Feature

Beyond Good & Evil 2 Wishlist

by Katie Seville on Nov 26, 2013 at 01:00 PM

Now a cult classic in the video game world, Ubisoft’s Beyond Good & Evil debuted to critical acclaim, but its poor sales hindered its initial trilogy plans. In the decade since its original release, however, the game has earned both a devoted following and an HD remake on XBLA and PSN.

First hinted at with a teaser trailer in 2008, a sequel to Beyond Good & Evil has been in development for many years now. Series creator Michel Ancel has since returned his focus to the project, having been occupied developing Rayman Origins and Legends. According to an interview with Eurogamer, Ancel’s vision for the sequel is so grand that it couldn’t have been achieved on the consoles present during initial development in 2008. He’d been waiting for the next-gen systems to be announced before doing more work on the game.

Now that those consoles are here and BGE 2’s development is hopefully underway, our minds are brimming with ideas of what this sequel could bring to the series.

Please note that this article does contain spoilers for Beyond Good & Evil.

More To The Story And Characters

It’s easy to get attached to BGE’s likable protagonist, Jade, and her allies, which is impressive considering the relatively short length of the game. Jade’s origins are a mystery to herself and players alike, and the game doesn’t reveal much. Although the conclusion did shed some light on Jade’s past, it introduced more questions than answers. The sequel could give players the option to investigate Jade’s connection to the DomZ, her arrival on Hylis, and the nature of Shauni.

BGE provides even fewer details about NPCs and Jade’s allies than it does about her. Pey’j, Jade’s adoptive uncle, is the easiest of her allies to grow attached to. However, this may be because Pey’j is the ally players learn the most about. There is also a limited amount of conversation Jade can have with each companion, and new dialogue choices are few and far between. Providing backstories and interactions to flesh out future characters would make them more interesting and relatable. Having voice-acted dialogue would also help.

Multiple, Dynamic Worlds And Their People

The story of BGE took place largely on the planet of Hylis, and Ubisoft did its best to make it feel like a sprawling, populated world. The effect was convincing when I first played the game, but now it feels a bit forced. According to various interviews, Ancel wants to include numerous planets in the sequel. These planets could be completely open to exploration, unlike Hylis in BGE, where players are limited to a sectioned-off area. 

The multiple worlds Ancel envisions for the sequel would feel more vibrant if they had a dynamic, diverse populace. Compared to the busy, sometimes roaming, people of Skyrim, Hylis’ populace seems pretty staged. With the new generation of consoles, BGE’s static NPCs, drawn from a small pool of character models, will hopefully be a thing of the past. Cities should feel lived-in, with NPCs going about their lives, and perhaps even seeking you out. 

Jade only had two different companions over the course of the first game, but the sequel could introduce more. We want to see Pey’j return, naturally, but BGE 2 might allow players to have more than one companion at a time, and even recruit some. Alternatively, players could also choose to venture out alone.

[Next Up: Movement, combat, and gear]

Utilize Jade’s Acrobatic Abilities

Although it seems a bit dated now, Jade’s movements felt fluid and natural at the time of BGE’s release. Sneaking around hidden areas of the city and the Alpha Sections’ bases, ducking behind objects and leaping over lasers made me feel like a secret agent. It was the first game I’d played that really utilized stealth, and I loved it. A BGE 2 Jade would benefit from some new moves though, such as the parkour-style running seen in a 2009 concept trailer.

In another interview with Eurogamer, Ancel explains that the sequel's control scheme for Jade during such sequences is similar to that of The Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed. If the development team gives Jade the free-climbing abilities of these series’ protagonists, and Tomb Raider-like skills to navigate treacherous terrain, Jade will be an absolute joy to control, whether she’s running in a city or exploring a cave.

Spice-Up The Combat

Jade’s fighting abilities could also do with an upgrade. Combat in BGE is extremely streamlined, uses only one button, and is perhaps the weakest element in the game. Combat in the sequel shouldn’t limit Jade to using only her staff, and could bring her acrobatic prowess into play with kicks and jumps. While the first game only had a small number of enemy types, the sequel’s multiple planets could host a large variety of dangerous creatures and foes.

