It's only been 25 years since Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss changed the world of first-person dungeon crawlers. Then, three years ago, the announcement came that a sequel, the Kickstarted-funded Underworld Ascendant, was in the works from studio OtherSide Entertainment and publisher 505 Games. Last year, OtherSide said that the game's release was slated for the second half of 2018 and that's still apparently true.
According to The Verge, new gameplay footage was shown at the gaming convention PAX South in San Antonio, Texas. While backers of the Kickstarter project — which has raised $860,356 from an initial $600,000 goal — are able to play a pre-alpha version of Ascendant, game director Joe Fielder expressed his grand plans for the project. Mainly, he wants the follow-up to distinguish itself from all the games that were inspired by the first Underworld like System Shock, Dishonored, Deus Ex, and Prey. A continual process of trial and error (i.e. experimentation) will inform this sequel.
“You can see how [Ultima Underworld] inspired other games, but there are many systems that exist within there that no one has followed up about,” he told The Verge.
A lot of the elements unique to Underworld revolve around its fantasy world as well as the game physics that dictate gameplay. These include choosing a specific point to resurrect (a Silver Sapling) or utilizing a flammable slug trail.
“Ultimately, the tired old ways of the past aren’t going to dispatch Typhon [the game's villain]. You really need a creative, innovative mind to do this,” said Fielder. The game’s factions will also favor different gameplay styles — a fungal hive mind called the Shamblers will get angry if you use too much fire, for example, and another faction might love melee combat."