More than beyond
Ubisoft's Beyond Good & Evil is seen by many as one of the most original, unique, interesting franchises in recent history. From its imaginative world filled with remarkable characters to its varied gameplay, the adventures of Jade and Pey'j are beloved by fans, who are anxiously awaiting a sequel. And they've been waiting a long time.
Beyond Good & Evil 2 has been revealed, unrevealed, confirmed, unconfirmed, delayed, put on hold, and reworked more times than any game we can think of. The title's history is almost impossible to keep up with--even Ubisoft has stumbled over itself at times, releasing conflicting reports about the status of the highly anticipated sequel. We've combed through history and laid it all out in an easy to understand way so that everyone will finally be able to fully understand the truth about Beyond Good & Evil 2.
It was supposed to be a trilogy
Beyond Good & Evil isn't finished. The first game was fairly self-contained and had a fulfilling ending, but it isn't all series creator Michel Ancel had planned for Jade or Hillys or Pey'j. Even after the lackluster sales of the original, Ubisoft confirmed that it was moving forward with plans for not one, but two new games in the series, expanding BG&E into a trilogy.
"It seems that a lot of people would like a sequel," Ancel explained in 2005 while doing press for the Peter Jackson's King Kong game, "and I wrote the story to be longer, so it would be good to finish it." He also explained that the team's experience on King Kong taught them valuable lessons that could be applied to the development of the BG&E sequels.
Development started in 2007 after King Kong shipped
Talking to French magazine JeuxVideo in 2008, Michel Ancel confirmed that a sequel was in development. Not only that, but he revealed that it had been in development for a year, meaning he'd likely jumped right from King Kong to BG&E. He explained, "I am working on Beyond Good & Evil 2. We have been in preproduction on the title for a year, and we're currently doing market research. But for the moment, it's in the early stages, and Ubisoft still hasn't agreed to it."
Though the team at the time was small, with only a dozen or so dedicated employees (compared to Assassin's Creed's army of developers all over the world), things were moving forward. "We want to be in continuity with the first game," he explained, "with a big variety of levels, lots of emotion in the gameplay, and characters we care about."
It's going to be a direct sequel, and it's going to be super cinematic
He did advise gamers that there would be some changes to the formula, though. While Ancel wants to keep the spirit of the original, he also wants to expand on the cinematographic style that the team didn't have the ability to do the first time around. "But now, with the next-gen consoles, we feel it is possible to develop the game we thought of for the first." And for the record, he means Xbox 360/PS3 when he says "next-gen consoles," because this was 2009.
The creators have complete creative freedom
The months after the teaser was released brought occasional bits of new information. Parkour would play a role in the gameplay, as it did in the original, though it'd be closer to Assassin's Creed's than, say, Mirror's Edge's. Ancel reaffirmed that he was working on the title, and that Ubisoft was granting him "complete creative freedom" to approach the sequel in the way he wanted.
More details came soon after from a French magazine, where Ancel claimed that the game was still in pre-production. On March 21, 2009, he said that actual development wouldn't begin until they'd finished planning out the tools and processes they wanted to use in order to complete the game. While this freedom might have seemed to be a godsend at the time, it may have led to the lack of focus that resulted in the title being delayed for well is it out yet?
It was either delayed, put on hold, or neither between 2009-2010
It was hard to be a Beyond Good & Evil 2 fan in 2009-2010. Since the game had never been technically announced (the teaser trailer never said Beyond Good & Evil in it), Ubisoft attempted to keep things very quiet. Ubisoft representatives said development was on-hold at Gamescom 2009, but this was soon denied by the publisher. When asked for clarification, Ubisoft UK said that the game wasn't technically delayed because it wasn't technically announced, but that it was, indeed, not being worked on. Technically.
Again, this claim was disputed by yet one more arm of Ubisoft. General Director of Ubisoft France Geoffroy Sardin outright denied these reports and said that development of the game was still moving forward. Ancel himself eventually stepped forward and reaffirmed this, claiming that the silence was due to the fact that the team was being kept small in order to maintain the spirit of the original, for fear that ballooning the staff would lead to a more commercialized product. Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, also spoke out in 2010, saying, "We were, as we are, working on the game. What is very important with this next product is that it will be perfect."
It was too ambitious for current-gen
Though development for Beyond Good & Evil 2 began near the beginning of the console generation, the result was something that, from the sounds of things, couldn't be contained by the power of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. At E3 2011, Ancel said that the team was looking beyond the current generation for the sequel. "I think we are still thinking about what we have to cut to fit on today's consoles, what we can improve. We really want to make the game perfect and as good as possible without cutting things. There is special gameplay that we really want to keep but it needs a certain power."
He'd revisit these claims in June of 2013 in the weeks following BG&E2's E3 no show. "Beyond Good & Evil 2 was possible [on current-gen]," he mentioned in an interview, "but it'd be painful. It's always possible to do anything on any kind of console, but sometimes you need to spend your energy not on the optimizations or things like that."
It's in active development, probably, as of 2012
Here's what you've been waiting for: In an interview in 2012, Ancel confirmed that Beyond Good & Evil 2 was, finally, totally, officially in active development. "We are in an active creation stage and at this moment we are only focusing on the game and making it the best game that we can." A screenshot was released, too, just in case you didn't believe him.
Before, the game had only been in conceptual and experimental stages, but this revelation meant that BG&E2 was truly in the works. Most expected to hear news in 2013 as the new generation of consoles approached, with many expecting that E3 would be the time for the next-gen game to shine.
Some people thought Ubisoft was teasing a reveal for E3 2013
These hopes and dreams were given some validity when Ubisoft's Facebook posted an image of Beyond Good & Evil's Pey'j with the winking, Were a bit busy prepping for E3. Time to call in some reinforcements attached to it. The internet exploded. "Busy with what? Reinforcements for what? Why is Pey'j there? Oh god! It's happening!" the collective masses cried out.
Except it wasn't. Beyond Good & Evil 2 was an E3 2013 no-show, despite rumors and speculation that it might show up at Sony, Microsoft, or Ubisoft's press conferences. Ubisoft later explained that it was simply nodding at a classic character and respecting the franchise's legacy, but it was still an exciting, fleeting moment.
More good than evil
So, at the end of the day, things are actually looking good for Beyond Good & Evil 2. Ancel said he's working on it, explained that it was coming next-gen (or current-gen, as of November), and released an image. While it might be a few more years away, it would appear that Jade's return is coming. What do you think? Do you still have high hopes?