There's no getting around it; the biggest reveal of Ubisoft's E3 show had to be Jade as the antagonist of Beyond Good & Evil 2. The flashy trailer takes its time to introduce each member of the lovable space pirate crew, with special attention paid to series staple Pey'j and two new characters. We're given a brief insight into the life of the holistic chief medical officer Uma as she works on crewmen affected by Pey'j's cooking. The camera lingers on an interaction between chief engineer Callum and his loving engine. And then everything blows up.
Gabrielle Shrager, narrative director on Beyond Good & Evil 2, described the game as a space opera. That label might have been hard to see for a game from the early 2000s about an adventurous photographer, but the sequel (which is confusingly a prequel) seems primed to live up to that term. Players take on the role of a space pirate captain in the 24th century that has somehow, probably with some kind of botched heist, earned the ire of the DomZ, the powerful alien race from the first game.
Following the explosive trailer, the world was treated to the first look at Beyond Good & Evil 2 in action. The scenes shown took place largely in or around the ancient city of Ganesha. It offered brief, tantalizing snippets of gameplay showing an expansive world, multiple modes of travel including aircraft and jetpacks, and both aerial and ground combat. It was difficult to get a sense of how the game actually plays, but the general impression given was that the world will be colossal in scope.
The universe of Beyond Good & Evil 2 will be so big, in fact, that Ubisoft has partnered with an open platform called Hit Record to help fill it with art via the Space Monkey Program. Ostensibly, they are doing this because there's more work to be done than can be feasibly done in-house and Hit Record will allow them to meet their perceived needs. The company, run by Joseph Gordon Levitt, will be paying collaborators for their contributions to Beyond Good & Evil 2, though that hasn't stopped some industry watchdogs from crying foul.
Critics say that, while the idea of more opensource development for huge projects might be an interesting one, it will ultimately be a way of hiring freelancers to avoid paying for things like employee benefits or committing to contracts. This move has become more common in the game industry over the last few years, putting specialized creators into the unpredictable position of constantly moving from one job to the next with no stability and no guaranteed payment. This is called speculative work or spec work and spawned the hashtag #NoSpec on Twitter where various voices from around the industry gave their thoughts on the subject.
While we don't have any hard release date for Beyond Good & Evil 2, we do know that there will be an event later this fall dedicated to the game and its community. BGE Fest will take place in Montpellier, France where we will likely present more details on what kind of creative community they aim to foster around Beyond Good & Evil as well as the game itself.