First-person shooters (FPS) can be considered the most important genre in the industry. This is not only due to the influence of games like DOOM or the incredible sales of Call of Duty, but also because they have become synonymous with video games. When gaming appears in popular culture, it usually takes the form of someone shouting at the screen while squeezing triggers.
The popularity of shooters is not a bad thing, but it's fair to admit that they have a problem: most of them are stuck on guns and bullets. Can't shooters be something different? This is what Ascendant Studios asked themselves, and they decided to deconstruct the genre and reinterpret it in Immortals of Aveum, a shooter unlike anything we've seen in the AAA sphere in recent years.
Recently, we had the opportunity to take a look at Ascendant Studios' new project that will be distributed under the EA Originals label. Does it truly deliver something different?
Video relacionado: Immortals of Aveum -Trailer
Where does Immortals of Aveum come from?
To understand what Immortals of Aveum is, it's first necessary to know its origin. The project was born from the mind of Bret Robbins, a veteran who has worked on franchises such as Call of Duty, Dead Space, and Gex. One day, while working at Sledgehammer Games on an installment of Activision's FPS, he wondered: "What if this scene had a dragon instead of a helicopter? What if we got rid of the rocket launcher and put fireballs in its place?" It took years for that idea to start cooking, but at that moment, the seed was planted that would transform into Immortals of Aveum.
After several years with this idea in his head, Robbins decided to found his own studio and recruited talented developers from all over the United States. The creative decided that one way to ensure that his new company started on the right foot was to finally bring Immortals of Aveum to life, a game that will try to give shooters a facelift by replacing guns with magic.
Immortals of Aveum will transport us to Aveum, a fantasy world that is in constant war, where two kingdoms are fighting for control of magic. In this context, you'll enjoy a campaign of about 25 hours in which you'll take control of Jak, a subject of humble origin who apparently is ordinary and common, but who ends up manifesting an impressive level of magic. His talent leads him to be part of the Immortals, a group of powerful warriors who in Aveum are seen as superheroes.
A shooter with magic?
As Jak, you'll have to be a soldier in a war full of magical powers, fantasy worlds, and dragons. With all of this, RPG may come to mind immediately, but in reality, it's not too far from the tree. Although the world of Aveum is far from World War II or modern military conflicts, it's essentially a shooting game. As his main method of defense, Jak has three types of magic (called sigils), which function as quick long-range weapons; shotguns or automatic pistols. It's also funny that, at times, it struggles to distance itself from its roots since the cinematography of Immortals of Aveum seems to be taken from any military movie and Jak isn't shy about behaving like a soldier from the United States army.
In an interview with LEVEL UP, Kevin Boyle, executive producer of Immortals of Aveum, spoke a bit more about the different types of weapons. According to him, Ascendant Studios' intention is for players to exploit the progression system to have a lot of possibilities with each type of sigil, although each one will maintain certain thematic consistency.
"I would say there is thematic consistency across the different colors of magic, right? Red is always a bit wider and causes big damage up close, whether that's firing it three times with a narrow focus or once with a wider focus. The assignment of additional abilities and increasing their power level give variations to what a standard sigil offers. I think players will find more variation than they would expect to see in a game that focuses on firearms. And that's just talking about sigils before getting into totems, Furies, and other magical effects the players can use," he said.
Note that this does not mean that Immortals of Aveum is a simple reskin of Call of Duty. Its combat has a frenetic pace that at times reminds much more of DOOM than any of Activision Blizzard's shooters. In fact, Boyle assured us that one of his goals was to deliver a game that felt "fast and responsive" to truly give the sensation of being a combat mage, rather than an old wizard with a huge staff. This is complemented by a magical mobility and secondary abilities that increase the arsenal and promise to make battles even more exciting. For example, one of the stars in Jak's arsenal will be a shield that allows him to defend against enemy attacks and even survive falls. He can also float and launch powers that stick to the bodies of his rivals. It is a varied arsenal that leverages magic to make its creativity shine.
Boyle also explained that his goal was always to create a game that felt familiar to fans of shooters but without trying to imitate the use of guns. Instead, he seeks to explore the limits of what is possible with magic.
"We definitely wanted it to be responsive and familiar to shooter fans, but not in a way that actively tried to mimic guns, right? I think the limits of what we can do with magic are very different from what we can achieve in the real world, so there are some interesting opportunities there. But we also wanted things to feel solid, responsive, and visual. And so I think we've managed to bring together a good combination of immediacy of magic using sigils and some more interesting control effects using totems," Boyle said.
All the magic in Immortals of Aveum is accompanied by a progression system where players can allocate skill points to improve their capabilities in different layers. The game gives the opportunity to explore old levels again to unlock new areas with skills. Doing so will reward players with equipment that allows Jak to become more powerful in the style of a loot shooter, but apparently simplified.
"Throughout the game, you earn talents and can spend those talents on a skill tree that has branches for red, blue, and green magic, which influence how powerful your sigils are, your shields, your movement spells, your furies, and you really can use that skill tree to lean towards different play styles and be more effective at one thing than another. And even try new things and change the way you've spent those points and change the equipment you have equipped to suit your playstyle. You don't necessarily have to choose one and stick with it," Boyle told us.
From what we could see, Immortals of Aveum is not a game that tries to reinvent the wheel or revolutionize the first-person shooter genre. It aims to remind us that it's possible to make a game of this style without guns, bullets, and grenades. It's an opportunity to refresh a genre that many feel is stagnant. Will it succeed? We'll have to play to find out, but Boyle already has reasons to excite players.
"I think Immortals of Aveum offers something that is different from anything else out there, something unique and new that we have really put our hearts into. We're telling a story in this world about magic, conflict, and the nature of magic, and how things have gone wrong. The way this person who was thought to only have a glimmer of magic turns out to be someone powerful and dangerous, and so he becomes embroiled in the broader context of the conflict in the world. I think it's a story that people will enjoy, and we're having a lot of fun with the mechanics of the game through which we express that story. I'm looking forward to sharing it with players," he concluded.
What did you think of Immortals of Aveum? Will you give it a chance when it's available? Let us know in the comments.
Immortals of Aveum will be released on July 20th, 2023.