Beyond Good and Evil 2 is an ambitious concept tempered by a nine year shitshow

By James O'Connor, Thursday, 15 June 2017 07:33 GMT

Beyond Good and Evil 2, which sounds extremely different from Beyond Good and Evil, is still a long way away.

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First, a little history lesson, because we’ve been waiting nine damn years since the first trailer. Back in 2008, Michel Ancel – director of the original game – told us that Beyond Good and Evil 2 would be bigger and better than the original. In 2011, we were encouraged to “keep the faith”, despite Ubisoft having said nothing about the game in three years.

That same year, we heard that the game was still expanding, switching to the (now current) generation of consoles. A year later, shots and video of a supposed in-progress build started to appear, but we saw nothing more from that. We were told that development of Rayman Legends was slowing things down (which was worth it, honestly – what a great game).

Then, last year, Michel Ancel posted some concept art of characters that looked like they would fit right into Beyond Good and Evil’s world. In September, another piece popped up, and we started to believe that the game might actually be coming. While pieces weren’t explicitly said to be from Beyond Good and Evil 2, it was easy enough to read between the lines. By 2017, rumours were spreading that Nintendo had courted Ubisoft for a Beyond Good and Evil 2 as a platform exclusive (instead, they got the surprisingly fun looking Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle).

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Cut to E3 2017 this week. Ubisoft has unveiled a CGI trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2, and shown off a behind-closed-doors demo experience to press. The Verge was on hand at one of these sessions, and have revealed that the game is currently at what Michel Ancel has called “day zero of development”. The graphics in this demo are rough, he says, because “two weeks ago there were no graphics”. At this point, Beyond Good and Evil 2 may be less of an actual game and more of a concept for a game. Work on the technology behind the game, however, apparently began three years ago. Ancel told us last year that tech issues were slowing down development, which makes sense when you hear his plans for the game.

At this point, Beyond Good and Evil 2 may be less of an actual game and more of a concept for a game. Work on the technology behind the game, however, apparently began three years ago.

In Beyond Good and Evil 2 players will be able to create their own avatars and inhabit the universe of the original game 200 before the events of BG&E1. The game will progress like an RPG, with the player starting from a fairly lowly position and eventually growing to the point where they are the captain of their own ship, or in a place of high authority elsewhere.

There will be MMO elements in there, and the worlds and cities dotted around the ‘star system’ the game is apparently set across will be a mix of hand-crafted and procedurally generated. By the sounds of things you’ll be able to hop in a ship and travel to another planet, much like No Man’s Sky, and there will be persistent elements across the system depending on individual player’s actions.

Ubisoft’s own Ubiblog also has details from these sessions. The demo sessions had Ancel zooming around the game world in a spaceship, zooming out to show the game’s scale – a statue that towers over the opening city isn’t visible from space. Stars and planets move through space realistically as well.

In other words, it’s an extremely ambitious idea for a game. Even Peter Molyneux would blush over some of the statements being made. Take these quote from the Ubiblog: “Cities can grow by themselves, they can be destroyed, they can connect to others. Everything is alive, in fact, it’s not pre-scripted.”

Ubisoft has also released a development diary for the game, embedded below:

In this diary, they talk about the ‘vision’ for Beyond Good and Evil 2, and show off some very pretty concept art. It also delves into a whole new plot strand about humans breeding animal/human hybrids and using them as a form of slave labour, which will somehow tie in to all the other stuff we’ve been promised. It looks good – and sounds amazing – but Ubisoft has a bit of a reputation at this point for promising more than they can deliver. They make a lot of really great games. But they’re also infamous for exaggerating what their games are going to do in the initial trailers. This is classic them.

After nine years of promises and hints and suggestions that Beyond Good and Evil 2 would come out soon as long as we kept buying Rayman games, the fact that the game hasn’t actually entered development has us wary of getting our hopes up of actually playing the game that we’ve seen and heard about this week.

It’ll be interesting to see what Beyond Good and Evil 2 looks like when it actually releases – and hey, maybe it actually will be a masterpiece that justifies the wait – but the take away from all of this is that release day probably isn’t going to happen for several more years.

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