Immortals Fenyx Rising interview: On endgame content, next-gen enhancements, and more

Immortals Fenyx Rising Vista
Immortals Fenyx Rising Vista (Image credit: Ubisoft)

Immortals Fenyx Rising was reintroduced to players last month during a Ubisoft Forward event, and the publisher hopes it'll be a Greek tale for the ages. We recently got to preview Immortals Fenyx Rising for another four hours, and spoke with Associate Game Director Julien Galloudec about my experience with the game and what players can expect when it launches on December 3, 2020.

Windows Central: Why the name change? We've heard several times that you think Immortals Fenyx Rising better reflects the experience we're getting and the evolution it's gone through. But were there any legal reasons you had to change Gods & Monsters?

Julien Galloudec: So no. I know there is now great legend about the Monster story and the change of name. But it really was a creative decision to change the name. Because once again, after the extra development time we got last year, the game changed so much that we really felt we needed a new name. It's like the first thing we presented was a draft of the vision. And then it evolved a lot. And we need to acknowledge that change with a new name, basically.

How long will it take for players to beat Immortals Fenyx Rising?

JG: We really built the game as an epic adventure that you can enjoy at your own rhythm. Because if you want it to be epic and intense, you need to balance the time. So for a regular player playing at a difficulty that matches their skills, and someone that is not going to do everything, but still pick up some of the activities while reaching the end of the adventure, it's probably around 30 hours. Probably another 20 hours of extra content if you want to find all the secrets.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Vault Boulder

Source: Ubisoft (Image credit: Source: Ubisoft)

Is there any online component to this game at all? Any multiplayer or co-op elements? Or is it purely single-player?

JG: No, it's purely single-player. And the only kind of online component we have is the sharing of the photos, you have the photo mode. So you can share directly and see on the map the photos of your friends. We also have weekly and daily challenges and quests that are added on the quest board and those are related to the online components. But other than that everything is offline.

Why did you make that decision? Because I know a lot of games now lean into the those online aspects?

JG: Well, I think it's part of one of the biggest intentions we had right at the beginning, we wanted to do something very different from what we used to do, and also something fresh on the market. So something colorful and light-hearted with a lot of humor. Something also very platformy and over-the-top in the gameplay, and also something focused on the one epic journey, one epic adventure that is quite concise and self contained, but really enjoyable.

You brought up the humor, and that was one of my favorite aspects after playing the demo. It's very funny and light-hearted. Why did you decide on making it so humorous?

Greek mythology can be quite dark and serious.

JG: I think at first, it's kind of something we do at Quebec, we had already a bit of humor in Odyssey. And some people noticed it and it's true that we have a tendency to go there. And for that game, we felt that embracing that completely will be good, especially because Greek mythology can be quite dark and serious. So for us it was a very good angle to talk about those myths and those stories, but with that light-hearted and humorous tone that was also kind of linked to the Greek stories because it was comedic and theatrical at the time. It was a way to do a wink to the origin of the stories, too.

I'm sure you've heard the comparisons between this and Breath of the Wild. What do you have to say to those comparisons? Did you go in taking inspiration from Breath of the Wild heavily?

JG: So we we took inspiration from many games, including Breath of the Wild. And we knew from the beginning that because of some key elements that when just you look at the game from afar, it looks like Breath of the Wild. But we're also convinced that once you start to play it and understand what the game is, it's actually very different from Breath of the Wild. And even if it's colorful, and if it's open-world and you have your stamina, you also have gameplay a minute to minute that is very different and something quite unique in the narration and the overall feeling and and rhythm of the game. So yeah, I think when you start to play the game you see how different it is.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Hermes The Clashing Rocks

Source: Ubisoft (Image credit: Source: Ubisoft)

Are there any other games in particular that you took inspiration from?

JG: We wanted something closer to Mario [than Assassin's Creed]. Something that is like a platforming experience in an open-world. And I often use the reference of Jak and Daxter or Banjo and Kazooie. That were those small open-world, very colorful games with a lot of platforming action and control while having combat and puzzles and challenges. And it's a type of game that we don't see that much anymore. And we want you to revisit that and modernize that aspect with Immortals.

Are all of the events in the game scripted in some way? Or do some things happen organically at random?

We have a bit of randomness and systemic aspects.

JG: So most of the quest stuff scripted, even if you can have several entry points to when it's going to happen. But we know that it's going to happen. And then we have a bit of randomness and systemic aspects, especially with the rage event from Typhon, where he's gonna try to push back on your progress. It can be tentacles from the ground trying to reach you, it can be a rain of meteors, explosive materials, floating down the world, and also sending a corrupted hero after you. So it can be Achilles, it can be Hercules, that's going to try to end you in the world as a corrupted hero from Typhon.

Speaking of the corrupted heroes. I know in my demo I fought Achilles. How many corrupted heroes like that are there in the game?

JG: We have one per region for the main regions. So we have four, and there is a gameplay loop where in the world, they're going to keep respawning again and again. And to really kill them, you have to find the lairs of those heroes that are hidden in each region, and defeat them in that special arena. And then you kind of free them from the corruption and send them back to Elysium. And at this point, you will be able to explore freely that region without the rage event.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Aphrodite

Source: Ubisoft (Image credit: Source: Ubisoft)

Since you mentioned exploring other regions, are there any types of towns or anything in the game? Will we be running into friendly NPCs other than Hermes? Or is it strictly just the Hall of the Gods?

JG: It's mostly the Hall of the Gods that will evolve as you collect and save the different gods. So they're gonna gather in the Hall of the Gods, and you have more and more interaction between them and with you as you come back for your progression, but we have a couple of other characters that you can meet in the world, even if it's mostly around the Hall of the Gods and the gods in it.

