Following up a game like Batman: Arkham Asylum is no easy task. Recreating the same great gameplay and maintaining the strong sense of 'being' Batman whilst bringing something entirely new to the series must have Rocksteady sweating a little bit.
And having to do all that in an open world city that's five times bigger than Arkham itself is enough to make any developer cry.
Fear and apprehension, however, were not emotions that Rocksteady's marketing game manager Dax Ginn exhibited as he blasted through an Arkham City gameplay demo before answering our questions.
In fact, he seemed nothing but confident in every aspect of the game; about it's ability to stand tall as a single-player title in a multiplayer laden world, about the changes made to that problematic Detective Mode, about breathing life into lacklustre boss levels and, of course, about the studio's ability to bring Batman out of the asylum and into Arkham City...
A lot of successful story-driven games have taken on multiplayer when some would argue they didn't need to. Are you confident that there's enough depth in the single-player to keep Arkham City off the pre-owned shelves?
Absolutely. The challenge for us was to build out not just the game world but make sure there was enough story in there so it didn't feel like there was a big world full of nothing to do. That was our biggest fear; making a game world that's five times bigger than Arkham Island. It's a huge technical and creative challenge for us but as soon as we made that decision we were absolutely committed to making sure that everywhere you turn in Arkham City there's story coming at you. That's why we've developed those surveillance systems so that you're always hooked into what's happening in Arkham City.
Then, on top of that, building missions and genuine gameplay that feed into that game world so that you never get to a point where you're flippantly doing side-missions that have got nothing to do with the main story. Calendar Man, I guess, is the only example we've seen here of something that's a non-essential side-mission, but as you're doing that you still feel like Batman, you're not just collecting things for the sake of collecting things. It's still really Batman-centric stuff.
In terms of replayability or filling out a single-player story with additional features, there are more announcements that we're going to make to solve that problem. Well, I don't feel it's a problem.
We've got a decent, chunky game and, in addition, we didn't want to do a multiplayer because it would have meant splitting the team in half and I think that would have resulted in two average games instead of one awesome game.
So we're unlikely to see multiplayer in future iterations? Is it a policy to avoid multiplayer or just something you're trying to perfect?
We considered it pretty briefly and then realise that it would have hit and hurt our production and also it didn't really make a lot of sense for a game that is so single character-centric.
But I can totally see that multiplayer is a super popular thing and online playability seems to be growing and something that people desire. So I can't say that what's going to happen down the track but for Arkham City we're focused on the single-player experience.
How hard is it to contain players in the areas that you want them in or are you happy for people to go off and mess about with side-quests?
Well the open world aspect, everywhere that's open to the sky is available to the player from the off. So they can go anywhere they want and that was the emotional feeling that we wanted to convey; you're Batman, you can do what you want. That's the empowering thing that Arkham Asylum didn't really deliver because it was such a linear, tight, intense story.