Immortals of Aveum, a brand-new IP developed by Ascendant Studios under the EA Originals label, was first revealed at The Game Awards 2022 before it went silent, resurfacing in April and revealing a July release date. Because of this relatively short marketing window, it's easy to forgive anyone who has let this new first-person shooter fly under their radar; if anything, that opens them up for a big splash when it does land.
In Immortals of Aveum, players take on the role of a Battlemage named Jak as he gets involved in the Everwar. This war over the control of Magic and leylines in the world once consisted of five nations, but as three fall away and the antagonist army grows in strength, it's up to Jak and his allies to save the world from teetering over the abyss. This premise ties in high fantasy, magic, military operations, and more for something truly special. Magic FPS games don't really have a strong presence in the current market, but Immortals of Aveum stands ready to change that. Game Rant recently spent about three hours playing the game, which included a tutorial section and two levels.
Based on trailers for Immortals of Aveum shown so far, there's a lot to question about the title. Does it balance its high fantasy and military elements to appeal to fans of magic and Call of Duty? Does its magic FPS gameplay feel as impactful as it should? Are the characters and narrative engaging, or does it fall into general tropes? These answers may be subjective to everyone, but from our perspective, the answer is absolutely yes. Immortals of Aveum is something more than the sum of its parts, it's not just Call of Duty with dragons, but something much more than that.
We played through the early game tutorial to get acquainted with how the magic in Immortals of Aveum works. It can hardly be said that a tutorial is "fun," but the interactions between Jak and
Commander Kirkan (played by Destiny actor Gina Torres) were truly something fun to witness. Learning all the ropes, as general as they may seem on the surface, went a long way too. There are three colors players will utilize throughout the game: red, blue, and green. Red Magic operates like a shotgun or close-range explosive, blue operates like sniper rifles or hand cannons, and green operates like mid-range SMGs or assault rifles. Each truly felt as impactful as a weapon from Call of Duty or Destiny; the gunplay in Immortals of Aveum is clearly second to none.
The tutorial also introduced us to the lash ability, which can be used to latch on to an enemy and drag them up close. There's nothing more satisfying than lashing an enemy across the map, ripping them up close, and absolutely destroying them with a red magic spell in Immortals of Aveum. Because these spells need to "reload" like a proper weapon, the game encourages players to swap between spells (just like swapping between weapons is faster), and this leads to a lot of variety on the battlefield. The layout of a map is important in any FPS game, and that's no different here. It's clear that cover is sparse, though not non-existent, as a means to bring out the power fantasy. Players will spend a lot of running around the battlefield, unleashing spells, and truly feeling like a god among men.
At one point in one of the later levels, we also came face to face with a dragon-like creature. Trying to lash at bigger, bulkier enemies causes players to fly toward them instead of the reverse, and while it was clearly not working, lashing onto the dragon and blasting it was still mindless fun. We truly enjoyed hitting our Destiny 2-like hand cannon shots with blue magic, as well as unloading on enemies with green magic, but everything is suitable to any player's preferred playstyle. Beyond just these, players also get Limpits which can be used to slow enemies, shields to reflect shots, and the ability to stun enemies with another spell, allowing for truly remarkable combinations in gameplay and spectacle. Each of these also can be used in various puzzles, while players also get a triple-jump of sorts eventually, with that last one allowing players to hover in battle and truly realize that Battlemage power fantasy.
It's the small things that make the spectacle of any game worthwhile, and that's certainly true in Immortals of Aveum. Equipping a different spell in any slot (green/red/blue) not only functions differently, but the runes that appear when casting them differ. The gauntlets players equip (known as Sigils in-game) take on a different appearance and design for most spell set-ups, and it's easy to gear Jak to one's personal liking. Beyond those, players can change their totems, equip bracers and rings, and so forth. With equipment, it's easy to foresee some criticism that it's taking these looter shooter elements and applying them loosely, but devs promised that these can have serious impacts on a build in Immortals of Aveum.
We can't speak to that from personal experience, but what we can add is that Talents are truly in-depth. Each Talent tree—corresponding to one of the three magic colors—features about 27 abilities players can pick and choose to tailor their builds. And in some scenarios, Talents not only give players more options when it comes to their abilities but can fundamentally change how they work. As one example, we could upgrade our lash ability to decrease cooldown times, add another lash before we need to recharge, and more. And that's only one of many, many options.
Throughout the preview session, we encountered three bosses (one for the tutorial, one for each of the levels). Each battle was something completely different, with that final one being truly challenging. It not only required us to rely on all three forms of magic, but utilize all of our abilities, all of our talents, and be wise on the actual battlefield to take it down. Immortals of Aveum presents a challenge befitting any Call of Duty campaign, but it doesn't punish players. It rewards them, instead, for learning and applying the versatile gameplay it offers. The story is as much of a reward as anything else; without delving into spoiler territory, it's worth adding the glimpse we had hooked us immediately.
Immortals of Aveum pulls so much from the gaming sphere into one cohesive package it's remarkable. Of course, the caveat here is that we've only played a small part of the game, but it feels like its campaign could rival the best Call of Duty has to offer, with LOTR and Destiny 2-style worldbuilding and fantasy. There is so much to Immortals of Aveum that we experienced in three hours that few games could replicate in an entire playthrough. All of these are just parts of the game, and the whole is something much more than all of these combined. There's some stiff competition this year, but if the rest of the game matches the sheer quality, fun, and power fantasy we experienced in our three-hour session, Immortals of Aveum could prove a dark horse contender in GOTY talks too.
Immortals of Aveum releases July 20 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.