Batman: Arkham City, the sequel to the hit game Batman: Arkham Asylum, has been announced to be five times the size of the original.

When it comes to games, playable size should never be a chief quality touted by developers. Just because a game spans 5 square miles of virtual space doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily great. In fact, it could be argued that any game that flaunts its size over other components is likely compensating for areas that are completely lacking.

That’s why it’s great news that Rocksteady Games insist that the massive scale of Arkham City is not the top quality of their new Batman adventure. In an interview with Gamespot, Rocksteady’s Sefton Hill explained that scale was never their chief priority:

The footprint of Arkham City is about five times bigger than Arkham Island, but our primary intention was never to create a bigger gameworld just for the sake of it…

In Batman: Arkham Asylum, we really focused our effort on creating an intense, pressure-cooker atmosphere by locking Batman in the madhouse and allowing The Joker to turn up the heat…In Arkham City, we want to take that attitude to the next level, so we created an experience in which gamers will have a huge amount of navigational freedom, but they will also feel the extreme pressure of the challenges that they face.

Players will be able to go anywhere at any time, but we have made sure that players will always have a very clear idea of where they are needed most if they want to just stick to the core narrative path of the game. Explore the streets of Arkham City, and you will find many side missions, secrets, and street brawls, so players won’t find it difficult to get into some trouble if that’s what they are looking for.

Arkham Asylum was brilliant, no doubt, but the progression was exceptionally linear. While players were challenged with combat and puzzles, there was never any mystery concerning where you should go next. Apparently, the same can be said for Arkham City; however, this time players have even more room to press out and explore.

It’s crucial in a game like this that the core narrative remains intact and easy to return to. Paul Dini, Batman veteran, is back to tell this story and it’s certain that it will deliver once more. It’d be a shame to think that Rocksteady would veil the narrative in size. Turns out they aren’t, which is great news.

Batman: Arkham City is slated for release later this year.

[via Gamespot]