At last year’s E3, Ubisoft offered a vague teaser video about a new open-world gaming series: Gods and Monsters. While it was slated to launch earlier this year on various platforms, Ubisoft chose to delay the game, along with many others, to later in 2020. We wondered whether this month’s deluge of E3-like streamed videos would include a look at how the game is shaping up.
Instead, our first look at the game comes from a different “video streaming” source: an accidental leak of a playable build, hosted by Google Stadia.
Users across multiple Stadia territories reported finding a game in its store interface on Thursday simply named Orpheus, which could be claimed for “$0.00.” Once claimed and bound to their accounts, users were greeted with a clear Gods and Monsters title screen, then dumped into a prototype interface with options for “Play” and “Play Dungeon.” (The game has since disappeared for anyone who had claimed it.)
The former option boots players into a hall that largely resembles a scene from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, complete with a large, recognizable rug, and it goes on to reuse many other Odyssey assets, including menus, sounds, a “bulletin board” of quests, and fonts. This may be due to that game’s development team leading G&M‘s development, but it also makes quite apparent that G&M will follow in the AC series’ footsteps, in terms of open-world traversal and completing a variety of primary and secondary quests along the way.
After interacting with a placeholder version of the Greek god Hermes, made up entirely of white blocks, the game’s protagonist is free to jump off this zone’s starting tower, which leads to a massive outdoor world of trees, rivers, and lakes that more resembles Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This area’s mechanics are limited, so all players can do is jump around, activate a “double jump,” and use a wall-climbing system. When players latch onto walls, a circular stamina meter appears—and it shamelessly resembles the exact same climbing system from BotW.
The “Play Dungeon” option loads an unfinished, open-space area with some climbing, running, and jumping, along with at least one massive melee weapon and one bow-and-arrow puzzle. This zone also has a variety of white-block placeholder geometry, particularly in the archery puzzle’s targets.
When testing on the cloud goes wrong
This can’t be the way Ubisoft intended to reveal G&M‘s gameplay to the world (which, up until today, had only appeared in “sweetened” images provided directly by Ubisoft last summer). But this weird launch of an early prototype is likely indicative of the realities of game development in 2020, where companies are coming up with inventive ways to conduct QA tests outside of traditional offices.
Stadia may very well be an ideal environment to launch, test, and compare various builds of in-development games, instead of expecting larger fleets of QA testers to have a variety of debug kits and other hardware at their home offices. Destiny 2 studio Bungie said exactly this during a March interview, telling IGN, “Getting playtests at scale is a hard thing to do—a lot of bandwidth involved—so [Stadia has] been collaborating with us to set that up, and that looks like it’s going to be a really amazing solution for us.”
But all of that goes out the window if the wrong build of a game is deployed or made public due to anything ranging from an error on Stadia’s side to someone at Ubisoft tapping the wrong “publish” button—and as of press time, it’s unclear where the blame lies for this prototype’s early publication. For this to happen to Ubisoft is particularly bad news for Stadia, since Ubisoft has remained one of the streaming platform’s more bullish partners in terms of games published there. (Other third parties have begun publicly shrugging their shoulders at Stadia’s bottom-line impact.)
Neither Ubisoft nor Google’s Stadia team immediately responded to questions about the leaked prototype.
Listing image by YouTube / Regorsnas