Immortals of Aveum is a magical shooter from the minds behind Dead Space and Call of Duty. The game debuted at The Game Awards.
The Game Awards are full of world premieres, but one of them rarely looks so different than Immortals of Aveum right off the bat. The game’s first trailer was released during Thursday night’s show, and it showcased a sprawling fantasy battlefield with enough explosions, effects, and combat to make a Call of Duty game blush. But all this did not necessarily answer what exactly this new game is.
To learn more about Immortals of Aveum, Polygon spoke with the game’s director, Bret Robbins, ahead of The Game Awards, who talked about the idea behind the game, how he founded Ascendant Studios just to develop it. , how the game will play, what its world will be like, and why it’s not quite like other shooters.
Immortals of Aveum is Ascendant Studios’ first game in collaboration with Electronic Arts. This single-player magical first-person shooter combines the fast-paced combat expected of Call of Duty with spells and an expansive, all-original fantasy with universe. According to Robbins, the idea for Immortals has been around for years, especially during his time as creative director of the three Call of Duty games. But the uniqueness of the idea is what made it stick.
“I remember in particular one time I was checking a track we were working on, and it was a very average Call of Duty track,” Robbins said. “And I remember thinking it would be cool if it was a dragon instead of a helicopter and fireballs instead of RPG projectiles blowing up walls. And instead of having an assault rifle, I’d be a battle mage who cast these spells scatters. You know, a fantasy version. Where’s that game?”
That “where’s that game” thought stayed with Robbins for the next few years. When he eventually left the Call of Duty studio, Sledgehammer Games, Robbins was still kicking around the idea of Immortals of Aveum. He finally decided, “I want to play this game. I want to do that game.”
So in 2018, Robbins founded Ascendant Studios, where he has been working on Immortals of Aveum ever since and assembling the development team. As for the publishing partner, Robbins and Ascendant chose EA, who Robbins had previously worked with when he was creative director of Dead Space – the last original IP he worked on before Immortals of Aveum – and the studio you would have full creative control over the new game.
For Robbins, much of the overall design of Immortals of Aveum came straight from the basic premise of the original battle mage. In order for players to truly feel like a battle mage—a term Robbins often uses to describe the player character as a kind of fast-paced mage who uses magical projectiles and spells in large-scale conflicts—Robbins and his team had to ensure that magical combat and shooting should feel just right. Mages are often slower classes in games, with long spell casts and limited mobility. But Robbins insists that what the Ascendant team is making is more of a shooter than a fantasy RPG.
“I think there was some difficulty with people trying to make magic into something that felt like a shooter,” Robbins said. “What we’re doing is a magical first-person shooter. […] I think we’ve cracked the code on how to make it feel really good and familiar to shooters, but also bring something new to it . You’re not seeing the usual weapons that are used in a shooter, you’re seeing something new, and that’s very exciting for me.”
Of course, developing a new fantasy IP requires creating an original fantasy world, and Robbins and his writing team have been hard at work on that front as well. And while he couldn’t reveal too many specifics about the world, Robbins did give a few hints about it, and most importantly, he described Immortals of Aveum’s primary weapon: the Sigil.
The Sigil is the device we see the camera exploring at the beginning of the Immortals of Aveum pre-premier trailer. According to Robbins, battle mages focus their magic with it, and players will fire their spells with it. “Instead of having an assault weapon or a wand or something like that, you have the sigil and you can change its shape and find different types of sigils,” he explained. “We really wanted to present that as something unique to the game.”