Update: We haven't heard very much about Beyond Good and Evil 2 at all recently, though we imagine Ubisoft is saving the big news for E3 2018. To tide us over, though, two pieces of environmental concept art for the game have been released, both of which feature very different environments.
The images appeared on the game's official website in a "Devs ask Space Monkeys" post, where the development team gets to interact with fans. Creative Director Michel Ancel posted "Playing a pirate in Beyond Good & Evil 2 means having, and fighting for, the freedom to carve your own path through the stars. What types of environments are you looking forward to discovering, exploring and expressing yourselves in, as free pirates in System 3?"
After this the images below appeared and Ancel wrote that some of the places the team has been looking at include "Secret Pirate lairs on asteroids; spaceports; dormant volcanic craters; Black markets in city slums; Treacherous mining operations; Lush valleys with sacred temples; and Legendary treasures hidden in uncharted territories across space."
See the locations for yourself below – we think these fall into the categories of "lush valleys with sacred temples" and "secret Pirate lairs on asteroids."]
E3 2017's most hyped trailer unveiling capped off Ubisoft's press conference, eliciting cheers and driving some viewers to tears.
Which game was it? Here's a hint: it was first announced nine years ago, and it's the sequel to a game that wasn't even a big hit in its own day.
Give up? It's Beyond Good and Evil 2, and the long-awaited (and much-delayed) sequel blew a lot of minds this week with its lavish, cinematic trailer that hints at a fresh start for the old property.
The original 2003 debut remains a cult classic and lives in the hearts of fans, but the prospect of a sequel has been shaky for nearly a decade now, as we've seen various teases over the years amidst news of it remaining on a back burner.
But now it's real and really happening, apparently, even if we haven't seen any actual gameplay yet.
Still, the trailer offers up a lot of clues and certainly gives fans plenty of reason to be excited and optimistic, so here's a look at what we know (and what we don't) and when we can expect to get our hands on the game.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Open-universe sci-fi game with rich characters, huge cities, and seamless navigation into space
- What can I play it on? Nothing's official, but likely PS4, Xbox One, and PC
- When can I play it? Probably not anytime soon: 2018/2019 seems likely
At a behind-closed-doors event during this year's E3, Ubisoft revealed the first early in-engine footage of Beyond Good & Evil 2 and now it's available to watch online.
In the video the game's Creative Director Michel Ancel talks us through just under 15 minutes of footage from the game which is looking…pretty huge.
In the demo Ancel controls the game's customization protagonist (here it's the monkey you'll recognize from the reveal trailer) flying him around using a jetpack.
Ancel reveals that the game will have all kinds of ships for players to use and explore, ranging from one-man ships perfect for agile dogfights to huge aerospace cargo ships. If you start out with a smaller ship and move up to a larger one, you can store the smaller ship inside it and expand your crew too.
Larger ships that aren't yours will be explorable. When you start out with nothing you'll be able to find useful items on these ships but you can also uncover darker things like "slavery, some human trafficking and things like that." If you do see these things you can take pictures and take them back to the city to trigger discussions and progress story. It seems that photojournalism will once again be a cornerstone feature in the series.
The main thing Ancel emphasizes in this demo is the scale of the world and he's not wrong. Players will be able to move "seamlessly" from smaller streets to outer space and Ancel says that the game's engine will be able to re-create astronomical physics with atmosphere changes and rotating planets.
Ancel even says that real-time meteor showers will happen and will affect the planets both in terms of appearance and events. "The planet and the story are connected" he says.
It all sounds exciting, though Ancel reminds us that this is the game still in its very early stages. You can watch the demo for yourself below:
One trailer capped off Ubisoft's E3 2017 presentation followed by an appearance from creator Michel Ancel, best known as the guy behind Rayman.
You can watch it below:
It's a raucous and surprisingly vulgar trailer, and one that doesn't spotlight any obviously familiar characters or locations from the original game.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 will apparently act as a prequel to the original, but also something of a re-imagining of its world and concepts – perhaps similar to how Mirror's Edge Catalyst approached its own status as a prequel and spiritual successor, instead of a direct follow-up.
What we know so far
We didn't see the slightest bit of gameplay in the E3 trailer and we only see a tiny bit in Michael Ancel's demo but this does give us some idea of what we can expect from the game when it's eventually released.
Michel Ancel has said the game will be playable online, which falls in line with Ubisoft's shift towards securing long-term player engagement from its games. At the moment it's still not clear how online play will actually work – it could be a separate mode with individual matches or it could work more like Far Cry 5 which allows players to go through the entirety of the main game with a friend. We hope it's the latter.
