It’s been nearly 13 years since Ubisoft’s Beyond Good & Evil became an instant cult classic and left fans praying for a resolution to its cliffhanger ending. That long-awaited sequel was announced with a teaser trailer in 2008, but aside from some leaked footage and the Ubisoft brass’ belabored assurances regarding its continued existence, that’s all we heard from the project for eight years. Beyond Good & Evil 2 was never officially cancelled, but it appeared to have been left behind after Ubisoft rode off on the Assassin’s Creed gravy train and Michel Ancel, the game’s director, got caught up in Rayman’s resurrection and partially left the company to start his own studio.
But something strange has been happening over the last week. Ancel started dropping what appears to be concept art for Beyond Good & Evil 2 on his Instagram page, which was subsequently endorsed by Ubisoft’s French Twitter account. The first image, a human mechanic being ridden by an adorable baby pig, came with the caption “Somewhere in system 4…Thanks Ubisoft for making this possible!” The original game is set in the galactic System 4 on the planet Hillys, a place where humans and anthropomorphic animals live side-by-side. The second image is of a shark-man with disturbing gorilla feet, and although this new take is a much more realistic vision, shark-people were already a part of the Beyond Good & Evil universe. Ancel’s third post, a rhino with dreadlocks, is an even more specific callback to a character from the first game. And it’s with this post that Ancel finally gets slightly more detailed about what’s going on. “Game in pre-production—Stay tuned!” he wrote, hinting that a project Ubisoft announced in 2008 is only now entering the earliest phase of a video game’s creation.
Wrapped up in all this teasing is Ubisoft’s struggle to retain corporate independence. Vivendi, a French media conglomerate, holds a 22.8-percent stake in the publisher and has continually shown signs that it’s willing to go through with a hostile takeover. Ubisoft has gone public with its desire to remain independent and fend off those advances, the most dire of which were thwarted just a few days ago as Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and his brother Gerard, CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures, were able to hold onto their seats on the company’s board of directors.
While that threat loomed, Ancel was off posting company-approved pictures of shark-people with captions like “‘Ready for the fight’ independence #ubisoft day.” Given the timing and the internet’s rabid appetite for anything Beyond Good & Evil-related, one could easily see this tease as an attempt at garnering some public support in the face of a hostile takeover. Exciting as the prospect of a new Beyond Good & Evil game entering pre-production is, pre-production doesn’t guarantee it’ll actually get made. And who’s to say this new project is a sequel? Given the house style Ubisoft has developed in the years since the original game and these pieces of concept art, it could easily be a—wait for it—gritty reboot. But here’s to hoping this is the honest-to-goodness restart for the Beyond Good & Evil 2 that everyone wants. After all, what good is maintaining your independence if you’re not going to take some risks?