We're about to be spoiled with DC games, starting with Gotham Knights next year. Main man Bruce Wayne has allegedly died in an Batcave explosion, leaving four other Bat Family members in charge of protecting Gotham in the lawlessness that follows his death.
You'll play as a crew comprised of Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, and Red Hood up against some familiar antagonists like the Court of Owls and Mr. Freeze. Although it's not actually a continuation of the Arkham series, the developers at WB Games Montreal were behind Arkham Origins back in 2013. Montreal was also responsible for some Arkham Knight content in 2015, so the game's in familiar hands.
Here's everything we know about the new Gotham Knights, the game's story, and its co-op action so far.
What is the Gotham Knights release date?
Gotham Knights is planned to launch sometime in 2021 according to its reveal trailer. A specific date hasn't been chosen yet.
Check out the Gotham Knights reveal trailer
The original reveal trailer for Gotham Knights sets up the backstory and the heroes you'll be able to play as during the story. Batman has blown up the Batcave and has entrusted the safety of the city to four of the other Bat Family members.
What's the gameplay like?
The gameplay walkthrough released alongside the reveal trailer shows a pretty good slice of gameplay in Gotham Knights. You can spot a bit of stealth, some of Batgirl's moves, traversal around the level, and a boss fight with Mr. Freeze.
WB refer to this fight as a Villain Encounter, which they say will change depending on what level you are. Boss fights won't just have increased health totals and other stats. Apparently the kinds of moves they use during fights will change to match your character's level as well.
There are definitely some RPG elements at play here too. Throughout the gameplay walkthrough you can spot level indicators next to enemy health bars and damage numbers accompanying attacks. WB later said that you'll manage your gear: a melee weapon, ranged weapon, and suit, which will affect how you play. That's different from your suit's style though, so you can look and play great without compromise.
There's also a purple bar in the bottom right corner that looks like a powerup meter for special attacks. WB later confirmed to IGN that "you have special abilities in your ability tree that you'll unlock, and you can choose to unlock it in different ways, as well as how you use your gear. And some of that will tie into that bar that we'll be talking about in the future."
You can take on Gotham Knights entirely as a singleplayer game or two player co-op. In the gameplay preview above, Robin drops in to help Batgirl put Mr. Freeze's plan on ice (er, on defrost?).
WB also say that Gotham is totally open world so you can do as you please without enemies of higher levels blocking your exploration.
Which characters appear in Gotham Knights?
Gotham Knights features four members of the Batman Family who've been tapped to keep Gotham safe without big guy Bruce himself. Gotham Knights definitely isn't an origin story, featuring several of the vigilante crew pretty far into their character development after a couple name changes.
Robin - Tim Drake
The Robin of this Gotham story is Tim Drake, the third inheritor of the Robin moniker. Drake is the young one of the group, but also the smartest and a master sleuth.
According to WB, Tim is "an expert fighter armed with his collapsible quarterstaff and skilled in the art of stealth, Tim also possesses a background in combined psychological warfare and behavioral sciences, all of which sets the stage for him to accomplish any mission."
The reveal trailer shows him in action with his preferred staff. You can also catch a couple possible costumes for Tim between the reveal trailer and gameplay breakdown below.
Batgirl - Barbara Gordon
Batgirl aka Oracle aka Batgirl again, Barbara Gordon is another member of the Knights. She's the daughter of deceased GCPD commissioner Jim Gordon and a tech wiz with martial arts chops.
WB says that in Knights she's "highly trained in a variety of fighting styles, such as kickboxing, capoeira, and jiu-jitsu. Her signature weapon is the tonfa. Barbara also displays great skill when it comes to hacking or coding in computers and technological systems to dig for information."
You can spot a wheelchair in the foreground of Batgirl's hideout in the reveal trailer, marking the game as taking place after her tenure as Oracle during which she was paralyzed. She's now recovered and returned to her Batgirl name alongside the veritable flock of Robins.
