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Ara: History Untold — Trailers, gameplay, and everything you need to know

Ara: History Untold key art
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

One of the many unique games unveiled during the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase 2022 was Ara: History Untold. One of the many games under the Xbox Game Studios Publishing wing, Ara: History Untold is offering a unique take on strategy and empire building. 

Any PC gamers who enjoy strategy titles like Civilization, Frostpunk, or others will want to keep an eye on this. Here's everything we know about Ara: History Untold so far. 

What is Ara: History Untold?

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Ara: History Untold is a turn-based strategy game being developed for PC by Oxide Games and published by Xbox Game Studios. The premise of the game is to write your own version of history, with different possibilities and events changing based on the decisions you make in how you grow your civilization.

Oxide Games is best known as being the developer behind Ashes of the Singularity, a real-time strategy game that had fairly high hardware requirements for its time. Several founding members of Oxide Games previously worked at Firaxis, the studio that created the Civilization franchise, widely regarded as having some of the best PC games available. 

This team is partnering with Xbox Game Studios Publishing, a studio at Xbox that has multiple teams that aid in publishing various projects.

Our own Xbox editor Jez Corden first shared details on the game back before it was announced. At the time, the game was known as Project Indus, one of many codenames used for unannounced Xbox games across both the internal and publishing divisions.

Ara: History Untold — Trailers

The reveal trailer for Ara: History Untold was shown during the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase 2022. The trailer was mostly CGI, with narration setting the tone and mood of the game. 

"History is filled with moments of greatness. Some well-known, some lost to time. But what about the history that could have been, if you were its architect? How would you reshape the world? What new stories would you tell? And when your people speak, would you listen? How would you lead them in this new world? History is filled with moments of greatness. But these will be yours," the narration explains.

Ara: History Untold — Gameplay details

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Being a turn-based game, Ara: History Untold will encourage careful thought and expansion, similar to other games in the genre like Civilization. 

Players will get to lead a particular faction, and you can choose from a list of leaders, or create your own custom ruler. Examples of possible rulers given so far include George Washington for the United States, Cleopatra for Egypt, and Sappho for the Greeks.

"One of the kind of big things we wanted to do with Ara was really explore how to make the game less about finding that optimal strategy, that optimal path, and really bring in ways to make it more meaningful to the player," says design director Michelle Menard, speaking at the extended Xbox and Bethesda June 2022 showcase. "What are different kinds of choices we can bring to the player so that when you play it's different than when I play, and yet we can both be competitive together?"

The announcement trailer showed juxtapositions of ahistorical events, like Asian rulers and Americans working together to study lightning, pyramids being built in a land of snow and ice, a cutting-edge drone being used to build a statue, and more. It appears that a driving focus of Ara: History Untold is the idea of, "What could have been," mixing up different historic possibilities, factions and locations for a wide variety of combinations.

The developers claim that Ara: History Untold is the "next evolution" of turn-based strategy with infinite replayability due to the procedurally generated environments. Like in other turn-based strategy games, players will have to gather resources, carefully build up cities, and even go to war when necessary.

"One of the big things we've been working on is the Living World. We wanted the expression of the game to manifest itself in a way that felt authentic and cool," explained Oxide Games founder Dan Baker. "So we've spent a lot of effort on making sure the choices you make are expressed in a visual way. You're going to see your citizens doing things that reflect the choices that you've made."

Ara: History Untold — Insider Program

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Oxide Games is holding an Insider Program (opens in new tab) for Ara: History Untold. Anyone who signs up and is selected for the program will get to provide feedback directly to the developers, as well as the chance to play the game before it launches. 

The developers are currently planning to hold a Technical Alpha at some point before Summer 2022 ends, though plans could change. Do note that to sign up for the Insider Program, you'll need to have an Xbox account. If you don't have one, it's free to sign up.

Ara: History Untold — Release date

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Ara: History Untold does not have an exact release date.

With that in mind, Ara: History Untold was revealed at the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase in June 2022. This showcase was explicitly focused on the 12-month roadmap for Xbox players, only consisting of first- and third-party games currently slated to arrive by June 2023. 

Other games big first-party games from across Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks that are slated for the same wide period include Arkane Austin's Redfall, Bethesda Game Studios' Starfield, and Turn 10 Studios' Forza Motorsport.

As such, for now, it's safe to expect that Ara: History Untold will launch at some point before June 30, 2023. It is however possible that the game could be delayed, as delays continue to present in the gaming industry with lingering effects on development as studios adjust to remote and hybrid work cultures.

Like all Xbox first-party games for PC, Ara: History Untold will launch day one into PC Game Pass. Naturally it'll also be available to buy via the Microsoft Store and Steam.

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PC Game Pass

With PC Game Pass, you get access to a wide variety of games, including first-party Xbox titles like Starfield and Ara: History Untold.

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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.