Beyond Good and Evil 2’s in-engine demo of space flight

Ubisoft showed off the sweary monkeys and multicultural vistas of Beyond Good and Evil 2 [official site] at last week’s E3, but the CGI trailer was light on details. It was a big explodey, gorgeous-looking spectacle with no solid information. Now they’re showing some “in-engine” footage to the public, which was already seen by a few journos at the show, courtesy of Michel Ancel’s video below. He calls it a “mix between a technological demonstration of the engine that we call ‘Voyage’ and the actual game with some gameplay elements”. So, a tech demo then.

Cool. There’s a lot of promise in images like this and some of the planned features are mentioned. We’re told that you can create your own character, that you’ll own multiple ships (though you might just be a pizza delivery person at first), and that you will be able to travel between planets “seamlessly”. Ancel also says photography will still be a part of the game and that you’ll be able to send photos (for instance, photos of slaves aboard a ship) to other people to elicit some kind of reaction or complete some mission – although it’s not clear exactly how this will work.

There’s talk too of the whole surface of a planet changing due to asteroid strikes while you play, and at one point he zooms out to show how the engine can go from showing a single monkey on top of a monument to displaying a gas giant as small as a coin.

That sense of scale will put people in mind of No Man’s Sky no doubt, a comparison you might want to avoid if you are sitting on a couch pitching your incomplete project to an audience of fans who’ve been clamouring for this sequel for over a decade. So let’s just reiterate that this is a tech demo, that it’s hugely unlikely all the features Ancel mentions will make it into the game in the form that he (or you) desire. That it will look, in all likelihood, nothing like this. Corners will be cut, mechanics will be stripped out, simulations will become facsimiles. Expectations firmly lowered? Okay. Good.

Now let’s talk about what’s cool, with an air of cautious hope. The giant Ganesha statue – that’s cool. The speed at which your ship rollicks through the air. Cool. The way one ship comes out of another ship. Coolo-woolo. The fact that you have a jetpack. Cool!

There’s still very little detail on What You Actually Do, of course. Which is a shame for something that’s been swimming around this long in the developer’s soup bowl. It also appears as if the departure from the first game will be very noticeable, even if Ancel does consistently draw unconvincing parallels to the first game, like a reassuring Dad trying to get you to eat beans that aren’t the “baked” kind. From the previous trailer it looked like the ampersand wasn’t the only thing that’d been jettisoned from the original. Family-friendliness also seemed to be gone , with the swear words generator firing on all cylinders, which doesn’t bother me but might irk some fans.

Regardless, I’m putting this in my “hope but verify” pile. It looks like it could be good. But it’s still a long way off.

45 Comments

  1. MartyJ says:

    So now it’s No Man’s Sky with multiplayer. This just keeps sounding better and better…..

  2. grimdanfango says:

    I get the feeling Michel Ancel might have just gone Full Molyneux.
    (Admittedly differs in actually having some very impressive tech to show off)

    I think it’s safe to assume at this point, given the vibe of the trailer and the direction of the game as a tech-flagship sandbox, that we won’t be getting “Beyond Good & Evil 2”, and we can safely file away the original as the wonderful, singular marvel it was.

    We *might* yet get a genuinely interesting crazy-mad triple-A sandbox inspired by The Fifth Element… which seems like something worth keeping an eye on :-)

    • Uberwolfe says:

      Never go full Molyneux….

    • Paul says:

      More like full Murray, but yes.

      Did anyone want NMS Star Citizen from BGE sequel? I thought we all wanted nice handcrafted world oozing with atmosphere, good story, fun characters with Jade being the star again, cliffhanger resolution, fun gameplay mix like in the first game.

      Instead…it seems like the opposite of this.

      • Laurentius says:

        Hearing Ancel commenting this demo made me wonder what is even going on here. It’s like BG&E for him was game about flying Beluga around Hillys but since it was undercooked, Hillys was small ang flying came late in game, now he can make a game he really wanted. What about other part of BG&E that made it special? Characters (Jade, Pey’j), atmosphere, story, different gameplay elements? Oh, that was that too?

