The Batmobile is the clear star here – and I’m keen to learn more about how progression can keep the vehicle feeling fresh for the entire arc of the story, which was key to the longevity of combat and stealth. Ginn promises this is part of the deal. “The Batmobile itself is like a massive gadget. It has character, personality and that emotional connection to Batman as well. But we really wanted to ensure that players have that sense of progression with it. We’ve shown one on-board gadget here, the immobiliser rocket, which is a nonlethal vehicle takedown.” There’s a lot more for us to learn about it, apparently, but Gotham is structured to support the Batmobile – this isn’t a horseshoe hub like Arkham City, it’s a huge fully-functioning environment. It’s breathtaking. It feels like this, along with The Witcher 3, could show us exactly what to expect from the future of open-world games in the obsessive construction of these landscapes.
This may not please the subset of fans who believe the focus of Arkham Asylum made it superior to City – obviously the narrative scope of Arkham Knight only broadens with a world of this size, and Ginn tells me that sidequests will be more organically integrated into the way players go through the world. But there’s a flooring amount of detail in Rocksteady’s far-reaching noir city, and even touches like the reflective water effect on Batman’s cape are notably advanced.
The Batmobile is the final piece of the Caped Crusader’s legacy on the table for Rocksteady, and it’s the right way to close out a series that has interpreted the rest of Batman’s mythology without compromise. There are still a lot of specifics about the vehicle that could use explanation, but it makes an audacious first impression, and shows how effective Rocksteady are at setting themselves ludicrously tough goals for creating an authentic Batman game.