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The Entertainment Software Rating Board has detailed why Batman: Arkham Knight — heading to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC this June — is rated “M for Mature.”

Batman’s story is getting darker as the popular Arkham series continues, and Batman: Arkham Knight is the first entry to get a mature rating from the ESRB. It means Arkham Knight won’t reach as wide an audience as previous titles — M rated games are only suitable for adults aged 17 and over — but developer Rocksteady is happy with that decision as it delivers its latest vision without compromises.

A mature rating certainly doesn’t stop games from selling well — you just need to look at the $10 billion selling Call of Duty franchise to see that. It’s more unusual to see a game based on a comic book hero getting a mature rating, though. Activision’s hit first-person shooter Destiny — not based on a comic book but with a fantasy science-fiction setting — certainly benefited from its Teen age rating, which made it a viable option for teenage kids and, more importantly, those parents that actually read the ratings on box covers.

“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,” Rocksteady founder Sefton Hill recently told IGN. “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.”


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The ESRB description inevitably contains spoilers for the game content, so please be aware of that before reading on.

Batman: Arkham City is “an action-adventure game in which players primarily assume the role of Batman as he battles several villains spreading chaos across Gotham City,” says the ESRB. “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.”

Familiar stuff so far, but it’s interesting to note you’re “primarily” playing as Batman, which implies there are other playable characters in the game.

The ESRB description goes on to detail some torture and bloody crime scenes that helped tip Arkham Knight over to a mature rating:

“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.”

Finally, there is shooting, sexually suggestive street signs, and some mild cursing. The fact that you can shoot unarmed characters and a hostage implies that it’s not Batman — who swore never to use a gun or kill his foes — that you’re controlling in those scenes.

“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.”


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