Ubisoft's next original franchise is one that takes players into a world of gods and monsters. It used to be called... er... Gods & Monsters. But as some of the game's characters themselves noted, that was a little bit on the nose. Now it's going by the title Immortals Fenyx Rising, but just because it's going by a new name doesn't mean players aren't in for a massive experience. Immortals looks every bit as enormous an experience as it did when it was going by Gods & Monsters. Prior to today's Ubisoft Forward event, Shacknews had a chance to take a first look.
For an old-school Nintendo fan, the premise of Immortals Fenyx Rising looks like somebody blended together the open world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and fused it with the lighthearted narrative lore of Kid Icarus. Players take control of a young Greek soldier named Fenyx who has washed up on the Golden Isle, which lays in ruins. This was once home to the gods but has been ravaged by armies of monsters sent down by the evil titan Typhon. Typhon was once imprisoned by Zeus underneath a mountain, but has broken out of his captivity and now looms as a nigh-omnipotent force over the island. The monsters are a result of Typhon breaking the seal between the human world and the underworld of Tartaros.
Players will hear the story from a pair of godly narrators. The titan Prometheus will be the main storyteller while Zeus makes sure to cut in with his own unique perspective throughout. Prometheus and Zeus are played off as a comedy duo with Prometheus acting as the total straight man while Zeus embellishes his own feats and downplays his recent failures. But above all else, this is Fenyx's story, and judging by the size of the world and the number of side quests and diversions available, everyone will play her story out differently.
For our demo we were fast-forwarded to a later point in the game, but didn't necessarily start out on the Golden Isle. There are several rifts along the island where players can fall in and access the Vaults of Tartaros. This is where they'll be presented with platforming puzzles and other tests of their abilities. For this opening challenge, I became familiar with Fenyx's basic abilities. Switches needed to be opened by stepping on switches, double jumping to distant platforms, carrying and throwing items, and firing off arrows at faraway targets.
The trial also introduced me to combat and this is where Immortals might be a handful at the start. Combat is primarily through the shoulder buttons and Fenyx has so much available to her that it can feel overwhelming for the first few minutes. The right bumper is for light sword strikes, the right trigger is for heavy weapons, holding the left bumper and hitting the right trigger is for hammer strikes, holding the left trigger draws the bow, and all of these can be chained together for combos. But as overwhelming as it can feel at first, the combat is wonderfully fluid. Combining these offensive strikes with parries and dodges, I was able to take on larger enemies and bosses that easily towered over the smaller Fenyx.
Fenyx's combat prowess and puzzle proficiency will extend into the Golden Isle overworld. One of the early quests, called Light My Fire, tasked Fenyx with lighting four chimneys along the Forge of the Gods area. This required some lateral thinking, as completing the quest involved finding lumps of coal, throwing them into the chimneys, and completing trick arrow shots to ignite them. A later side quest had Fenyx take on a terrifying cyclops, which would require skillful dodging and strategic strikes in order to topple it.
That's just scratching the surface of what can be done in Immortals and there's a good reason that it's drawing comparisons to Breath of the Wild. While the demo restricted me to a small chunk of the full overworld map, even that slice of the world seemed pretty big. On top of vast open fields, there were cliffs and climbable surfaces all over the place. There were distant islands to explore. There were hidden grottos filled with weapons and items. And there are several areas that test your skills, such as an arrow challenge that required firing a single shot through a dozen rings and into the eye of a cyclops statue.
Just looking at the open vista, the thought of traversing the area on foot just sounds exhausting. Fortunately, there are a few ways for Fenyx to get around. She has a dedicated mount that she can summon on command with the press of a button. She also has wings, which allow her to glide long distances, just as long as she has enough stamina to get her there. And yes, that means there's a stamina meter. So don't try and climb the highest cliffs unless your meter is big enough to see that task through. Fortunately, it's possible to upgrade your stats through a crafting system with collectible ingredients scattered throughout the land.
As you complete quests and side quests, you won't be the only one keeping tabs on your progress. Typhon will occasionally look to slow you down by sending out wraiths of fabled Greek heroes to kill you. They can be taken down, but sometimes it's better to just try and make a run for it. Typhon's Rage is a random event and one that will presumably get more daunting as the game progresses.
This is only a small part of the Immortals Fenyx Rising experience that I got to try out. Ubisoft noted that a full skill tree and character progression system will be in place, so you'll witness Fenyx's journey from washed-out castaway to soldier of the gods over dozens of hours. Developed by the same development team behind Assassin's Creed Odyssey, this game looks like it nails a similar setting, but feels much more colorful and jovial than the AC franchise.
Look for the game formerly known as Gods & Monsters to release in just a few short months. Immortals Fenyx Rising is coming to PC, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia on December 3.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Immortals Fenyx Rising hands-on preview: The gods come calling