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Arkham Knight: Building the Ultimate Batmobile on PS4

Sefton Hill's Avatar + Posted by Sefton Hill on Mar 27, 2014 // Game Director // Rocksteady Studios

I’ve always said that working on a Batman game is a huge privilege for us. Even though we have been working on Batman for over seven years, we’ve never lost sight of the fact that we are the current custodians of a very special universe.

So it was with great excitement, and not a small amount of trepidation, that we decided to add the fully playable Batmobile into the Arkhamverse, knowing that it would disrupt all of our existing systems and bring with it a huge amount of pressure to deliver on expectations.

Batman: Arkham Knight on PS4

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I guess this is what excited me most about integrating this very special vehicle. Taking on challenges which don’t have an easy answer is where the best innovations come, because you are forced to do the unexpected. As it was with taking on a character that cannot kill and is powerful but vulnerable, so it is with taking on a car that is (in most right-minded people’s heads) the single greatest vehicle ever.

Integrating the Batmobile married up with our design philosophy at Rocksteady: to focus on features that improve the very core of the game, and hence continually refresh the experience.

Anyway, enough waffle. I thought I’d share three of my favorite features of the Batman: Arkham Knight Batmobile, and how we are hoping this helps to deliver a unique experience:

1. UNSTOPPABLE

When playing Arkham Knight, one of the phrases we use in the office repeatedly is whether that is the “Batman experience.” What I mean by that is simply, “Do I feel like Batman performing that action?” (Can you believe I get paid for this level of wisdom?)

When driving the Batmobile through the streets of Gotham, it quickly became apparent to us that there was a paradox between creating a populated* next-gen city full of detail, but at the same time avoiding the player getting stuck or having to weave their way through all of this detail just to navigate around. We’ve all played open world games where you get stuck on odd bits of road debris, but we were adding an unprecedented level of detail, and that meant more objects to get stuck on or avoid, which wasn’t the “Batman experience.”

“Do I feel like Batman?”

Therefore, we made the decision early in development that to truly feel the power of the Batmobile, this car needed to be unstoppable. It changed the way we designed and built the game from that point forward. Nothing should stop the Batmobile. If you want to stick to an open road then that is your choice, but if you want to take a shortcut through a pillar, wall or statue then that’s fine too!

I’ve been asked a few times: why this game is only possible on next-gen systems? This level of destructibility in an open world city is one of the key reasons.

We are only going to add the Batmobile if we can do it right, and making it unstoppable was a key requirement in doing that.

* To pick up on the population point, I just wanted to clarify that while the city is evacuated, it is still fully populated. The various gangs have taken over the streets. Gotham is in the middle of a full scale criminal occupation.

Batman: Arkham Knight on PS4

2. INSTANT EJECT INTO GLIDE

This move typifies our “man and machine” strategy perhaps better than any other. We never wanted to create the Batmobile mechanics in isolation from the Batman gameplay. It is essential to us that the two dovetail together. Our goal was to make this something that felt like it was always part of the core experience; that the Arkhamverse was always designed with this in mind.

Combining the gliding and grappling was a key feature of Arkham City. The grapple boost in particular, once mastered, gave you the unique feeling of being Batman gliding above your city. The eject into glide takes this on to the next level, by launching Batman up into the air, but taking all of your forward momentum into the glide, allowing you to travel much further and faster than ever before.

If there’s a feature that is responsible for more lost development than any other, this is probably it! I’ve lost countless hours ejecting and gliding around the city.

Batman: Arkham Knight on PS4

3. INSTANT ACCESS

It is critical that the Batmobile is never a burden on the player. This must be something that contributes positively to the experience in every way. This also needs to be a vehicle that you could call on at any time you are on the streets of Gotham. So we have a button assigned to do just that. With a single press of L1, wherever you are, your Batmobile will skid around the corner at high speed and Batman will jump straight in.

If you’re in the middle of a fight and getting outmaneuvered, call in your car for instant protection. If you’re gliding, or on top of a building, and want to transfer into the Batmobile, just look down at the road and press the Batmobile button and the car will be there waiting for you. It is never more than a button press away.

Combining the Batman and Batmobile gameplay in a seamless way was a key part of the design goal for the game, because this isn’t just a normal person jumping into any old car on the street. This is the Batman and this is his Batmobile. They have a unique relationship, and the gameplay systems have to be designed to emphasise this bond.

Batman: Arkham Knight on PS4

THE LOOK

Finally, a quick word on the look of the vehicle. It can be easy to underestimate how much time it takes to create a new version of something as iconic as the Batmobile. This was a daunting part of taking on the Batmobile challenge — if it’s wrong, it just feels wrong, and everyone knows it.

