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May 2022

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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PC Review - 'Immortals Fenyx Rising' The Lost Gods DLC

by Adam Pavlacka on April 29, 2021 @ 1:00 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.

Buy Immortals Fenyx Rising

The second DLC for Immortals Fenyx Rising, Myths of the Eastern Realm, felt a lot like a mini-sequel to the main game. The gameplay was similar, although the cast of characters was all new. It managed to capture much of what players enjoyed and re-package it as a new experience. For the third DLC, The Lost Gods, Fenyx returns as a background character, but the gameplay has been reworked.

This time around, the game shifts its view from first- or third-person to an overhead one. It's meant to emulate the dungeon-crawler style used by games like Diablo. In principle, this sounded like a good idea. It works well for action-oriented games, and exploring the universe of Fenyx Rising in a new style promised to bring a fresh experience to the gameplay. Unfortunately, The Lost Gods has more in common with the base game than the dungeon-crawlers it is trying to emulate.

Shortly after you begin playing, it is obvious that the engine is no different than before. It's just that the camera has been pulled back and placed overhead. Enemy behavior and level design haven't changed. Why is this an issue? The big one is the camera. Because of the fixed camera, you no longer have the ability to look around freely. This often means that portions of the world are above your field of vision since you can't look up. By itself, that isn't a deal-breaker, especially if the limited vision were used to integrate puzzles.

Flying enemies are an issue, though. One of the elements that made the base game work was Fenyx's mobility and combat prowess. Part of that prowess was being able to quickly ascertain where enemies were located and focus on the most immediate threat, especially if you were fighting more than one. Here, it is possible for enemies to fly or move outside of your view, while still holding aggro and being viable threats. Getting fired on by an enemy that you cannot see or target because you can't look up isn't challenging. It's just annoying.

"Annoying" is also a good word to describe enemy encounters. Since Fenyx is a background character here, you play as a new character named Ash. Since Ash is new, she started out with a limited move set that has to be expanded by learning new powers. This means a retread of the skill tree, and it also means leveling up weapons and armor. Sound familiar? It should because you did all of this in the base game.

In keeping with my play style, I focused on upgrading my ax to level three before upgrading other items. When I played the base game, this worked for me since I was better at dealing damage than trying to tank something. It also worked here, at least for the starting area, but it quickly became a source of frustration due to how The Lost Gods throws enemies at you.

Enemies aren't always visible on-screen. Many times, they'll teleport in, just as you walk through an area. It's basically an ambush. If this were an occasional issue, I'd chalk it up to random encounter design. It's not, though. The teleporting enemies are also how the second and third waves arrive. That's right; just when you've cleared out a group, a new (and usually more powerful group) teleports in, ready to kick your little keister.

OK then. Fire off an area-of-effect spell to control the crowd. Freeze specific enemies to temporarily lower the threat. Down a health potion as soon as the second wave appears, so you're ready to go. WAIT. You can't do any of that. Nope. Not here.

Enemy behavior and your abilities remain tuned as if you were still playing in the third-person view. They're going to be aggressive and mob you. You can enable a freeze effect on your weapons, but it is random, and you cannot damage a frozen enemy. You can't restore your health (or save your game) unless you're at an altar. You can't use an altar if you're in combat or have recently run from combat and have hostiles looking for you. If you die, you lose all progress since your last save.

You have the ability to improve your health, stamina, and other abilities by using resources to add enhancements to weapons, armor, and abilities, but it's not a direct or transparent system. Some resources seem common and easy to find. Others are rarer, and treasure chests can be brutally random with their content. For example, at one point, I needed a specific number of shells to unlock a miracle and move on to the next island. I was walking around the beach areas for quite a while, hoping to spawn the right enemy, with no luck. Then I came across a treasure chest, and it had what I needed!

There was much rejoicing, but alas, it was not meant to be. I was low on health and needed to get to an altar before I could heal or save. I made a beeline for the closest one but was taken out before making it there. No problem, I thought. I'll just get that treasure chest again. I did, but the contents were different. No shells. It was at that point I was convinced that the game was taunting me.

Refusing to be beaten, I forced my way forward, convinced that with enough swearing, I could acquire the next round of upgrades and all would be right with the world. I did get the upgrades, but the enemy placement kept getting worse. Instead of placing enemies in creative ways, The Lost Gods feels like multiple ambush waves were used to artificially increase difficulty and play time. This even extends to some of the puzzles, where simpler puzzles dump enemies on you when you trigger something, as opposed to making you work out a Rube Goldberg-style contraption like the more complex in-game brain teasers.

Outside of the frustrating enemy placement and the overly restrictive health and save options, The Lost Gods does hold a lot of promise. The world is just as pretty as what came before, and the voice actors behind Ash, Athena and Fenyx do a great job of conveying the story. Fans of mythology will also appreciate the care that's gone into the side stories, with bits and pieces of classic mythology being referenced. If the gameplay were up to par with the world and story design, The Lost Gods would've easily been a must-play expansion.

Another concern specific to the PC build that I reviewed was the number of performance issues that cropped up. Using the same PC that handled Myths of the Eastern Realm just fine, I was seeing random stuttering with The Lost Gods. It didn't happen all the time, but every now and then, the frame rate would drop drastically for 10-15 seconds before returning to normal.

I also ran into an instance where all enemies would only approach me backward. This continued even after dying and reloading. It didn't stop until I completely quit the game and restarted. Smaller issues included things like certain lines repeating when ending a quest, or in-game text labels not being consistent (sanctuaries were identified as vaults when inside them, and the help indicates that The Lost Gods supports photo mode, when it does not).

Crafting a dungeon-crawler in the world of Immortals Fenyx Rising is a great idea, but the dev team behind The Lost Gods DLC didn't meet that goal. They nailed the look but completely missed on the gameplay. As a result, The Lost Gods feels like a mishmash of ideas without mastering any of them.

Score: 5.5/10

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