Gotham Knights - Harley Quinn

I was late to the party when it comes to Gotham Knights. It was on sale over the holiday season, and my brother was mentioning how he planned to pick it up on discount. We have forever tried to find a co-op game that we would both enjoy, and even though I had for the most part intended to skip Gotham Knights altogether, I figured I’d buy a copy so my brother wouldn’t have to suffer in isolation.

But it turns out I actually quite liked my time with it, and I didn’t find it nearly as grindy as I had expected it to be, based the reviews. It isn’t perfect, but it is perfectly serviceable

There are, of course, a few areas where it comes up short. I think Gotham Knights could use some tweaking here and there to take it from just okay to pretty good. So I figured I’d air my grievances and offer my list of six things that I feel could make Gotham Knights really soar.

Improve traversal

Gotham Knights - Batgirl Glider

The more I play Gotham Knights, the more cumbersome and downright aggravating the traversal and climbing can be. There is no dedicated jump button in the game, which never stops feeling like a boneheaded omission. You can hold down X (or A) while moving to climb up certain obstacles or do a little leap off of a ledge, but you can’t just jump of your own volition.

The issue comes into play when you run into a rooftop exhaust vent, or any other fixed object that is between waist- and shoulder-height; you can’t climb or jump over things of this nature. When you’re running around on rooftops in hot pursuit of justice, or trying to lock in a time trial run, it can be infuriating to run into an air duct that stops you in your tracks, usually resulting in a fail state if the clock is ticking.

What’s worse is that all of the characters have this bizarre problem where if they run into a wall, they will almost become stun-locked and will just freeze for a second or two before I can force them to change direction to keep moving.

Also, while playing co-op with my brother, when his character runs in front of me while I’m on the move, my Robin gets stun-locked as if Batgirl were instead a wall. But what’s really ridiculous is that my character will remain stun-locked and unable to move long after Batgirl has gotten out of my way, even though there was no longer an “obstacle” to block me.

I don’t know if this is just a “me” issue or if other people are having this problem, but it’s a bit annoying.

Here’s yet another example of wonky control issues: I tried to grapple atop a nearby single-story building. I lined my reticle up with the edge of the roof, but because there was a fence just slightly shorter than the roof, even though I had successfully shot my grappling hook at the ceiling, my character would collide with the fence along their trajectory and would perch atop the fence instead of the building. But because the fence was only about an in-game foot shorter than the roof of the building, when I tried to transition from the fence to the roof, my character wouldn’t do anything. It was too short to be able to climb, and since I couldn’t jump, the only option was to jump off the fence (which was a hassle in and of itself, since the game doesn’t respond well to simply dropping off edges), then find a different part of the roof that wasn’t blocked by the fence, and try again.

With a little tweaking — and perhaps a dedicated jump button — the traversal could feel so much better.

The police shouldn’t feel so pointless

Gotham Knights - Crime Resolved

Seriously, the police are way too aggressive against our crimefighting team. This is pointless, and it does nothing to impact or inform the story. Apparently, Jim Gordon has died, and as a result the GCPD is none too friendly with the Bat Family. This means that, if you complete a side mission or stop a crime, the police will often show up to see what all of the commotion was about. If they find you at the scene, they will shoot you.

At first I thought this was an interesting aspect of Gotham Knights — I felt like a real vigilante, cleaning up the streets while staying in the shadows to avoid police involvement. The problem is, this doesn’t impact the overall game. You never ultimately win the police over, despite having stopped dozens of crimes, taken down numerous supervillains, and just generally made Gotham City a safer, better place.

Alternatively, if you actively target and attack the GCPD, it doesn’t make you more of a wanted person. In fact, it doesn’t do anything at all. If the police are this pointless and also a bit of a nuisance, why even have them as an aspect of the game? Get rid of them entirely or make their presence actuall mean something for the game.

Add in some dirigibles

Arkham Knight - Blimp

Not every iteration of Gotham City has huge blimps flying around, but plenty of good ones do. As big as Gotham City is in this game, it would just be so much cooler seeing a dirigible hovering above Gotham, maybe even shining a spotlight down on you while you are fighting crime, which would also tie into my previous point and make you feel like more of an unwanted/wanted presence.