Batman: Arkham Knight on PS4
The Arkham Knight, a new character created in conjunction with DC Comics.

While we loved the design of the Batmobile in Batman: Arkham Asylum (its Hot Wheels model has a special place in my Batman collection!), what became immediately apparent was that it wasn’t especially practical for getting around Gotham. The clearance of the wheels and suspension meant that this dragster design would struggle on uneven ground, and it was important to us that the city had dynamic terrain.


“If it’s wrong, everyone knows it.”


So with that design rejected, we actually started with ideas that were driven by a purely pragmatic approach. After a number of iterations, we felt that this never captured the spirit of Batman. While he is not someone who ever shows off for the sake of it, it is very important that you know when Batman is around. He doesn’t build a distinctive vehicle just because he likes to drive a flash car. He drives a unique vehicle for the same reason he wears his cape and cowl – it’s part of his persona of intimidation.

This led us to the design we have now, which I think is a great balance between a practical vehicle and one that is undeniably, uniquely a Batmobile. It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about the game, you know that when you see this car, it can only be Batman’s car. I think Dave Hego (Art Director) and his team did a great job in realizing this vision.

Anyway, there’s lots more to come. For now I hope that gives you a small taste of why we’re so excited to have added the Batmobile to the Arkhamverse, and how we feel this refreshes and expands the whole experience.

//Add Your Own

53 Comments

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1

+ MisterA187 on March 27th, 2014 at 12:19 am said:

New villian? I’m ready!


2

+ nanaki85 on March 27th, 2014 at 12:25 am said:

“Holy cat whiskers Batman!”


3

+ ALEX87PS on March 27th, 2014 at 12:25 am said:

WOW! The Arkham Knight looks awesome!!!

I’m sooooo loking forward to this game, I don’t own a PS4 yet, but I will definitely buy my PS4 to play Arkham Knight, and honestly this game looks like THE perfect way to stat my next-gen adventure ;)

Great work Mr. Sefton Hill and everybody at Rocksteady Studios!, you guys are the best!.

Batman has always been my favorite superhero, and I love the work that you have done with the character/franchise.


4

+ djsaiyan on March 27th, 2014 at 12:41 am said:

Please don’t be resurrected Joker. Please, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease don’t be resurrected Joker.


5

+ FifthDream on March 27th, 2014 at 12:43 am said:

Man, i imagine combining Batman’s no-kill philosophy with a Batmobile that is unstoppable and can be summoned into the middle of battle at any time must be difficult. I imagine thugs would have a habit of getting in the way of the vehicle, and therefore, squashed. I wonder how that will be handled in the game, and am not envious of anyone having to come up with a solution. Game design is hard.

Anyway, i’m really looking forward to the game. Thanks for giving us insight to its development!.


6

+ BABYPOWDER__ on March 27th, 2014 at 12:49 am said:

Yeah… if there could be a PlayStation 4 Arkham Knight bundle at launch/a few months after, that’d be great. An R/C Batmobile replica would be satisfactory as well.


7

+ UNLOADED on March 27th, 2014 at 1:40 am said:

This Game Looks Amazing. I can’t wait to get it on my PS4. Now just waiting on some story gameplay footage.


8

+ Liviadus on March 27th, 2014 at 1:51 am said:

@FifthDream- I found this while googling information on the creation of the Arkham Knight character and this is what one of the developers said about the Batmobile and running over baddies. “Batman’s no-kill philosophy is pretty non-negotiable,” Ginn said. The game itself facilitates that, of course; thugs you’re speeding toward will try to get the hell out of your way, and those who don’t will be zapped by this Batmobile’s auto-taser gun.


9

+ FreshRevenge on March 27th, 2014 at 2:15 am said:

Hey Sefton Hill,

You guys rock at Rocksteady LOL Seriously though. I want to preorder the game but I am waiting to hear on any Collector’s Edition news before I go and do that. Would you have any plans for the Collector’s Edition for fans. I know Walmart is issuing a Batmobile with their preorders and that looks enticing but I wanted to see if there something bigger around the corner.

I think this game will be a contender for Game of the Year.


10

+ Butters360 on March 27th, 2014 at 2:54 am said:

Stoked for Batman: Arkham Knight! You’ve truly outdone yourselves this time. Arkham Knight himself looks to be a formidable opponent and his design looks incredible.


11

+ DELOREANSTEEL on March 27th, 2014 at 3:48 am said:

Any chance of a 1989 Keaton Batman skin and Batmobile Please?


