2015's Batman: Arkham Knight was the last game in the Batman franchise to release on home consoles. While plagued by performance issues on PC, Arkham Knight was a remarkable showcase for the Unreal 3 engine, delivering on much of the promise (and visual style) of the Epic's legendary Samaritan tech demo. Six years later, we've seen high-rated superhero games like Spider-Man hit consoles, but we're a still off from the arrival of Gotham Knights, the latest Batman title. With the pandemic having pushed Gotham Knight's release date into 2022, this could go from being a cross-gen experience to a next-gen exclusive: the video footage we've seen so far shows that Gotham Knights will indeed be a visual showcase.
Let's take a closer look at the significant next-gen features in action from the available gameplay footage.
WB Games Montréal will be utilising the Unreal Engine 4 to create Gotham Knights in a similar vein to the previous Arkham games, which were made in Unreal Engine 3. UE4 provides some useful features to be utilised behind the scenes and a significant number are noticeable in the released gameplay footage. The high-quality post-processing which includes the motion blur, bloom, lens flare, chromatic aberration and depth of field are staple UE4 effects which can be noticeably distinguished. Particle effects including volumetric fog and sparks are also rendered in real time thanks to UE4. In the scene where Mr. Freeze starts up his gun, snow particles can be seen dynamically reacting in real time to the motion of the gun.
The characters also feature advanced shading models with each material displaying a unique reaction to light rays hitting them and with subsurface scattering visible on the face and eye textures of the main characters.
Models, texture quality, and environmental asset quality
The PS5 and the Xbox Series X feature higher VRAM than their respective predecessors, both including a 16 GB of combined RAM space for CPU and GPU usage. Gotham Knights is making great use of the higher memory capabilities with high resolution 4K textures both for character models and the environmental assets. Whether it's flopping capes of justice, the suits, snow-covered roads, intricately designed interiors, or Mr. Freeze's distinctive face and armor, those high-fidelity textures are a cut above the eighth-gen standard and pair well with the high fidelity in-game models.
The same goes for model quality, as even in cinematic close-up shots the seams and edges of both the protagonist and the complicated mechanical design of the Mr. Freeze blend smoothly. The game's clothing features some high-quality material based reflectance characteristics, with each component scattering the light rays with realistic detail depending on the underlying material texture. Skin shading with sub surface scattering is also visible under the detailed wrinkles, pores or lips of the character models.
For some reason, hair seem to be a significant weak point in some next-gen titles and even here, Batgirl's longer hair is lumped into a singular entity as if affixed by a gel. We've seen better quality strand rendering. The quality of the hair texture and its reaction to light sources is still presentable, however.
Lighting and shadow quality
Gotham Knights isn't officially confirmed to have ray-tracing yet and we don't see the technique in play in current gameplay footage, but considering how frequently developers are deploying ray-tracing – Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a good example – it is entirely possible it could be added later on. Gotham's neon lighting and ever-present puddles have the potential to look great with ray-traced reflections.
Raster-based global illumination and screen space reflections both make the cut, however. Light bounce is visible in gameplay trailers, with transference from dynamic light sources. The screen space reflections look fine, too, though, as always with SSR, temporal stability is an issue. WB Montreal also makes great use of dynamic lighting, from flashy electric sparks to the glow of unique weapons each character uses: these light up the environment and nearby particle volumes of snow and smoke. The volumetric fog present is equally affected by dynamic lights as is seen whenever a coloured super attack is utilised, such as batgirl's red-lit circle of bats.
It's interesting to note that, compared to other third-person action titles, we're seeing a higher volume of particles visible on screen for longer periods of time: the extra GPU headroom from the next-gen consoles means that WB Montreal can afford a more lax. Sparks of fire or electricity fall to the ground and bounce before dissipating, all hinting at a higher particle limit than previous gen consoles.
Shadows are also affected by the dynamic lighting and feature a form of contact-hardening, visibly getting softer as their distance from the light source increases, as seen in the final boss encounter with the huge tower of light.
UE4's deferred rendering pipeline is being leveraged to great extent here with multiple dynamic light sources in action which include particle effects, sky-lighting, and a large number of point light sources at a time.
When it comes to console gaming, post-process effects are one of the first to be axed whenever a gain in performance is to be attained. Thankfully, next-gen consoles offer enough processing power in the post-processing pipeline to avoid these reductions in quality and bring them at par with standard PC post-processing levels.
A superior depth-of-field effect, and per object and camera motion blur at high sample counts are visible throughout the fight scenes as well as when driving down the road in the bat-bike contraption.
There is tasteful use of bloom such as when the lightning strikes, though this is reined in in other circumstances, such as electric gun blasts, to stay in line with the overall art style.
The ambient occlusion implementation has a high sample count with accurate shading on surfaces like the grilles on ramps or large vehicles.
While it isn't visible here, we expect WB Montreal to use UE4's high-quality temporal upsampling for dynamic resolution scaling. While it isn't on par with DLSS, temporal scaling can offer reasonable image quality, even at lower resolutions, while keeping AA artifacts minimized.