Own more than one ship
Players will be able to own multiple ships, increasing their scale and crew size as they go. Once a player has a larger ship they'll even be able to store their smaller one-man dogfighting vessels inside it.
Furthermore, the environments will be somewhat destructible, allowing parts of buildings to be demolished but not entire large structures, apparently. Real-time meteor showers will be able to impact entire portions of planets which could potentially trigger missions and story events.
Furthermore, exploration will apparently be a big theme, and you will be able to fly from a planet into space seamlessly without loading times—much like in No Man's Sky. There will also be spaceships of varying sizes, including vast ones that can hold smaller ones within.
Ancel also talks a bit about the world in which these characters exist, with the social structure seemingly keeping these hybrid creatures down, along with the vile threat of slavery. He suggests that the crew you see in the Gada ship, comprised of varying hybrids and humans of different origins, showcases the diverse message that the game hopes to convey despite the ugliness in the world. It's "exactly the heart of Beyond Good and Evil 2," he explains.
A Jade connection
As for the green-eyed captain at the end, Ancel admits that there is some connection to Jade from the first game, but refuses to spoil the game with any specifics. Likewise, there's an earlier reference to her Uncle Pey'j that Ancel also acknowledges, and he says the teases hint at "how deep the world can be." Similarly, the trailer is apparently loaded with Easter egg references. Apparently Jade will not directly feature in the game as it's set a generation before her birth.
Unfortunately, there's no word on a release target or even the platforms that we'll be playing on, and given that Beyond Good and Evil 2 was only confirmed to be in pre-production as of last autumn, it may still be a long way away. We might be lucky to see it in 2018, but don't be surprised at all if the game doesn't ship until 2019 or 2020.
A brand new game engine
Ubisoft has revealed the Beyond Good and Evil 2 is being worked on using a brand new game engine called Voyager. To capture Michel Ancel's vision for the game and create a world as large as this game's one will be, a brand new game engine was completely necessary and the tech for it has been in development for the past 3 years.
As of now, only one game has been released in this series: the original Beyond Good and Evil, which hit PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and PC back in 2003.
Photojournalist Jade's quest to investigate and uncover an alien conspiracy leads to a grand and diverse adventure spanning stealth navigation, melee combat, puzzle solving, photography, and even racing. Slick art direction, entertaining action, and compelling characters and story threads made Beyond Good and Evil a fan favorite, even if the game wasn't a sales success.
Luckily, it became a true cult classic over time, and Ubisoft revived the original game with an HD edition for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011. It's also backwards compatible with the Xbox One, so at least you can play it on one of the current consoles.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 was first announced all the way back in 2008 with a very odd teaser trailer, which sets the tone for a version of the game we may never experience. It shows Jade and Pey'j on the side of the road with a broken hover car, as Pey'j snorts and digests passing flies. Quite a change from what we eventually saw at E3 2017!
In 2009, meanwhile, a leaked video—which looks like target gameplay footage—shows an acrobatic Jade winding her way through a busy city as she climbs, runs, takes out guards, and eventually grabs hold of a helicopter and escapes. However, later that summer, Ubisoft confirmed that the game would not yet begin full production.
In the years since, we've seen various teases and confirmations of its continued development, with Ubisoft acknowledging work on it in 2014 and 2016.
And then, late in 2016, Ancel affirmed that they were full steam ahead in pre-production, which Ubisoft also confirmed.
According to Ancel, the team has been working on the game intently since Rayman Legends shipped in 2013, and that earlier work on the game had been halted due to technical limitations back then.
What we'd like to see
Well, we'd like to see the actual game most of all. The trailer is rich and inviting, and clearly shows a lot of work and attention being paid to Beyond Good and Evil 2's game world. It can send our imaginations wandering into so many different directions, which is the problem: how will this vision coalesce into a cohesive game? We just don't know.
Ancel's trailer breakdown video offers some hints, with the promise of a huge, vertical world, cooperative online play of some sort, and the ability to jet off into space without worrying about loading screens or other frustrating breaks in the action. It sounds massively ambitious, but that's very much in line with Ubisoft's modern approach: the company does vast open worlds now, and nearly all of its AAA properties follow some version of that mold.
Our hope is that Beyond Good and Evil's spirit doesn't get lost in the vastness of that open concept, and that the game retains its individuality despite opening up and bringing in some level of multiplayer action. Based on the trailer, we are definitely encouraged about the tone and distinctiveness of the game, although besides the whole matter of how the actual game looks and plays, there are still questions about when we'll get to play it and on which devices.
Hopefully we don't have to wait too long to get some concrete answers. On the other hand, it has been 14 years since the first game released, and nine years since this sequel was revealed, so it's clear that Ubisoft is happy to take its time to get this right. Let's hope the long wait truly pays off.