When we talked about Thorgrim, we emphasized that he’s a tank based off of his abundance of health, not his armor. Black Knight is the opposite: his power, his strength, all of it comes from the layers of steel and metal he wears. On top of that, Black Knight is faceless. You only see his helmet. And it all comes from the fiction we’re creating with him. He was a member of the king’s guard and he fell in love with the queen. Because of this, he was punished by the king. Black Knight was then banished from the kingdom. So he’s this soulless, heartbroken character with only one thing left: the fight.
We wanted an armored warrior and we needed to craft a few hints of what his backstory could potentially be. So we came up with this motif of rose and thorns. There’s romanticism behind the symbolism of the rose: it’s beautiful, but it hurts, right? You can even see the influence of thorns in the design of his armor and his Buildables. But without a love to chase, perhaps Black Knight is just a tortured entity. I imagine him without a body, just an essence, a specter of who he once was.
Some people have already made the connection between Morgan Le Fay and Black Knight. Continuing the theme of the thorns, they also can represent a tangle. I don’t want to say that he’s Morgan’s slave, but there is a very close relationship between the characters, and she’s manipulating him. I’m not saying that all warriors will be connected, but we want to create bridges to craft natural rivalries and connects stories. It could build enemies in our fiction, or it could create friendships.
You know, if you look at both Morgan’s and Black Knight’s designs, they are both pretty dark. On the visual effects side, we tried to add purple to Black Knight’s abilities, but it didn’t quite work out with the color schemes we created. It’s all about just getting it to feel right. We even tried designing Black Knight without a helmet, but it didn’t align with what we were trying to say with the warrior. It was on, then off, then on again. Like everything, it’s a very iterative process, and we felt that his design was less human with the helmet, so we kept it that way. He is fully hidden behind his armor. You know, after a bad love story, you just want to stay out of sight. You want to hide. That’s part of the inspiration with Black Knight.
A lot of the design was driven by the game design team, in regards to his Buildables. The Spike Trap, the Siege Engine. This time, the creative direction and design was gameplay first, and the Art team just ran with it. On the team, we have conviction in that, if there’s a good idea, we run with it. No matter where it came from. So there isn’t one person that is coming up with everything. Sometimes it comes from design, sometimes it comes from art, sometimes it comes from a programmer. Gameplay inspires art and art inspires gameplay. As long as it’s fun, we want it in the game.
Black Knight is supposed to this huge, super imposing force on the field. Something of a juggernaut. So we didn’t want him to have any sort of agile attack. So we wanted a slow, monumental weapon. That’s why he has a giant axe. It’s this difficult to use weapon, it has a lot of sharp angles, and much like the thorn motif we’ve established, it jibes with the theme of torture and torment.
We wanted something that was ridiculously massive on screen. He’s going to be the one that’s difficult to take down, so it was important that he read like the biggest warrior in the arena. We just knew that, with the current lineup of warriors, Black Knight was going to be the biggest warrior out of all of them. Thorgrim is pretty much as tall as Black Knight, but because of his helmet, Black Knight is bigger than Thorgrim on the battlefield. But in regards to the why? It just made sense. It felt good to have Black Knight tower over the other warriors. And as a tank, it fits his role.
Lastly, and this is just kind of for fun. I imagine in an alternate universe, they grew up together. They were kids that played together on the playground. And Black Knight was the bigger brother, with Anne Bonny on his shoulder and Rawlins hanging off of his arms. It’s an entertaining thought! Black Knight was fun to design, and I feel like there’s a lot more of his story to uncover.