12

+ RatedJX3Watts on March 27th, 2014 at 4:43 am said:

arkham knight=red hood


13

+ ViCe-_-KaRTeL on March 27th, 2014 at 5:17 am said:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v519/queenanthai/Made%20Of%20Fail/shutupandtakemymoney_zps3bbbd52e.jpeg

collectors edition with batman figure and batmobile plz


14

+ DerrickMan1 on March 27th, 2014 at 5:30 am said:

Ok before this blog gets blown up lol. I want to know will there be villains such as man-ban, scarface,calandar man all those villians that are not that popular besides the typical that we can have a full boss battle with including deathstroke that will be awesome for a finale. What about zeus from the cartoon? So many villains that need to shine


15

+ ShadowOfEden on March 27th, 2014 at 5:36 am said:

@FifthDream : I feel that this is often stretched pretty thin. For example, when you fight on a roof top and you push someone down the roof, it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t die from the fall…


16

+ ChaseHammerJ on March 27th, 2014 at 6:06 am said:

Na na na na na na na na na na na na BATMAN!

This game is gonna be awesome!


17

+ charleschannels on March 27th, 2014 at 6:10 am said:

Cannot wait!!!


18

+ Zepherj on March 27th, 2014 at 7:06 am said:

I can not wait for this game! I really hope that Arkham Knight is Thomas Wayne, Jr. Or possibly Red Hood. But mostly, Thomas Wayne Jr. The story behind the character is so interesting and effects Batman to his core. Plus, there seems to be a lot of hints towards it. With Arkham Knight being a ‘mirror’ of Batman and Thomas Wayne, Sr. narrating the announcement trailer. Rocksteady doesn’t just throw things in for no reason.


19

+ Jhooud on March 27th, 2014 at 7:14 am said:

Yep. This’ll be the game that finally pushes me over the fence onto the new generation.


20

+ DanteMerfi on March 27th, 2014 at 7:30 am said:

You had me at Batmobile!


21

+ Kharmeister on March 27th, 2014 at 7:30 am said:

So does this mean that if I’m in the middle of an indoor riddler puzzle, and I get fed up and want to leave rather than solving it, I can just call the Batmobile in to smash through the wall and I can take off (and leave any hostages to die)? ;-) I know I’m just being snarky, but you said it: “Nothing should stop the Batmobile.”


22

+ Kharmeister on March 27th, 2014 at 7:33 am said:

More seriously, as this is the final Arkham game, I hope that some attempt will be made to tie-up the HUSH and Azarel strings that Arkham City left open. And I also hope that the Arkham Knight character will indeed be a “brand new character” as they say, as I’m already familiar with the Red Hood plot twist and would hate to see it get recycled for this grand finale of a game.


23

+ xClayMeow on March 27th, 2014 at 7:59 am said:

@#4, It’s not Joker. In another video interview, they already confirmed that he is indeed dead, and they will not be bringing him back to life. Part of Harley’s motivation in Arkham Knight is revenge because she blames Batman.

See here: http://www.overclockersclub.com/news/35675


24

+ nYcFrEeWiLL82 on March 27th, 2014 at 8:00 am said:

looks amazing and im pretty sure it is amazing..just missing a few things i didnt see and hope to see soon. 1. JOKER 2.BATWING 3. ROBIN ..well i can add more to this list like CATWOMAN and why arkam knight looks like a gangster BATMAN wit guns..SMH I will be getting this game as soon as it gets released which is ….who knows when…but i hope to see some DLC for it with the stuff i mentioned :p


25

+ Folkeye on March 27th, 2014 at 8:31 am said:

Looks amazing. Can’t wait to see more!


26

+ Ryumoau on March 27th, 2014 at 9:15 am said:

Arkham Origins really burned my emphasis for the series but since its Rocksteady back, i’m more confident. Also love the addition of the batmobile.

But PLEASE, for the love of god, do not shoehorn Joker into the story again. You don’t need him in every batman game, it not only hurts the overall story but it water downs the effect of Joker’s character.


27

+ Ryumoau on March 27th, 2014 at 9:17 am said:

Also, that new Arkham Knight outfit looks awesome!! :D


28

+ Blacq_Soul on March 27th, 2014 at 9:23 am said:

must…have…this…game!


29

+ ThanQPS on March 27th, 2014 at 9:27 am said:

Cant wait!!!! This is the real super hero game. I guess Sucker Punch have a lot to learn from these guys and Batman series. Any great super hero story needs great villains. I think thats whats missing from inFamous series to be a truly great series.


30

+ dorukhan_ on March 27th, 2014 at 10:10 am said:

Who ise boss ? Bane ? : )


31

+ The_MOSEPH on March 27th, 2014 at 10:27 am said:

This is going to be…AMAZING!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the first two games (haven’t tried out Warner Games Montreal’s Arkham Origins yet, but plan to eventually) and I cannot WAIT to play this one. More…bigger…better! I, too, do not yet have a PS4 & was deciding if I even would, but between DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront game in development & Arkham Knight, that decision has been made!


