Freeflow Combat is the smooth and adaptive structure of fighting in the Arkham Series.
After starting a fight, reaching a 3 hit combo (Shown in the upper right corner), the character enters Freeflow Combat. As long as the combo is kept, the character can attack further distances, more enemies and gains more speed. However, failing to counter, hitting air or a shielded enemy or not doing anything for longer than 1 second instantly ends the combo.
While the combo counter only increases by 1 hit per attack, each game allows upgrading to Critical Strikes, which increases the combo by two, provided that the player can time their attacks instead of mashing the buttons. Additionally, from Arkham City onwards, the player can counter several enemies at a time.
Special Combo Moves
When the Combo counter reaches x8, it turns yellow, and the player can perform a Special Combo move. These moves range from instant takedowns, to keeping enemies at bay or even destroying their weapons for the rest of the fight.
Additionally, each game provides an Waynetech upgrade that allows the characters to perform a Special Combo move after only 5 hits, improving the character's effectiveness in combat significantly.
The character's aren't limited to using just their brawn, as each character has several gadgets they can use to get the upper hand against their opponents, as long as the gadget has a Freeflow function. For example, Batman's batarangs can be used to knock down one (or three in Knight) enemies to make room to fight, while Robin's Snap-Flash can be used to knock down any enemy in the vicinity. Each gadget has a different function, that can range from aforementioned knockdowns to instant takedowns.
In Arkham City and Arkham Origins, The player can unlock Freeflow Focus. After unlocking it, reaching a 12 hit combo causes the environment to appear in slow motion, allowing bigger reaction times and increases attack power. However, this effect will be lost upon losing a combo or using a Special Combo move.
Another upgrade, Freeflow flow gadgets, powers up any Freeflow gadgets when they are used during Focus. However, this upgrade cannot be toggled off, and will instantly end Focus mode when used. Additionally, only Batman has access to this upgrade. These were addressed in Knight, where using a Focus gadget now requires holding the buttons required, and any character that reuses Batman's gadgets (or Shuriken) can use the upgrades.
Changes in Batman: Arkham Knight
While the system remained mostly the same, several new additions and changes are present. New additions include the ability to strike downed enemies, and picking up downed enemies to finish them up quicker. Additionally, using the aforementioned pickup immediately after knocking out an enemy would cause the character to throw them over their head, adding insult to injury and preventing the player from losing their combo if they didn't notice the knockout.
The slow motion effect was removed. However, the characters still gain more attack power when it's activated, and it's now tied to the Special Combo meter; It will be activated upon reaching a combo of 5/8 hits.
After Batman gains access to the Batsuit 8.03, the increased mobility of the suit allows him to use his attacker's momentum against them. By timing the counter and holding the movement control somewhere during the counter animation, Batman should throw the attacker to the desired direction. This can knock down any enemies on the path.
Special Combo Moves
The Batswarm move was removed. The same controls now allow certain characters to pick up enemy weapons left on the ground and use them for extra damage and the ability to bypass thug defenses. However, these weapons will break after a few uses.
Additionally, the game introduces Enviromental Takedowns. Certain objects in the surroundings will be highlighted with blue, and getting an enemy close enough allows the character to instantly take them out by using the object.
Batman isn't the only one who learned more moves. Gotham City's thugs also know a few more tricks than before. Even normal thugs could now charge at the character, who in turn could either evade over them or use their primary gadget for a instant knockout. Additionally, they could now grab the character from behind, allowing other enemies to get in a few punches unless they escaped quickly.
In addition, in several parts of the game, players could perform Dual-Play Takedowns, which instantly took out an enemy. They consisted of both playable characters focusing their attacks on a single enemy, and taking them out quickly and effectively. They could only be done in special circumstances where both characters were fighting together, such as when Batman and Nightwing took down Penguin's weapon caches. A wheel in the corner of the screen charged as you hit enemies, and once full, allowed the player to perform the combo. That wheel also appeared on Free Roam if Batman was fighting near the Batmobile, and when full, allowed him perform an Environmental Takedown with the Riot Suppressor Cannon of the Batmobile.