Immortals Fenyx Rising – Game Director On Flying, Physics, and Aerial Combat
Immortals Fenyx Rising’s open-world romp through Greek mythology is coming on December 3, when players will be able to take control of Fenyx, don the Wings of Daidalos, and explore the vibrant, monster-infested, and highly destructible environments of the Golden Isle. Our latest hands-on with the game took us to the impressively lush Valley of Eternal Spring to save the goddess Aphrodite, but it’s just one small slice of a game that combines fast combat, vertical exploration, and reactive physics to create a lighthearted epic quest. To find out more about how it came together, we sat down with Game Director Scott Phillips for a chat about winged combat, resourceful enemies, and putting a distinctive spin on ancient myths.
What were you able to do with Immortals Fenyx Rising with the extra time that you wouldn't have been able to do before?
Being able to get that much feedback from surveys and understand, “OK, what are the things that are really standing out to people as positive, and what are things we need to work on improving?”
Out of that, we came up with a big list of things we wanted to do on gameplay, narrative, and visual style. I think on all of those, the primary thing was improving quality. Visually, we were able to add a lot of quality to all of the enemy characters, all of the gods, and the world as well, and we also revised the narrative quite a bit.
There's a big emphasis on the Wings of Daidalos in Immortals Fenyx Rising. It feels like they're more than just a tool for traversal; they factor into combat, into everything Fenyx does. How did this become such an aerial game?
I want to be able to single-jump, double-jump, and then triple-jump. I wanted to use the three-dimensional space of our world more actively. Even back on Odyssey, our world director was suggesting, “Hey, it would be nice to be able to get down from some of the high mountains in a quicker way, navigationally.” So that idea had already started, and we wanted to make the player more active and take more risks in their traversal, so we wanted it to be more dynamic. The wings fit into that really well, with the gliding, and we wanted to make it a consistent visual and message throughout the entire game that they were an iconic part of the character.
There are a lot of huge enemies in this game; did that come out of wanting players to use the wings to fight more than just flying enemies? We wanted giant enemies, like the Minotaurs or the hecatonchires. We wanted you to feel like you had an actual impact and that you were getting vertically into this combat space. So the double-jump, and being able to do a triple-jump, really fit well with that airborne combat, and then we wanted to get the player into this rhythm of being able to stay in the air while swinging your sword while using abilities.
Immortals Fenyx Rising puts a big emphasis on manipulating environmental physics. How did that evolve?
Physics is costly on the CPU and GPU, and when you get into having a world full of things you can pick up and destroy, and cut, and interact with, it's a different style of approaching the interactivity of the world than we typically did with Assassin's Creed Odyssey. I think what we have in Immortals Fenyx Rising is a much more dynamic and interactive world in that way, and we felt like that really gave this game’s open world something special.
When you’re fighting a cyclops, it’s able to strategically use the environment by ripping up trees, using them as clubs, and throwing objects at Fenyx. Are there other enemies that can do that? Is that something players will encounter frequently, or is it rare?
It's just a factor of interactivity, where big attacks from other enemies will break those elements in the world, and then you can use them against those enemies. Some enemies will use the world against you, but you can use the world against every enemy.
Just how open is the game’s structure? Can you make a run straight for Typhon's volcano once you’ve left the starting area, if you want to? SP: There was definitely a period of time in the game when we did allow you to go immediately to fight Typhon, and what we found was that it worked, but it didn't allow us to tell the story that we wanted to tell with this game. We wanted to sort of build up to where you get to Typhon, where you climb Zeus’ mountain in order to then fight Typhon, and have a real payoff there. We felt that if you could just go there, it changed the way you imagine the game, and it changed the way we were able to build the narrative, and build a progressive story that had a true payoff in that later part of the game that was meaningful.
So it was something we spent time with, and honestly it was not a not an easy decision, but I think it was the right decision to be able to tell a more interesting story – which allows us to have, I think, a better player experience.
Oct 23, 2020 at 18:31