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Immortals Fenyx Rising

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Release Date: Dec. 3, 2020

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Switch/PS4/PS5/XOne/XSX/PC Preview - 'Immortals Fenyx Rising'

by Adam Pavlacka on Oct. 22, 2020 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

Immortals Fenyx Rising is an open-world, action-adventure game full of epic battles, quests, mythological monsters, tricky trials, treacherous dungeons, and heroic feats.

Pre-order Immortals Fenyx Rising

Immortals Fenyx Rising has gone through a number of iterations (and a name change) since it was first announced at E3 2019. Having spent nearly four hours with a near-final build of the game last week, it's safe to say that all of the team's hard work appears to be paying off. While the previous demo that Ubisoft shared with us was more of a vertical slice, this was the real deal. I started at the beginning and had full access to the starting area and the first major region of the game.

The game kicks off with a bit of storytime and an introduction to the major players. The tl;dr version of the story is that Typhon (the big bad, formerly imprisoned by Zeus) has broken free and trapped most of the gods. Only Zeus and Prometheus are still free, and their only hope for salvation is you, a mortal. After that, it's off to the character creator and the beginning of your adventure.

 


Fenyx is canonically a woman, but don't let that stop you from going crazy in the character creator. You can choose between a male or female body type, different voices, multiple skin colors, tattoos, etc. The game also doesn't restrict you from mixing and matching styles; every option is open to both body genders. I took inspiration from classic "Star Trek" and opted for a green-skinned Fenyx. If you change your mind later, you can always revisit the character creator to update your look.

One of the more important hooks for a single-player adventure is the story, and this is where Immortals Fenyx Rising excels. Instead of opting for the traditional way of having your character experience everything directly, the game has Zeus and Prometheus narrating. The two are portrayed with great humor by their respective voice actors and serve as somewhat unreliable narrators. At one point, the two are arguing over the size of a boss, and the monster is changing size in front of you as the story is updated. Prometheus is portrayed as the smarter of the two, which also provides for some amusing moments.

Honestly, I wouldn't mind a spin-off set of stories (audiobooks, or something of that nature) featuring just these two characters. They're that good.

After washing up on shore, Fenyx has to learn both her basic ability set and her limitations. A core part of the game is traversal — which makes sense, since it evolved from the Assassin's Creed games — but this isn't just a copy-and-paste of the engine. No, Fenyx's traversal abilities scale as she becomes more powerful, and parts of the world are naturally gated because of this. I learned that the hard way during the beginning section.


Like most games, the first section is effectively a tutorial. Yes, there's a bit of story, but really, you're doing things to learn Fenyx's abilities and core move set. One of those core abilities is stamina, which rules all in Immortals Fenyx Rising, so it's the first thing you want to master.

If you are swimming and stamina runs out, you drown. If you are climbing and stamina runs out, you fall. If you are fighting and have no stamina, you can't use any special moves. You get the idea.

On the upside, stamina recharges fairly quickly once your feet are back on solid ground. You can find ways to extend your stamina by finding better armor pieces. After a few deaths, I learned to think about traversal like a puzzle. It's not about, "I can't go there," so much as, "How can I make it there?"

For example, I saw an early section behind the starting beach, which was obviously reachable. At the very beginning, I couldn't cross the distance. After getting wings, I was able to launch from a high spot and manage my stamina just enough to make it over the water. It was fun to explore, but I also found a handful of very high-level enemies, who quickly stomped me. That was enough to increase my intrigue and make me want to return later. Thankfully, fast-travel made it easy to head back to a more appropriate section and continue on.


Enemies become easier as you level up, but they also scale with your power, so some challenge remains. Near the end of my demo time, the Ubisoft rep used some cheat commands to power me up. I was still in the first region, and many enemies were suddenly easy, but there were also higher-level opponents peppered around the area. This is a good sign, as it means that the game shouldn't get boring as you progress, even if it does get a bit easier to win.

Combat in Immortals Fenyx Rising is a key part of the experience, with parrying and dodging being core. Blocking enemy attacks fills their stun meter, which is a great way to unleash a barrage of damage. Combine that with Fenyx's ability to go vertical and a selection of fun special moves, and you've got a gameplay loop with quite a bit of promise. Fighting didn't feel like a chore during my time with the game; it felt like fun, especially after I got into the groove.

Besides adventuring and fighting, puzzle-solving is a core part of Immortals Fenyx Rising. You'll enter the underworld fairly often to take on specific challenges. Dubbed the Vault of Tartaros, each of these challenges requires solving a physics puzzle. Some also require a boss fight. In the regular world, you'll face challenges such as shooting an arrow through rings, solving block puzzles, and manipulating items to match a star pattern. The puzzles vary in design and difficulty, but during both of my demos , they never felt too obscure. Most could likely be solved with a bit of observation.

Although I was limited to only the two areas this time around, each region in Immortals Fenyx Rising has a distinct design. Given the game's art style and a built-in photo mode, there should be plenty of opportunities for players to get creative with stylized images. Taking the perfect shot has always been one of my favorite late-game activities, so seeing it here was also a plus.

 


Looping back to the gameplay, Immortals Fenyx Rising seems to strike a good balance between progression and challenge. Granted, I only played for a limited time, but I never felt like I was struggling. Getting the artificial boost allowed me to see exactly how many levels Fenyx could earn — there are a lot here — so either progression moves quickly, or most players will beat the game well before everything is maxed out. I'm hoping it is the latter.

What the artificial boost also revealed is how the armor customization works. Swapping out different pieces of armor modifies your stats and gives Fenyx a new look. What happens if you love the look of one piece but want the abilities of another? Simple. You equip the piece with the stats you want, and then tell the game to make it look like the other piece. Fenyx never has to decide between a useful upgrade and a badass look.

Taken individually, all of the bits and pieces that make up Immortals Fenyx Rising are things that we've seen before. The way that the development team has woven them together here feels fresh and exciting. The game is irreverent, looks good, and controls well. It's a mix that not only works, but also has made Immortals Fenyx Rising one of my most anticipated games of the year. Here's hoping the final version lives up to the impression set by the demo.



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