Launching a new triple-A IP is not an easy task in the video game industry, and when it does happen, there’s a buzz of excitement about what to expect from the development team. Not only will developers Ascendant Studios be launching its first triple-A game with Immortals of Aveum on July 20, 2023, but it will be the studios’ first game, led by industry veteran Bret Robbins.
Robbins is the game director for Immortals and was the director for Call of Duty: World War II, Advanced Warfare, Modern Warfare 3, the original Dead Space, and the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, among others. The launch of Immortals won’t be the first time Robbins has been behind a new IP, and we spoke with Robbins during a recent hands-on impression event for the game.
Turning Immortal of Aveum’s Magic Into a Fast-Paced Shooter
When speaking with Robbins, we first wanted to discuss bringing the game to life and making it different from the standard shooter. There are no guns or traditional weaponry in this world, and those are replaced with magic; making this feel distinct was a big hurdle for the team.
Robbins: The first and biggest challenge was making magic feel good and powerful as a shooter. We’re all used to guns, we’re all used to assault rifles, and we know what a shotgun feels like. I wanted to walk that line between familiarity and accessibility in trying to bring something new. We spent a lot of time on that, making the combat feel fast and fluid. We went down some experimentation roads with magic that got pretty esoteric and complicated.
At some point in the project, I just said, “Look, let’s make this an awesome shooter first, and we’ll layer on all the other cool stuff we want to do.” That was difficult and took some time, but once we nailed that and felt like we had a good foundation, a lot of things fell into place.
After we tried Immortals of Aveum ourselves in a hands-on impression, we were curious about what Robbins and his team were most proud to see in the final product with this magical shooter.
Robbins: From the very beginning, I wanted a great spell comboing system. I wanted you to really be able to use these spells together in interesting ways. That’s why we decided on the left-hand, right-hand casting, making the Furies and the control spells very synergistic with your other spells. Making the enemies and the challenges and the situations you’re in forcing you to think about the best spell for the best moment and being able to do that very fluidly.
As you notice, there’s no control wheel, or we slow down the game. Everything’s meant to be very fast. The fact we got there, and we did that really successfully feels great. You feel very powerful, and you feel very smart when you use the right thing at the right time.
Creating Meaningful Challenges for Immensely Powerful Players in Immortals of Aveum
After getting a chance to sit down and play Immortals of Aveum ourselves, we asked Robbins what kind of challenges they created for players to make enemy and boss encounters feel tough in the more advanced gameplay.
Robbins: Whenever you design a new enemy or a new boss, you’re always thinking what’s the skill test for the player? How are we mixing things up? What are we forcing them to do differently? It’s too easy in a game like this to just spam your one-fire button and just try to push your way through the game. We’re always trying to come up with challenges that force players to stop in their tracks to do something different.
Things just escalate. Your spells get more powerful, the enemies get more powerful, and certainly, some of the combat arenas get really crazy. That, to me, is when the game comes alive. This really is at its heart an arena shooter.
The magic system in Immortals of Aveum is fast-paced and hectic, reminiscent of modern shooters. Given Robbins’ previous experience in the Call of Duty franchise, we asked what it was like creating this new IP and what complications the team encountered where he couldn’t lean on his previous experience.
Robbins: When you make a new IP, there’s a lot of new stuff that you’re experimenting with. The magic system was a big one, and there’s a lot of game balancing for that. It’s consistently challenging and making sure you feel that you’re gaining power but also still being challenged.
Creating games as ambitious as Immortals of Aveum is not easy, especially ones as graphically gorgeous. Given how difficult it is to make games now, we asked Robbins if anyone on the team came up with a unique solution to a problem they faced during development.
Robbins: Yeah, the sigil switching. You can switch between three different colors of sigils on your arm. I wanted that to look really cool and magical. One of our tech artists came up with a very interesting shaders solution that made it look interesting. This was early on, within the first three or four months of the project. As soon as I saw that I was like, “Oh shit. This is really cool. We’ve got something special here.”
Our time with Immortals of Aveum was brief but left a lasting impression. We’re looking forward to checking it ourselves and seeing how audiences appreciate the bombastic magic when the game arrives on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on July 20, 2023.
Disclaimer: Gamepur’s parent company is GAMURS Group. A contributor who works with another publication at GAMURS Group is a developer on Immortals of Aveum. This has had no impact on our coverage of the title at Gamepur.