At Ubisoft, they recently increasingly relied on the well-known: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Far Cry, Watch Dogs – instead of trying new IPs, they preferred to cut out another part of an already existing franchise. So the announcement by Gods & Monsters at E3 2019 was all the more gratifying. It was not just refreshingly new and fresh. With its influences from Greek mythology and its cute cartoon look, it also looked like the illegitimate child from Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of the Wild! Unfortunately, after the official presentation, it became quite quiet about the title. Further information was scarce, the release date actually scheduled for February 2020 passed without result. In June, Google Stadia owners could inadvertently play into an early version of the action role-playing game, but it didn't offer any real insight.
Now the makers of Ubisoft Québéc have finally reported back with tangible information as part of the new Ubisoft Forward, presented large parts of their latest project for the first time and gave us some illuminating insights: a lot has really happened since the first pictures from last year's announcement trailer. A clear step forward has been made in terms of play and graphics. And they also have a fresh name in their luggage – Immortals: Fenyx Rising. (buy now )
Whether you find it better than Gods & Monsters is ultimately a matter of taste. According to those responsible, the renaming should also be an indication that the game has undergone enormous changes in the past few months. The additional development time allowed more work on characters, world and story. So the adventure now looks more rounded, but also a little darker and more thoughtful than in the former E3 trailer. Nothing has changed in the initial situation: In Immortals, you still slip into the role of the heroine Fenyx, who is now named after her. Their task is to protect the Golden Island, the home of the Greek gods, from the giant Typhon. The badboy of Greek mythology has freed himself from his prison and tore the veil between the world of the living and the Tartaros, the underworld. As a result, countless monsters and demons are pouring onto the earth, which of course have to be pushed back and then their masters have to stop working.
Originally, this epic hero's journey should be told by Homer, the forefather of European poetry. Sitting by the campfire, he would have told his grandchildren about Fenyx's adventures and would have been interrupted again and again by the offspring with questions and objections. A bit like How I Met Your Mother, so to speak. In the meantime, the creators have reworked the concept: Now the story is being driven forward by the divine duo Zeus and Prometheus, who dynamically comment on what is happening on the screen and always ensure nice moments – be it through meta-humor or allusions to others Genre colleagues such as Tomb Raider.
The only downer: The setting of Immortal: Fenyx Rising didn't really appeal to us so far. That was not because of speakers or script, but much more because of Ubisoft's questionable design decisions to let the characters speak with a pseudo-Greek accent again. That really got on my nerves in the demo. Players from Germany, Austria and Switzerland can, however, hope that the localized version will help. Already in the German version of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, those responsible had renounced the language coloring of the original setting.
Nice play world without occupational therapy
But enough of the prehistory, we come to the canned – the feel of Immortals: Fenyx Rising! As an open-world adventure, its focus is clearly on the game world, for which the creators have come up with some interesting ideas. In the finished game, the map will consist of a total of seven different areas, all of which have a different theme. Each time a different god served as inspiration, so that you, for example, move through the green wilderness of Aphrodite or – as in the case of our two-hour demonstration towards the middle of Fenyx's adventure – the forge lands of Hephaestus. The world of the Greek god of fire and blacksmithing is fittingly shaped by mechanical elements, metal and steam. So you walk past huge blast furnaces or cut your way through hordes of steampunk robots, which are almost reminiscent of Disney's giants from space. In addition, numerous other mythical creatures such as harpies, minotaurs or medusa await you. Due to the close cooperation with historians, Immortals: Fenyx Rising doesn’t miss out on the necessary portion of authenticity and "realism".
Our task now is to restore Hephaestus' memory. There are several ways to do this, so that with Fenyx we first get an overview of the area. From certain vantage points, interesting places in the vicinity can be discovered, marked as the current mission goal and then reached in various ways: Fenyx can sail through the air with the wings of Daedalus. In addition, our heroine can summon a mount, in our demo a puffing metal steed as standard, or even catch and tame wild mustangs. In addition, there is of course the possibility to swim, dive, run and climb. This works like you know it from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with a classic stamina meter. If this is empty, you will lose your grip while scrambling and fall down. If you run out of breath in the water, you go under ice cold and give up the spoon. So sometimes the simpler and safer option is to use fast travel.
