Ubisoft’s showing at E3 2021 was more or less in line with their showings for the past several years. Despite being a major publisher, they’ve consistently had almost nothing exciting to talk about at the event. Heck, they almost never have anything exciting going on at all anymore. This year’s showcase had one bright spot in the form of Riders Republic, but other than that it all just a bunch of “eh…”. There was one surprise at the end though, but I don’t think it was surprising in the way Ubisoft had hoped. At the very end of their presentation they “surprised” everyone by revealing…Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Okay…
Apparently, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora will let players play as their own Na’vi and explore a new part of the planet known as the “western frontier.” As they do so, they will have to fight strange animals and humans (who are apparently still there for some reason). That’s it. That’s all we know. There was no gameplay or anything, and there was no indication as to what kind of game this is going to be. I wonder if that really matters though, because there’s a bigger question here: who is this for?
Avatar came out in 2009. It was a huge hit and made a ton of money thanks to CG and 3D effects that were admittedly rather stunning (at the time). Many people were even super-into the planet of Pandora and the blue cat-people aliens. However, interest in 3D faded and people quickly realized that the story was very derivative of many tales that had come before. Even more importantly, nothing was done with the franchise past that movie.
It’s been 11 years since that movie released. No sequels have been made. No media of any kind has been produced at all. Avatar is not simply not relevant anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long time. Yet, here comes Ubisoft with a brand new game all these years later, and they somehow think it’s interesting enough to announce as their special “one more thing” showcase capper. What?
For all we know, the game itself (if it actually does come out eventually) may wind up being fantastic. The same goes for those movie sequels they’ve been talking about for the past 10 years. Even if it is good though, how many people are going to want to go back to Avatar now? All the factors that made it a hit in the first place are gone, and it wasn’t all that strong on its own to begin with. Heck, they might’ve done better had they made a completely new IP instead. Something new and exciting would have a lot more cache than a now basically-dead movie franchise (if you can even call it that).
What’s your take on this? Are you psyched for more Avatar or are you just as baffled by Ubisoft’s decision to try and cash-in on it?
Image is official concept art