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Gods & Monsters release date, trailer, story and gameplay

In a gaming landscape where things have gotten so expensive that big publishers have generally started to shy away from original properties in favor of reliable sequels, it's become more and more of a pleasant surprise to see something fresh on the horizon. Especially for Ubisoft, whose E3 presentation might as well have been called The Tom Clancy Power Hour, new games that aren't just the newest iteration of their usual cash cows have become a rarity. So, when Ubisoft's presentation also included an all-too-brief teaser for an adventure game that didn't have the name Assassin's Creed plastered on it, it immediately got the world's attention. 

Gods & Monsters is on its way, a completely original game unlike anything else Ubisoft has released in a long time. Despite that short teaser, we do have at least some idea of what to expect when it finally ends up in our hands.

The release date for Gods & Monsters

The game had been originally scheduled for the sweetheart date of Feb. 25, 2020. Its only big competition for hearts, minds, and eyes would've been the remastered Yakuza 5, making Gods & Monsters a nice little apertif before the Mr. Creosote-esque seven course meal that is Final Fantasy 7 Remake. That plan's changed since Ubisoft decided to shift a whole bunch of its current titlesWatch Dogs: Legion, Rainbow Six: Quarantine, and Gods & Monsters itself, among others — into the next fiscal year to allow additional development time.

For those who don't speak Wall Street, that puts Gods & Monsters' release date as TBD anywhere between April 2020 and March 2021. That's still a bit of a minefield, though, given Cyberpunk 2077 rules over April, Marvel's Avengers and The Last of Us Part 2 are dug in pretty deep in May, and lord only knows what madness E3 2020 drops on us in June. But if additional time means a better game and happier developers, then, literally, godspeed.

Gods & Monster's trailer

The trailer that was dropped on us during Ubisoft's E3 conference gives us a good look at the art style, the protagonist, and some brief combat, set to some of that trademark exotic vocalizing Ubisoft's really, really fond of. Again, enough to perk some ears and eyebrows.

What's here is really interesting, though. Tacking that "From the makers of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey" card in there almost makes this looks like it's Odyssey: Pocket Edition, kind of like what Square Enix did with Final Fantasy 15. It's got the same level of meticulous detail as that game, but executed in a way that's still bright and appealing to a younger set, who have no interest in Athenian politics. But even given the cartoony art style, there's just seriously lush beauty going on here, without making the monsters seem less grotesque or like less of a threat. It feels like a Greek mythology Zelda game, and that's a very cool combination of ideas. 

The story in Gods & Monsters

As if Gods & Monsters couldn't have more of an epic pedigree, the framework of the story will be Greek scribe Homer telling the tale to his grandchildren. No idea if that voice from the trailer is the voice they're going with in the finished game, but it's neat regardless. 

Anyway, the story that Homer tells — big surprise — concerns the Greek gods and one of their misbegotten sons, Typhon. For those not up on their Greek myth, Typhon is the hideous serpentine son of the Earth goddess Gaia and the underworld god, Tartarus, created because Zeus wished to create an even more powerful god. Instead, they wound up creating the first monsters. If you hadn't noticed, a lot of Zeus' plans backfire. 

In this case, Typhon has returned from banishment in the underworld, managed to subdue the gods, and conquered Olympus. With all that done, he then unleashed hordes of legendary monsters across the land. Desperate to fight back, the gods turn to a hero named Fenyx. Blessed with the power of each of the gods, Fenyx goes forth to defeat the creatures and bring peace back to the world. 

Who is developing Gods & Monsters?

Just like the trailer says, Gods & Monsters is being developed by the same Ubisoft team responsible for Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, Ubisoft Quebec. Apparently, after working on that game for the last few years, they wanted to do something more in their big Greek sandbox, and this is what they came up with. Given how many studios in general work on Assassin's Creed games, it's kind of remarkable they even found the time.

According to them, development on Gods & Monsters had only been going on for roughly a year prior to E3, so at least it seems like it was only when they were putting the finishing touches on Odyssey. It stemmed from a desire to delve into the mythology in full instead of skirting around it, as they had to in Odyssey. Because if there's one thing a series whose entire core premise is that a secret society founded by aliens control us all using a magic apple can't handle, it's mythology.

The gameplay in Gods & Monsters

For a game that's releasing soon, it's a little surprising that we currently know so little about the one thing that matters most: how it plays. Still, the developers have given us some idea of what to expect since June.

The baseline genre here is "open world RPG," in true Ubisoft fashion. Fenyx is fully customizable, and there will be an emphasis on resource and stamina management along the way. The big change, however, is that platforming will be part of the formula here as well, which makes this sound quite a bit like a kind of freewheeling Zelda type of thing, not that there's a blessed thing wrong with that.

Naturally, with Fenyx being chosen by the gods, magic powers are going to play a role. For now, it's unclear what exactly those will turn out to be. Although one of the developers mentions some of the platforming focused powers may end up being useful during combat, which would put this closer to the more active Beyond Good & Evil side of the action-RPG-platformer spectrum.

Questions remain

The odd thing is that, as close as the game is, there are so many basic questions up in the air about it. Besides the gameplay, we're not even certain about the scale of the game. Yes, it's by the Assassin's Creed: Odyssey team, but there's no way the scale can be that huge ... can it? And if it is, are we looking at an RPG that takes 8 hours to beat, or 20, or 60+?

There's trickier questions to be asked, however. In one of the E3 interviews, the team was asked about Typhon's motivations for subduing the pantheon, and the team is apparently keeping that under wraps, which suggests there's maybe some deeper story stuff going on beyond the pretty exterior. Given how the Greek gods tend to have enough drama going on between them to fuel a couple thousand years of soap operas, it wouldn't be surprising if the answers are darker and/or more petty than anyone's guessing.

Until then

Despite having Gods & Monsters on the way, the team behind Assassin's Creed: Odyssey were still working on the main game. The final pieces of DLC have just dropped: Discovery Mode, where historical experts take you on an interactive tour of ancient Greece in-game, and the Sokrates Trial mission. Discovery Mode's been enhanced even further since its debut taking players through ancient Egypt in Assassin's Creed: Origins, with more quests and rewards for exploration, and the Sokrates Trial will also rant some sweet new gear as you go along.

But really, the core game itself remains ridiculously full of content, and its Atlantis DLC is among the best content the team has ever done. If you're looking for something to tide you over till February, it's worth going back to Greece one last time.