The great thing about it: All areas of the map are open to you right from the start of the game. And since, unlike Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, there doesn't seem to be any enemy levels, you can actually travel anywhere at any time. In addition, the world of Immortals is not only bristling with attention to detail, but also with numerous sideline activities. There are races in which you have to prove yourself against the clock, smaller environmental puzzles and lots of resources – for example in the form of pomegranates and mushrooms – with which potions for endurance, health or attack power can be brewed in kettles.
Greetings from Breath of the Wild
For those looking for that special thrill, there are also over 60 unique dungeons – epic challenges in which you can expect epic rewards. Before you can bag them, however, you first have to prove your skill and cleverness. For example, you have to lift and throw objects with the power of Heracles, hit certain targets with Apollo's arrow, which you can steer yourself, or complete small courses with dash and double jump. Hard not to think about the shrines from Zelda: Breath of the Wild!
There are also some parallels to the Nintendo adventure when it comes to the battle system: Fenyx can of course count on the support of the gods in her epic fight against Typhon. In the course of the adventure, you will therefore have various legendary weapons to choose from, such as the sword of Achilles, the bow of Odysseus or the hammer of Hephaestus. In addition, the heroine is equipped with the blessing of the gods, a series of special attacks that are fired at least on the controller – the control recommended by the developers – with the help of the left bumper and the four action buttons. Athena's Dash, for example, is a quick sword attack, with Ares' Wrath you shoot a dozen spears out of the ground. Your flying companion, the phoenix Phosphorus, is also loyal to you in battle and attacks opponents with fireballs.
Together with the standard light and heavy attacks, a really nice combination can be knocked out and especially small opponents can be sent quickly and impressively over the Jordan, sorry, the Styx. With larger chunks like the occasional boss opponents, however, a little more tactics and skill are required. Here you have to chain attacks on the ground and from the air in a meaningful way, parry counter-strikes and dodge at the right moment with a courageous jump roll. If you manage to do this at the right moment, time slows down and you can counterattack perfectly. You shouldn't ignore the weak points of your opponent either: if you smash an arrow in the eye of a Cyclops, it will of course cause more damage. Or you can strike covertly from an ambush thanks to the stealth option.
The gameplay of Immortals: Fenyx Rising is fluid and intuitive, is crisply staged and quite demanding. The basics are understood quickly, but it takes a certain amount of time to really master all the tricks. Especially on higher levels of difficulty, in our demo only normal and simple were available, the game will probably demand a lot more from you. So it's good that you always have the opportunity to improve your character and equipment. Completed enemies drop crystals of various colors, which you can then invest in upgrades for weapons and armor in the menu. In addition, you will of course always find new items and skins, which then have additional bonuses – about ten percent more damage with the sword.
With collected ambrosia and Zeus' lightning you also increase your maximum life energy and endurance. With Charon Coins, you develop your character's abilities and unlock additional skills – for example an improved sword combo or a longer chain of evasive maneuvers. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to try out exactly how the system works in our test session. We were just told that Fenyx would be fully customizable in the finished game. But no one wanted to tell us whether this also affects the appearance of our avatar, i.e. hairstyle, skin color and the like.
There are still a few questions unanswered elsewhere – including how things look with NPCs. Apart from a few soldiers who helped us in battle, there have been no other characters to interact with so far. And so far one can only speculate about the length of the adventure and the technical aspects. So how annoying are the loading times? How crazy are the graphics? The final answers will probably not be available until the release. The creators have already announced that as part of Ubisoft Forward: Immortals: Fenyx Rising will be released on December 3, 2020 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X will also be supplied.
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Assassin's Creed: Odyssey meets Breath of the Wild – an almost perfect combo!
One would think that after the third open-world title according to scheme F, the classic Ubisoft formula would meanwhile become annoying. Immortals: Fenyx Rising gives it such a charming twist that I can't help but be enthusiastic! The mythical Greece with its ancient gods and terrifying mythical figures is wonderfully implemented. The world not only looks great thanks to its cartoon look, it is also full of exciting secrets and fun activities – without appearing overloaded. The overall package is rounded off by combat and skill systems that convey sophistication and depth, but are not overly complicated. In short: everything fits! Of course, you can't make a final judgment after just two hours, we've only seen a fraction of the game so far. So far it looked too promising not to look forward to the release in December!
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