I'm all for a trip back into the Stygian Abyss, the living dungeon that served as playground (and death trap) in Looking Glass' Underworld games. By the looks of things, OtherSide Entertainment, stocked with LG veterans (including Paul Neurath), wants to take the "living" aspect to another level in Underworld Ascendant, with most of the fun coming from the game's so-called "Improvisation Engine".
In the developer diary above, several members of the Ascendant team explain the title's emergent elements, something that's been a massive focus in all aspects of the game from the narrative to the environment.
The Improvisation Engine, however, sounds like the cornerstone of Ascendant, as game director Joe Fielder explains:
The Improvisation Engine is a series of interwoven systems that ensure that the game has plenty of variety and challenge for the player ... one of the best things about [it] to me is the replayability, the idea that I can come back to a level and have a widely different experience with different quest goals; different creatures that I'm fighting; different creatures that are there that are potentially helpful.
In fact, lead engineer Will Teixeira is confident that the game is so flexible, players will do "kind of broken" things:
...the more that we allow players to mess with the world — even if it looks kind of broken — I think that's great. I love it because it means that players have way more to do in that game.
To be honest, I'm on the fence about this. I love emergent gameplay, but not if has a negative impact on immersion (for games where ambience and setting are important). Just something to keep an eye on!
A teaser trailer (watchable below) was released simultaneously with the developer diary.