EA's new battlemage FPS had me at '25-hour singleplayer campaign'

immortals of aveum
(Image credit: EA)

You know that disheartening feeling when you look around and realize a thing you liked has basically evaporated? That's how I've been feeling about big, bombastic shooter campaigns the past few years. Respawn moved on from Titanfall years ago, Battlefield has gone multiplayer-only, and even Arkane's Redfall is a co-op FPS that requires a constant internet connection (opens in new tab) (for now). Call of Duty, Doom, and an eventual Stalker 2 are still carrying the torch, but let's face it: the big-budget singleplayer FPS is on life support. Immortals of Aveum, the latest EA Original, is hoping to give it a shot of adrenaline. 

Or, ya know, a healing totem or whatever. It's a magic shooter, a subgenre that usually only pops up once in a long while (but recently twice (opens in new tab) in a short while (opens in new tab)). Ditto for its purported 25-hour singleplayer campaign—there's no multiplayer, battle pass, or roadmap to speak of here. Just a neat-looking first-person "battlemage" adventure from a guy who used to be in charge of Call of Duty campaigns. 

That's Ascendant Studios founder Bret Robbins, who previously directed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare, and World War 2 at Sledgehammer. Based on a hands-off campaign demonstration shown to press last week, I'd say Immortals actually has more in common with Doom 2016. It's not a twitch shooter: evil wizards take a lot more punishment than military grunts and there's a fair bit of verticality, too. Players find upgrades, level up skill trees, slot in new gear, and solve environmental puzzles.

Modern Warfare this is certainly not, but some instantly recognizable CoD-isms like cinematic cutscenes that bookend missions or the commander barking orders in your ear suggest Robbins is still making what he knows.

I couldn't play Immortals of Aveum, but I think it looks fun in the same way you can watch a trailer on Steam and be about 80% sure you'll like it. Combat revolves around three core right-hand spells: red for shotgun, blue for beam, and green for lock-on machinegun. Your left hand is where you cast your control spells, like a blue laser whip that looks straight out of 2011's Bulletstorm or green globs that slow down enemies and traps. 

At first I wondered if that means Immortals only has three "guns" to its arsenal, but Robbins told me players acquire new sigils (the gauntlet gizmo that you shoot spells out of) that dramatically modify how these base spells behave.

"There's the Shrike bolt spell, which is like a fast fire, accurate blue magic spell. You can get the Javelin style sigil, which actually turns that into more of like a charge up shot. For green magic you can get the seeker sigil, which have a much higher guided homing projectile," Robbins said.

"So really among the three colors, there are nine variants of different types of sigils that can really alter how you use those primary spells."

That sounds like enough metaphorical guns to fill a weapon wheel, though I'm not yet convinced that metaphorical videogame guns are better than actual videogame guns. There's a reason almost every shooter is a gun shooter: recoil, reload animations, and explosive trigger pulls are effective forms of feedback that communicate power instantly. Also: Guns are cool.

immortals of aveum

(Image credit: EA)

Immortals spells look spammy and weak in a way that eventually got on my nerves in Hogwarts Legacy and Ghostwire: Tokyo. It also got a little tough to keep up with the action with six battlemages flinging various flavors of skittles at each other. I'll reserve actual judgment until I play it, of course. Maybe the spells feel and sound cooler when there's nobody talking over the footage.

I'm more skeptical of the story. Ascendant didn't show much, but the cutscenes we watched concerned a war over control of deposits of magic energy. There's a guy with an evil-sounding name who wears sharp armor and doesn't show his face. I spotted a dragon—you know, fantasy stuff, but intentionally not high fantasy. Robbins said he didn't want to engage in most standard fantasy tropes like wands or pointy wizard hats (hence the militarized "battlemage" hoo-rah aesthetic). I'm not into it, but I was probably never going to be.

I am, however, into FPS campaigns enough that I'm definitely playing this. I'm taking what I can get and I hope it's great. Immortals of Aveum releases on consoles, Steam, and the Epic Store on July 20 (and yes, it's a full $60 game).

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.