Gotham Knights

Gotham Knights features four Bat-Fam characters to play as. There’s the brilliant (and miraculously recovered) Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, the OG Robin Dick Grayson as Nightwing, the dead-but-resurrected Robin Jason Todd as Red Hood, and Tim Drake as actual Robin. Yes, even with such a massive lineup of alternate possibilities, three of four playable characters are just versions of Robin.

You can switch characters whenever you return to the Belfry, which is your base of operations. Returning to the Belfry will end your current night (which will reset any of the crimes that are happening in Gotham), but it will give you access to the more fiddly aspects of the game, like crafting and gawking at the game’s ludicrously detailed conspiracy board (which is constantly updated to reflect the things you have and haven’t done in the game).

Gotham Knights - Conspiracy Board

The basic street crimes of Gotham City scale up to your character’s level, so at level 5, you’ll be fighting a lot of baddies who are in that general range (typically 4-7ish), and at level 20, you’ll be fighting enemies who are closer you your level (typically 18-22ish). Story missions, on the other hand, are level-locked, so waiting to do missions until you’re close to level cap will result in a ludicrously easy experience, while attempting to do story missions below the recommended level can lead to some real struggles.

Okay, I’m fine with all of that. But what grinds my gears is that all four characters level up together. So if you play Batgirl up to level 10, you’ll return to the Belfry to find all three of the other characters are also at level 10.

I think I’m probably in the minority on this, but I absolutely hate this.

Gotham Knights - Character Select

So, my beef with this is that the level cap is pretty low (30 for the main game, 40 for New Game Plus), and if you like to mindlessly patrol the streets and solve low-level crime (like I do), you’re going to end up way over-leveled, really, really quickly. When I hit 30, I was barely halfway through the game’s main story.

If, however, each character leveled up separately, that would make all that in-between-mission crime grinding feel meaningful. As is you can pretty much skip most of it, so long as you do the side missions. This feels really unsatisfying to me, as a person who genuinely enjoys level grinding.

But another issue that the game runs into is that your character level is kind of just a number. Generally, in a really well-designed RPG-style level-up system, level 8 should feel slightly more powerful than level 7. In Gotham Knights, that’s not really the case, since the world is leveling up with you. But the gear you have equipped actually makes a difference, stat-wise. So that means that if you’re at level 20, but using level 5 gear, you’re going to feel like your character is still at level 5. Since gear is unlocked on a per-character basis, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to out-level the gear on the three characters you’re not playing as, and if you want to switch characters, you’ll need to spend a night grinding crimes to get higher-level gear to get caught up — which causes your other characters to fall behind again.

This system just feels completely busted to me. Since the world scales to your current level, wouldn’t it be better to spend a night out as Batgirl at level 20 in a level 20 world, then spend the next night out as a level 5 Nightwing in a level 5 world? That way, you wouldn’t be causing the major discrepancy that happens between gear and character level.

Gotham Knights - Bar 8-Bit

Another thing that drives me mad about this is that one potential for future game content is adding new characters. If they add, say, Catwoman or Spoiler or someone like that, will that character automatically be at whatever level the rest of the team is? If not, how will they possibly survive with level 1 gear in a level 30 (or level 40) world? Will the world scale back down to their level? I don’t know, but I feel like the choice to lock all four characters to the same level kind of roadblocks WB Games Montréal from adding more characters to the game.

But it wasn’t always like this. This system was changed at the very last minute. A lot of pre-release reviews have mentioned that all characters level up separately, which leads me to believe that the pre-launch version of the game had separate character levels. There was a patch just a day or two before launch that I suspect changed this. The level-lock between all four characters, as far as I can tell, is something that WB Games Montréal has been waffling back and forth on for a while now. Here’s an article from August of 2022, for example, that suggests levels will be synched between characters.

Further, the game has a Trophy called He’d Be So Proud of You, which asks you to “Reach the maximum level as any member of the Batman family.” That seems to suggest separate leveling paths for all four characters.

So even WB Games Montréal can’t seem to decide how to handle this, and I think the option they went with was the wrong one.

But maybe that’s a me thing. I’m the kind of guy who actually enjoys brewing up a pot of coffee, putting on some YouTube videos in the background, and just mindlessly grinding for hours at a time. I find it to be relaxing. Not everyone enjoys griding, though, so I can sort of understand WB Games’ hesitancy to commit to the more grindy option.

Gotham Knights - Harley Quinn in Prison

I guess if I really want to grind I can just go back to Disgaea 5 or Final Fantasy XIV, but I was honestly really looking forward to a very grindy version of Gotham Knights, and I kind of hate the fact that this version of the game was taken away from me at the very last minute.

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Aron
Aron
1 month ago

I agree. The review I read started that each character levels independent so I played through the entire story as Knightwing and upon completion I was excited to switch it up and grind away again but boy was I disappointed…

Shubham Gupta
Shubham Gupta
3 days ago

I see this as an absolute win, I don’t wanna level them up separately. And enemies/gear leveling up, man I’ve played Borderlands. So that is preferable to me.

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