What’s up with Beyond Good and Evil 2?

In June, on the eve of the release of Beyond Good & Evil – 20th Anniversary Edition, publisher Ubisoft made a surprising announcement: The sequel to that game, Beyond Good and Evil 2, was still in development, the company said. It was the first official update on the sequel, which has been in the works for a staggering 17 years, since 2021.

To show that it was serious about finally delivering Beyond Good and Evil 2 at some point, Ubisoft even put a new teaser for the sequel in its remaster of the original Beyond Good & Evil. A new treasure hunt in the anniversary edition “reveals more about the narrative link to Beyond Good and Evil 2, showing Ubisoft’s enduring commitment to the franchise,” the company said.

That narrative link was quickly discovered by players. It shows a holographic message to protagonist Jade from Dakini, Jade’s mother figure and the captain of the space pirate ship Gada. In addition to the heartfelt recording, Dakini presents Jade with a number of artifacts tied to characters who will appear in Beyond Good and Evil 2 — a prequel to the original game.

[embedded content]

The collectible artifacts include a compass from Dakini, a knife from chimpanzee pirate Knox, a chess piece from Gada engineer Callum, goggles from the pilot Yaashan, and a dreamcatcher from chief medical officer Uma. These characters — all of whom were seen in Beyond Good and Evil 2’s 2018 cinematic trailer — are given additional color in a series of multimedia discs that Jade can collect in the 20th-anniversary release.

This new content would appear to confirm that Ubisoft plans on sticking with the previously revealed cast and setting of Beyond Good and Evil 2, which has seen a series of ups and downs over its absurdly long development timeline. Whether the version of Beyond Good and Evil 2 that ultimately comes out will be the vast open-world, single-player and cooperative shared universe that was previously promised — or something more modest — remains to be seen.

But for a reminder of how we got here, and what Ubisoft has said about Beyond Good and Evil 2 over the past decade and a half, read on for a brief history of the game’s development.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 was first teased as far back as 2007, when then-game director Michel Ancel teased a sequel in the pages of Nintendo Power. “I am currently working on a game that means a lot to me,” Ancel said, “where the foundation is immersion and a sense of incredible journey.”

A year later, Ancel himself would later announce the project outright, telling French publication JeuxVideo, “I’ve been working on Beyond Good & Evil 2. We’ve been in pre-production for a year. […] But for now, it’s at the draft stage. Ubisoft hasn’t given its approval yet.”

Ubisoft released the first official look at Beyond Good and Evil 2 at its Ubidays ’08 event, teasing the return of characters Jade and Pey’j, but not outright naming the game as a sequel to Beyond Good & Evil. The trailer was described by Ubisoft as representative of the graphical fidelity of the then-current-generation consoles: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

[embedded content]

A year after the sequel’s official reveal, a supposedly leaked gameplay trailer was published online by various media outlets. Ubisoft denied that it had intentionally leaked the footage, which showed a character — seemingly Jade — running through city streets and escaping her pursuers by hijacking a delivery helicopter. Ancel validated the authenticity of the leaked gameplay in an interview with Geoff Keighley, in what appeared to be a continuing back-and-forth between the game director and his publisher over how to promote Beyond Good and Evil 2.

For the next decade, the fate of Beyond Good and Evil 2 was unclear. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Ancel said in multiple interviews that the game was still in development, but that other projects (Rayman Legends, Wild) had slowed or interrupted its progress. Ubisoft president Laurent Detoc seemed more skeptical about BG&E 2’s fate, telling Industry Gamers in 2009, “Whether or not it comes out remains to be seen.”

Beyond Good and Evil 2 resurfaced in 2016, when Ancel posted concept art for the game to Instagram, hinting at its prequel setting and saying that the game was still in “pre-production.” Ubisoft later specified in a Facebook post that BG&E 2 was “in development.”

At E3 2017, Ubisoft re-revealed Beyond Good and Evil 2 with a new cinematic trailer that introduced much of the game’s space pirate cast. Ancel and Ubisoft confirmed the game was a prequel and that players would take on the role of a character of their own creation. They wouldn’t play as Jade again. Ancel also confirmed that previous iterations of the game shown nearly a decade prior were from a narrative sequel, and that the game had changed substantially over the past decade.

[embedded content]

Ancel also showed a 14-minute gameplay demo of BG&E 2 that year, which he described as “a mix between a technological demonstration of the engine that we call Voyager, and the actual game with some gameplay elements.”

The game’s 2017 showing also introduced Ubisoft’s Space Monkey Program, an initiative that was pitched as a way for Beyond Good & Evil fans to “create art and music that will be integrated directly in the game.”

“The BGE community has already been creating incredible fan art, fan fiction, cosplay, music, [and] videos over the years, so we got to thinking of ways for us to be more inclusive to all community members,” Ubisoft’s description of the program reads. “Through our partnership with HitRecord, the community can participate even more directly in the making of our game.”

HitRecord is actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s company and website that serves as a “hub of collaboration for a community full of people who love making all kinds of art together,” according to Gordon-Levitt. The Space Monkey Program and HitRecord’s involvement immediately drew backlash, as it appeared that Ubisoft was asking its fans to contribute unpaid labor and spec work to the creation of Beyond Good and Evil 2, with the only return being the promise of “special events and demos, and [to] be among the first to play the game.”

In 2018, Ubisoft put out a second cinematic trailer that explored the Gada space pirate crew and teased the return of a younger Jade.

[embedded content]

After this, Ubisoft and Ancel went quiet again on the game’s development. In September 2020, Ancel announced on Instagram he had fully left Ubisoft, but that “[for] many months now the [Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Wild] teams are autonomous and the projects are going super well.” The following month, Ancel said he hadn’t worked directly with the Ubisoft Montpellier team for nearly two years, and said he’d only been working on the game in an advisory role. That update was in response to a report in the French newspaper Libération that had alleged harsh working conditions on the game and chaotic direction from Ancel.

In 2021, Ubisoft offered a cursory update on the sequel, saying in a financial statement that Beyond Good and Evil 2 development was “progressing well.” But in 2023, the game suffered a terrible blow; its creative director, Emile Morel, died suddenly at the age of 40. Beyond Good & Evil – 20th Anniversary Edition includes a small tribute to Morel: a bouquet of flowers and a card to the veteran game designer.

The release of Beyond Good & Evil – 20th Anniversary Edition and its fresh narrative tie-ins to the (now) prequel is the strongest commitment we’ve seen from Ubisoft in years that fans will ultimately get a new game in the franchise. Outside of Jade’s and Pey’j’s cameo appearances in the animated series Captain Laserhawk, it’s the only sign of life from Ubisoft with regard to getting BG&E 2 over the finish line. But considering the publisher’s stalwart dedication to games like For Honor, Rainbow Six Siege, and the languishing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time remake, there’s reason to believe that Beyond Good and Evil 2 will finally get here. Someday.