On the PC side of things, NVIDIA also launched the DLSS plugin for the Unreal Marketplace a while back. Easy implementation means that we'll likely see DLSS upscaling implemented on the PC version of the game for considerable performance gains.
As it stands now, Gotham Knights is graphically well-crafted game that wouldn't look too out of place in a Series X or PS5 library. It is, however, lacking a number of features like ray-tracing and advanced hair physics. This is likely because of the fact that's built as a cross-gen title. It will be interesting to see whether or not WB Montreal drops the previous-gen versions entirely, which could open the door to more ambitious visuals
Earlier today, it was announced that a Xbox-themed Indie Showcase would be coming later this month. Of the games announced, one of those was S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2. Even if you don't think of it in the same way as most indies, it is in fact independently developed. It does seem as if that developer does also want to keep expectations in check about what to expect next week.
On the official Twitter account, the developer clarified that there would be no new footage shown from the game. Apparently, in the initial blog post, a behind the scenes video was shown with some first in-game "demonstrations" of the title. Whatever the video was, it must have been taken down quickly, because it doesn't seem to be floating around the usual places. The team was afraid this would give the impression there would be more at the showcase itself, but that is not the case. They do say that there is more news that will shared in 2021 and gave some artwork, which you can see below.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 has been announced for Xbox Series X/S and PC. The Xbox Indie Showcase will be on March 26th.
— S.T.A.L.K.E.R. OFFICIAL (@stalker_thegame) March 19, 2021
Valheim is the latest out of nowhere hit in the PC scene. The Viking-themed survival game has captured some hearts, and we do mean a lot of hearts here- five million at least. The game is still in early access, so technically has not released in a full 1.0, but the developers are working hard regardless on new updates for the title.
In the latest development update, Iron Gate said they are now happy with the amount of bug fixes they've done to the current version and are looking to move onto the "Hearth and Home" update, the first major update planned to come to the game. Unfortunately, they had no specific details or time frames to share, only that they had began full work on it. They did share a nice little teaser art of what appears to be a crow. Check it out below.
Valheim is available now for PC in early access. As of now, there is no time frame for when the full release will come.
Cloud gaming is something that is probably a good ways away from being viable for most people, but some companies are still very much going into that frontier. Sony with PlayStation Now and Google with Stadia, but maybe the most aggressive thus far has been Microsoft with their Cloud Gaming/xCloud. The service has been available for awhile via Android, but now hints are it won't be too far until being available for PC and iOS.
Microsoft has been hinting that the service would be coming to those platforms soon. Phil Spencer even mentioned at the end of last year a beta was being planned for Spring 2021. In a new video that shows a walkthrough of Xbox Cloud Gaming, Kevin LaChapelle, Vice President of xCloud and Engineering at Microsoft, spoke briefly about it coming to PC and iOS. While not giving away specifics, he says, "I won't give you specific dates but it's not very far," along with a few awkward winks.
It sounds as if it will be pretty soon, and we do know a beta version of the web browser version started earlier this year. Most likely, we should hear something pretty soon.
Earlier today, there was word that Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne HD Remaster would be seeing release in the west, finally, sometime in May. At the time, Atlus wasn't ready to fully commit to that it seems. Now, however, it's become official. Not only will the game be coming in that timeframe outside Japan, it will also be adding another platform.
Originally announced for PS4 and Switch, Atlus has made it official that the game will also be coming to PC via Steam. It will come in both Standard Edition, which will cost $49.99, and Digital Deluxe Edition for $69.99. The Digital Deluxe Edition will include all DLC, including the Maniax Pack that returns Dante from the Devil May Cry series, and the Mercy and Expectation Map Pack that includes new missions and side activities. Another perk of the Deluxe Edition will be getting access to the game 4 days early on May 21st. There's also free DLC such as Merciful Difficulty for those who find the game's notorious difficulty a bit too much. You can also buy the mentioned DLC above separately, but no price point was given at this time.
Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne HD Remaster will release on May 25th for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.
ATLUS Director Kazuyuki Yamai has a special message for all #SMT3 fans!
Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster is coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam on May 25, 2021.
— Official ATLUS West (@Atlus_West) March 19, 2021
After facing an initial delay, Watch Dogs: Legion's online mode is now available for PC. Title Update 3.22 went live today and along with prepping online multiplayer for release, it also contains a number of fixes. Ubisoft also re-affirmed that the first Tactical Op would go live for all platforms on March 23rd.
As for the PC-specific issues that have been fixed, they include a bug that caused an infinite loading screen after starting the in-game benchmark and certain objects not reflecting properly when ray tracing was enabled. Issues that caused performance to decline after hours of using an AMD GPU or ray tracing have also been fixed. This is in addition to numerous crash fixes.
Check out the full update notes here for more details. Watch Dogs: Legion's online mode is currently available for Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and Google Stadia. It adds four player online co-op with open world events and co-op missions. There's also Spiderbot Arena, a PvP free-for-all mode. Expect more content and updates in the coming months.
