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Ubisoft unveiled a narrative behind the much-anticipated video game Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. The game debuts on the consoles and PC on December 7.
The company made the revelation about the first-person action adventure game based on James Cameron’s blockbuster movie series at its Ubisoft Forward event in Los Angeles today.
The game is being developed by Ubisoft’s Massive studio, the same studio that created the Snowdrop engine and built Tom Clancy’s The Division, as well as titles like Ground Control and World in Conflict.
Disney and Lightstorm chose Massive as the studio to tell a brand-new story set in the Avatar universe. The teams built a rich and complex world for Pandora, an Earth-size moon that has only been partially explored in the movies so far.
Cameron said in a video that the game will bring the same ambition as the films, opening a window on a new “corner of Pandora,” or the western frontier.
The world of Pandora
Ubisoft’s goal was to create a massive and living open world on Pandora with an amazing environment full of wildlife and fauna from multiple biomes. The Snowdrop game engine pushes the 3D graphics to the limit and the story is just as ambitious, said Magnus Jansen, creative director for the game at Massive.
The team created an original story with new characters and events that coexist with those of the Avatar films. The game is a story-driven title with a main campaign that is playable as a single-player title or two-player co-op.
The environment and elements of Pandora are harsh, as the dinosaur-like creatures can make quick work of puny humans. But the Navi people are much sturdier at three meters tall and a skeleton made out of extra-strong bones. They have simple weapons like spears and bows, but they are in sync with the planet in contrast to the humans of the evil Resources Development Administration, or RDA, that has come to strip-mine Pandora. In the game, we see the RDA go after new regions and new tribes of the Navi.
In the year 2138, the RDA abducted some children of the Navi in an effort to turn them against the native population, which was resisting the human mining of the moon. These children were trained in using human weapons and they were told nothing of the Navi way of life and culture for caring for the world.
This evil plan is the the work of human leader John Mercer, the antagonist of the game, said Ditte Deenfeldt, game director at Ubisoft’s Massive.
“Prepare to lose yourself in the beauty and the danger of the western frontier,” she said. The gameplay video showed riding on a Pandora horse on the ground and flying through the landscape on a flying Ikran.
A new war
As they came under attack from the Navi in the Battle of the Hallelujah Mountains in the first film, Mercer’s plan was interrupted. The retreating humans tried to kill off the Navi children. But a teacher among the Navi put the Navi children into cryosleep in the year 2154 (the year when the events of the first film, Avatar, took place), and they woke up in 2169 (the year when the events of the second film, Avatar: The Way of Water, took place). The Navi children were left to their own to discover the world and make sense of the place they had in it. And so they choose to use what they’ve learned from the humans and use that knowledge instead to defend the planet from the human invaders.
As we know from the second film, the RDA returned in force in 2169 with the aim of reconquering the world. That’s where your journey as one of the abducted children of the Navi begins. You can customize your character, and you are able to use the human weapons like assault rifles and grenades. But these children of the Navi are perceived as outsiders, and they have to reconnect with their lost tribes and heritage, finding their own path of discovery along the way. They try to resist the humans where they can.
The floating mountains are there, as are the lush colorful jungles and new biomes like vast grasslands, deep forests full of clouds that is home to a clan of healers. You can customize your Ikran and train it as well. You can upgrade your own skill tree as well.
As a Navi, you get to learn how to ride an Ikran, a mountain banshee that flies like a dragon through the world. That part of the game looks extremely fun as you maneuver through the skies and get into combat with the helicopter-like aircraft of the humans. You get to experience the joy of movement of being a Navi, whether flying in the air or bounding through the forest at high speeds.
You can make a tangible impact on the word by clearing out RDA outposts, which mine resources and pollute the world and cause deforestation. When you take these outposts back, the flora of the planet and animal life recovers. With the pollution removed, Pandora heals. Ubisoft’s artists have created amazing biomes and environments full of beautiful wonders. And the Navi take only what they need, not everything that they can take. As a Navi character, you can build things, create food and meals from the environment, and generate energy from the resources you use.
Your job is to take the fight to Mercer, who has made it his personal mission to hunt you down and stop the resistance of the Navi. As you progress, you master both Navi and human weapons, and you can choose to fight with stealth, at long range, or in close combat. Your job is to take the fight to the RDA. The game got a lot of cheers after the presentation was over at the Ubisoft Forward event.
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