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Immortals Of Aveum Is Bringing Literal Magic Back Into Single-Player Shooters
I do yearn for the days when Titanfall 2 had a better single-player campaign that’s more memorable than its multiplayer mode. In fact, the late 2000s era of single-player shooters was not short of spiffy ideas even if they’re all cribbing from either the first-person Call of Duty mould or even the Gears of War third-person structure.
This is why I’m thankful that there’s a studio hard at work for 5 years on a new single-player shooter experience that’s solely focused on nothing but the single-player experience. It’s called Immortals of Aveum, and it’s published by EA and its EA Originals sub-brand, clearly trying to stand out with another risky venture similar to this year’s Wild Hearts.
In Immortals of Aveum, you play an up-and-coming battlemage named Jak (Darren Barnet), a normal human who got his powers through a previous trauma in the story. That makes him a Magnus in the elite battlemage group called the Immortals, which is an uncommon precedent given that the rest of his squad knows magic since birth. He will be doing a ton of missions involving fighting enemy mages, dragons, golems, and all sorts of fantastical creatures and machines of war in his 25+ hour journey of saving his world from the forces of the Rashard. That evil group of armoured battlemages plan to use magic to win the Everwar. Luckily, you have a gauntlet-like attachment for your arm called a Sigil to help you amplify your spell powers and give you control over them throughout the story’s course. You also have your squad members to help you out, like General Kirkan (Gina Torres), Devyn the wisecracking green mage (Antonia Aakeel), and Zendara the tough red mage lady (Lily Cowles).
Even with all these in-world terms thrown around, Immortals of Aveum clearly has Call of Duty DNA in its controls, but only a bit. The gameplay deep dive we’ve seen in the EA-sanctioned preview event showed off Jak’s magic types: Blue, Red, and Green. Blue is long-ranged spells that can penetrate through targets, while Red is up-close attacks akin to shotgun blasts & shockwave pulses. Green is auto-fire mid-ranged spells with homing properties; think AK47s in a CoD game and you’re golden.
Unlike that pop-and-stop shooter from Activision’s maw, you will not be slinging spells behind cover. Jak will pull out a shield to absorb damage, meaning you’ll be out of the open 90% of the time and firing barrages of blue homing bolts, green mines, and red fireblasts. The other 10% will have you jumping around and looking for barriers and cover that can help guard you against bigger blasts from bigger foes, because Immortals plans to toss a lot at you to deal with.
Our preview session had us dealing with dragons and golems straight out of a Go Nagai anime -retrofitted to be in the world of Aveum of course. In later parts of the game, you’ll be fighting elite battlemages who can summon shadow clones and lay out traps to get you. At least you have a ton of new spells to work with like green mines and powerful red scatter shots; your sigil can also be upgraded in terms of looks and power, bestowing passives to help you on your magic-flinging journey.
Heck, some of your spells don’t directly deal damage but can help in combat and in puzzle scenarios: the Blue Lash is the game’s grappling hook that pulls targets to you, and grapple onto high ground and faraway levers/objects. The Green Limpet are blobs that slow down enemies when you attach a couple onto them; they can even slow down closing doors and contraptions. You also have super spells called Furies; they drain your mana bar but deals a ton of damage and have AoE properties; smart bombs in the Aveum world, apparently.
Immortals will have a good balance of action and exploration, as the levels in the game from the Aveum outskirts to the dungeons, caverns, and ruins, will all be laid out in a semi-open world fashion; think Borderlands 2’s level design and you’re not too far off. The stages are replayable, and will feature ample opportunity for combat and platforming. With the way how combat is smooth, fast, and snappy, you’d really want to head into the thick of it spells at the ready, complete with high frame rate for that fast-paced fighting in the first-person. So far, every aspect of the game is looking spiffy and goshdarn flashy, which is what Ascendant Studios intends to instill.
Speaking of which, Immortals of Aveum is Ascendant Studios’ first title? Which begs the question: why should we put our trust in a seemingly-new game studio that has yet to release a new game? How’s this for an answer: Ascendant’s CEO and game director Bret Robbins has experience working on EA and Activision’s best titles from a game design and production standpoint: these include EA’s Lord of The Rings games, 007: From Russia With Love, the first Dead Space, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, and Call of Duty Advance Warfare.
In fact, Ascendant was quick to get on board ex-Telltale Games leads like Dave Bogan after that company closed down back in 2018, giving the ex-devs a new lease on game dev life working on a big title. And Immortals is indeed an ambitious title; by 2020, the company already has more than 100 people working on the upcoming magic shooter.
How did this idea for Immortals of Aveum come about? According to Robbins, this all stemmed during a level review for a Call of Duty stage.
“It was a big battle scene, with a helicopter right above and RPG shells flying ahead and blowing up around you. Gunfire everywhere, typical chaos. I was stopping and thinking: instead of a helicopter, what about a dragon? Instead of RPG shells hitting a wall, what about fireballs?
This image just formed at me in a flash. And I was thinking to myself. “Where’s THAT game? I want to play THAT game!” Fast forward a bit, I was like “I want to make that game.” “
The three core pillars of Immortals of Aveum are: give players the feeling of being a battlemage, have them master the magic, and also make them save a world on the edge of abyss. That latter part stems from the lore and how the world of Aveum looks; as a battlemage you can look at the world’s leylines and see how they flow and connect in the continent. They also lead you to where you need to go in the game.
The beauty of it all? While the game doesn’t have an existing template to lean back to, they have magic to work around with. The team has to make rules around it for the world to feel believable and make sense, but generally the world is their oyster when crafting Aveum according to Robbins.
“We’re not Harry Potter; we’re something else. We’re a battlemage, and wielding magic here is visceral. We want the player to feel powerful.”
While Immortals of Aveum has the aforementioned “modern shooter” DNA, the game will not have multiplayer out of the gate. Nor will it have microtransactions. Robbins has said that Ascendant Studios is 100% focused on making Immortals a single-player experience from start to finish, though they might create future DLC touching on PvP or anything newfangled shooters have.
Personally, they’re all the better for it. I’m surprised that EA has yet to pressure the team to make multiplayer modes out of the title, though with previous EA Originals efforts like Wild Hearts, the company’s hands-off approach is truly appreciated. I do hope that the game’s 20+ hours of combat and exploration isn’t filled with copy-pasta moments of reused fights, bosses, and puzzles; padding’s the worst sin for these kinds of search action-style games with FPS antics.
What is in the cards feature-wise is that the game might get a Photo mode; given how colourful and rich the gameplay and world of Aveum is, this is a requirement that will make or break the title. I’m clearly kidding, but the opportunity to show off your awesome spell kills in still-pictured glory is worth fussing over, especially in a promising action-packed shooter with magic, dragons, and all sorts of unique takes on the fantasy trope. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint and a brand new world with some new rules is needed to make a genre fresh again: in this case, it’s trading guns and tanks for badass spells and giant golems. And dragons.
Immortals of Aveum will be out for PC, Xbox Series, and PlayStation 5 on 20th July.
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