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.