwad being tasked with, as the name suggests, killing the Justice League. For whatever reason, several members of the Justice League have gone rogue, and the Suicide Squad has been assigned the mission of taking them out. It’s a four-player game, although it can be played as a single-player with bots. I’m not hugely sold on the idea that “We can just replace other humans with bots” is a particularly good compromise position, has any game that’s ever gone down this route ever done so successfully? I kinda think that if your cooperative game design is built around four actively engaged players, but it still has to function fine with bots replacing three of the players, there’s going to have to be some compromises made somewhere.
We saw Superman, or at least some kind of Evil Superman, in the trailer, but it’s not clear what other members of the Justice League might show up. I wouldn’t mind taking a pop at The Question, Booster Gold, or perhaps Zatanna.
There is a little bit of funny business going on with these games, where Gotham Knights is set in a Gotham in very similar circumstances to those laid out at the end of Arkham Knight, with Bruce Wayne exposed and Wayne Manor exploded. But the official line is that despite the game looking and playing in a fairly similar manner to the Arkham games (which developer WB Montreal worked on with Arkham Origins) this is in fact not tied into the Arkham games series or continuity. I don’t necessarily think that’s a problem, and shedding some of the baggage and going for a fresh start could certainly be the right move for the game, it’s just a little bizarre how closely the cliffhanger ending of Arkham Knight lines up with the premise of Gotham Knights. The trailer hints at Batman being dead, but it’s hard to take that too seriously. What do we think the odds are of him being playable in some form before the end credits roll?
As for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, it’s got the opposite situation. Rocksteady has made it clear that their game is in fact a continuation of the continuity of the Arkham games. It’s perhaps a good job that they mentioned it, because their trailer didn’t really contain any thematic, tonal, or narrative ties to any of the previous Arkham games. Harley Quinn has had a subtle redesign, but Deadshot has gone from being an older white guy to a younger black guy. These games are based on comic books, so continuity is never going to be completely water-tight, and the Arkham series has had things like voice actors changing between entries before and it’s never been a big problem. Shaking things up is cool with me, I’m just curious how exactly this game will tie into the wider Arkham series, is flagging up a connection of any kind just a marketing trick? Or could it just be a power-flex from Rocksteady, where they wanted to be the studio to determine the fate of the Arkham games going forward? It’s a riddle fit for Edward Nigma, and we’re going to be keeping an eye on both of these games as DC starts to reveal more. Maybe we’ll see a few of the villains and side characters from the various Arkham games show up.
Both of these games appear to have at least some passing resemblance to Square-Enix’s take on The Avengers, with a cooperative focus, and in the case of Gotham Knights, somewhat of an emphasis on customizing your characters with different gear depending on your preference or playstyle, but I’d say that the Suicide Squad trailer at least has a bit more wit and humor than the fairly serious and dry tone that Avengers has gone for.
Gotham Knights is coming sometime in 2021, for PC, current consoles, and next-generation consoles. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is currently slated for 2022, which feels like a very long time away, for PC and next-generation consoles. Although I suppose “Next-generation consoles” will just be called “Current generation consoles” by 2022. If you feel like revisiting the Arkham series, be sure to check out our guide to what order to play them in.