Ubisoft has unveiled loads of new details about Beyond Good & Evil 2 and it sounds like it's going to rival No Man's Sky as the most ambitious game of its era. Based on how close it comes to achieving its cosmic pitch, it will either be the greatest game ever or a massive disappointment. Either way, it will make Peter Molyneux's grandiose ambitions sound tame in comparison. Strap in!
First thing's first: Beyond Good & Evil 2 will let you create your own character. You can choose to be male or female, series creator Michel Ancel confirmed in the Ubisoft Blog's report, and a behind closed doors tech demo saw the player character represented by the monkey man from the trailer, Knox. As we hoped, that jetpack isn't just for show.
But what's really going to set Beyond Good & Evil 2 apart from its predecessor - and almost any game that's ever existed - is its comically lofty sense of scale.
Ancel boasted that Beyond Good & Evil 2 will feature an entire procedurally-generated star system that's so complex that even the planets will rotate around the sun, creating simulated sunsets.
"There is a simulation of the universe, where everything is rotating in the classical way, so if you change the time you see the rotation," Ancel stated. "If you know what a sunset is, a sunset is modification of the colour of the sun depending on the angle in the atmosphere. So it's really logical, in fact, that you can see different colours."
That sounds like a neat parlour trick, but arguably more impressive is that BG&E2 will feature lots of fine detail in its smaller scale objects like buildings, characters and equipment. "Every centimeter needs to be very precise," Ancel said.
Much like No Man's Sky before it, Ancel promised that you'll be able to seamlessly travel from the surface to outer space as it's all connected in this ominously expansive sandbox.
"We know there are things."
Michel Ancel, creative director, Ubisoft
While Hello Games managed to get intergalactic space travel right, its universe was a barren one, largely devoid of life and purpose. BG&E2, however, will feature that stuff.
"Cities can grow by themselves, they can be destroyed, they can connect to others," Ancel said. "Everything is alive, in fact, it's not pre-scripted.
"Even us, we don't know exactly what's on this planet. We know there are things, but we don't know exactly where they are, we don't know exactly what it is."
While the star system BG&E2 is set in will be procedurally-generated, the actual quests will be authored scenarios in a similar manner to its perennial predecessor.
"I would say the adventure system is classic," Ancel said. "It's simple, but you have a lot of freedom in the way of solving things. So it's interesting to imagine a game where you can decide to do this or that, and the order is not that much important, and the way you manage the problems is your way of playing."
In this way it sounds rather similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where you have an overall quest and some authored chapters along the way, but how you go about conquering these challenges is entirely up to you.
This way players can discuss how they solved certain scenarios because they'll all face some of the same challenges. An example Ancel gave is busting a crew member out of prison - a quest everyone will receive, even if the details are different.
"You will have different possible decisions, of course, but there is a structure. You can compare to each other what you've done," Ancel explained.
Further drawing a connection to Zelda was Ancel saying "You see mountains in the distance, there is something, a city, something that is attracting you, you can go there. Maybe it's very dangerous, but you can try to go there." That sounds awfully familiar...
Previously the publisher teased that "you can play alone or with friends" and that this prequel would feature "robust online systems", though that's never mentioned here. Perhaps this multiplayer tease didn't mean full co-op after all, but rather more mild forms of online integration along the lines of leaderboards or Dark Souls' limited co-op instances. Quite frankly, this game sounds bloated enough without multiplayer, so let's move on.
Ancel made it clear that while the player will create their own character, the supporting cast will be fleshed out by the developer.
When asked about the cast of the previous game, narrative director Gabrielle Shrager explained that this prequel is set "about a generation before Jade was born," though Ancel suggested we may see some familiar faces.
"They are here, or their ancestors are here," said Ancel of Beyond Good & Evil's cast. "You don't play them, but they are in the world, and they are key to making this world unique... the DNA will be there. Plus it's not a reboot, it's a prequel, so you will discover a lot of information about those characters."
As far as the lore is concerned, the developer explained that BG&E2 is set in a future where China and India became superpowers in the 22nd century and started making human/animal hybrids as a source of slave labour. This explains the Ganesh statue in the demo as these oppressed animal people took to the stars and formed their own religions which may be loosely based around those of their earthling ancestors.
While it's not clear what the overall plot will be, it sounds like a rags to riches tale of a penniless wayfarer who works their way up to being a "legendary space pirate" with a huge ship and crew that will allow them to brave the solar system's most dangerous challenges.
Ultimately Ancel said that the theme of the game is "travel".
"You travel, you discover cultures. And you take that, and you are richer because of this travel," Ancel stated. On that note, since Ancel himself doesn't have time to tour the world talking to every BG&E fan he meets, he wants people to offer their own perspectives and desires for the game by signing up for the fan forum Space Monkey Program.
Beyond Good & Evil 2 will be out on unannounced platforms before our sun ceases to exist, probably.