Ubisoft unveiled a new video game based on the blockbuster film “Avatar” during their June 12 E3 presentation. The game is coming from Massive Entertainment, the studio behind the “Tom Clancy’s The Division” series.
The game, entitled “Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora,” will tell a new standalone story in the world of the film. The player will take control of a Na’vi, a native of Pandora, as they explore never before seen regions of Pandora while opposed by the villainous RDA corporation.
The trailer for the game, which didn’t show any gameplay just yet, places a heavy focus on the wilderness and wildlife that can be found in Pandora. It also features a group of Na’vi warriors fighting off RDA mechs and helicopters from the backs of their flying beasts called banshees.
It remains unknown just how much of the game will feature recognizable elements from the film. The Na’vi and the RDA are the two opposing factions in the movie, but it is yet to be seen if and how the events of the game will line up with what was seen in “Avatar.”
The trailer gave a release year of 2022 for the game. This is the same year that the first of five long-delayed “Avatar” sequels, tentatively called “Avatar: The Way of the Water,” is set to release. The sequels have been in development for years due to insufficient motion capture technology, the Disney purchase of Fox and the coronavirus pandemic. All this is to say that the films have been delayed far past when they were initially planned.
It is possible that this new game will tie into the upcoming sequels. Director James Cameron described the plot of the planned sequels to similarly focus on exploring more of Pandora, so the two may be related in some capacity. One of the film’s producers, Jon Landau, stated that elements of the Flights of Passage ride at Walt Disney World’s “Pandora: Land of Avatar” will be incorporated into the films, providing some precedent for crossover across different mediums.
This isn’t the first time Ubisoft has published a game based on Avatar. In 2009, “James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game” was released alongside the release of the first “Avatar” movie. This game was developed alongside work on the film and served as a prequel to the film, fleshing out the world of Pandora when the film released. This game, in similar fashion to the movie, was praised for its top-notch visuals and world design but was criticized for an average story and gameplay experience. The game also took cues from the movie by being developed with 3D in mind. The game received middling reviews and sales. Thus, it is not widely remembered among games from its era.
“Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora,” along with the upcoming sequels, surely hope to recapture the hearts and minds of audiences like “Avatar” did in 2009. It’s no secret that, despite being the highest grossing movie of all time at one point, “Avatar” does not enjoy the cultural status that other properties like Marvel, Star Wars or genre blockbusters like Jurassic Park have. Reviews for the film are generally positive, but there is little fan culture around the property. Many are hard pressed to remember the name of the film’s main character and “Avatar” mostly serves to make people clarify what they mean when talking about “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” If the game and sequel films are successful, it could lead to the franchise’s reputation being restored.
“Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora,” is set to release on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Windows PC, Stadia and Luna in 2022.
By Ben Lindner