Immortals Fenyx Rising Devs On Breath of the Wild Influence, Name Change, More
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a rare new IP that's launching simultaneously at the end of one console generation and the beginning of another one. Seeing this behavior from established franchises like Madden or Call of Duty isn't unusual, but it's not often a big new game like this hits everything in one huge splash.
Ubisoft Quebec is gearing up to break away from the shadow of Assassin's Creed with Fenyx Rising, which takes a few elements from almost every successful open-world third-person action-adventure game of the last 10 years and mixes it into a single package with an art style that can appeal to gamers of all ages and demographics.
Recently, we got the chance to try out a brief demo for ourselves and came away with positive impressions. Though I didn't play that demo for GameSkinny, I did play the game around the same, and I came away impressed, as well. I'm excited to play more when Immortals Fenyx Rising releases on December 3.
In the meantime, while we all wait, I sent over a bunch of questions for the development team to answer, covering topics that range from development challenges, platform differences, comparisons to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and much more.
Here's what they had to say.
David Jagneaux, GameSkinny: Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions! The game looks great. I'm a big Zelda fan and love mythology, so it looks right up my alley. I noticed it's developed by the Ubisoft Quebec team, who, of course, worked on AC Odyssey. Can you speak at all about the influences that project had on this one?
Marc-Alexis Coté, Producer: First, I’m glad you enjoyed the demo!
Throughout the development of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, our minds lingered on another aspect of Greek history — mythology. The stories of the Greek gods and heroes have existed through generations of storytellers and have transformed into the tales we know and love today. These stories inspired us to build something totally new, which brought Immortals Fenyx Rising to life.
While inspired by mythological tales, this brand-new IP explores our vision of the gods throughout the ages with more creative liberty and through a more fantastical, comedic lens, delivering a fresh take on the Greek gods that has a modern spin.
GameSkinny: Since this is also a big, sprawling open-world like AC Odyssey, how different of an experience is it from a design perspective for players?
Scott Phillips, Game Director: We designed the gameplay experience around three core pillars that really sets this game apart when put together:
- Rewarding exploration via dynamic and risky traversal
- Over-the-top, fast-paced combat against Mythological creatures
- Challenging Puzzles and World Challenges
Traversal in Immortals Fenyx Rising is an incredibly varied, exciting, and challenging experience. Players will sprint across open fields, climb enormous mountains, and glide through the skies as they explore the world of the Golden Isle. All the while, they are challenged by the terrain and mastering their Stamina to discover every hidden location and secret the island has to offer.
The combat is an acrobatic, airborne, over-the-top mythological experience. Fenyx will face off against giant creatures like the Cyclops, the Minotaur, or Medusa and use the Wings of Daidalos to lift themselves up into the air to properly deal with the immensity of these creatures.
Problem-solving is also key to the experience. The puzzles of the Golden Isle will challenge players’ logic, manipulation of the environment, and navigation capabilities. These world puzzles include small scale individual puzzles, giant sprawling points of interest filled with many puzzles, all the way up to the epic Vaults of Tartaros.
GameSkinny: Going back to my mention of Zelda, a lot of people have made comparisons to Breath of the Wild stylistically. What do you think of those comparisons?
Scott Phillips: We knew from playtests that many players were apt to make a comparison to Breath of the Wild upon first seeing Immortals Fenyx Rising. We also saw that when those players got their hands on the game, they grew to see the differences and the uniqueness of our game, even when compared to the masterpiece that Breath of the Wild is widely considered.
People often find new things easier to explain in reference to something that they already know – which is why we feel this comparison is made, and why we’re happy with that comparison. Because once people open themselves up to the game, we think they’ll find something very special and unique!
GameSkinny: The game seems to mix up puzzles, exploration, and combat for a varied experience. How does that balance shake out? Are all three aspects crucial, or could a player focus mostly on the areas they enjoy more?
Scott Phillips: Our world was built on the same philosophies as a theme park, creating strong iconic thematizations for all regions and biomes. Each region is inspired by a Greek god, and everything in that region is specifically built to support the mythology of that god.
From the scarred battlefields of Ares the god of war to the lush paradise lands of Aphrodite the goddess of love, players will encounter a huge and detailed world full of varied terrains, monsters, and challenges that they can tackle in any order they want.
Each enemy encounter, puzzle, and quest location is tailored to bring a unique aspect of the story, a myth, and a gameplay feature to light. Some terrain is more acclimated to gliding or focused on climbing, while other areas are larger and more open, perfect for a mount. This keeps the moment-to-moment gameplay interesting while allowing players to focus on activities they like best.
GameSkinny: Immortals seems to have a very free-form movement system with lots of verticality. What are some of the specific ways this helps separate it from other open-world games Ubisoft has made, and just open-world games in general?
Scott Phillips: Traversal in Immortals Fenyx Rising is all about making sure that the journey is as rewarding and challenging as the destination. Our goal is to ask players to think about the world around them and consider the best way to reach a location or a point of interest, rather than simply pushing the movement stick and waiting for their character to reach a marker.
We wanted traversal to be a mechanic that could be mastered – something that the player gets better at over time, rather than having it be a static capability that gives them the same gameplay experience from beginning to end. The stamina system, fantastical opportunities brought by mythology, the world-building of the Golden Isle; all are key to ensuring that traversal is constantly engaging, and the world always offers something new to discover.
