Today, new DLC is coming to Batman: Arkham Knight. Usually, this is when players pop a disc back in and rekindle a relationship with the game. But, the responses to Arkham Knight's DLC have been harsh and it's going to take a lot of work to make the owners of the newest Bat-game feel like they're not being bilked.
As of today, players of the well-received superhero game will get the option to use the Tumbler Batmobile from the most recent Bat-movies and the costume the Dark Knight wore in Arkham Asylum six years ago. Folks who ponied up for a premium edition of Arkham Knight or the game's season pass will get the new stuff automatically. It's also available for purchase at a $US1.99 a la carte price. More add-ons are coming, including a just-announced Catwoman solo story mission, and a free update in October will address some of the complaints that players have had the game's AR challenges. (More on that later.)
This should be all good news for Arkham Knight, generally regarded as a good game. But Rocksteady Games' farewell to Batman has suffered from underwhelming DLC support. And the shallow quality of the add-ons have dragged down the perception of the core game and its developer.
Back in April, Warner Bros. promised that they'd make the Arkham Knight season pass (an extra $60 on top of the base game's $100 asking price) a worthwhile purchase by supporting the game with six months of add-ons that would keep the game fresh:
"The Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass will deliver regular new content for six months post-launch including new story missions, additional super-villains invading Gotham City, legendary Batmobile skins, advanced challenge maps, alternate character skins, and new drivable race tracks."
But people who've bought the game and the season pass haven't been happy with what's been delivered. Since the latest Batman game came out in June, there have been a few handfuls of customised skins that make the game's various characters look like TV, cartoon, comic-book or movie versions of themselves, racetracks that offer up more Batmobile gameplay and very short single-character spotlights.
The consensus amongst people who've lived with the game these past few months has been that these extras haven't been substantial enough. Here's one example from Warner Brothers Games' community forums:
One major complaint has been the desire for challenge maps to return as they existed in previous Batman Arkham games. In Batman: Arkham City, for example, players could tackle the challenge maps -- combat or stealth scenarios where Batman and/or other characters need to face off against swarms of enemies under specific conditions -- with a character of their own choosing. Arkham Knight has AR challenges, instances where parts of the existing open-world get walled off and become arenas for testing combat mettle. While there's some similarity between these AR challenges and the challenge maps that preceded them, many longtime Bat-gamers feel like these aren't as good. The primary complaints have been the inability to play as different characters and the virtual walls that keep these instances locked into a discrete location.
The disgruntlement was strong enough to spawn a Twitter hashtag and change.org petition. Granted, neither one of those is terribly hard to create but their very existence speaks to a very real reaction that players have had to the game that they bought. But there are signs that Rocksteady and Warner Brothers are listening.
According to Rocksteady creative director Sefton Hill, an October update will be adding the ability to choose different characters for playing challenges, presumably in response to the above complaints. It's been a sore spot.
The October update will let players select different characters to use in AR challenges, bringing Arkham Knight closer in line with the games that preceded it in the Bat-series.
Fans have also been wanting to play in the game's impressive open-world Gotham as Robin, Batgirl or any of the other costumed characters who show up in the game. But it seems like that's not going to happen. Hill explained why in a message posted to Warner Brothers Games' community forums:
"...Everything in the city is tailored to Batman -- from the height of the buildings, to the width of the streets, to the lighting on the rooftops and everything in between. Other characters can't grapple-and-glide or drive the Batmobile like Batman, so for them to feel authentic they would need to navigate in their own unique ways. And when that's done, even Gotham itself would need to be modified to get the best out of this new gameplay. Without a prohibitive amount of work, it just wouldn't be fun or feel authentic to what makes these incredible characters unique."
So, it appears that the lack of alt-character free-roam is going to be a permanent disappointment to those who wanted it. (It should be noted that modders have created a limited version of this function for the PC version of the game.)
The short, shallow execution of the story-driven DLC for Arkham Knight has been another sticking point. What players have gotten so far have been thinly-realised chapters featuring Harley Quinn, Batgirl and Red Hood. While those installments were made by the WB Montreal team, the upcoming Nightwing-centric GCPD lockdown is the first entry being built by Rocksteady itself so hopes are running higher for that add-on. The newly-announced Catwoman's Revenge solo feature could be another chance for Warner Brothers' video game division to win back some goodwill from the hardcore Bat-fans who invested in Arkham Knight.
If anything's going to persuade Arkham Knight owners to feel like the publisher made good on their six-month promise, it should be the still-unconfirmed Season of Infamy DLC, which will allegedly pit Batman against six supervillains. If Batman's face-off against Killer Croc, Mad Hatter, Black Mask, Mister Freeze, Ra's Al Ghul, and Prometheus is a worthy send-off for Arkham Knight's DLC, it might be the most significant sign that Batman's video game creators actually know what players want.