Batman has become a big deal in video games. Gone are the days when gumpf like Rise Of Sin Tzu or Vengeance stunk up the joint. Throughout the entire medium, there are few franchises that carry more weight than the Arkham series. The fact it was the penultimate showing at Sony's press conference is yet more evidence, should you need to be convinced further.
With Arkham Knight now slipping to 2015, as well as a host of new content spilling out from E3, here's everything you need to know about the third, and potentially trilogy-ending, sequel.
- In a behind close demo at this year's E3, a large focus was, unsurprisingly, on the Batmobile. As well as being able to pull down walls and raise bridges using a few handy devices that reside on the 'tank', the vehicle can also be used to fire all manner of projectiles as well as join in with Batman's combos. For example, string together enough moves and a Batmobile takedown will become available: The Dark Knight uppercuts them into the air, a 'not going to murder you' missile knocks them out.
- The same showing also focused on the new environmental attacks that can be carried out mid-combo, as well as hinting at the relationship between Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight. On one occasion, the latter had the chance to do away with our hero before the former intervened as 'there's no fear in death'. Both then agreed that on this night, Bruce Wayne would meet his end. Where have we heard that before…
- On the subject of Rocksteady's new villain, he's far less intimidating than we had lead to believed. With an accent that sounds a bit like a street punk, seeing him mouth off at Batman his cocky, and to be frank, annoying demeanour didn't hit with the gravitas that the initial reveal and suit hinted at.
- The Batmobile will definitely play an integral role in proceedings, taking up as much time in the demo as Batman himself. Warner highlighted both the 'battle' and 'pursuit' states that can be assumed, although there was a sense it could become tiresome after a while. Speeding through Gotham at lightning speeds will undoubtedly be excellent, but if it's held up by an abundance of obstacles that appear for the sake of it (countless enemy vehicles), it could become very stale very quickly.
- It looks ridiculous, cemented further when during the demo the game effortlessly transitions from cut-scene to in-game action. While it was very likely running on a PC during Sony's press conference, the PS4 took centre stage here - it outshined Arkham City with ease. It's also confirmed that the long-running 'pull grate, enter grate, close grate' system has been replaced by Batman just surfing his way into handedly placed holes. Nice…
- Plenty of familiar faces were rolled out to hint at the wider world: Oracle, Jim Gordon and The Penguin were all present. How Rocksteady adds in more characters without going over old ground too much we're not sure, but with Two-Face, Harley Quinn, The Riddler and the aforementioned villains, expect the British studio to add a few more. But not Manbat…
- Batman may or may not blow the s**t out of people while in his Batmobile. How this ties in to his 'no killing' policy is yet to be seen.
- The story is set one year after Arkham City and will see Batman at the "peak of his powers".
- All the expected gadgets return - detective vision, grapnel gun, line launcher, batarangs - along with a host of new toys, including a batarang that gathers information and the ability to use the line launcher mid-air.
- The new 'fear takedown' lets Batman take down three enemies at once as long as he remains undetected during that time.
- New mini-games will be added to sit alongside the 'twiddle dials to access door' entertainment.
- The Batmobile can be driven remotely, summoned at any time with a quick press of a button - think Red Dead Redemption's horse - and will also be needed to solve puzzles. Riddler Trophies will also take the car into account (races etc.) and Batman can eject himself from the vehicle at any time before seamlessly transitioning into a glide. On that note, it's now far easier to remain airborne for a lot longer than in previous games.
- The environment is five times as big as Arkham City's and is only coming out on next-generation consoles and PC. The boost in technology has also allowed Rocksteady to feature up to 50 on-screen enemies at any one time and, apparently, eliminate loading screens. There is no multiplayer…
- Harley Quinn will be a playable character if you pre-order the game. Eurgh...