OtherSide Entertainment released a new trailer for Underworld Ascendant today at Gamescom 2018, and it includes its long-awaited release date: November 15. It is the spiritual successor of the Ultima Underworld games, developed by some of its original developers, namely Paul Neurath and Tim Stellmach, with consulting from Warren Spector. Ultima Underworld was at the forefront of first-person 3D technology back in the early 1990s and provided a solid foundation for the rise of the first-person shooter sometime later. We have previously published a feature on the legacy of Origin Systems as well as Looking Glass Studios related to Ultima Underworld.
Underworld Ascendant was funded in March 2015 with $860,356 raised on Kickstarter. With a core team of only six developers, the studio has focused its resources largely on a system called the "Improvisation Engine," focused on emergent gameplay and openness of possibilities for player agency, as opposed to one-size-fits-all solutions to puzzles. In February 2018 the team was complemented by two level designers and a 3D environment artist from Fullbright, the studio behind Gone Home and Tacoma. About a week ago, players were able to sign up for a playtesting opportunity.
The new trailer pits the player against an entity called Typhon, "father of monsters, nemesis of Zeus," which seems somewhat like a Diablo-like antagonist. While the game does take place in the Stygian Abyss, the subtitle of the first game, it seems that the setting has evolved into something more elaborate and disconnected from Ultima lore. The art direction also has very little resemblance to the original games, at times looking much grander and more awe-inspiring, with massive statues and intricate level design. The player character is called Ascendant, as opposed to the Avatar of the originals. There is also a mention of factions, among which the most obvious seems to be the Lizard Men.
According to a Steam post, the game will also be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in 2019.
What do you think of the new trailer for Underworld Ascendant? Do you think the creative direction will give the setting a renewed interest or will it fail to appeal to fans of the originals? Let us know in the comments below!