With Immortals Fenyx Rising, developer Ubisoft Quebec had a pre-made pool of enemies to draw from thanks to the bestiary of Greek Mythology. From Harpies to Gorgons to Hydras, the ancient myths are packed with fantastical monsters to recreate in digital form.To learn more about five of Immortals’ most iconic enemies, we spoke to game director Scott Phillips and art director Thierry Dansereau to find out how these beats were designed and implemented into the world of Fenyx Rising.
Phillips: The Griffin is my most hated enemy. Honestly, the toughest one for me to fight. The Griffin flies around and because the combat is much more airborne, and we wanted you to be thinking in three dimensions. This is the creature that really pushes that to the furthest level. You can figure out ways to parry the Griffin when it comes swooping in but, by and large, he’s always in the air except when he gets stunned.
Dansereau: We’ve designed them based on what we’ve learned on Greek mythology, which is the mix of the eagle with feathers and claws for four-legged creatures. And then it comes to stylization, because they’re not realistic… We wanted to make sure that our creature would look a part of this world and fit that world. So that’s why they’re simplified if you compared them to what you’d see in a more realistic game.
Phillips: It’s a fun enemy to read from a distance. Seeing him stomp and getting ready to rush you and then thinking, ‘Okay, am I going to try and parry him? Am I going to dodge? Am I going to jump? Am I just going to ram into him with one of my abilities and try and butt heads and stop him?’
Dansereau: We did try to highlight his key feature, which is his horn. Because he will run towards you, and try to hit you with them and charge you. So this is where we put the light accent, where players should pay attention to.
Phillips: When he’s fighting you in a more densely packed area, when he’s rushing and breaking things or stumbling himself into walls, the world feels alive and he feels very interactive and dynamic.
Dansereau: Each level [of minotaur] has different colors, but also effects. So the tougher they get, the more effects they have on them. At some point there are flames around them and tendrils and particles floating around them. So it’s very obvious that the guy is tougher.
Phillips: Cerberus is almost always going to be found around the rifts, which are the entries into the Vaults of Tartaros. He shoots flame and fireballs out of his mouth. You can sense he has a bit of trouble turning because of his wide size and the three heads. So, you can sort of get around him, but he can also turn very quickly, and he has a great attack where the three heads will chomp.
Dansereau: We wanted to make it look like he’s going to be a tough opponent, so he has parts of armor on him. And the further he gets tougher, there’s fire all over him. He is also throwing fireballs at you and making a blast radius.
What I love with them is on the animation side also, there is one of the heads that has its tongue out. Sometimes they have very funny idle animations.
Phillips: Everyone knows [the cyclops]. Giant guy that can pick up trees and throw them at you, and pull rocks out of the ground and throw them at you, or smash into the ground, or flip you up and swat at you in the air. There are several legendary lieutenants – really, really big cyclopes – and then there’s the world boss cyclops, which is the biggest of all of them, and each of them have a unique fighting style.
Dansereau: We wanted to make sure [in Immortals] that the eye is a key target. Because if you hit him with an arrow in his eye you could stun him. So that’s why we paid a lot of attention to make sure that the eye was super visible.
Phillips: He takes more damage from head shots, and that was always an interesting one. It’s so obvious and iconic to have the one eye as the key weakness. But something we struggled with a bit on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey [with the cyclops] was, ‘Okay, but if I’m an archer, well then he’s super easy to beat because I just slow time down and I shoot him in the eye and it’s over.’ So, we had to find a good balance where that was effective but not the ultimate and easy Achilles heel for this creature.
Phillips: The Hecatoncheires. He’s one of the creepiest creatures we have, with his six arms and face full of [eyes]. He looks like an ant, or a fly almost, in that he’s got multiple eyes all over his face.
Dansereau: For technical reasons, we couldn’t do 100 arms, so we limit ourselves to six.
Phillips: He’s one of the creepiest and scariest to look at. He’s sort of like Wile E. Coyote, whirling dervish sort of a fight style, where he’ll roll himself up into a ball and then roll across the arena to try and smash you, and he also can swing and obviously hit with three arms or six arms in a few swings. So, he’s really deadly. I would definitely put him at the top end of our most difficult creatures.
Dansereau: For us it was an interesting creature to play with because it’s unexpected. You don’t know how to fight this with all the arms.
This creature is a mix of spider and a humanoid. So there’s a lot of animation, like the way it moves, or the idle, or the attack. Even the eyes, the face has six eyes, so it’s spider-ish in the treatment. So it’s a mix of an insect creature and that’s how we treated the animation. Design wise also we tried to make sure it looks like something very strange and dangerous.
For more on Immortals Fenyx Rising, see what Phillips and Dansereau had to say about each of the open world’s regions in our tour of The Golden Isle, and our interview with the narrative director about how dynamic narrators Zeus and Prometheus work.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.