        • grimdanfango says:

          Yeah, when he goes on about leveling up and references the start of BG&E, I wondered what he even thought he made before… I suppose there was “leveling” of a sort, but I can’t remember even the barest details of how it worked, because it was completely inconsequential next to the fantastic characters and journey you went on.

          It always confounds me when someone creative seems to be almost completely unaware *why* something they made in the past received acclaim.

          • Kingseeker Camargo says:

            Right? The original BG&E is a game I championed for months at release and I introduced proudly to my daughter when she was 10-ish for its vibrant and colourful visuals, its simple yet engaging and emotional story and its impossibly charming and lovable characters. Hell, it was the kind of thing I’d have expected if Pixar ever got into making games.

            Yet, it would seem that all of that was just an accidental side effect and the game wasn’t even close to THE VISION that Ancel had, which was apparently to Warrior Within/Assassin’s Creed the hell out of the thing.

            I’m beginning to suspect that Ancel didn’t actually have anything to do with the writing in BG&E and we’re missing a part of the story here.

    • khamul says:

      I really want a crazy-mad triple-A sandbox inspired by the 5th Element.

      That would be awesome.

  3. biggergun says:

    Sean bloody Murray made me a sceptic for life, God bless him. All this talk about reactivity and scale and systems sounds really cool, but I’ll believe it when I play it.

  4. Buggery says:

    Cautiously optimistic that this turns into something good. To be fair to Michel Ancel, he actually has a (recent) history of creating very good games in the Rayman Origins titles – unlike say, Molyneux or Sean Murray.

    • Kingseeker Camargo says:

      And Rayman Origins is a solid starting point for an open-world game of a scale that neither Rockstar, Volition or Ubisoft have ever even attempted.

      Yeah. This couldn’t possibly end up in a catastrophic failure.

  5. noom says:

    The reasons for developing all this tech seem only nebulously connected to any idea of core gameplay. I just see big ideas and no real vision here. Honestly think this’ll probably just spiral into development hell and be forgotten and/or surreptitiously cancelled at some point in the future. Or, like Brendan says, most of this simulation stuff will just be gutted out until we get another Ubilike.

  6. gwop_the_derailer says:

    While we are dreaming, imagine an Anachronox sequel with that kind of tech…

  7. fish99 says:

    Seems quite … early.

  8. KillahMate says:

    That monkey sure seems like a real Citizen of the Stars. A… Star Citizen, if you will.

    The game looks like Star Citizen is what I’m saying. Except both less ambitious and less finished, after even more development. Not necessarily a bad thing! And their art direction is certainly more interesting.

  9. TechnicalBen says:

    The gaming industry is beyond parody now.

    Next up. Simcity* reboot where you play as an Aztec weather reporter. It is a card trading music mixing dance game. Of cause every atom is procedurally generated… but also made of chocolate!

    Or packman, or sonic, or any other well know and defined game title and mechanics. I blame Farcry. ;)

  10. Williz says:

    “pitching your incomplete project to an audience of fans who’ve been clamouring for this sequel for over a decade”

    It’s not a sequel, and everyone that’s been looking forward to a sequel pretty much hates this.

    • UncleLou says:

      “everyone that’s been looking forward to a sequel pretty much hates this”

      Best reason I’ve yet heard *not* to make a sequel.

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      On the other hand, that it isn’t just a rehash of its predecessor with an incremental tech boost is appealing.

      I will reserve judgement.

  11. wombat191 says:

    honey.. why is there a 400m long space ship parked outside? oh its just the pizza guy

  12. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    The game that the description of zooming in from the monkey to the gas giant puts me most strongly in mind of isn’t No Man’s Sky, it’s Black and White.

    Remember that bit in the publicity videos where it pulled back from a worm in an apple on top of a barrel to the whole island?

    • ooshp says:

      Black & White? Never even heard of it.

      Though a quick google turns up a game that came out very shortly before some expensive reverse psychotherapy sessions I had in 2001.

  13. Nevard says:

    This focus on cool systems and exploration and procedural generation reminds me of the story that recently came out about the development history of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

  14. UW says:

    This game looks like it could be very interesting in its own right but so far I find it disingenuous to link it to BG&E, that all may change but I feel like this really misses a lot of what people loved about the original. Not just talking about the characters, although it would be nice to see Jade and Peyj again. It just doesn’t seem to have the same atmosphere at all. To me, at least.