- Fixed an issue that could cause an infinite loading screen after initiating the in-game benchmark.
- Fixed an issue that would cause certain objects to not reflect properly while ray tracing was enabled.
- Fixed an issue that could cause a black screen and invisible UI elements when loading up the game for the first time while using DX12.
- Fixed an issue that could cause game performance to be drastically reduced after several hours of gameplay when using an AMD graphics card and have ray tracing enabled.
- Fixed an issue that could cause the game to crash when quickly switching between app categories in the data app.
- Fixed an issue that could cause the game to crash while free roaming the Open World.
- Fixed an issue that could cause the hologram during the More Human Than Human mission to not be smooth when using High, Very High or Ultra presets with DX12 enabled.
- Fixed an issue that could cause the game to crash when selecting certain weapons.
- Fixed an issue that caused the Buy Upgrade button in the Tech tab to not be highlighted when hovering over it with the mouse pointer.
CD Projekt RED has released a new development update on Cyberpunk 2077's upcoming patch 1.2. Currently scheduled for the second half of March, it includes a few changes to Night City PD response and controls. Satirizing the current police AI which makes officers appear out of thin air, the developer confirmed they'll now take a bit longer to properly respond to crime.
"This is an important step in addressing the behavior of the police in our game. It should decrease the problem of NPCs spawning behind players' backs and create an impression that it takes some time for the police to arrive at the crime scene after the crime has been reported," said lead gameplay designer Patryk and technical design coordinator Łukasz. A recon drone is also being added to "create the feeling of the police assessing the situation."
Another change is the addition of a Steering Sensitivity slider, allowing players to better control their vehicles. The developer also noted that cars became tougher to control at lower frame rates so the steering speed should now be "very consistent from 20 to 60+ FPS." Individual cars, like the Archer Hella, have also seen some tweaks in this regard. Also, those who find their vehicles stuck on curbs or other obstacles can now rock them side to side or roll them to get free.
Finally, dodging on double-tapping a movement key can now be turned off in the settings. Double-tapping the Crouch button will still allow for dodging but for now, moving WASD bindings should be "more feasible." Other bindings will be fixed in "upcoming patches." CD Projekt RED hasn't given a release window for update 1.2 but stay tuned for more details in the coming days.
During the Square Enix Showcase yesterday, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal officially revealed Black Panther for Marvel's Avengers. He's part of the upcoming War for Wakanda expansion which is out in "Summer and beyond" as per the current roadmap. But where's Spider-Man, who was announced to be joining the roster exclusively on PlayStation consoles?
Speaking to IGN, Crystal Dynamics studio head Scot Amos was asked about the same. He stated that, "Formally, officially, people are working on him right now. So it is still on our roadmap for the future." However, Amos confirmed that Spider-Man would not be releasing before Black Panther. The roadmap only lists what the studio is committing to for the short-term.
That being said, Amos reaffirmed, "There are people working on [him] and we still fully expect Spider-Man to come to PlayStation." When that could be remains to be seen.
Marvel's Avengers launched last year for Xbox One, PS4, PC and Google Stadia with the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 versions only recently becoming available. A new hero, Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, has also been added along with new story missions in Operation: Hawkeye – Future Imperfect. Future content includes Tachyon Anomaly missions, new War Zones and a new Villain Sector. Stay tuned for more details in the meantime.
Following the delay of Hogwarts Legacy, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has confirmed that Gotham Knights has also been delayed. Instead of 2021, the action adventure title will now release in 2022. Over on Twitter, Warner Bros. Games Montreal said that it's giving the game "more time to deliver the best possible experience for players."
It also "looks forward to showcasing more of the game in the coming months." While the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't explicitly stated as a reason, it's likely to have had an impact on development over the past year. How will this impact the release of Suicide Squad, which is currently slated for next year from Rocksteady? We'll have to wait and find out.
Gotham Knights is in development for Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X/S and PS5. It's set in a brand new timeline where Batman has "died" and the Court of Owls threatens to take over Gotham City. As a member of the Bat Family, players will control Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin to restore order to the city. Along with upgrades and unique abilities for each character, the title also supports co-op for up to two players.
— Gotham Knights (@GothamKnights) March 19, 2021
Dead Cells launched back in 2018, nearly three years ago, but it has somehow managed to remain in the zeitgeist since then. Thanks to constant updates, big and small, from Motion Twin and Evil Empire, Dead Cells has not only managed to retain a solid playerbase, but even see consistent growth for it at a pretty steady rate since its release. That, of course, has resulted in impressive sales for the roguelike action title, and it's now hit another sales landmark.
Motion Twin and Evil Empire have confirmed that Dead Cells has now sold over 5 million units at launch. This is up from the 3.5 million sales that were reported in December 2020. The sudden burst in sales has been attributed to the game's mobile launch in China, which in itself has already sold 1 million units. Meanwhile, The Bad Seed DLC, which originally launched last year, will also be releasing for the game on iOS and Android soon, so players should be quite busy with new content for a while.
Dead Cells is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS, and Android.