32

+ SDkngsht on March 27th, 2014 at 10:49 am said:

this game is going to be awesome. great way to close the saga. Rocksteady has done an amazing job. best use of a comic book license ever.

hopefully we can get access to other Arkham games for PS4 owners via PS Now to brush up before this comes out. kind of like re-watching the first movies in a series before going to see the new one.


33

+ Welmosca on March 27th, 2014 at 10:51 am said:

It looks great,for real the conjunction of Batman and Batmobile sounds really good,more than I expected…can’t imagine how much work you guys put into that…well I’m a fan of Arkham Asylum and City both are one of the best multiplatform games on PS3,really lost fate with Origins but now that Rocksteady is back I’m really looking forward to this…might have a PS4 by the time that it will be released.

One question though…why is the model of Gordom so different from Asylum and City?

Hope The Arkham Knight is a good character.

And PLEASE tell me that there will be no tackled-on crappy MP.


34

+ boxmyth on March 27th, 2014 at 10:52 am said:

I’ve always pictured the Batmobile handling like it was in a Burnout game. An arcadey-feel with a violent weight behind it.


35

+ stalepie on March 27th, 2014 at 11:08 am said:

@boxmyth: Check out “Batman” by Raw Thrills then.


36

+ bloodbath666 on March 27th, 2014 at 11:16 am said:

Really looking forward to this. My PS4 is ready.


37

+ JTruF210 on March 27th, 2014 at 12:11 pm said:

So what are the chances of Batmobile DLC in Driveclub?


38

+ Kchow23 on March 27th, 2014 at 12:13 pm said:

Wow just stunning! I hope it looks this great on PS4 also the design for Arkham Knight is amazing… would be great to have a statue of it for Collector’s Edition.


39

+ Dangisuckatgamin on March 27th, 2014 at 12:37 pm said:

First batman I buy? Very well might be (Not big into superhero stuff)


40

+ TJF588 on March 27th, 2014 at 1:14 pm said:

This Arkham Knight looks like what we’d get if DC Comics handled Vanitas from Kingdom Hearts.

Anyway, DOOM BUGGY!


41

+ rents234 on March 27th, 2014 at 2:04 pm said:

An oldie but a goldie. One of the best releases from last year. Most everyone i know has played it and loved it…it’s also on sale this weekend for only 10 bucks. A really great classic!


42

+ FearMonkey on March 27th, 2014 at 2:27 pm said:

I think all us comic book geeks have figured out that the Arkham Knight is Damian Wayne so you might as well announce that already. Thanks. :p


43

+ DogsHaveWetNoses on March 27th, 2014 at 4:45 pm said:

I wonder how f@#!%$ up Scarecrow will be after his encounter with Killer Croc. I would not want to go toe to toe with that guy.


44

+ tusunami on March 27th, 2014 at 6:47 pm said:

What I am more suprised about with this announcement of another batman game is that this is coming out this year for next gen. I could see next year or something but this year so soon I don’t know.


45

+ Herve-S94 on March 27th, 2014 at 7:38 pm said:

cant wait


46

+ brownlantern on March 27th, 2014 at 7:59 pm said:

This game can’t come soon enough!!!


47

+ AndreaRana on March 28th, 2014 at 1:46 am said:

According to VG247, those screenshots are from the PC version [which no doubt is running on a high end machine]. Which most probably means the PS4 version wont look anywhere good as those screenshots. Which is false advertising……….


48

+ Axi0mxX on March 28th, 2014 at 6:43 am said:

@47 Please, save everybody some headache, and cease your parroting of terms and statements that you don’t understand.


49

+ reverendnja on March 28th, 2014 at 12:54 pm said:

I didn’t think it were possible, but reading this has made me even MORE excited for this to be released. I think their attention to even the most minute details are going to pay off immensely.


50

+ RihaanShim on March 29th, 2014 at 8:47 pm said:

I want the Digital Version of Batman – I know I will want to play this game for a very long time. Hell, I still play Arkham City when i have the chance.

However, I now know that I absolutely have to get the collector’s edition. I need a Batmobile Statue (with Batman fully visible inside the vehicle), or better yet, you guys team up with R/C and put a controller with that beast of a machine!

I may have to buy the collector’s edition, sell the retail copy, and just buy it on PSN.

Or…. could the collector’s edition be sold with a digital download, instead of retail? That would be really cool!

I personally don’t care how big the game is going to be, the more memory it requires, the more my brain thinks is put into the game. I’ll guess this game is about 40-50 GB, and that has me strangely hyped to have that space dedicated to what will undoubtedly be the best game of the franchise, and probably in history. As long as it’s fun to play, and voice acting is incredible, I’m in!


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