Gotham Knights: Final Preview

During our month of IGN First coverage, we’ve seen a lot about the worlds and legends of Knight of Gotham – crafting and gear mechanics, suits and customization options – but there’s still a big green question mark surrounding the entire game so far: How does it play? Well, I played about three hours of those at a practice event recently, and the answer is… complicated. What’s certain, at least, is that Gotham Knights is an incredibly ambitious endeavor that feels appropriately large and dense, to the point where even a well-guided three-hour demo feels like just a scratch on the surface.

My demo was split into four parts: I played the tutorial that involved tracking down Batman’s final case, then jumped into a new save to play the first chapter of Harley’s multi-part villain arc. Quinn, then continued with some open-world challenges related to Harley’s story, and for an introduction to the event, I switched to a late-game save for the Internet’s own Destin Legarie and I. head with Harley in the last part of her arc.

And that leads to one of the main reasons why my takeaways from this event are so complicated: Gotham Knights is a game that revolves around building your character, setting and understanding skills and gear. your own, while also developing your own gameplay – which I just didn’t need to, as I switched to different save files and tried different characters. Without that, the fight feels like it’s missing an important ingredient.

At a very basic level, the Gotham Knights fight is built on the foundations of the Batman: Arkham games.

At a very basic level, the Gotham Knights fight is built on the foundations of the Batman: Arkham games. But once you cross the shallows, things go in very different directions. Here’s where things get familiar: You press a direction and attack button, and your character gracefully rotates, jumps, or slides toward the nearest enemy for a quick attack that initiates a combo. Enemies will also telegraph their attack with an icon that appears above them, giving you plenty of time to dodge to avoid damage. It’s all super smooth, there’s a lot of smooth animations, and you’re even rewarded for timing button presses instead of just crushing, like in the Arkham games.

And that, that’s where the comparison ends, because everything else feels so different. Gotham Knights is more ability-focused, with a meter in the bottom right that regulates your ability to use momentum skills. As you’ve imagined, you gain gauges by dealing damage and using your dodges to dodge attacks with good timing, and you lose gauges when taking damage. Once you fill a bar, you can use one of your eight equipable momentum skills for a variety of uses: Red Hood has a close-range throw that deals tons of damage For a single target, Robin has a three-dimensional distraction so he can throw him and his teammates down, and Batgirl can unleash a batarang to deal a burst of penetrating damage right in front of her. him, and Nightwing has a great acrobatic attack that allows him to jump at opponents from a distance.

There are also times when certain momentum abilities are key to defeating specific types of enemies armed with powerful armored attacks. For example, armor penetration defeats armor attacks, so whenever I see an enemy with a red attack warning, I have to counterattack with my own piercing attack, whether whether it’s Batgirl’s baton attack or Robin’s scepter attack.

All of this sounds great, and I’m looking forward to the progression of unlocking new kinetic abilities, buying skills that combine with them, finding and crafting new gear pieces, adding new items. mods to further enhance certain effects and find a preferred playstyle for each character when the game actually launches. My concern is how that evolution – the momentum capabilities, equipment and range of customization options – will be able to bring about the entire experience. Because at the basic level, I found the battle of Gotham Knights very flashy, but also a bit bland.

The matches quickly started to become very casual.

The battles quickly started to become very casual, with enemies so similar in every encounter, that I felt like I had to combine my tactics – not because I was forced, but just to try and make things a little more interesting. My favorite character ended up being Red Hood, because he excelled in a hybrid of ranged and melee style, which felt quite different from what anyone could do. Plus, he has some neat tricks up his sleeve – like being able to grab enemies, put bombs on them, then kick them away so you can detonate them with one shot.

Other characters also have pleasant surprises. They all generally control the same, which makes jumping between them very easy, but they each have their own combat/stealth focus and playstyle determined by what you put points into their skill tree . Batgirl can be built to be a single-target DPS machine, a near-impossible tank that can constantly respawn, or a sneaky hacker who can make himself invisible to security cameras; Nightwing can build himself to enhance his jump and deal massive crit damage, he can become a slippery acrobatic with added dodge and faster momentum meter boost, or he can be built like a team leader designed to play in a cage; Red Hood can rely more on his ranged attacks by giving them a higher crit chance and more damage he can become a close range killer aiming to dash and grab his opponent or he can increase the damage he deals to different factions of the enemy; And finally Robin is able to build a game plan around his own decoy; he can become the true Batman successor by investing in stealth skills, including key elements of the Arkham game like favorable knockdowns; or he can focus on his gear and elemental damage. With just a glance at the skill tree, you can easily see that there’s a lot of fun to each character each time you gain skill points.

And that’s where I’m torn in Gotham Knights: As I look through the skill trees, the locked momentum abilities, the variety of suits that I can unlock, and I think about getting through it all together. a friend and taking on more challenges than quests, I can’t help but be excited at the idea of ​​what the Knights of Gotham could be. But in my playtime with this demo, things were far from that idealized vision.

Outside of combat, Gotham Knights is impressive. Gotham City is absolutely gorgeous; the various modes of movement are fun in their own right, whether it’s by motorbike, Batgirl’s Glide, Nightwing’s Glider, Red Hood’s air hood or Robin’s short range teleport; The bell tower seems like a great headquarters full of optional chats that deepen the bond between the four heroes (and you can even play Spy Hunter!); and the cooperative gameplay feels incredibly well done.

Since the demo was so focused on Harley Quinn’s side story, I didn’t have much of a feel for the overall story of Gotham Knights and how the Owl’s Court fits into everything, but I’m very interested in what I did seen of the characters so far. There are great dynamics between each of them, with the standout being between Red Hood and Nightwing for me. Nightwing is doing his best to step into the role of a leader, while Red Hood finds himself struggling between his thirst for violence and his desire to honor Batman’s legacy. There’s a great scene in Belfry where Nightwing accidentally hits a nerve by delivering a story that lets Jason down, and you really see the pain and anger the Red Hood is trying to keep from the surface. face. It’s Guardian of the Galaxy-esque, and if Gotham Knights can pack the entire game with moments like these, then its characters will almost certainly become the highlight of the entire experience.

Gotham Knights is not an easy game to demo, and while I left less than impressed with many aspects of the combat, I still found myself more interested in playing. We’ll see how it all comes together when Gotham Knights releases on PS5, Xbox Series X, S, and PC on October 21.

Mitchell Saltzman is an editorial producer at IGN. You can find him on twitter @JurassicRabbit


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