    • UncleLou says:

      BG&E is and was an extreme niche title that is nearly 15 ears old and was bought by 7 people when it launched (I was one of them) – I think it’s unfair to call it disingenuous. There won’t be a big marketing advantage after all this time, and maybe the game is much closer to his original vision than the original one was?

      We also know way too little yet about the game.

      I also have the impression that some people have forgotten that BG&E was scifi game, it wasn’t just about taking photos and animals who could talk. :)

  15. rustybroomhandle says:

    Yeaaah, this is BG&E in name only. Different art direction, game genre, everything.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      Art direction, yeah, but otherwise can’t say that I agree. Let’s not forget the original game also had space flight and an eclectic mix of other gameplay elements. Tonally it’s shifted somewhat but the counter-culture aspect was always there. The only thing I’m worried about is scope proving unmanageable and multiplayer getting in the way of story, but I could see the latter resembling the Pey’j/Jade teamwork in the original, only not singleplayer… so not entirely unprecedented either.

      Let’s wait and see.

      • FeepingCreature says:

        The original game had one. One space flight. Where you met a space whale, so you know it was worth it. Will this game have a space whale? I have seen nothing to suggest it.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        I would be extremely surprised if this game did not have unusual space creatures. Whatever exact direction the game ends up taking I think those are pretty much a given.

        Ancel made it pretty clear that the original was only scratching the surface of what he wanted to do, so I think we can safely assume that he would’ve gone further with the exploration if he could have at the time.

  16. haldolium says:

    Space Monkey: No Mans Game

  17. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    Glad that photography is back. Cautious about the scope and ambition, some definite risks there as we’ve seen with other games, but I’m looking forward to seeing more… I like that they’re not just doing the same thing, but with more graphics.

  18. Turkey says:

    Does Ubisoft have some sort of open-world mandate?

    It’s all impressive tech, but what is the point? I can’t help but think that this is just going to distract from the story-telling and characterization, and we’re just left with a bloated mess of collectibles and crafting.

  19. karnak says:

    Unfortunately I seem to be having a weird and sinister “Molyneux/Richard Garriott” vibe from this. Sometimes I think old designers can’t cope well with modern technologies and start to gain delusions when they’re dealing with concepts and budgets they’re not used to.

    I think science has proven that some brains are more used to work under stress and restrictions than others. Like the great indie film director who is suddenly given a $$$ budget and completely loses it, while he always managed to make masterpieces with a few bucks and borrowed equipment.

    I don’t know. I hope I’m wrong and it turns out to be a great game.
    But I suspect there’s a 70% chance the game will be nothing more than an open-world “find object X in place Y and return it to Z-then repeat”.

  20. skyturnedred says:

    I just want to know what makes this a Beyond Good & Evil game.

  21. Fachewachewa says:

    “Ancel also says photography will still be a part of the game and that you’ll be able to send photos (for instance, photos of slaves aboard a ship) to other people to elicit some kind of reaction or complete some mission – although it’s not clear exactly how this will work.”

    Ancel said in a stream during E3 (I think it was on twitch’s) that they would have a metadata system so that you could show any photo of interesting spots and NPCs would be able to recognize what you’re showing them.
    But yeah, that’s definitely not in the game yet, and it may never be.

  22. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    Really looking forward to the article: “Michel Ancel: Are you a pathological liar?”

  23. horrorgasm says:

    That scale business evokes memories of No Man’s Sky too, because as cool as it looks in a controlled tech demo, what this is likely really going to result in is a universe full of 99% empty space.

  24. Deviija says:

    The tech and capabilities looks quite interesting. I will say I’m quite looking forward to what they make in this solar system, especially the visuals and style they are going for. It gives me some 5th Element vibes — which is the best I could ask for. I’d love a large game set in the 5th Element universe.

    But for BG&E2, I’m not against this whole multiplayer/co-op angle they’re going for; I’m very interested. I just wish we’d *also* be getting a proper narrative-driven BG&E sequel with Jade?

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    alhazan says:

    Flying your spaceship over a city at 20,000 km/h is likely to result in a few noise complaints.

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