Ubisoft has been working Beyond Good and Evil 2 off and on for at least a decade, and when it finally does release, it looks like it will have been worth the wait. The first Beyond Good and Evil game released in 2003 and followed an investigative reporter named Jade, who sought to uncover a conspiracy. It was originally meant to be the first in a new game trilogy, but it has been 15 years since the first installment released and a sequel still isn't out.
In 2017, game director Michael Ancel confirmed the Beyond Good and Evil sequel Ubisoft had originally teased had been scrapped, and the second installment would now be a prequel that takes the franchise in a different direction, one that's set within the Beyond Good and Evil universe but is different in practically every way. It's no longer about investigating a conspiracy, it's about exploring the vast reaches of space in an expansive RPG.
While Ubisoft has yet to show off actual game footage to the general public, only showcasing cinematic E3 trailers, Ubisoft Montpellier brought an approximately 30-minute gameplay demo of Beyond Good and Evil 2 to E3 2018. Screen Rant got a chance to check out that hands-off presentation, and here's what we learned:
- The game takes place in the 24th century, hundreds of light years away from Earth in System 3. It's a system in an area of a galaxy in which two galaxies are entering into collision.
- You play as a young space pirate captain, who can be customized in many different ways, including making the character a hybrid of two species. (Hybrids are not normal citizens, and they are treated poorly in society.)
- Everyone is born with a specific job/purpose/role in society, but you decide to rebel against the oppressive regime and go your own way.
- Since the colonists who arrived at System 3 eventually became infertile, the only way they could ensure their survival was to clone themselves. You are a clone.
- The various planets in System 3 have habitable and dangerous parts. For instance, Soma has a side that is being constantly bombarded by meteors, which results in hundreds if not thousands of craters. The meteor shower itself is dynamic.
- Has co-op, but it’s not tethered - players can be as far away from each other as they want.
- It has the biggest open world I’ve ever seen - the demo started in a laboratory deep inside a building. Then, the two devs playing went outside and got onto hoverbikes, which they used to traverse Ganesha City (one of many cities on the continent New India on the moon of Soma). From there, both players got into a ship and traveled hundreds of kilometers away, where another city was located. The thing is, all of that land is explorable - and that was just on one continent on one moon. Once you go into space, there’s even more to explore.
- Driving the hoverbike in Ganesha City is pretty much like how air travel and traffic is on Coruscant in the prequels.
- You can drive anything you see.
- Cities on Soma (the moon showed in the demo) appear old but they have new technology - not cyberpunk-esque though.
- Art direction is beautiful. What’s particularly impressive is the air friction on ships while traveling at hyperspeed while on a moon/planet due to being in the atmosphere. Once you leave the atmosphere, there's no longer any friction, and so, the ship can travel faster.
- Community members can add content like artwork that goes on statues or music that gets added to the space radio.
- There are 4 abilities that every space pirate captain has: a gun, a sword, a shield, and a jetpack.
- All enemies share the same abilities as the space pirate captains (you).
- Each ability can be augmented with tech abilities called Augments: slow down, push back, etc. Imagine shooting a gun with a "slow down" augment (not bullet time) at someone and having that person enter a form of stasis. Augments can be found, bought, or stolen. Practically every character has an augment which can be taken.
- Augments can also be applied to ships and ship abilities. Like shooting a cannon with a “slow down” augment.
- Ship upgrades are split into three parts: Modules, Gear, and Cosmetic (community can also contribute to this).
- There are small and large spaceship battles: dogfights and large mother ship battles.
- Various augments can be applied at one time, resulting in augment sets or styles of play. Some can be aggressive, defensive, etc.
- Players use a Spyglass to learn information about the environment, objects, enemies, etc. It scans practically everything (including cities from a distance) and provides information such as a background, augments, profession, and affiliations for characters. What’s cool is that, while in space, you can use the Spyglass to look down at cities in the distance. They don’t disappear because you’re far away - they are still there.
- Spyglass is also useful in finding people worthy of recruiting into your crew.
- The game’s Galaxy Viewer is not a map representation but a look at the actual world as you would see it from your ship. It makes for a more fluid and seamless experience.
- A new engine was created specifically for this game, which is why there is "no limit to the game world" - Guillaume Brunier, Senior Producer at Ubisoft Montpellier.
Ubisoft's Beyond Good and Evil 2 had one of the most impressive presentations at E3 2018, not because of any special flair but because the game that Ubisoft Montpellier has created speaks for itself. There are a lot of subtleties about the forthcoming sequel that will satisfy fans of the original game while also giving franchise newcomers a chance to enter a brand new universe.
But overall, the most exciting aspect of Beyond Good and Evil 2 is definitely its scale. It's truly what every future space RPG game should strive to achieve, but given how much time and effort has gone into producing this single game, that may not be an attainable goal for the time being. In the end, this game just might set a new precedent for space games.