Immortals Of Aveum by Bret Robbins is a fantastic and flashy FPS, by Bret Robbins

When Immortals Of Aveum was first revealed in December last year, there wasn’t much to know. After a hands-on preview last week, I can tell you that it’s a single-player first-person shooter but with magic, which would sound a lot like Forspoken if I described it without context, and it has the looking pretty cool. But above all, I can tell you that I will never forget who came up with the idea for this game.

Am I facetious? Probably! But also, I don’t know how else to be when your preview of the game begins with a ten-minute video that was nominally about Ascendant Studios but actually seemed about one man’s career. It’s also the strongest impression the preview left on me, both because the point was laborious and because we didn’t see much of the game.

The video, which I won’t raise unless it’s released for your viewing pleasure tomorrow, features one of the greatest hits of anything Robbins has worked on, dwelling on Dead Space in a way that if i didn’t know better might suggest they’re looking for a bit of all the Dead Space-related coverage that Glen Schofield got while marketing The Callisto Protocol. It all made it pretty amusing when the voiceover later described the studio as “egoless.” It might be unfair to criticize someone for being proud of their accomplishments, but there’s a line between being proud and making me laugh, and that was crossed when the VO said “when Sledgehammer games came calling , Bret replied.

We got to Immortals Of Aveum itself, though initially even that was pretty Robbins-centric. The origin story of this game is that Robbins was watching a Call Of Duty level during his regular job at Sledgehammer and thinking, what if that helicopter was a dragon and those RPGs were fireballs? It may have been a revolutionary idea when he first came up with it, but I’d say it’s less so now that he’s managed to make it a reality. In Immortals Of Aveum you play as a war mage called Jak – however, as this is a Brandon Sanderson game, nothing can be called that, so a battle mage is a “magnus”. Anyway, Jak is also an Unforseen, a person who wasn’t supposed to have magic power but suddenly manifested some, and, to complete the boy’s super special image, a Triarch, which means that he can wield all three flavors of magic in the game.

The different flavors are blue, red and green. These correspond to Force, Chaos and Life, and are channeled through the cuff of your arm to – hey, Wait a second. Jak joins the Avengers’ equivalent, the titular Immortals, each of whom uses a different color of magic, and whose clips suggest they’ll do a varying amount and/or type of Disney-adjacent wisecracking. One of them is Gina Torres! Cool!

Hello, Gina Torres!

In the bird’s-eye-view cutscenes, Aveum is a giant fantasy world. It has magical ley lines, there is a large hole called The Wound (you could hear the capital letters falling into place) and inside the large hole is a large statue. There is also an ongoing war, called Everwar, for control of magic. Personally, I find all that kind of world-building to be the peak of “nerdism footing”, and the least fun thing about the presentation. So far, so fancy, isn’t it? When was the last time you saw a fantasy world that wasn’t in peril?

Potato, magic potahto; maybe you like that stuff, and for what it’s worth, senior art director Dave Bogan says his priority was “to stay away from the typical fantasy tropes and just start from a new palette” that mixes fantasy and “simplified scifi”. -shaped tongue”. Executive producer Kevin Boyle is also a fan, saying that “the world-building, the way the conflict evolves over the course of the game, it’s very specific to Aveum and the nature of the conflict in this world. Really, that’s one of the huge calling points for me.” Personally, seeing Immortals Of Aveum in action was the most interesting part, which we did with about 20 minutes of explosive firework colors .

True to the idea of ​​FPS, the blue magic is a long-range straight shot, the red magic is a shotgun, and the green is a kind of automatic fire like a machine gun. In practice, it’s more run-and-gun like Wolfenstein than a COD cover shooter, but it even has the dark screen overlay when you get hurt like a modern FPS. Enemies range in size from tiny little guys, to giant swinging maces that look like “What If Your Toaster Was A Knight?” fan art, to real dragons in large backdrops. They require the use of different spells and tactics to do the most damage – although honestly the boss fights we were shown looked suspiciously like they might be damage sponge jobs, so put that in the column of time who will tell.

