It’s been a few months since E3 2017, and I’ve been mulling over Michel Ancel’s ambitious project. The hype train has arrived at the station, and the dust has settled. It’s time to face the truth. The reveal of Beyond Good & Evil 2 was exciting at first, as I have been a long time fan of the original game, but as more and more information is given, it seems the sequel I have always wanted is gone forever.
First we got the news that the game would be a prequel to the original. As someone who wanted to find out more about Ancel’s planned trilogy, this left me a little miffed. I wanted to know more about Jade, the other worlds affected by the DOMz, and dive further into the characters. And the most disturbing thing about this game? Custom characters. Yes, there isn’t a main character and there doesn’t seem to be an underlining narrative for your character. One promising aspect of the game is that there will be people in the game that you can save and have join your crew. According to the story content director of Beyond Good & Evil 2, Gabrielle Shrager (via Ubisoft), “You might discover someone like Knox or another hybrid who might join your crew and then you can develop a relationship with them.” Shrager also mentions that they will have stories and histories and may decide to leave the crew if they don’t agree with your decisions. How involved this factor of the game will be to the overall plot is unknown, but it is a promising feature.
Then came the news that the game would be a huge open No Man’s Sky-like game with world exploration. Now I’m concerned. Very concerned. Part of what made the original so great is how the world of Hillys felt so vibrant and connected to the overall story. Like The Legend of Zelda or Metroid, the game relied on you to revisit certain areas when you had the equipment needed; some areas were hidden from you the whole time. It was a fascinating part of the game: the optional side quests, collectibles, and picture-taking of the local wildlife kept you immersed. The game even had an atmosphere to it that was built up by the war and espionage of the IRIS Network, and the creative music by Christophe Heral complimented it so well. Give it some thought: with a larger open world (or universe), there is less opportunity for world building, as we saw with the lackluster No Man’s Sky that had a dinosaur creature like this. That being said, Ubisoft is known for evolving the open-world genre with the original Beyond Good & Evil and the Assassin’s Creed series, so they may do it again on a much grander scale. The senior producer of the game, Guillaume Brunier, said in a Ubisoft-made video, “We don’t want an empty solar system; we want a universe filled with life.” I strongly doubt that this will be the case; how is it feasibly possible? I don’t want to explore a randomized universe; I just want to dive into the creative mind of Michel Ancel and Ubisoft Montpellier’s unique worlds.
At this rate, they should have called the game a completely new IP, as the original failed to be a commercial success. It’s like the Rabbids situation all over again. Rayman used to be a big franchise for Ubisoft and Rayman 2: The Great Escape is one of my favorite games of all time, but when the Rabbids came in, everything changed and he became less and less relevant. He has been relegated to 2D games and a “Definitive Edition” while the Rabbids get a crossover with the most iconic video game character of all time. Heck, it’s been almost four years since the last Rayman game. It’s the same with Beyond Good & Evil 2, as the original has been left by the wayside.
As much as it pains me to say it, Beyond Good & Evil 2 is not on my radar. From what we have seen so far, it has ditched the fundamentals of what made the original game so great and why it’s even worth making a sequel in the first place. I’d love to see a continuation of Jade’s engaging story, I’d love to return to the clever puzzle gameplay, and I want to explore Michel Ancel’s crafted creative worlds. It’s a shame we’ll likely never see the game we were shown all those years ago at Ubidays 2008. I hope Ubisoft proves me wrong and makes me excited again for another Beyond Good & Evil. I just miss the days of a story-focused adventure that isn’t incredibly wide open.