Immortals of Aveum Preview
First-person shooters have a reputation. When you hear the words “first-person shooter” you probably think of guns, multiplayer lobbies, and tight-knit maps of players trying to obliterate one another. Immortals of Aveum is not that kind of first-person shooter, and I mean that in the best way. I was fortunate enough to fly out to EA Studios in California and go hands-on with the game. Three and a half hours went by and it felt like a blink. Immortals of Aveum may be a modern shooter running on Unreal 5.2, but at its core, it feels like a love letter to some of the biggest and best shooters of the last few decades.
Immortals of Aveum is a first-person magic shooter which takes place in the lore-rich world of Aveum. The Everwar is raging, an unending battle for control over all magic. Sandrakk, the Tyrant of Rasharn, has pushed our heroes to the brink and is on the verge of conquering the world. You play as Jak, an Unforeseen, as he becomes a Magnus of the Immortal order. An Unforeseen is someone who is born without a connection to magic but develops it later in life. Jak is also a Triarch, an uncommon kind of Magnus who can harness all three types of magic.
Harness Magic in an All-New Way
Magic is broken into three types: Blue, Red, and Green. This is where the blueprint for the game’s “shooter” aspect comes in. Jak has three Sigils at any time, one for each color. Blue magic is force powers and physical manipulation, with Blue Sigils representing precision and long-range weapons like sniper rifles, scout rifles, or pistols. They of course have unique names in-game, but they fulfill these weapon types. Red magic is violence and anger. The Red Sigils are your close to mid-range, high-impact weapons. Shotguns, grenade launchers, anything that deals big damage at close range. Finally, Green Magic is about both life and death, the balance of nature. Green Sigils represent full-auto rifles and homing weapons.
You can only equip one of each color type of Sigil at a time. The unique weapon types under each magic color, however, mean plenty of room for versatile loadouts. Near the end of my time with Immortals of Aveum, I had a Blue Sigil which I could charge up with an auto zoom to snipe foes. My Green Sigil was a fully automatic rifle with the spread mostly under control. Finally, my Red Sigil fired a shot in close range which, after a second or two, left a huge AOE explosion. This doesn’t even touch on the Totems I had unlocked.
Totems offer both combat and puzzle-solving applications, each representing one of the three magic types. Lash can pull enemies from a great distance toward you. Limpin fires green-homing globs at enemies to slow them down, and the last one stuns and damages enemies. Combine these with your magic shield and blink dash abilities and you already have a formidable magic arsenal.
Fast Paced, Impactful Combat
I played the tutorial and two additional levels. Thanks to Unreal 5.2, Immortals of Aveum takes full advantage of what the engine can do. Set pieces and the environment felt massive and alive. It’s the kind of immersive, living environment that you marvel at from Bungie.
Combat is fast and frenetic. It felt akin to DOOM 2016 – or for some older gamers – Hexen. The enemy AI often uses a decent level of strategy. Melee units will charge and try to flank you. Snipers will get to an advantageous position. Dedicated casters try to avoid the line of fire while calling down magic havoc on top of you. You have to be on the move and keep moving, using everything in your kit to survive the encounter. Blink dash and your magic shield need to both be used in conjunction and at the right time, you can’t truly rely on one or the other in combat due to their cooldowns. These can be mitigated and improved through gear, but at the base level, they need to be used at the right time. I found it encouraged a more varied style of play that didn’t let me rely on one or two tricks; I was constantly adapting for survival.
Loadouts are straightforward but offer a lot of customization to your build. There are three Sigils, one for each color. Three Totems as mentioned above, although they come in a variety of upgraded forms. Two rings that can augment your magic abilities or specific Sigil weapons. Finally, there are Bracers which, from what I saw, are there exclusively to enhance your defense and armor. It’s simple enough to offer customization without bogging you down in analysis paralysis. Each Sigil also only has three stats – damage, rounds, and reload time – making it even easier to manage.
Jak also has a Talent tree to unlock new powers and strengths within each school of magic. The tree is not overwhelmingly complex, and Immortals offers respec at any time, although one dev said it might be possible to unlock every single node.
A Fascinating Narrative to Uncover
Possibly the best part of Immortals of Aveum is the fact it is a single-player experience, and it plays to all of those strengths. Without having to worry about multiplayer or PvP balancing, the spells you can cast, craft, and combo can be truly devastating. The game has a rich lore and, from what I managed to see, fantastic narrative pacing. It’s an experience that pulls you in and leaves you wanting to know more. Despite its light loot mechanics, this isn’t an experience all about the post-game and the grind. It’s a compelling narrative that happens to be a shooter. Like any good story, it will have a finite end, it just happens to be one estimated to take 25 hours if you only complete the story and don’t spend time on side content or exploration.
Immortals of Aveum also features some great Metroidvania gameplay. While the levels are designed more linearly with branching paths and hidden areas to platform, you’ll still find areas you’ll need to return to with upgrades and new abilities. There is so much to see and discover, and it’s my hope people will go into Immortals of Aveum looking to take their time and smell the roses, to appreciate what Ascendant Studios has done here.
A Love-Letter to Classic First-Person Single-Player Shooters
When the demo ended and my controller rested on the table, I didn’t find myself upset. I wasn’t sad to stop playing, I was genuinely excited by everything I had just experienced. Ideas were swirling about the story. The bombastic set pieces and interesting level designs rested neatly in my mind. I couldn’t help but wonder what other magic synergies I could find for a more devastating effect. I wasn’t sad to stop playing, I was excited to turn to anyone who would listen to talk about what we had just experienced in Immortals of Aveum. There is a lot to be optimistic about here. This game is brimming with potential and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
Immortals of Aveum will launch on PC, PlayStation 5, and Series X|S on July 20th. For more information, check out the game’s official website.