Sequels to James Cameron’s film Avatar film are still being developed, but a deal was inked Tuesday with The Division publisher Ubisoft to begin production on a game set on the moon of Pandora. The maker of the hit open-world multiplayer shooter is partnering with Fox Interactive and Lightstorm Entertainment to create a “cutting-edge” Avatar game for the PC and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
Massive Entertainment, the developers of The Division, are creating a new AAA-game based on Avatar. James Cameron is currently developing four sequels to the 2009 film. The developers impressed Cameron with a prototype of the game running in their proprietary Snowdrop Engine.
“Snowdrop is a tailor-made, custom game engine that enables the creation of ultra-realistic game universes, enhanced by dynamic global illumination, stunning real-time destruction and an incredible amount of detail and visual effects. It was used to develop The Division, and also is the engine behind a number of other unannounced Ubisoft projects,” according to an Ubisoft press release.
“What impressed me about Massive were the group’s passion for this project and the power of its Snowdrop engine,” said Cameron. “I believe Ubisoft’s team at Massive Entertainment are absolutely the right partners to bring the beauty and danger of Pandora to life.”
Details on the game have not been shared yet. Massive added a page to its online portfolio, but only promises more information on the game later along with the trailer below. Creative Director Magnus Jansen comes the closest in the trailer to explaining what the new Avatar title will look like.
“[The game] should be the ultimate experience, where you actually go to Pandora, and where you can live an alternative life on the moon,” Jansen said.
Meanwhile, Associate Creative Director Ditte Deenfeldt explained, “Every player gets to choose how they want to experience this incredible universe.”
At first glance, it sounds like an open-world game set on the moon of Pandora. It’s unclear if this is more in the style of survival titles like ARK: Survival Evolved and Conan Exiles or a slightly less directed experience than The Division.
“James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment changed the way we think about immersive storytelling with the first Avatar, and the ambition that they have for the forthcoming films and this game is really inspiring,” said David Polfeldt, Managing Director, Massive. “It’s a privilege to work with them and we’re honored that they’ve entrusted us to create an experience worthy of the Avatar name.”
This isn’t the first time Ubisoft has partnered with Cameron for an Avatar game. Ubisoft Montreal developed Avatar: The Game in 2009, which was released alongside the original film. This was a straight-forward third-person shooter for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. The big hook at the time was this one of the first titles to tout 3D, a short-lived gimmick during the previous console generation.
Reviews of Avatar: The Game were mixed at best with complaints about the game being too linear along with the controls. It ultimately shared the same fate of many other movie tie-in games with a Metacritic review score average around 60 and so-so sales of 2.7 million.
Avatar 2 is currently scheduled to be released to theaters in December 2018 with the remaining three sequels following in 2020, 2022, and 2023. It will be interesting to see if Massive is able to develop a complete game from the ground up in time for the 2018 release or if it will come later.
Coincidentally, the developer just launched The Last Stand, the third and final paid DLC for The Division, the same day as the Avatar announcement. It’s not clear how much more support the developer will give the post-apocalyptic shooter, but studios typically begin shifting resources with part of the studio supporting DLC and updates and another part working on the next release. Massive has not made any announcements concerning additional support for The Division beyond bug fixes and gameplay balance changes.
What do you think of the Avatar game announcement with Massive Entertainment helming development? Sound off in the comments below.
[Featured Image by 20th Century Fox]