Rocksteady will cross the threshold into adult territory with their third entry in the Batman Arkham series. According to a new report, Batman: Arkham Knight will receive a mature content rating when it hits shelves later this year. The last two games, Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, each received a “Teen” rating.
There is no official word from the Entertainment Software Rating Board on what specifically qualified Arkham Knight for a mature content rating, but we have to admit it’s piqued our interest. We all know Batman for being somber. The previous two games were darkly brooding and Mark Hamill’s masterful voice-over performances as the Joker were menacing enough to stand against Heath Ledger’s version in the Christopher Nolan film. Now with the barriers down and the M-rating intact, we’re wondering just how far the violence must have escalated to secure the mark from the ESRB. We’re assuming of course that Rocksteady hasn’t gone all out with excessive amounts of sex and gratuitous nudity, which would certainly be a different direction for Batman.
The game’s director Sefton Hill was apparently as surprised by the news as everyone else. According to Hill, it was never his intent to make a mature-rated game. It just came out that way. “From our point of view, we never wrote it or made it with a rating in mind,” he told IGN. “We never did that in the previous two games… We just felt that this is the story that we really wanted to tell.”
Hill expressed some concern about younger players who followed the series from the beginning. The new rating will mean that anyone under the age of 17 will not be permitted to purchase the title without adult supervision. Hill did state, however, that changing the tone or in-game scenarios would have led to a drastically different game. The story would have been compromised for the sake of appealing to a “mass market,” something the creators felt they couldn’t do simply to reach a wider audience.
“I’m not blind to the fact that [the M rating] does mean some fans will miss out. I don’t want to be oblivious to that fact. It would have been wrong to water down the game and deliver a story we didn’t believe in to keep the game ‘mass market’ or enable it for more people. We feel that’s the wrong way to go about it. We said we love the story and we don’t want to jeopardize that.”
Hill did give a bit of insight into what not to expect from the game in terms of violent content, “We’re not including gratuitous blood or swearing. We want to deliver a true end with no compromises and it takes us to some dark places.” In addition, hill said the newest game will be the darkest yet, with enemies that will “fight dirty and take [Batman] to dark places.”
The rating didn’t come as a complete surprise to the studio. Hill was reportedly contacted early in advance about the rating. Certain scenes were said to be particularly problematic to the ratings board and were believed to have contributed to the decision. After much deliberation, however, the scenes were kept in the final game. Whether they were altered in any way was not revealed, but according to Hill they were okayed by DC Comics ahead of the ESRB review.
Although we have deep sympathy for our younger gamers who may have to wait their turn to play the title, Batman: Arkham Knight sounds like another promising addition to the series already.
Arkham Knight will arrive on June 2 for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC.