Ascendant Studios is a fledgling AAA studio full of legendary talent, and CGMagazine was lucky enough to get an early look under the hood of their debut title Immortals of Aveum.
Another exciting-looking EA Original is in the works by Ascendant Studios, revealed Immortals of Aveum back at the Game Awards 2022. While that event showcased some exciting gameplay, Ascendant Studios has now given fans a detailed look behind the curtain to show what they have in store for their debut title. The first trailer can be seen below.
First and foremost, the new Ascendant Studios is chock full of video game developer talent, spearheaded by industry veteran, CEO and Game Director Bret Robbins, who entered the scene as part of the 1996 Crystal Dynamics team. After a Hall of Fame resume of credits, including Creative Director of Sledgehammer Games during their Call of Duty stint, Robbins brings Ascendant Studios to the forefront with their new title, Immortals of Aveum. This studio, stacked with the makers behind Bioshock, Halo, Dead Space, and much more, have been working on the debut title, and it shows.
The inspiration for Immortals of Aveum, according to Robbins, was “instead of a helicopter, what if that was a dragon? Instead of an RPG, what if it’s a fireball?” with the ultimate notion of “I want to play that game,” firing Immortals into development. It’s worth noting for those looking for multiplayer, Immortals is not that game, as the entire experience takes place in its single-player mode.
Aveum is a Battleground
Immortals of Aveum is set in the titular land called Aveum, ravaged by 1000 years of magical confrontation known as the Everwar. The two main kingdoms in the conflict are the Lucium and Rasharn, with Rasharn billed as the big bad’s force. You are Jak, a person who manifested latent magical abilities later in life known as an Unforeseen. After growing up on the streets of a desolate city known as Seren, you are recruited by the leader of the Immortals to fight on the side of the righteous — or less bad — side, the kingdom of Lucium.
“Immortals of Aveum drip-feeds the player into the lore of the world, and it has true depth.”
Immortals of Aveum is loaded with magical warriors known as Magus, and each Magus can traditionally wield one of three types of magic, Force (denoted by a bluish colour), Chaos (red) and Life (green, go figure). Jak definitely pervades main character energy. He is only one of two characters introduced that can wield all three types of magic — the other being the leader of the Rasharn hordes, Sandrakk — called a Triarch.
Although Jak seems hesitant to join up, he inevitably does so with the help of Immortals Leader General Kirkan to help bring an end to the 1000-year war and uncover the secrets lurking in the shadows of Aveum. Immortals of Aveum drip-feeds the player into the lore of the world, and it has true depth.
Become A Force Of Nature
Where Immortals of Aveum becomes legendary is its combat. Ascendant Studios strove to create a combat system reminiscent of a combination of arena shooters, like Quake or Unreal Tournament, and threw it together with a combo system that bleeds Bulletstorm and Mass Effect in a marriage that was made for each other.
Running on the Unreal 5 engine, Immortals declines to be “another cover shooter” and allows the player to have their cover — or Force shield — with them at all times. This has noticeably increased the breakneck pace of combat to an all-time high and provides the player with battlegrounds that DEMAND attention. During combat, Jak (not related to the character from the Naughty Dog series) can mash his Triarch abilities together with destructive effects.
“Where Immortals of Aveum becomes legendary is its combat.”
A lash reminiscent of Destiny 2: Lightfall or Bulletstorm is utilized for pulling enemies to Jak, opening up destructive combos. During the preview, Jak channelled his inner Scorpion to pull an enemy near him and then clasped his hands together and exploded the enemy with destructive fire, setting blazes to surrounding adversaries. The mastery of all three magic types and how you use them against enemies can be the difference between life and death. Jak has true destructive force at his fingertips, and he improves by levelling after each encounter.
Yes, skill trees are back, and they’re well-constructed. Players can look forward to over 25 spells to maim enemies with — and of course, upgrade paths for favourites — and 80 talents to uncork more of Jak’s latent ability. There is also gear to pick up and equip, powering Jak further to become even more indestructible. Immortals of Aveum is a serious power trip, but one that can meet its match when Jak confronts a mighty dragon-looking beast called a Howler.
Ascendant Studios also showed off a brief gameplay segment with a Jak souped up in the later stages of the title, where there are MANY abilities on display, and it gets seriously CHAOTIC. As a hearken back to the series developer roots, Halo series Needler-like blue projectiles can even be seen in combat, which just adds another ‘A-ha!’ moment during the frenetic combat.
A Lush Aveum, Ravaged
The scenery and music fit Immortals to a tee. The lush surroundings have serious details pounded into them, and the leaves seem ready to spring to life at a moment’s notice. Every biome introduced in the preview had a bit of war touch on them, adding to the realism and believability of the setting. Aveum is diverse, as lava-filled caves, snowy peaks, and densely forested areas are entirely on display.
“The amount of detail in Immortals of Aveum is staggering, and Ascendant Studios doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to fleshing out their vision for Aveum.”
Immortals of Aveum implores the player to scrape the corners of every biome to locate new abilities. Interestingly enough, there are Metroidvania aspects delivered here, as not every area is completely explorable from the get-go. After unlocking new abilities, such as the time-slowing Limpets introduced in the preview, players can backtrack to open areas that were before inaccessible. With such intense detail thrown into each setting, this is a GREAT excuse to go back and revisit beautiful landscapes given extreme attention.
Even characters are given attention to detail, General Kirkan’s facial animations are exceptional, and even the tattoos on their face have a blue sepia that comes with the aging of black tattoo ink. The amount of detail in Immortals of Aveum is staggering, and Ascendant Studios doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to fleshing out their vision for Aveum.
Immortals of Aveum is a breath of fresh air. In a gaming landscape littered with sandbox open worlds, and multiplayer titles, Ascendant Studios decided to go against the grain and make an extremely well-oiled single-player game that demands attention. With the finishing touches being placed on the already finished-looking title, the July 20 release date really can’t come soon enough.