This time, Nightwing wins.
During Gamescom, Gotham Knights was announced to be coming out four days early, and we also saw a villain trailer revealing Mr. Freeze, Clayface, and Harley Quinn would be among its bosses. Following that, IGN posted a seven-minute video showing a boss fight with Harley, in which Nightwing takes her on to free a bunch of people she’s mind-controlled in a hospital.
This version of Harley has makeup that reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker, only with what looks like a spade drawn over her eyes. She’s ditched the Jeanette Voerman pigtails, but is still rocking the traditional hammer and terrible quips, calling her opponent “Nightbutt.” Meanwhile, Nightwing’s halfway to a mullet, which you’d think would be a better target for her to make fun of.
The last time we saw gameplay footage of Nightwing in action there was a lot of skating to get him into position for attacks to land, which seems reduced here. At the same time, it looks slow and not particularly dynamic. That could be down to how it’s being played—rather than let Harley get hits in, this footage is more about showing off Nightwing’s moves, which include wrist guns that fire what are presumably rubber bullets and an ice stun. (Maybe learned from Mr. Freeze?) He also dodges almost every attack, which are telegraphed by circles around the incoming weapons.
While that makes the fight look trivially easy and kind of boring, checking the comments makes it obvious why they’ve done it this way. On YouTube the only thing that matters is proving you’re Good At Games, and so the comments are all cheering on “the most skilled gamer”. Personally, I’d rather see a video that made Gotham Knights’ boss fights seem like a challenge rather than a cakewalk, but what do I know.
It’s impossible not to make comparisons with the Arkham games’ much more fluid freeflow combat, with its counters as well as dodges and increasing speed as you built your combo. The cooldown specials of Gotham Knights, flashy as they may be—one of them has Nightwing breakdancing while his batons fly around on their own—don’t really compare. The dodges that leave Nightwing facing away from Harley like a cool guy who doesn’t look at explosions aren’t helping.
Still, maybe ramping up the difficulty so the enemies are faster and more aggressive will make it more exciting in play. The more tweakable, the better. The developers have said that damage numbers can be turned off, which is a nice option. I’d love it if you could replace them with SFX that said BIFF and POW.
Gotham Knights will be out on October 21, and is coming to Steam (opens in new tab) and the Epic Games Store (opens in new tab).