A few weeks ago fans of the Batman: Arkham video game series, and even Rocksteady themselves, were surprised to learn that the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) gave Batman: Arkham Knight a Mature rating. It was a first for the series, every other Batman: Arkham game had been rated T for Teen. After some persuading, Warner Bros. has allowed Rocksteady to keep the Mature rating. The studio will not be censoring the game in any way.
So what’s different in Batman: Arkham Knight to warrant a Mature rating? The ESRB has published a rating summary of the game, detailing exactly how they came to their decision. Some may consider the summary to contain minor spoilers, so read on if you choose.
Content Descriptors: Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
Rating Summary: 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.
As Arkhamverse points out, the scenes of torture are likely what lead to the Mature rating. The “live nude girls” and “XXX” references may have impacted it as well.