Immortals of Aveum preview: DOOM meets Lord of the Rings in creative new shooter
Bringing singleplayer shooters back to the fray with a fresh coat of paint, Immortals of Aveum mixes hard-hitting, explosive FPS combat with Tolkien-esque world-building in what’s shaping up to be yet another gem under the EA Originals label.
Following a cryptic yet undeniably intriguing teaser at last year’s The Game Awards, all has been silent regarding Immortals of Aveum. What exactly is a “first-person magic shooter”? What can fans expect from Ascendant Studios’ debut project? And was that really the voice of Gina Torres? At long last, we now have answers to all of those questions and then some.
After attending a hands-off preview, we’ve now seen the mysterious game in action and unraveled much of its mystery through a deep dive with a handful of the project’s lead developers. While we didn’t get to play it for ourselves, so gameplay impressions should be taken with a grain of salt, we nonetheless learned a great deal about what to expect, and from the jump, it’s clear Immortals of Aveum is one ambitious undertaking.
Exceptionally rich lore setting the table. A diverse cast of fascinating heroes and villains. Uniquely presented yet familiarly robust first-person shooter mechanics. Gorgeous presentation and dazzling particle effects aplenty. All of that merging to form one expansive single-player epic set to run north of 25 hours. It’s a bold creation but if successful, one that could very well be the start of the industry’s next big franchise.
Brave new world at war
Kicking off the presentation, we were quickly filled in on just how expansive the world of Aveum truly is. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill FPS. There’s a degree of detail in the universe that seems to rival the likes of Destiny with its broad history and multi-faceted ongoings in current time.
Central to the newly crafted fantasy is what’s labeled the ‘Everwar,’ an unceasing conflict over the control of magic and all its associated power. With Aveum split into multiple lands, factions battle for control over various ley lines, represented as ‘huge conduits of magical power.’ This power struggle has seemingly raged on for generations, with our story now picking up in a pivotal moment as ominous forces encroach on new territory.
Defending the land is our protagonist Jak, a confident, if overzealous, Battle Mage. Making Jak unique is the fact he can wield any form of magic in Aveum as a rare ‘Triarch.’ Where others are limited in their potential, sticking to just one or two forms of mystical art, Jak can wield it all to his advantage, swapping between magical elements on the fly.
As a new recruit, Jak joins forces with a group called The Immortals, led by General Kirkan, none other than Gina Torres herself. As a battle-tested mage in her own right, and now one showing the ropes to younger upstarts, it’s almost shocking how closely aligned her presence in this game is to her role as Ikora Rey, Warlock Vanguard in the Destiny franchise.
Mixing it up with a number of other budding Battle Mages, The Immortals seek to shut down the advances of key antagonist Sandraak and his second in command, known only as The Hand, much like in A Song of Ice and Fire. While we didn’t see all too much of this opposing force, various glimpses and concept art of our main antagonists would certainly make Sauron smile.
This rundown alone barely scratches the surface of what Immortals of Aveum seems to present. From tales of warfare countless years prior to the deeprooted history of various magic-wielding parties across the lands, and of course, what’s to come as this conflict evolves, the story at hand is immediately fascinating and one the team at Ascendant Studios is immensely proud of.
In an age rife with adaptations and crossover media, it feels almost too perfect for a new franchise to begin with this much detail already mapped out. Theoretically, this universe could already pave the way for various spinoffs should the base game land well and find its audience. While it’s admittedly early days yet, this aspect has us most excited of anything. To experience a game this rich with lore, and to see just how far the developers can take it through not only a lengthy 25+ hour storyline, but perhaps what lies beyond that too.
A true singleplayer FPS, just with magic in place of firearms
Beyond the intriguing premise we just drooled over, Immortals of Aveum is actually a video game too, believe it or not. As you navigate your place in the Everwar, Jak, a Triarch, wields all three forms of magic present in the title. Each type, signified by either red, green, or blue colors, comes into play as a unique weapon of sorts.
As a Battle Mage, you come equipped with various tools in which to harness your magical prowess. Through these tools, you’re effectively firing off rounds of magical energy at nearby foes. Take for instance, one particular effect that all but mirrors a shotgun. Foes up close can be blasted down with this close-range attack. Meanwhile, another color of magic may open the door for long-range, automatic attacks, some of which may even hone toward a particular target.
Combat is all about flipping through your various magical powers on the fly. Certain enemy types may be more susceptible to a certain type of cast, keeping you on your toes as you look for the optimal path through a room full of otherworldly foes.
With an emphasis on heavy-hitting weapons and fluid movement, the gameplay we were shown felt quite reminiscent of Bethesda’s latest DOOM reboot and its sequel. Jumping from one platform to another, finding the openings for counter-attacks, and cycling through a wide range of weapons, in this case magical spells, as you dodge incoming fire in a hectic and deadly dance. Although we obviously didn’t get to experiment with the flow of combat ourselves, what we saw was definitely engaging on the surface.
Fleshing things out to a degree not seen in the titles that inspired it, however, Immortals of Aveum’s FPS gameplay is bolstered by a number of more in-depth systems. Be it a full inventory system with multiple armor and weapon slots all ready to be interchanged, or the expansive talents menu, allowing players to prioritize their favorite type of magic, and of course, swap various abilities in and out as you might expect, there’s some real substance on offer here.
It helps too that gameplay variety appears to be a key focus of the development team. Rather than just barrelling ahead through 25+ hours of endless combat rooms, shooting down one big bad after another, there’s a mix of everything. Of course, you get your intense magic showdowns, some with areas full of smaller enemies, others with considerably larger bosses, but interspersed with it all are quieter moments of exploration, optional puzzles to keep you busy, and ample secrets to uncover. Built with a Metroidvania approach, it seems as though we’ll want to backtrack as our power grows, with new areas opening up as we evolve as a Triarch.
Obviously, even with an in-depth look at what to expect, there’s still plenty left unanswered for the time being. Namely, it remains to be seen whether Immortals of Aveum can truly justify its supposed 25+ hour runtime. We’ve mentioned that figure multiple times throughout our preview for good reason. Even the very best games can often overstay their welcome. And when it comes to the FPS genre, a few dozen hours is a hell of a lot to ask for, even from the most avid fans.
Very few throughout history have ever kept their momentum from start to finish, and fewer still have remained thoroughly engaging for that duration. All-time FPS greats often clock in under the 10-hour mark, and that’s honestly at a stretch. So it’s an ambitious task ahead for a story-driven, single-player shooter to keep us hooked in for all that time, but if Ascendant Studios can pull it off, it’ll be one spectacular accomplishment.
From a total mystery to a must-watch title as 2023 rolls on, Immortals of Aveum is absolutely on our radar now as one of the year’s more creative and ambitious titles. We can’t wait to go hands-on properly and learn all there is to know about this richly detailed universe.