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Watch Beyond Good & Evil 2’s 14-minute E3 gameplay demo

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It’s real, and it’s spectacular

We learned last week that Beyond Good & Evil 2 is actually a real video game, no goofing, and now we have even more concrete proof: Ubisoft has released footage of the in-engine gameplay demo that developer Ubisoft Montpellier showed behind closed doors at E3 2017.

Running for more than 14 minutes, the video goes back and forth between creative director Michel Ancel playing the demo live and direct-feed footage of the game itself. Ancel refers to it as “a mix between a technological demonstration of the engine that we call Voyager, and the actual game with some gameplay elements,” so the final version of Beyond Good & Evil 2 — whenever it ends up launching — may or may not closely resemble this demo.

The demo begins with a mothership, which appeared in the E3 trailer, floating in front of a massive statue of the Hindu god Ganesha. Ancel compares spaceships in Beyond Good & Evil 2 to matryoshka dolls — the mothership, which is 400 meters long, can fit the player’s earlier 20-meter vessel inside itself. He adds that the ships’ interiors are fully explorable spaces.

“You can explore everything, and you can gather informations and share those informations — with NPCs, but also between players,” says Ancel.

Continuing the exploration theme, Ancel lands the monkey character on top of the Ganesha deity in order to show off the scale of the game world. The monkey, which appears to be about human-size, looks like a speck of dust when standing on the crown of the 700-meter statue. Then comes the wow moment: Ancel zooms the camera out again to show Ganesha in the context of a city, a continent and a planet — which turns out to be a small satellite orbiting a much larger planet, both of which are revolving around a star.

“That was one of the big [features] we wanted to make sure that we had before showing the game to the public, to everybody,” says Ancel, as a way of explaining why we had to wait so long to see Beyond Good & Evil 2. “We wanted to make sure that the technology was working, and that this big, ambitious game was feasible.”

We also get a look at how ship flight works in Beyond Good & Evil 2. Ancel takes the smaller dogfighting aircraft out for a spin, getting close to 1,000 kph (621.37 mph) at the surface of the planet. Then he engages hyper speed: level 1 (5,000 kph), level 2 (12,000 kph) and level 3 (20,000 kph). Once he fully escapes the planet’s atmosphere, that same hyper speed 3 can get up to about 100,000 kph in space.

Ancel goes on to explain the dizzying detail of the game’s universe, and how everything seems to comport with the laws of nature. For instance, people build cities on one side of the small satellite because it’s relatively safe: The region is shielded from the meteorite impacts that make the other side so treacherous (and actually modify the surface). Thing is, those space rocks are chock full of valuable resources, so the universe’s superpowers send hybrid animals — the creatures they’ve created as a slave labor force — to that dangerous place to harvest the resources.

“It’s not just about the planet on one side and the story on the other one,” Ancel says. “The planet and the story are connected, and that’s a very important thing for us.”

Ancel and the team at Ubisoft Montpellier are inviting fans to get involved in the development of Beyond Good & Evil 2 with an initiative called the Space Monkey Program. More details are available on the game’s website.