Fuel on the Fire: This is a Good Time For ‘Beyond Good & Evil 2,’ says Ancel

by Joseph Leray

Captain Ahab had Moby Dick and Jay Gatsby had his green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock. I have “Beyond Good & Evil 2,” Michel Ancel’s on-again-off-again follow-up to one of the best games of 2003.

For better or worse, Moby Dick kills almost the entire crew of the Pequod, and Gatsby dies exposed and alone. However, Ubisoft may yet deliver us from the long national nightmare of not having “Beyond Good & Evil 2″: Ancel thinks that the time is right for a sequel and hopes announce something official next year.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Ancel explained that the next generation of consoles are finally powerful enough to execute on his team’s vision for Jade and Pey’j’s adventures.

“In Beyond Good & Evil 1 at first it was a full planet, you could go to the North Pole and see the eternal day,” he explained. “But we had to limit it as were only 35 people. We couldn’t fill the whole world with all the things we wanted.”

“We were frustrated at the end of ’BG&E1,’ and when we started the sequel we started again with this idea — you’re free and and can investigate and travel the world as much as you want.”

Ancel and his team first started working on “Beyond Good and Evil 2″ in 2005, near the end of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox console cycle. The tech still wasn’t to the Montpellier studio’s liking, and Ubisoft shifted it’s focus to the “Rayman” series — “Raving Rabbids” first and “Rayman Origins” more recently.

Now that “Rayman Legends” is wrapping up — and with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on the horizon — Ubisoft Montpellier are free to create the open-world version of Hillys they’ve been sitting on for over a decade. “We wanted to not make this experience [BG&E2] linear, to give the player freedom to explore planet to planet, city to city – and not empty cities, of course,” says Ancel.

“It was not the time when we worked on it before, it was too ambitious, honestly,” he continued. “And this is the game that we want to do at the right time. So now that we have the right team and the right tools, this would be a good time to do it.”

While Ancel admits that his team have some work already completed, he doesn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up: any official announcement is at least a year away.

Still, it’s nice to hear some good news on project. Depending on who you ask, “Beyond Good & Evil 2″ has been cancelled, postponed, or development hell’d, or Michel Ancel has been working on it in secret underneath Ubisoft’s collective nose.

I always liked the idea that Michel Ancel had somehow gone rogue, developing “Beyond Good & Evil 2″ without Ubisoft’s approval. Between that and his somewhat muted response to the delay of “Rayman Legend” — when he posed for pictures with angry fans outside his Montpellier offices — Ancel has cultivated an air of rebelliousness, of being willing to push the limits of Ubisoft’s corporate patience.

That aura was more-than-likely invented whole cloth by fawning media types like myself, but it also adds a certain romantic twinge to “Beyond Good & Evil 2,” a perennially-jilted game a decade in the making. Call me Ishmael, I guess.

For more on Ubisoft’s plan and Ancel’s explanation of some supposed “Beyond Good & Evil 2″ trailers, be sure to read Eurogamer’s full interview.