It’s important that the sequel not have any combat functions linked to the camera, because it makes that function cumbersome and leaves Jade vulnerable to attack. To fire the gyrodisk launcher in BGE, players must first bring up the camera-view – even in the middle of a fight. This is more than a little inconvenient, since Jade can’t run around while aiming with the camera. Instead, long-range attacks could be fired with a separate button, and aimed mid-battle using a Legend of Zelda-style “lock-on” function.

Add Upgrades, Gear, And Customization

Like its combat, BGE’s item system is very streamlined. Besides collecting additional health containers for Jade and the hovercraft, there are very few additional upgrades or gear for Jade to find. The sequel should not only introduce more upgrades, but make them more satisfying to acquire. Perhaps a particular upgrade is only found by exploring an obscure location, or earned by completing a quest. BGE 2 could even introduce upgrade slots for Jade’s weapon, camera, or other gadgets, so that players can customize these to their liking.

The sequel could also introduce a variety of new weapons and gear. The only additional gear players can find for Jade in BGE is the gyrodisk launcher, and it’s awkward to use. Having multiple weapon options besides the staff would help keep combat fresh. Having a variety of gear with different effects to equip, as in BioShock Infinite, would make combat even more interesting.

[Next Up: Vehicles, the camera, and consequences]

Travel, Transport, And More Customization

For most of BGE, the hovercraft is Jade’s sole means of transportation. The spaceship, Beluga, is available later in the game, but is only useful for getting to a few specific locations. The sequel should offer a variety of vehicle options to travel around and between planets. Having a number of different vehicles to unlock or even build to navigate various environments would make travel more entertaining. Fast travel and smaller vehicles would allow players to move between key locations or around a city more quickly. 

These vehicles could also be customizable in terms of aesthetics, as in the Borderlands series, and in function. As with her gear and weapons, Jade’s vehicles could also be equipped with a variety of swappable upgrades. One situation might call for more speed, and players could prepare their vehicle accordingly. 

Jade Reporting & Co.

The sequel shouldn’t have any combat functions linked to the camera, because it’s cumbersome and leaves Jade vulnerable to attack. The camera is, however, still an integral part of BGE. Jade couldn’t make her reports or collect data on Hylis’ wildlife without it. I really enjoyed finding and documenting BGE’s different organisms, and I wish there were more. The sequel could have Jade continue this work, either as a way to make money, a side-quest, or both.

In BGE, Jade also uses her camera to collect visual evidence for reports – something I think should continue in the sequel. Truth is a prevalent theme in the first game, and Jade’s reporting skills play an important role in revealing it to the public. BGE 2 could task players with uncovering evidence or finding leads across multiple planets to uncover the main story or for side-quests. Like the camera function in BioShock, BGE 2 could also allow Jade to collect data on a foe by snapping a picture.

Consequences For Your Actions

The multiple worlds of BGE 2, and their people, would feel even more alive if they could be influenced by Jade’s actions and reports. In BGE, the residents of Hylis’ few populated areas reacted in scripted ways to Jade’s Iris Network reports, progressively shifting their opinion in favor of the rebellion. The sequel could take a less-linear approach and give players more control over what and how much to report. In the style of Mass Effect 3, Jade might sway whole groups to her side by doing a quest in a particular fashion. She could also gain the favor of various individuals by doing particular tasks, as players can do in the Elder Scrolls and Fable series.

Besides influencing people, Jade’s actions – or inactions – might also impact her world. In BGE, the orphans under Jade and Pey’j’s care are abducted, and there’s nothing players can do about it. When I first played the game, I feared that my failure to return to the lighthouse regularly had doomed the orphans, and reloaded a previous save to correct my mistake. It was frustrating when the orphans were abducted despite my many visits, but in retrospect, it did help me relate to Jade’s feelings of helplessness. In the sequel, different actions could have different consequences, as they do in the Mass Effect series. 

These are our favorite ideas for what Beyond Good & Evil 2 could bring to the series, but they are only some of the many possibilities. What would you like to see from Beyond Good & Evil 2, and where would you take the series? What aspects of the first game would carry over, change, or do away with entirely? Let us know what you think in the comments.