Immortals Fenyx Rising offers the chance to customise its protagonist, Fenyx, however you’d like — though, sadly, that ends with the character’s pronoun.
Diving into a second preview opportunity for the title, Stevivor was able to try out its customisation for the first time, confirming (as we’d expected) that players could opt to have a masculine version of the hero as opposed to the feminine one shown off as part of the game’s marketing.
“We want players to feel like they are embodying Fenyx on their journey, and this led us to introduce character customization,” Producer Marc-Alexis Coté told us back in September. “The game will feature customization options for the body type, voice, hair and face of Fenyx independently.”
On the whole, this is true — we were able to select a body with breasts and couple that with several styles of facial hair, as an example — though your character’s gender is ultimately locked-in with voice selection. As we later discovered, “Voice 1” — a deeper voice — assigns your character the pronouns of he/him and “Voice 2” — a higher one — the pronouns of she/her. Unknowingly, I selected my desired options and was thrown for a loop when my character, intended as male, was called “her” mere seconds later.
Speaking with Stevivor this week, Game Director Scott Phillips confirmed that gender was assigned to the character because of the voice a player selects.
“So with the with the customisation, the pronouns are driven by the voice choice,” Phillips explained. “That’s the sole thing that drives the pronouns in the way that you’re referred to in the game.”
Philips also stressed that the pronouns were “something that people can change at any time” between he/him and she/her by going into menus and selecting the other voice option. He also confirmed that players aren’t able to select a pronoun of “they/them” to replace the binary options available.
While it’s admittedly encouraging to see titles like Immortals Fenyx Rising and Harmonix’s Fuser encouraging customisation options that aren’t tied to a specific gender, the latter example gets the entire system right by doing away with binary pronouns to remain inclusive. While my version of Fenyx — one who’s male in my head canon — can be referred by the gender I’d like by changing over his voice, other players won’t have it as easy.
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I hope Ubisoft is able to learn from this — voice actors surely must have had to record two versions of some dialogue to capture both “him” and “her”, so why not at “they” to that list? Or, better yet — and far more cost-effectively – why not just refer to Fenyx simply as “Fenyx” throughout?
Immortals Fenyx Rising heads to Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, Switch and Stadia where available on 3 December.