Get rid of crafting

Gotham Knights - Workbench

Why do I need to craft all of my suits and weapons? You run into Lucius Fox throughout Gotham Knights, why wouldn’t the Bat Family just have him supply the gang with their accessories.

In fact, I think it would be better to tie a character’s stats to the character themselves rather than their loadout. It feels so weird to effectively be the same character that you start the game with, burdened with a swath of meaningless and, quite frankly, dumb crafting currencies.

Just, stop it, Gotham Knights.

Give us some better suits

Gotham Knights - Barbara Dancing

There’s more than 80 years of Batman history to play with, and these are the best suits WB Games Montréal could come up with?

Robin perhaps gets the shortest end of the stick on this one, as pretty much all of his costumes range from mildly tolerable to flat-out hideous. But that isn’t to say the rest of the Bat Family fares all that much better. 

I wasn’t a fan of most of the suits in Marvel’s Spider-Man, but they at least offered a wide variety that tied into Spider-Man’s voluminous comics and film history. And sure, yeah, the Suits in Gotham Knights also have allusions to or are directly inspired by specific events from the past, but there are just so many duds that don’t make much sense in the context of this game.

For example, why are there Batman Beyond costumes when most of these characters weren’t even in that iteration? Robin doesn’t even have the classic Tim Drake costume we all know and love. Instead, he has this outfit that looks like it was inspired by 1960s British hippies or something, and an almost Sgt. Pepper-looking petticoat monstrosity. 

Not only that, but you can only alter small accents to each costume, and only if you aren’t transmogging. If you are going to allow for alternate gloves and masks for each suit, why not allow me to wear any combination of pieces from various suits to make my own creation? And why do some suits unlock after missions but others you have to wait until you can seemingly arbitrarily just suddenly craft them or get them from enemy drops?

Make mission interaction feel more coherent

Gotham Knights

I was about halfway through the game before I figured out how to play the Harley Quinn, Clayface, and Mr. Freeze side missions after unlocking them. If my brother wouldn’t have casually mentioned them, I probably would’ve either finished the game without bothering with those missions, or looked for a guide to learn how to trigger them.

When not in the Belfry, which acts as your base of operations, you are in the open Gotham City map. This is where you do all of your fighting and most of the story missions — except for the more personal or developmental character missions. So why are the three villain arc missions only accessible from the bulletin board in the Belfry? 

The Bat Computer, effectively your pause menu, lets you access the map, your gear, and all of the game’s useless compendiums. It is fully accessible in the field, and you can even see the Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, and Clayface missions right there in the menu. But because these missions are unique instances that take place in sectioned-off parts of Gotham, they can’t just seamlessly be plugged into the open world like the rest of the story missions. Apparently.

Keeping these missions segregated from the rest of the world makes it unclear how to access them, ultimately making Gotham Knights feel like a less cohesive game. Either make the player pick which story arc they want to complete in the next patrol instance from the Bat Computer before leaving the Belfry, or add the side missions seamlessly into the main game.

And for that matter, why not make the Lucius Fox, Renee Montoya, and Watch missions take place over the comms once you have met each character? Having to go meet Montoya in a gazebo in a park, or Lucius standing on the roof of his building, just to claim you rewards for all of the ancillary side missions you mop up for them? That is just pointless busywork. Just have the rewards waiting at the belfry (which itself should be more easily accessible without leaving an instance), and have them call you over the Bat Computer to let you know the job is done.


Gotham Knights - Penguin

Woo… This has become a bit of an exhaustive exercise. With so much negative to say, I’m probably giving off the impression that I do not like Gotham Knights. And that isn’t accurate; I mostly enjoy playing it. But there are baffling design choices that get in the way of the genuine fun that can be had here.

And sure, there are plenty more issues Gotham Knights could stand to correct or iron out or simply remove. And there’s plenty that could be added as well, especially if there is any intention to support the game into the foreseeable future — and I can’t really tell how much post-launch support is even planned for this, which is a problem in and of itself.

But, ultimately, I hope WB Games Montréal can tighten up the loose ends. The way I see it, Gotham Knights is a mostly enjoyable game that does a lot of things right — even if it does a number of other things wrong.

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