Harley Quinn Gotham Knights debut falls very, very flat

Harley Quinn in upcoming RPG Batman sandbox Gotham Knights has drawn unfavourable comparisons to the Arkham series as WB Montreal shows new boss fight gameplay

Harley Quinn in Gotham Knights falls flat: Harley Quinn in superhero Batman RPG sandbox gets ready to swing a gigantic cartoonish sledgehammer

Harley Quinn as she appears in the new Batman sandbox RPG Gotham Knights has drawn some challenging responses from DC fans, who compare the design of the Joker’s sometimes sidekick to the beloved Arkham series, and to the movies starring Margot Robbie, to argue that the new version from WB Montreal is “boring”, “awful”, and “Jokerised”.

In a new Gotham Knights gameplay trailer, we see a boss battle between Harley and Nightwing, who appears alongside Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin as one of four playable characters in the upcoming open-world Batman game. Harley has decorated the inside of a hospital in typical Joker style, with green and purple lights, flickering TV monitors, and a small army of punchable goons.

The combat looks more or less credible. Clearly inspired by the original Arkham Asylum, and more recently, Marvel’s Spider-Man, it’s a combination of chaining combos together while watching out for markers above enemy’s heads that signal an attack, and hitting dodge or block in response. Nightwing seems to float across the floor when moving to kick each enemy, and the whole system seems perhaps a little typical and familiar, but that’s not the main concern for the Batman fans eagerly awaiting Gotham Knights.

Compared to the Harley Quinn that we have seen in other Batman games and DC movies, her appearance in Gotham Knights – wearing Heath Ledger-style Joker makeup, and a leather combat suit – has drawn criticism from fans for a perceived lack of flair.

“I’m not really sure how I feel about this design for Harley,” writes one fan on Twitter. “Yes it’s cool and a different take on her look, but it also doesn’t feel like Harley. This feels like a Jokerised version of Harley rather than actual Harley Quinn.” “Her design here is boring,” writes another respondent, with a third simply adding “Awful character design. And any game that uses the colour purple is a strictly no from me.”

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Other DC fans, however, seem more concerned about Gotham Knights’ combat, as previewed in the Harley Quinn boss fight trailer. “This looks like they just used the same battle system from the Marvel Avengers game,” writes one. “So bad”. “I’m sorry,” writes another, “but 7,000 front and back flips don’t make combat interesting. It’s really what’s wrong with modern-day action scenes. Don’t bring it to actual gameplay.” “I dig the design,” writes a third fan. “What the hell is that gameplay, though?”

Nevertheless, there are Gotham Knights fans who have come to the defence of Harley Quinn, arguing that her design is a decent homage to Heath Ledger’s Joker, and reflects the character’s increased “maturity” since gaining her own spin-off film and identity beyond just being a sidekick.

“Okay this is easily my favourite Harley design,” writes one. “It just feels so right. It keeps her black and red aesthetic with pops of white while also being very mature.” “I’m personally a huge fan of the design,” says another. “It feels a lot like an homage to Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Joker.” “I actually like her look a lot,” adds a third. “There’s a more mature flair to her here. Gameplay still looks subpar, though.”

Whether Harley Quinn’s design, or Gotham Knights’ gameplay, will undergo any further iterations seems unlikely given the game has officially gone “gold”, meaning that development is complete and it is being prepared to ship, with a launch date of October 21. Still, the boss-fight video is only a slim preview of the open-world RPG, and it remains to be seen how Gotham Knights will shape up against some of the other best RPGs and best superhero games on PC.

Whatever you want to know about the upcoming Batman game, we have everything in our guide to the Gotham Knight release date, rumours, and facts, and you can also check out an overview of WB Montreal’s version of the eponymous Gotham City, which aims to focus on the historical architecture behind the iconic Batman metropolis.