GameSkinny: I noticed there is a robust character creation system and lots of loot and gear. What is progression like? Are there classes, abilities, levels, etc., or is it mostly gear-based?
Scott Phillips: Player progression is incredibly varied and engaging in Immortals Fenyx Rising. All of the progression systems are centered on the Hall of the Gods – the place where the gods will gather once Fenyx has restored them to their powerful selves.
At the core, players can upgrade Fenyx’s health with Ambrosia collected from the world. Fenyx’s stamina, which drives usage of advanced combat and navigation moves, can be upgraded with the Lightning Bolts of Zeus collected from Vaults of Tartaros. New skills and fight moves can be learned by spending a currency called Coins of Charon.
In addition to upgrading Fenyx, the weapons, armor, and potions used by Fenyx can also be upgraded by defeating enemies and opening chests to find shards of Adamantine – the unbreakable metal of the gods. The Wings of Daidalos and Fenyx’s companion, Phosphorus, can also be modified by collecting skins with specific perks on them.
GameSkinny: Around how long would it take to finish the main story, and then how much longer would it take to complete the game in terms of finishing quests and exploring the map?
Scott Phillips: Since Immortals Fenyx Rising is a huge open-world game filled with content, every player’s experience will vary. However, in general, players should expect somewhere between 20 to 30 hours of playtime to complete the main campaign and many more hours if they focus on completing non-main path content and further progressing their character.
Once players have completed the main campaign, they have the opportunity to try a harder difficulty level called Nightmare mode and New Game Plus.
GameSkinny: Are there post-launch plans for Immortals?
Marc-Alexis Coté, Producer: We will share more details about post-launch content for Immortals Fenyx Rising at a later date.
GameSkinny: What is the reasoning behind the name change? Was Gods & Monsters always intended to be a temporary name?
Marc-Alexis Coté: The extra development time allowed us to push our initial vision even further and explore new avenues for the game. As this vision was coming to life and developing a more mature tone, we felt the game needed a new name to better reflect those changes. Immortals Fenyx Rising evokes the timeless nature of not only gods and magical creatures but also the thrill of mythology itself; stories and legends that live forever through storytelling.
We also felt it was important to shine a light on Fenyx and her journey as the first main character of this new franchise.
GameSkinny: What benefits will players get by playing the game on PS5/XSX versus PS4/XB1?
Marc-Alexis Coté: The team is optimizing the game on each platform to make sure you get the best experience possible everywhere you want to play! XSX and PS5 players will be able to enjoy faster load-times, increased graphics fidelity, and higher framerates!
At launch, the team is targeting 60 FPS and 4K resolution for both platforms. We are also working on a Quality mode that will push visual quality and fidelity even further!
GameSkinny: Will there be a free next-gen upgrade for current-gen players if they want to wait on getting a new console? Will saves transfer?
Marc-Alexis Coté: Immortals Fenyx Rising players will be able to enjoy free console next-gen upgrade and cloud-save transfer at launch.
GameSkinny: Regarding the Stadia version: is it more similar to current-gen or last-gen in terms of fidelity and performance?
Marc-Alexis Coté: Performance will vary depending on the subscription tier of the player. The game will offer graphical and performance modes targeting 4K/30FPS or 1080P/60FPS at launch.
GameSkinny: Can you speak about what benefits Stadia brings to a game like this?
Marc-Alexis Coté: We are excited to let players experience Immortals Fenyx Rising before launch via the Stadia Demo. With the simple click of a button, players will be able to join Fenyx in the fight against Typhon, explore a new mysterious archipelago by foot or glide in the air using the wings of Daidalos and battle against dangerous mythological creatures.
It’s awesome to think this demo will be playable on any devices that support Stadia!
GameSkinny: As a developer, what is the experience like developing or porting something for Stadia?
Marc-Alexis Coté: In the very particular context of the pandemic, developing on Stadia has allowed our entire teams to quickly have access to development versions of the game from the safety of our homes.
It helped our ability to develop and deliver a high-quality game in these challenging times.
GameSkinny: Finally, what about Immortals Fenyx Rising do you think is the most notable and unique feature? What is the key impression you want players to have after experiencing it?
Scott Phillips, Game Director: My two favorite things in Immortals Fenyx Rising are the mixture of gameplay and the presence of the narrators.
With our three pillars of over-the-top mythological combat, fast-paced traversal, and challenging puzzles, I believe our gameplay experience is quite unique and varied and allows players to choose what they want to engage in at any moment based on what’s appealing to them. This ability to change my gameplay focus means I’m always excited to see what’s around the corner.
If I feel like exploring, I know I’ll find something meaningful while gliding, climbing, or double jumping around the world. If I feel like fighting, I can always scout for a small pack of corrupted enemies or seek out a legendary or world boss enemy. And if I feel like solving puzzles, there's always a small hidden chest up to giant Constellation Myth Challenges to keep me busy solving their riddles.
I also find the narrators to be really entertaining and funny! I look forward to their interactions in the story. They mix up the tone and allow me to stay in the action while they provide the narrative context that helps keep the game engaging and fun. Hearing Prometheus become flustered by Zeus’ interruption of his epic storytelling to insert a mythologically based joke is always a good time.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is slated for release on December 3, 2020, for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia. It's also releasing for next-generation consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, with visual and performance enhancements. If you buy the PS4 or Xbox One version of the game, you can redeem a free upgrade to the applicable next-generation console.
Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more on Immortals Fenyx Rising, including our full review near launch.