We'll admit that we were pleasantly surprised back in December at just how good Ubisoft's Immortals Fenyx Rising turned out to be, serving as one of the true highlights of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S launch lineup.
Now, a few months on, the game has just released its first paid DLC, and so we caught up with associate game director, Julien Galloudec, to discuss the past, present and future of Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Pure Xbox: Hi Julien! To kick things off, could you give us a quick introduction about your role on Immortals Fenyx Rising?
Julien: I was the Associate Game Director for Main Character, Gameplay Ingredients and Vaults on Immortals Fenyx Rising, and I’m now Game Director on the DLCs.
Pure Xbox: How is the team feeling about the superb reaction to the game from critics and fans so far?
Julien: We were confident with the quality of what we did. But it’s a new IP and a new type of game for us. So it is still a bet and you can never be sure of how the game you’re making will be received. So we’re both glad and relieved to see how much people are enjoying playing it.
Pure Xbox: What has it been like working with the Xbox Series X and S dev kits so early in their lifespan?
Julien: Having a new platform to handle for the first time is always exciting. We have a lot of experience in developing for multiple platforms, including the Xbox ones, but it’s always a challenge to discover a new one and see how to use it best, while it is still evolving as you’re getting closer from the release date.
At the end of the day I think we had a pretty good ride with those new platforms – as smooth it can be for a new platform I would say. And being able to push the visual quality that far and optimize the game was very rewarding.
Pure Xbox: The puzzle-focused Vaults of Tartaros are packed with creativity and feel like they were a lot of fun to put together. Was that the case?
Julien: Yes, it was a lot of fun. It was also a big challenge for us, developing a whole new type of expertise in the team. Going back to a very “level design” oriented approach, where it’s all about the gameplay, the flow and the composition.
New tools, new methods, new philosophies... we’ve learned a lot and had a great journey!
Pure Xbox: Similarly, the world is full of things to do, which makes it highly enjoyable to explore. How much time and focus did you put into all the side-activities in Immortals?
Julien: It was definitely a big investment for us. We wanted to build a “Theme park of Greek Mythology”. A world bigger than life, stylised, vertical, and full of secrets and challenges.
We really wanted this “Disneyland” feeling when looking at the map. Regions with clear themes, iconic landmarks and that you want to jump in. And once you’re in, we wanted the player to find new opportunities each time he looks behind a corner. An intriguing, enticing and fun playground to explore.
Pure Xbox: How did the pandemic affect the game's development? What challenges did you face?
Julien: Developing a game is about adapting to a shifting reality as the game takes form. Developing a game during a global pandemic certainly brought a lot of additional challenges, but we found ways to create an amazing new IP. The biggest challenge was to keep the collective emulation while everyone was working from home. How to keep the energy and dynamic of a team moving around and bouncing when we’re all separated and dealing with kids and isolation. It was a challenge. But we’re very proud to see how the team responded to this challenge.
Pure Xbox: In terms of the new DLC, what can players expect from A New God?
Julien: In A New God, Fenyx embarks on a new adventure set in Olympos Palace, home of the gods. This journey will require Fenyx to overcome the Trial of the Olympians, immersing players in beautifully crafted and challenging trials built by the gods, in order earn their blessing and join the Inner Circle of the Pantheon.
Pure Xbox: Can you elaborate any further on additional plans for DLC down the line?
Julien: There are two more DLCs to come:
Myths of the Eastern Realm, set in Chinese Mythology, the game’s second episode will introduce a new hero, Ku, who sets out on a journey to save mortals in a new mystical land at the frontier of the Sky and Earth. Players will need to master Ku’s unique fighting style and abilities, inspired by Chinese martial arts, to defeat new enemies and monsters from Chinese mythology.
In The Lost Gods, the third and final episode will feature top-down gameplay, all-new brawler combat and a new hero, Ash, chosen by Fenyx to bring back the lost gods. The episode will take place on a new mysterious island where players will explore regions inspired by these lost gods, to restore balance on Earth.
Pure Xbox: Finally, where does Immortals go from here? Is a sequel something you'd like to explore?
Julien: We’re currently focused on making Immortals Fenyx Rising and its DLC the best game possible. What the future holds; we don’t know yet.
We'd like to thank Julien for taking the time to talk to us. Immortals Fenyx Rising's first paid DLC entitled "A New God" is out now on the Microsoft Store, and is also included in the game's Season Pass. You can also check out a free, custom-built demo of the game right now for Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles.