E3 2016 – Batman: The Telltale Game Series Preview – Bruce or Bat? (PS4)

It seems like Batman made his appearance at E3 in a number of different ways. He was there in a fighting game, he was there in VR, and of course, there’s Telltale’s take on the iconic billionaire superhero. Before the presentation, a group of people waited in an area built to look like a grand room in Wayne Manor, complete with monogrammed napkins, antique looking decor, and a TV showing the latest news reports for Gotham City. Suddenly a secret panel behind the grandfather clock in the corner was slid open and we were invited back to an E3 booth version of the Batcave to sit in comfy Batchairs, looking at the massive Batcomputer (because when you’re Batman, everything starts with Bat). Then we got to see the first half hour or so of Batman: The Telltale Game Series, presented by Telltale’s Senior Director of Marketing, Richard Iggo.

Love it or hate it, it’s got that Telltale look — you know the one. That semi cel-shaded comic book style, which is of course fitting for a Batman game. Telltale is known for not shying away from mature content, and they’re taking their version of Batman in the darker direction of the comics, as evidenced by the opening shot being quite literally a shot. A gunshot to the head of a security guard by a group of bad guys. Batman is predictably on the scene and beats the crap out of them, but amidst the fight, we see cuts to Bruce Wayne later that night as he patches up the wounds he’s receiving. It’s a small thing that may hint at the larger effect of decisions by each of his alter egos in the full game, but that’s really all we got were hints.

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After fighting with the thugs, Catwoman showing up to steal the item, Batman fighting Catwoman and then saving her life, and heading back to Bruce’s fundraiser for Harvey Dent at Wayne Manor where Bruce does a bunch of schmoozing and has a confrontation with Falcone, I couldn’t help but think that I’ve seen this all before. I mean, Batman has been around for more than 70 years, so I wonder if Telltale can really make his story interesting or unique. I must have asked my question out loud because before I knew it, I had an answer. Richard Iggo told us that the early moments of the demonstration will seem familiar and comfortable, but that throughout the season, Telltale will turn things on their head and a completely different Batman story will be told. 

A Hint of Something Greater

The presentation was a whole lot of hints at what the full game could bring. It showed both the Batman combat portion and the more political billionaire Bruce Wayne portion. Giving a good idea of what each will have to offer in the final release, but we didn’t get to see how to take on different problems as either Bruce Wayne or Batman and the effects that each of those will have, which is the aspect that I am most looking forward to. I know it’s gotta be tough to demo such a narrative focused game though, so opting for that intro half hour was probably the best choice to avoid completely spoiling the first episode before it’s even out. 

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If you’re read my previous Telltale reviews, such as The Wolf Among Us or Tales From the Borderlands, you’ll know that my favorite part of Telltale games is the ability to define your main character and play them as whoever you want them to be. This remains true with Batman. As Bruce you can be the brooding billionaire, the sarcastic ass, or the nice guy, and that was just a sense of the conversation options I got from the 10 minutes or so we spent as Bruce Wayne greeting guests at his party, interacting with two-faced politicians, and confronting notorious crime bosses. Even the man in the bat suit had some quips for Catwoman that he could choose from during their fight.

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Iggo also said that they are aiming to have all five episodes out and the season complete before the end of 2016, which is impressive if you know the typical long release schedule of Telltale titles. We should be getting our hands on the first episode shortly, and then we’ll probably see about one per month after that. As a big Batman fan, I am cautiously excited for Telltale’s entry. While the E3 presentation understandably didn’t show much, the promise of what could be and everything hinted at for this new twisted direction full of player choice has me on the edge of a Batarang waiting to be able to play this.