The Game Awards is full of world premieres, but it’s rare that one is as different as Immortals of Aveum done from the start. The first trailer for the game appeared during the Thursday night show and revealed a vast fantasy battlefield with enough explosions, effects and combat to make a Call of Duty game blush. But none of that necessarily answered what exactly this new game is.
To help better understand Immortals of AveumPolygon sat down with game director Bret Robbins ahead of The Game Awards to talk about the idea behind the game, how he started Ascendant Studios just to develop this game, how the game will play, its world, and why. it’s not quite like any other shooter out there.
The very first game from Ascendant Studios, and released in partnership with Electronic Arts, Immortals of Aveum is a magical single-player first-person shooter that combines the kind of fast-paced combat you might expect from Call of Duty with spell-casting and an expansive, all-original fantasy world. According to Robbins, the idea behind Immortals is the one he’s had for years, especially when he was creative director for three Call of Duty games. But it was the uniqueness of the idea that helped her stick with him.
“I remember in particular one time I was reviewing a level that we were working on, and it was a very standard Call of Duty level,” Robbins told Polygon. “And I remember thinking that it would be cool if instead of a helicopter it was a dragon, and if instead of RPG bullets blowing up walls, it was fireballs. And instead of having an assault rifle, I was a battle mage casting these spells. You know, a fantasy version of that. Where’s that game?
This “where is this game” idea stuck with Robbins for several years. When he finally left the Call of Duty studio Sledgehammer Games, Robbins still had the idea of Immortals of Aveum in her head. He finally decided, “I want to play this game. I want to make this game.
So, in 2018, Robbins founded Ascendant Studios, where he works on Immortals of Aveum and has been building its development team ever since. As a publishing partner, Robbins and Ascendant chose to work with EA, who Robbins had previously worked with when he was the creative lead of dead space – the last original IP he worked on before Immortals of Aveum – and would give the studio complete creative control over its new game.
For Robbins, much of Immortals of AveumThe overall design of flowed directly from that original battle mage premise. In order for players to truly feel like a battle mage, a phrase Robbins often uses to describe the player character as a kind of fast-paced magician who uses projectiles and magic spells in large-scale conflicts, Robbins and his team had to make sure the magic combat and shooting was perfect. Mages in games are often slower classes with long cast times on their spells and limited mobility. But Robbins is adamant that what the Ascendant team is creating is more of a shooter than a fantasy RPG.
“I think people have had a hard time turning magic into something like a shooter,” Robbins said. “What we’re doing is a magical first-person shooter. […] I think we kind of cracked the code on how to make this really enjoyable and familiar to players who play shooters, but also bring in something new. You don’t see the standard guns used in a shooter, you see something new, and that to me is really exciting.
Of course, to develop a new fantasy IP, you also need to create an original fantasy world, and Robbins and his team of writers have been hard at work on that front as well. And while he couldn’t go into too much detail about the world, Robbins gave us some hints about it, and mostly described Immortals of AveumThe main weapon of: The Sigil.
The Sigil is the device we see the camera exploring at the start of Immortals of Aveumthe first trailer. According to Robbins, this is how battle mages focus their magic and how players will cast their spells. “Instead of having an assault rifle or a magic wand or something, you have the seal and it can change its shape and you can find different types of seals,” he explained. “We really wanted to present this as something unique to the game.”
As for the second part of the teaser, after the doors open and chaos erupts, Robbins says it’s designed to serve multiple purposes. On the one hand, it gives viewers a brief glimpse of Aveum – the name of the game’s world – and the glowing fantasy landscape and crackling magic and warfare they can expect. But it also helps differentiate the game from the shooters he’s compared it to before. Rather than the corridors that dominate games like Call of Duty or Dead Space, Immortals of AveumThe scale of is, as Robbins puts it, “epic”.
Whether this means players will cast spells around a Lord of the Rings-sized battle or not remains to be seen, but the grandeur and chaos of the teaser’s final battle is already promising enough.
Immortals of Aveum doesn’t have a firm release date yet, but is slated for 2023 and will be released on PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X.
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