The Underworld Ascendant launch trailer puts an old dungeon in a new light

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Underworld Ascendant faces quite a challenge: Ultima Underworld, the 1992 game that inspired it, was a transcendent experience that served up a living, breathing world unlike any that had been seen before. I don't expect Ascendant to surpass it in any way, but can it live up to the standard it set?   

James cast doubt on that back in his June preview, describing it as "a 3D homage to Ultima Underworld stripped of the theatrics and imagination required to convincingly roleplay a character." Based solely on the screens and trailers I've seen so far, that's been my impression as well: It looks like an interesting physics-based sandbox, but what's the actual game? 

The launch trailer released today continues to lean on that aspect of the Underworld, without showcasing any of the elements that made the original so compelling, like deep lore, conversations with monsters (most of whom just want to live their lives), or the large, open levels filled with puzzles and secrets. Which, to be fair, are tough things to get across when you've got 60 seconds to attract and hold people's attention in a trailer, but I'd very much like to get a glimpse of a talkative troll or two in there. 

Underworld Ascendant comes out on November 15. Get details on Steam (where it is not yet available for pre-purchase, by the way) or at underworldascendant.com

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.