What's the endgame content is going to be like? I know you mentioned the corrupted heroes. Is there anything more than that?

JG: Yeah, I think the main piece of the endgame is for the bosses. So in each region you have one boss that is related to a myth and a story. And there are also some Vaults of Tartarus that are more endgame, because you need a lot of stamina or because you need a special combination of different abilities to reach your objectives. Those are the main elements, and we also have a region in the game that is at the end of the progression.

Going back to the Vaults of Tartarus, where did you find inspiration for some of those puzzles? In the first demo I played one was like a game of pinball. Do you have other ancient versions of more modern games

JG: Building puzzles was very new for us as a team. And we looked at many different games. And we took inspiration in many different things. We actually built twice the amount of prototypes than we have in the final game, trying a lot of different mechanics and ideas. We have the factory level where you're the conveyer belt that you need to align and play with to bring cubes at the end. We have one that is inspired by the Japanese TV show where you have a wall with holes in it, and you have to jump in the right shape. Because we have Zeus and Prometheus that have that meta vision of the game, breaking the fourth wall, we are allowed to do that because it was part of the of the tone of the game. Those references to the modern world and breaking the fourth wall. That made that made it easy for us to go that way.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Typhon

Source: Ubisoft (Image credit: Source: Ubisoft)

Are there tiers to weapon and armor rarity in the game? Are there legendary and rare weapons like that? Or can you just upgrade them to new levels?

We kind of wanted to go away from the classic progression system.

JG: We kind of wanted to go away from the classic progression system, and we try to make each piece of gear a legendary one, and then you can upgrade them to unlock new perks, but it's not a progression in terms of raw number of damage and progression. It's more a new option for your play style. And we want to push the player to mix, match, and change [their gear] based on the context, like a boss or vault or challenge, and then choose a piece of gear that's gonna help [in that situation]. So we try to have that approach where every piece of gear is unique and legendary. And you can upgrade them because you want to push that play style rather than pure numbers.

Do the enemies level with you? During my demo we were given an artificial progression boost, and after that I noticed a lot of the enemies seemed to be tougher than they were. Do they scale to your power level?

JG: Yeah, we have a system. So it's not really per level because we don't have a level per se. But as you get stronger, and basically as you upgrade your character, we make sure to unlock new tiers of enemies. And it's not just more damage or more HP, it's also enemies that have new attack patterns and new abilities as you progress.

So the game has several regions, and we know a lot of the gods that will show up already. Were there any regions or gods that you had to actually cut from the game due to time or maybe just working from home restrictions?

JG: No, we are lucky that our team adapted very well and pretty fast to the new condition. It took some adjustment, and we probably lost like some velocity for two, three weeks. But very quickly, were able to go back on track on the regular velocity. And we managed to have very few impacts on the actual game, especially because of the extra development time. We were already in a pretty comfortable zone. And so even with COVID and the work from home situation, we managed to stay on track, and we managed to do pretty much what we wanted to do at the start.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Valley Of Eternal Spring

Source: Ubisoft (Image credit: Source: Ubisoft)

Is the entire world open from the get-go for players to explore and maybe come back to at a certain point when they have the necessary powers to do so?

JG: Yes. So once you finish with the with the introduction Island, that's kind of the tutorial Island [everything is open]. But already there you have some come back later moments. There is some stuff that some stubborn player will try to do, but that you should wait for later when you're a bit more powerful. And then you have access to the whole Island. You cannot reach the end per se, because there is a lot to do with the gods and there are some specific elements you will need to reach Typhon, but you can you can explore the other regions, you can start the quests with the gods in the order you want. There are two regions that can be very tricky where there is not much to do if you go at the start, but you can still go and try to do stuff.

Obviously the game is not out yet, but would you like to make a similar game maybe in the same vein when it comes to style and gameplay, but use another mythology other than Greek?

It's a bit a leap of faith for the player to try that new thing.

JG: [Laughs] I cannot say much. For now, what we hope is that players will try the game because it's a new IP. We understand that, you know, it's a bit a leap of faith for the player to try that new thing and see how it goes. We really hope the players will enjoy it, and that the game is gonna be something on its own. And then what the future holds, we don't know. But for us, the first step is making sure we release the best game possible. And then for the player to enjoy it, and then we'll see.

Could you talk about the character creator a little bit? I know a lot of the marketing has just focused on the female version of Fenyx. When did you decide to add that character creator to it?

JG: It was at the very beginning. We kind of touched on it in Odyssey with the choice of character at the beginning between Alexios and Kassandra. Because we are doing something new, something more cartoonish, something more light-hearted, we wanted to push that even further and to let you create a character. That was the base idea. And then we try to push as far as possible even if it was new for us. So you can choose a body type, a voice, hair, face, and everything is independent. So you can really create the character you want independently for each of the options.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Character Creator

Source: Ubisoft (Image credit: Source: Ubisoft)

I know there's gonna be a store in the game, we saw that pop up in the demo. What are the microtransactions like?

JG: It's all cosmetic. I talked earlier about the daily and weekly quests, so you can use that to earn everything that is in the store. We have a kind of black market with Hermes, who is also the god of transaction and merchants, so we use him for that. So you earn a special currency with those events that you can spend there. And then you have you have a store where you can directly access those cosmetic item if you really want them right away.

Do you have any plans for DLC down the line at all?

JG: We have a post-launch plan. I cannot share much yet but it's coming soon.

Do you have any details about next-gen enhancements we can look forward to for PS5 or Xbox Series X?

JG: Yes, so on next-gen it will be at 4K 60FPS. And right now we are still working on polishing on an additional mode that will push the visual quality even further. So it's something we're still looking at right now. And we should be able to give more detail on that soon also, and we'll try to have it as part of the launch. So you have that additional mode for next-gen where you can push even further the visual quality.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.