Per IGN First, we have a brand new 10-minute look into the 400 years of history in WB Montreal’s setting for the upcoming Gotham Knights game.
For those who are fans of the “Court of Owls” comics, this Alternative Arkhamverse city is looking incredibly comics-adjacent with the city’s geography and makeup being influenced by the comic’s legendary First Families, along with a substitution for the later Arkham family (Elliot, Wayne, Cobblepot, Kane and Arkham).
Kristofor McMahan, level director of the open world, comments that “for us, the five boroughs, you know, it started with the families. The families moved there, they built imposing structures within those districts, so then we build around that to where the identity for those districts really is based off that family.” The video explains how each family’s unique path to prosperity shapes each of the five boroughs. McMahan also comments that translating real cities and their often lack of apparent history (looking at you, Toronto) doesn’t really work for game design. So the team has made a city trapped in time, which is quintessential Gotham if you ask me. I think to TV interpretations like “Gotham” — where you ask yourself why people are using typewriters and cellphones at the same time. Or how gentrification adds colour to an otherwise pretty broody Gotham in the case of “Batgirl of Burnside.”
The game is promising to deliver a public history that comic book fans will know, right down to specific buildings serving as Easter eggs. But it also promises a secret history around the Court of Owls that is less up-front. Patrick Redding, the creative director, says that while the Court of Owls offers a fresh take on the Batman cannon, “they represent a threat that is so embedded and so intrinsic to Gotham City that even Batman doesn’t know about.” The idea appears to be to play the story of how intimidating and scary it is that this treatment has always been under the surface of the city — literally– that Batman knew so well, without him actually knowing. Apparently, it was a theme among the team to build up and build Gotham around its iconic geography, but also to build the town and build a world below the city, where the Court of Owls could thrive.
The team is teasing that there’s such a depth and density to this Gotham City, but I’m still scared by the fact that it looks abandoned and not lived in. Arkham games have struggled with this but from what we’ve seen today I am eager to see more.