With Gotham Knights being an open-world action RPG where you level up by beating the crap out of goons doing crimes, you’d imagine that everyone’s fair game. If you demolish this guy or pummel that girl, there’s the expectation that their bodies would explode in a cascade of brightly colored experience points. Games have conditioned us to think this way, after all. But that doesn’t always hold true in Gotham Knights. Specifically, its cops give you nothing for kicking their asses, no matter how fast you button-mash.
Gotham Knights is the new superhero game from WB Games Montréal, the team behind the now cult-fave Batman: Arkham Origins. Having just launched on October 21 for current-gen consoles and PC to middling reviews, the game puts you in control of the Bat Family—Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon, Dick “Nightwing” Grayson, Jason “Red Hood” Todd, and Tim “Robin” Drake—after daddy batty gets murked. With Batman’s cowl of protection ripped from Gotham’s skies, it’s up to the up-and-comers to establish themselves as the new guard that’ll watch over the dim and foggy city streets. They do this by stopping crimes and slapping criminals night after night, ad nauseam. And of course, that means coming into regular contact with the Gotham City Police Department.
However, as Gotham Knights reminds you about 30 minutes in, you should avoid cops at all costs. No, it’s not because I’m running defense for the police. And no, it’s not because I can’t bear to see an officer get their face occasionally punched. The game makes its (rather silly) rationale clear: Cops don’t drop anything when beaten. “Defeating GCPD officers does not earn you XP or Salvage,” notes one of the game’s loading screens. “Pick your fights carefully.” Not experience points, not crafting resources, not blueprints, nothing.
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So really, you’re just expending energy for absolutely no reason. I mean, I guess the incompetent GCPD could make for solid punching bags to release some steam or practice some moves on, but don’t expect to earn anything for doing either. That said, I’ve found during my playtime that it was sometimes difficult to avoid getting into brawls with them, especially when they were also fighting the “bad guys.” On top of that, the game has moments when you’re forced to squabble with the police; you’re forced to, but still won’t get rewarded for doing so. Talk about an almost Sisyphusian-like conundrum.
That’s not to say it isn’t a good time beating down police every now and then. As we’ve seen lately, such as with the Uvalde shooting, cops aren’t that great at their jobs. They would rather check their phones in the middle of a crisis than deal with the crisis. So ultimately it’s still nice that Gotham Knights gives us a safe avenue to dish out the lashings cops deserve for their ineptitude. Of course, this is all within the context of a video game. Voice your frustrations with real cops at the ballot box.
Gotham Knights just came out, and WB Games Montréal is already planning add-on content. Launching for free on November 29, Heroic Assault is the first DLC that’ll add a four-player co-op mode tasking you with ascending a 30-floor building, wiping out each floor full of progressively harder perps ‘til you reach the top.