Like Spider-Man 2 released way back when on the PS2 and the Grant Theft Auto series, Batman: Arkham City will have an open city with no load times, and a huge amount of sidequests that you can do whenever you want at your own pace.
When asked, Dax Ginn had said “Everywhere that’s open to the sky is available to the player from the off. So they can go anywhere they want, there’s loads of content out there in the streets and you can engage with in any order you want right from the beginning.”, an approach that was used in the PS2 version of Spider-Man 2 which featured a sizable area with an unearthly amount of pickups and random situations that tested your skill.
He continued with a statement that likely made his technical director reach for the aspirin when it was originally pitched. “It’s all open, all the time. Our technical director was like, ‘What? You want an open-world that’s open all the time that’s five times bigger than anything we’ve done before? Are you crazy?’
“That was the emotional feeling that we wanted to convey; you’re Batman, you can do what you want. That’s the empowering thing that Arkham Asylum didn’t really deliver because it was such a linear, tight, intense story. As long as you’re outdoors, there won’t be any loading times interrupting your exploring, either. Not in the exteriors. You saw the loading from going inside the courthouse from the outside but no it streams seamlessly throughout and that has been a massive, massive challenge.”
He went on about Arkham Asylum’s weak boss fights, how they came in late and were often frustrating and unbalanced. Widely considered the weakest part of the game and something that dragged down the gameplay sharply, saying they needed climaxes throughout this current project.”
I’m not a fan of superheroes at all, but I do love Batman for being the King of Badass Normals, and I also love open-ended games. Hopefully they can break through the fact that open-ended games with random encounters can get stale with things like bank robberies, hostages, explosives rigged to important buildings, and maybe even DC Supervillains showing up to raise Hell for Batman.
Other details of the game include a ‘gang’ theme to each area, with each villain in the game having taken over a specific part of the city. The Joker for example would likely have his visage everywhere, along with graffiti and his many followers, much like the gang-centric game Grand Theft Auto 2. Rival villains will probably be fighting over territory, and if we’re lucky, they’ll be taking over parts of the city dynamically and without the aid of the plot. That’s just my own pipe dream though.
The release of Batman: Arkham City is slated for October for PS3, Xbox, and PC.