The Batman: Arkham franchise is going M-rated with Rocksteady Studios’ final installment in the series with Batman Arkham Knight. As previously reported on The Paranoid Gamer, Arkham Knight will mark the first time in the franchise’s history that a game has received an M for Mature rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Previously, the Batman: Arkham games had gotten by with a T for Teen rating. The ESRB has officially released a full ratings summary for the video game, which explains the M rating for “Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence.” You can read the full description below:
This is an action-adventure game in which players primarily assume the role of Batman as he battles several villains spreading chaos across Gotham City. Players traverse a variety of locations around Gotham while battling thugs, examining crime scenes, and occasionally rescuing hostages. Players engage in melee-style combat using punches, kicks, and gadgets (e.g., batarangs, explosives). Enemies cry out in pain when struck, and some takedowns are highlighted by brief slow-motion effects and loud impact sounds. Some sequences allow players to use tank-like vehicles with machine gun turrets and rockets to shoot enemies; a vehicle’s wheels are also used to torture an enemy in one sequence. Cutscenes depict characters getting shot (on and off camera) while restrained or unarmed. Large bloodstains/pools of blood appear in crime scenes and in the aftermath of violent acts; one room depicts a person torturing a character on a bloody operating table. During the course of the game, players can shoot unarmed characters and a hostage. Neon signs in a red-light district read “live nude girls” and “XXX.” The words “b*tch,” “gobsh*te,” and “a*s” appear in the dialogue.
To be perfectly honest, most of the content described in the rating summary sounds like a huge departure from the last game. Really, the Arkham games are incredibly dark and got away with quite a bit despite only having a T rating beforehand. Historically, the Arkham games were very violent and suggestive, at times dealing with some rather mature themes. However, the games got away with not receiving an M rating by avoiding copious amounts of blood, gore, curse words and overtly sexual content. However, the Arkham games never shied away from some very dark themes and subplots. Even in Batman Arkham Origins, there were some rather macabre moments and disturbing implications, like in the Mad Hatter side quest.
The one rather curious reference is the mention of Batman using the wheels of the Batmobile to torture a suspect. Throughout history, Batman’s one rule is to never kill someone, but he has never been above seriously injuring or getting incredibly rough with a thug. The wheels thing sounds like a particularly rougher method of interrogation for the Dark Knight. One wonders if the sequence is meant to be more of an implication of Batman injuring someone with the wheels than actually going through with an act. The other interesting reference is shooting unarmed characters or hostages. It is hard to judge the meaning of Batman taking part in such acts without context for the sequence in which they takes place.
Based on game director Sefton Hill’s interview with IGN, there is a sense that Rocksteady did not go in with the specific intention to make an M rated game. However, the brass at Warner Bros. Interactive put their trust into the team at Rocksteady and let the developers make the game they wanted. It has worked well for all involved so far before.
Batman Arkham Knight is due out on June 2. The game will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.