Now that is a very, very bold statement when you rack it up against games like Ultima, Oblivion, Fable, and Morrowind. Games with huge worlds, huge amounts of NPCs, almost all of them killable, and the ability to quite literally do whatever is in your power.
The previous Batman game took place in a closed world that wasn’t too large, but Arkham City aims to correct this and give players a large amount of heroic freedom, likely on the scale of Spider-Man 2 on the PS2 which had a very large play area in itself.
News10 interviewed Dax Ginn and he had this to say in a video.
“So the creative transition for us coming out of Arkham Asylum, taking action onto the streets of Gotham City really meant that we were going from a game world that was very atmospheric, very intense and very focused driven and it was really this cat and mouse kind of competition between Batman and Joker. We have really ramped that up in Arkham City, building out this amazing game world loaded with details and put all of these new villains in to it. So we have this incredible new creative and technical challenge for the entire to make sure that we are not only making a big open world game, but the objective for us is to make the most detailed open world game that players have ever seen.”
The marks against them is incredibly high however. When I think back to open worlds, I first picture the later Ultima games for the PC. In just Lord British’ castle, you can raid everything that isn’t nailed down, kill the jester, recruit a mouse, and scout out the immediate area with a telescope. From there you have a huge open world that allows all those things in the Avatar’s quest. When you imagine Morrowind, you can join guilds, assassinate people, impersonate them, cast powerful spells, travel the continent, steal everything and kill everyone. Guess what, those games are old.
Arkham City however is not a fantasy world, it’s modern. The Grand Theft Auto games have sizable open worlds, and citing GTA:SA, you can buy property, gamble in casinos, take any route you please, and break into military bases. Creating a detailed open world beyond that is something I’m having a hard time picturing. Not because SA was sufficient, but the amount of possibilities there are. Blowing up buildings, rooftop chases, sewer chases, ambushes, the details and small things that could be added to a game world is a list longer than my arm.
The smaller an area, the more detail you can pack into it when needed. Batman: Arkham City will be released in October of this year.