Ascendant Studios first came together back in 2018 with the vision of creating something that's both familiar and refreshingly different. Studio founder and CEO Bret Robbins brought along a considerable pedigree, one that includes the original Dead Space. It also includes a lengthy stint at Sledgehammer Games, where he served as the Creative Director on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Call of Duty: WW2. It's these games' DNA that is most noticeable in the upcoming Immortals of Aveum, Ascendant's debut title. Shacknews recently had the opportunity to travel to EA's Redwood City headquarters to try the game out for the first time.
Those looking for story details about Immortals of Aveum can check out our April preview. For those who need a recap, this game follows the story of Jak. This rookie battlemage steps onto the frontlines to serve in the Everwar, helping lead the forces of Lucium against the hostile kingdom of Rasharn and its leader, the evil warlord Sandrakk.
Those who have played Sledgehammer's Call of Duty titles are familiar with the campaign format that follows a lone soldier learning the ins and outs of war from his various commanding officers. While the structure is a familiar one, Immortals of Aveum takes place within a completely different realm. The early moments of the game see players learn about Aveum's three different forms of magic. Blue magic gives Jak the Strikebolt, which hits targets from a distance. Red magic gives him Breachfire, which is a stronger burst of power meant to be used at close range. Green magic grants the use of Stormshards, which is a homing magic that seeks out enemies.
Combat involves mixing many of these basic attacks together, with some acting as weaknesses to certain enemies. However, things quickly get much more varied with more advanced attacks stemming from each of the three magic types. Before long, players are warding off projectiles with their Shield and bringing targets in closer with their Lash, to name a few examples. More potent attacks are unlocked over time as players dig farther into the game's skill tree.
The three magic types are also essential to solving puzzles. These mainly involve uncovering switches that need to be activated by using the corresponding magic color. Sometimes, uncovering the switches can be the toughest aspect of these puzzles. Finding them can involve using other powers, such as the green magic's ability to manipulate structures in order to create bridges or unlock new areas.
Stages are mostly linear, but there are enough hidden areas with different goodies that players are encouraged to explore whenever possible. While I didn't find much use for gold, Jak will eventually encounter hub areas with shopkeepers that have goods for purchase. Aside from that, this goes back to that Call of Duty campaign structure where players will largely spend their time moving forward and rarely backtracking.
Ascendant hopes to mix up the action over time by introducing new enemy types, puzzles, and mechanics to master. A later stage introduced magical constructs, which are basically sentient golems that can both assist in battle and also help trigger dual switches. In the stage we tried, Jak acted more as an escort for the construct, which cleared the path forward. However, the stage ended with Sandrakk appearing and corrupting the construct, leading to a large-scale boss battle. Boss battles, as one might imagine, will usually consist of finding different weak spots, which can vary from the three different magic types.
This is just the beginning for what Ascendant estimates will be a roughly 25-hour adventure. Over that time, players can expect to familiarize themselves with Jak and his supporting cast, as well as learn more about the world of Aveum and the magic that drives it. The wait for Ascendant's debut title is almost here. Look for Immortals of Aveum to come to PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on Thursday, July 20.
This preview is based on a pre-release PC build played on site from the Electronic Arts headquarters in Redwood City, CA. Lodging and meals were provided courtesy of Electronic Arts.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Immortals of Aveum takes the Call of Duty campaign formula into a realm of magic
The way the characters act in the trailers of this game makes it seem like the fantasy stuff is just a facade over a bog-standard CoD-style narrative. None of it feels real...it feels like they're just CoD-bros who are cosplaying? I mean, don't get me wrong...I often enjoy the CoD-style spectacle, but...it also doesn't really excite me from a new and exciting experience perspective.
Maybe the mechanics and gameplay will be cool, though?