It’s been a little over a half-decade since the last game in the venerable Batman: Arkham franchise. It was never a question of whether more games in the series would arrive, but when, and it looks like we finally have our answer.
In an ideal world, the new Batman game likely would’ve been revealed at E3 this past June, but the coronavirus pandemic led to the event’s cancellation. To get fans hyped for its official reveal at tomorrow’s DC FanDome, developer WB Games Montreal has had a slow hype campaign for the game, supposedly titled Gotham Knights, one that has been going on for much longer than you would think for a Batman game, of all things.
Believe it or not, our story begins in earnest way back in November 2018. Yes, really. WB Montreal employee Valerie Vezina tweeted a photo of the back of a black shirt. On the shirt was something that looked suspiciously like that of an owl. Specifically, the Court of Owls, a supernatural cult who have secretly been running Gotham City for decades. Created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo for the first arc of the “New 52” Batman comic series, the Owls have their ageless enforcers, dubbed Talons, do their bidding, and are essentially the Illuminati in all but name.
This picture was tweeted fairly close to Geoff Keighley’s annual Game Awards, which regularly hosts exclusive reveals of big games (like Mortal Kombat 11), so the assumption and hope was that this would be where we got our first look at the new Batman game. This didn’t happen.
In January 2019, artist Eddie Mendoza, who previously worked at WB, and had posted art of Batman fighting the Talons on his ArtStation profile. What’s more, Mendoza’s Batman looked similar to the bulky version of the character in Arkham Origins. Though he would go on to say these pieces were “just for fun,” he went ahead and took them down a day after posting them.
Fast forward to September, where we were given our biggest hints at the Owls game yet. Because it was Batman Day, WB Montreal did their part and tweeted a 30-second video of the Bat-Signal. During the video, there were images able to be seen very briefly, and diehard fans later determined one of the images was a symbol for the Talons, and another was a demon, leading to speculation that the League of Assassins would be antagonists in the game alongside the Court. Snyder retweeted the video, along with a hashtag referencing the Owls. He later deleted the tweet, either realizing his faux pas or having done his job stirring up hype. Again, the hope was that this would be revealed at Sony’s PlayStation stream later in the month. (It wasn't.)
Come January of this year, WB Montreal released images of four symbols across social media, one of which had the phrase “cape sur la nuit/Capture the Knight.” When brought together by fans, the four symbols showed the potential factions for the game: the League, the Court (and by extension, the Talons), and the Gotham City Police. With an empty spot for a final symbol just above the demon and four empty spots in the middle of the whole piece, the mystery grew more and more.
In June, Eurogamer revealed Warner Bros. registered domains in relation to Gotham Knights, along with Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. There would continue to be radio silence throughout the summer for both games, at least until Rocksteady just up and tweeted they were making a Suicide Squad title earlier this month.
As for Batman? Earlier this week, a r3dakt3d website invited players to decipher its secrets, with a new piece of the puzzle revealed each morning. Over the following days, fans would discover a partial map of Gotham, along with teases to the inclusion of Batgirl and Two-Face in the game. Today, it all concluded with, you guessed it, another teaser: a short video establishing a base of operations known as the Belfry, concluding with a timer counting down to tomorrow.
At least, we hope so. At the rate things are going, we wouldn’t be surprised if this led to another marketing campaign that ended in 2021. We’ll find out for sure at 1:30 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, when WB Games Montreal makes an announcement during DC FanDome. A second panel at 8:10 p.m. Eastern will have more details about Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.