A wide shot of The Wound, a huge hole in the ground in the world of Aveum, setting for Immortals Of Aveum.  The land around it is streaked with huge ley lines of magic of different colors.

A cinematic shot of Eternal War, a huge battlefield with flashes of colorful magic on the ground and dragons hovering above, from Immortals Of Aveum

The Wound (left) and Everwar (right)

Jak can find new gear and spells, and customize his build through upgrading, as well as use secondary spells like shield and whip to get here! enemies. Robbins says there’s plenty of variety and reason to experiment with different builds – and, indeed, to replay the game with different tactics. The shield was, he explains, one of the first things they developed to make you feel cool: “you bring your own cover with you”. The hot swapping between spells and pewpewpew magic everywhere looked really fun, and Robbins adds that they’re trying to “walk that line between being both familiar to shooters but also bringing something new and interesting at the table”. I’m really excited to try it out, even if it’s just to test how Immortals makes heavy shooting, especially when it doesn’t have the hotkey tactility added by visibly firing a big slow gun.

Although Aveum is large, the levels themselves feel fairly linear, with some wiggle room. Jak gains different abilities that he can use to solve puzzles and unlock previously closed routes to new areas – like the one that slows down objects, which in the preview Jak used to slide under a quick-closing exit. The environments we were shown were plenty of underground caverns that made best use of the pleasant ambient lighting of lava or bioluminescent plants, but there were also forests and rocky war zones.

Despite the fantastic setting, Aveum is closer to home than you might think. Associate Art Director Julia Lichtblau explains that they wanted to ground the world, even though they also experimented with the opportunities offered by magic. “There are still a lot of realistic plants you might see in your backyard,” she says, and while researching local plants in California that they could use to fill the game, she actually found a lot there. of locally threatened species. . “It kind of pushed me on a quest to represent many endangered species in North America. Most trees and bushes – anything not related to magic is a real species of endangered plant.

Throw a magic shield and shoot through it at a giant fire enemy in Immortals Of Aveum

A close up of the splint on Jak's arm that channels his magic in Immortals Of Aveum, as he pulls his arm back to trigger a spell

An enemy leaps at Jak's raised magic shield in a screenshot from Immortals Of Aveum

You nerds need to stop calling the Immortals Of Aveum fantasy stuff and come up with some really cool names like Ride The Lightning. Except not that, because Lars will sue you.

Overall, the whole thing looks like a fantasy world independently developed steampunk, which, you know what, I really don’t hate. It feels like 20 hours of a good billboard moment that takes itself too seriously – however, I think that’s about all I’ve come across. But actually Lichtblau, Boyle, Bogan and Robbins all chose something to do with writing or world-building when asked about his favorite things about the game, so that’s me saying that, and that’s something I pay more attention when the time comes.

And yet, what I remember the most is the name of a man. I’m hesitant to invoke the specter of author theory, because in all honesty, Robbins is referring to the other people working on the game, and “Bret Robbins” probably isn’t a name you’ve heard splashed around as s he was Charlie Big Potato anyway. This is another reason why the video left such an impression on me! This was a sizable part of the preview, but lines like “Bret’s daydream and vision, 30 years in the making, now become a reality” make it sound like someone accidentally did a search and replace on a video produced by Quantic Dream about David Cage.

On top of that, the preview sold said idea as unique! Captivating! A breathtaking work of genius the likes of which the world has never seen! It’s the work of a preview, of course, but I’m still not convinced that Immortals Of Aveum is much more than a very nice, well-made shooter wearing a skin costume sewn from a magic game . I’ll have to play it before I believe the hype. And that’s good, I can’t wait to try it. But really all Immortals Of Aveum has to do is be pretty good, at the end of the day. It’s weird to bet your name, that’s all.

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