On Monday, I became one of the first people in the world to get an actual glimpse of Beyond Good and Evil 2 -- a video game fans have been waiting on for nearly 15 years. I should know: The original was one of my favorite games of all time and it was electrifying to be in the room with director Michel Ancel as he revealed the new vision.
But as a journalist, I'm duty-bound to let you know that Beyond Good & Evil 2 isn't anywhere close to being an actual game. It could be years and years before it finally comes out. If it ever does.
Because -- like Peter Molyneux, the game developer whose broken promises are the stuff of legend -- Michel Ancel's vision seems impossibly grand. And because practically none of it, except the tools to build the game and some amazing concept art, has been completed so far.
If I had to sum it up in four sentences, here's what Beyond Good & Evil 2 is promising:
- A game where you can seamlessly explore an entire living, breathing galaxy and the entirety of every planet within it, at speeds of up to 20,000 kilometers per hour and no load times.
- A game with a simulation so powerful that planets will change dynamically, to the point that a meteorite out in space can hit a planet and wipe out entire cities while others grow around it.
- A game where you start with a tiny ship, then eventually build up a giant pirate fleet with enormous ships and a sizable crew by recruiting memorable characters anywhere you go.
- A story that somehow ties it all together.
And while it's true that Ancel's team has an impressive tech demo -- Ancel could zoom way down to the surface of a planet to show off something as small as the tarnish on a brass statue, then zoom all the way out to see the entire solar system -- he couldn't explain to my group of journalists how the game might work. What a player might actually do.
He would only say that "it's not a game about fighting or making a big ship, it's about meeting new characters." Which sounds good to me -- recruiting and interacting with a small crew in Mass Effect was arguably the best part of those games.
But how do you make such a gigantic game interesting and fill in all the details? That was No Man's Sky's Achilles' heel -- a game that also promised a seamless, gigantic beautiful galaxy to explore, but gave players little to do there. The hype for that game was massive, too.
Ancel confirms that (like No Man's Sky) the new Beyond Good & Evil will use procedural generation techniques to automatically create the world based on patterns, but he suggests that enough parts will be handcrafted to make it feel different -- and that it's fine for many places to feel much the same. "It's like a tourist book: There's a lot of parts of a city that are all the same, and once you've seen part you don't care to see the other part, because you understand that they're the same," he says.
But building enough handcrafted portions to make the game interesting could take years. Ancel confirms that the game has no release date, and may not for another year. "Once we have achieved one city, an interesting city not just generated with patterns and stuff repeated, but a real city with missions and information to grab, investigations... then we can multiply and [calculate] the time," he says.
How much longer might we wait? "Another 15 years could be nice," Ancel jokes.
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