Canceled Ubisoft Sequel Was Inspired By Wind Waker, Elden Ring

The sequel to Immortals: Fenyx Rising (2020’s open-world, Greek-inspired adventure game) was cancelled in July 2023, and we’re just now learning exactly what that game was meant to entail—and how much of a break from tradition it was planned to be for Ubisoft.

According to Axios’ Stephen Totilo, who broke the news on August 21, the sequel (codenamed Oxygen) was an ambitious one that would combine features of two distinct, beloved games: FromSoftware’s action RPG Elden Ring and Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Anonymous sources familiar with the game’s development spoke to Totilo, painting a detailed picture of a “vast game set across a fictionalized version of the Polynesian archipelago, made primarily by Ubisoft’s Quebec studio but developed alongside Polynesian consultants.”

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 “The goal was also to make a game very different from the rest of the Ubisoft portfolio,” a source told Axios. Instead of the typical Ubisoft map overwhelmingly dotted with icons, Immortals 2 would have far less map markers, and require players “to search harder to figure out where to go, by tracking animals, following the wind, or navigating via the position of stars in the in-game sky,” alleged a source. The core inspiration for this change? Elden Ring.

The sequel would reportedly also be very different from the original Immortals, with more realistic graphics, the abandonment of the first game’s narrator, fewer puzzles, and a “more malleable story in which player choice is significant.” According to Axios’ sources, the player’s character would try and “curry favor with various Polynesian gods” that would give them special elemental powers and the ability to shape-shift. They’d gain new tattoos on their body based on the narrative choices they’d make in game, all of which is rooted deeply in Polynesian cultural traditions and the notion of mana, or the belief that there’s a supernatural force flowing through humans, animals, plants, and more. A player’s decisions would affect the various islands on which Immortals 2 would have been set.

According to Axios, part of the reason Immortals 2 was canned was so that Ubisoft could focus on established IP like Assassin’s Creed Red. The first Immortals game was reportedly developed in just over a year, but the sequel was taking longer because of its ambitious scope and its comparatively small dev team. Apparently, however, “several playable hours were available in an internal demo” by spring 2023, and Ubisoft was “at a juncture about whether to fund full development or nix the project.”

We know Ubisoft ultimately decided to can it, but as Kotaku’s Ethan Gach pointed out in July 2023, Immortals: Fenyx Rising was “pretty good,” and the idea of a more expansive sequel that abandoned some of the tired markers of a Ubisoft game sounds exciting. Oh well, guess we’ll just get more Assassin’s Creed games instead. 

Baldur’s Gate 2’s Characters Were Inspired By Final Fantasy 7

Lauded for its story, characters, and density of quality fantasy narrative, BioWare’s 2000 RPG Baldur’s Gate II is one of the most celebrated computer games of all time. An adaptation of the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, it aspired to digitize the rich experience of playing at a table among friends, dice and character sheets in hand. But while D&D is often a wellspring of inspiration for deep narrative and rich characters, it turns out a certain Japanese RPG’s late ‘90s crew of misfit environmentalist rebels provided the necessary inspiration to take BG2’s characters to the next level.

In a recent interview, James Ohlen, BG2’s director of writing, said that Square’s Final Fantasy VII served as the inspiration for his game’s now-iconic characters. The experience, as he describes it, sounds rather intimidating, but it sparked his competitive nature.

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“I went and played Final Fantasy VII,” Ohlen told Rock Paper Shotgun, “and was like, ‘Oh my good god, these character’s make ours look like a bunch of cardboard cutouts.” Ohlen was encouraged to check out Square’s generation-defining PlayStation exclusive after hearing about it from a producer at Interplay and was immediately blown away by the depth of the characters.

To anyone who’s played the original FFVII, this is probably of no surprise. Despite a lackluster language translation here in the west and dialogue that amounted to little more than short sentences in tiny blue boxes, FFVII’s protagonists are a group of troubled people struggling under the weight of a complicated world history, forced to navigate delicate interpersonal relationships. It may be a story about super soldiers, magic orbs, and a dying planet, but FFVII’s characters often contend with relatable human emotions like regret, loss, and love.

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In the same interview, Ohlen recalled his “20,000 hours of dungeon mastering” as an essential foundation of his work in video games. He ran multiple gaming groups while working at a comic shop. “I didn’t really have much of a life outside of Dungeons & Dragons,” he told Rock Paper Shotgun.

The rest of the interview makes for a great read if you’re interested in the inner workings of some classic BioWare titles, which has some anecdotes about how Ohlen “actually totally, entirely ripped off The Empire Strikes Back” when writing the story for Knights of the Old Republic.

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