Nightwing - Dick Grayson
Original Robin Dick Grayson, now Nightwing, is the acrobatics master of the group known for fighting with his two escrima sticks.
Knights calls him "a natural leader, an optimist, and the most charismatic of the Batman Family. He grew up in an unorthodox but loving circus family, so he values close personal bonds."
Dick and Barbara have a romantic history that would be neat for WB to tap into a bit while throwing them together on the Knights crew.
Red Hood - Jason Todd
Robin number two, Jason Todd, joins the group under his later name Red Hood. He's got a pretty complicated relationship with the Batman Family, especially his Robin successor Tim. His death, resurrection, and a lot of resulting personality changes put him at odds with Bruce and co. for a time. By the time of this story, he's fully reconciled with the Bat gang, WB say, though that history could potentially be another source of conflict.
As for his other skills, WB say "Jason has trained to reach the peak of human strength, and he’s proficient in multiple combat techniques with all manner of weapons—both traditional and high-tech. After reconciling with the Batman Family, he has embraced Batman’s non-lethal combat methods." Nevermind those dual pistols. They're definitely not deadly, we hope.
How does co-op work?
It sounds like Gotham Knights will offer a decent amount of freedom in co-op. During the gameplay reveal, we spotted Robin dropping into Batgirl's session seamlessly. WB Games has said that you won't be attached at the hip to your co-op partner either. You're free to explore around a bit, even while in your friend's session.
You can also play as the same hero as a friend. WB say that you're free to drop in as Batgirl while a friend is already playing her and that the skills available for each hero will let you both player her a bit differently.
There's no level-gating in Gotham Knights, so you should be able to play along with a pal without worrying about their level too much either.
What's the Gotham Knights story?
Gotham Knights kicks off with Bruce Wayne dying in an explosion. Prior to his demise, Batman had planned to leave Gotham in the hands of some other Bat Family members. The Bat Cave has been destroyed, by Bruce himself no less, and he's left the team the Belfry tower as a base of operations instead.
Robin, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Nightwing assemble to protect Gotham despite being on bad terms with the Gotham City Police Department after the death of former commissioner Jim Gordon.
Gotham's secret society, The Court of Owls, will play a role as well. By the looks of all those rows of frozen containers at the end of the reveal trailer, it seems there may be quite a number of their Talon assassins to contend with around the city.
Don't be fooled by continuity here—Arkham Knight ends with what could be a setup for a similar storyline, but WB has confirmed that Gotham Knights is set in a different continuity. The Arkham mantle is being picked up by Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League instead.
Is Batman really dead? Well, we'll just see about that.
So what's the Belfry?
According to the comics, The Belfry is a hideout built by the game's current Robin Tim Drake. It was built in the bones of the old Wayne Tower with a ton of law enforcement monitoring tech.
In Batman's farewell message during the reveal trailer, he says "some of the technology is outdated but it has the gear you need and all of my files."
The game's Tim seems to be a bit young to be the architect of the hideout, nor is he accompanied by some of the other Gotham Knights from those stories. We could be looking at a sort of alternate origin story for the location instead.
Functionally speaking, WB Games said that this is where players will return during the day to manage gear and hang out costume-free. "The Belfry is super-central to our game because it's your base of operations," WB tells IGN. "You get to go back there, analyze all the clues that you've picked up during your previous night, have a little chat with Alfred, craft your gear, and really prepare yourself for the next night of crime fighting. So yeah, daytime is Belfry, and then at night you're roaming the streets, fighting criminals and unraveling the mystery."
Is Gotham Knights a live service game?
Nope, sounds like Gotham Knights is focused on its campaign and co-op experience rather than endless content. "This is very much not designed as a game-as-service," producer Fleur Marty told IGN. "There is an ability tree, which is different for each of the characters, and then there's gear that you craft—and so choices that you're going to be making—but that does not mean that this is a game-as-service."