OtherSide Entertainment have announced Underworld Ascension, a “return to the beloved Underworld series.” Which, from the sounds of it, means Ultima Underworld and Ultima Underworld 2.
OtherSide Entertainment is a brand new indie studio fronted by Paul Neurath, a veteran designer and director who worked at Origin, Looking Glass, Eidos, and EA, and worked on franchises from Ultima Underworld through Thief and System Shock. He also worked on Arx Fatalis, which is probably the most Ultima Underworld-ish game I can think of that wasn’t actually called Ultima Underworld.
Not much in the way of hard details on Underworld Ascension, but it sounds like it won’t be using the Ultima license. The game is aiming to innovate and revitalise the fantasy RPG once again, though; if it’s following on from Ultima Underworld‘s roots then it’ll likely be a single-hero, first-person, real-time RPG with a lot of characters and a living, breathing world. Or underworld.
This particular project has already received a bunch of endorsements from gaming luminaries. Richard Garriott, who credits the Underworld franchise to Paul Neurath, called the original games “a watershed event” and claims to be “as excited about Underworld as any game I can imagine.” Ken Levine says the original Underworld games “primed all of my creative ambitions.” Chris Roberts calls the original “the granddaddy of first-person role-playing games”, and Warren Spector – the producer of the original games – reckons that Underworld changed the world. “As the first fully-textured, real-time, first-person game, Underworld paved the way for every other first-person game that followed,” he says, which is a hell of a claim.
Personally, as a fan of first-person real-time RPGs in thoroughly well-built worlds, I’m rather excited – and that’s without any real details.