Eidos-Montréal looks back on 15 years of amazing games

Did you know Eidos-Montréal is 15 years old! To celebrate this milestone, we invited some of its key creators to share their memories of its impressive gameography.
By Duncan Heaney

2022 is a big year for Eidos-Montréal - it turns 15 years old!

Founded in the long-ago time of 2007, the Canadian studio has been responsible for some of the most exciting, ambitious, and downright fun titles on three generations of gaming hardware.

It’s a momentous milestone, and one worth both celebrating and reflecting on. With that in mind, we invited the team to look back over the last 15 years of groundbreaking games, and reveal their memories of bringing them to life!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011)

Deus Ex Human Revolution art

Eidos-Montréal launched with no shortage of ambition - its first project was to be a new Deus Ex game!

Originally created by developer Ion Storm, the Deus Ex series presents players with a richly imagined world overflowing with narrative and gameplay choice. The first game in particular was truly revolutionary - a big hit with fans and critics alike - so any follow-up had stratospheric expectations attached.

No pressure then.

Fortunately, the team more than delivered. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was the complete package, featuring amazing world-building, beautiful art direction and a truly impressive level of flexibility in how you could approach objectives.

Augmented protagonist Adam Jensen may not have asked for this, but players agreed they were glad it happened all the same.

Deus Ex Human Revolution screenshot

Jean-François Dugas (Senior Creative Director) talks Deus Ex: Human Revolution

What does Deus Ex: Human Revolution mean to you?

Deus Ex: Human Revolution means a lot of things to me. First, it was a unique opportunity to bring the franchise that I love to the next level.

It was also the beginning of Eidos-Montréal as a studio. Everything needed to be built. The physical office spaces had to be prepared. The team needed to be assembled. We needed to choose the technology available to us, and learning how to use it, on top of figuring out how to pull off the best Deus Ex game we could.

We had to face many challenges to make things happen as new team and as a new studio. Nevertheless, I’d say those four years making this game is one of the biggest highlights in my career, followed closely by Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

What’s your favorite memory about working on the game?

One of the funniest was on day one: we were in temp spaces, and we had no desks to install our computers on. Jonathan Jacques-Belletête (Art Director at the time) and I went in a storage room to pick up unassembled tables.

We brought them to the temp space and put them together. We didn’t have any instruction sheets with us, thus, the tables ended up super crooked. David Anfossi, our producer back then, looked at our work, and then at us discouraged, he said: “You can’t properly install simple tables, and I’m supposed to make the next Deus Ex game with you guys?”

To this day, it’s still a story that we remember when we want to have a good laugh.

What was the most challenging thing you remember about this game?

It was challenging on two fronts for me.

The first one was to find the right gameplay loop recipe for all the gameplay pillars (combat, stealth, hacking and social). It took time before all the systems started to work cohesively together. The game started to be fun to play quite late in its development cycle.

The second one, it was to explain and convince people in and outside of the team that creating content that would only been seen by a fraction of the audience was worth it. At the time, games were often linear, and players saw 95% of its content or more. Since Deus Ex is all about choices, players decide how they approach things.

For example, when I said that Wayne Haas, a police officer that Jensen knows, would be optional content, a lot of people in the team reacted negatively. Those social interactions weren’t exactly cheap to produce, so I understood their reaction. But for me, it was all about the player fantasy, the player’s agency. That was worth more to my eyes than the sweat that went into building the scene.

How did you find the reaction from players?

I received several letters from fans who said that the game changed their lives. It gave them hope because they had physical limitations, and for some others, it gave them clarity in what they wanted to do in life: help others.

I must admit that I was genuinely moved by those messages. Making games is hard, and when we’re in a tough production period, I remember how we can affect people in a positive way, and it gives me the strength to work harder. We make games to entertain people, and hopefully give them more.

Tomb Raider (2013) - collaboration with Crystal Dynamics

Tomb Raider screenshot

Eidos-Montréal collaborated on the multiplayer for this first entry in Tomb Raider’s ‘Survivor’ trilogy. The game focused on a young, inexperienced Lara Croft, and the harrowing events that forged her into a capable and confident adventurer.

The game’s hard-hitting story, wonderfully designed puzzles and cinematic gameplay resonated with fans, and led to two sequels that Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montréal would also collaborate on.

Tomb Raider screenshot

Daniel Chayer-Bisson (Senior Creative Director) talks Tomb Raider (2013)

What does Tomb Raider (2013 mean to you?

To put it simply, Tomb Raider is the most memorable project I’ve ever worked on.

I was lucky to work with a very passionate team that wanted to leave their mark with Tomb Raider. Personally, I was also a big fan of the franchise, and at a certain point in my life I even wanted to be an archaeologist. As you can imagine, it meant to a lot to me to have the opportunity to work on this game.

It’s the most important game I ever worked from an emotional standpoint, but I also learned a lot as a creative director in the process.

What’s your favorite memory about working on the game?

We used to have weekly meetings where we would play the game and showcase what we were working on.

One of my favourite memories is when we showed off the first combat encounter we had made. The team was absolutely thrilled because it was so dynamic and intense. But they could also see that they had created a combat system that was completely new for Tomb Raider, and that we really had something very special on our hands.

Were there any funny moments you experienced when working on Tomb Raider?

When we showed the game off at E3, I had to do a very important presentation and play a demo of the game. Several titles were being demoed, and for the game that was showcased before it was my turn, they had inverted the sticks… and forgot to change them back. But I didn’t know! So I started playing and arrived a combat encounter – and just then, I realized that the controls were inverted. But I couldn’t pause at that point, the show had to go on!

My brain completely switched and I played the whole demo that way. My team asked me afterwards, “How did you do it”? Adrenaline, that’s how!

How did you find the reaction from players?

Something that really sticks with me is receiving a physical letter. Somehow this has a greater impact on me - it’s a different experience from reading comments online.

It’s quite an emotional experience for me, especially when it’s a fan asking questions about our game, trying to understand what we wanted to convey or simply sharing how the game had an impact on them. It’s a special kind of connection.

Thief (2014)

Thief cover art

The next game from Eidos-Montréal was another reinvention of a classic series: Thief.

As the name implies, this sneaky series is all about slinking silently around the streets and rooftops, avoiding guards and taking everything of value that’s not nailed down. Originally created by Looking Glass, the series is well-known as one of the titans of the stealth genre.

In other words, another daunting project for the team.

As with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, however, the team delivered a new take on the series that combined classic elements of the series with a bold new vision of their own. As protagonist Garrett, you’re tasked with sneaking around a dark fantasy world, and investigating the mystery of a missing friend.

Also stealing stuff, but that goes without saying in a game called Thief.

Thief screenshot

Jonathan Dahan (Producer) talks Thief

What does Thief mean to you?

Thief was my first game dev project ever! I had to show that I didn’t just have my amazing Excel skills to contribute (laughs).

I never thought I could commit myself to something so much until I worked on Thief. I had such a drive to prove myself. It taught me so much about the industry, about Eidos-Montréal, and about how I could make a difference as a junior producer on a dev team.

As cheesy as it sounds, it also taught me a lot about myself.

What’s your favorite memory about working on the game?

Being asked what my feedback was of the (original) beginning of the game, and it being part of the discussions about how to redesign it, with directors and leads.

Seeing that my contribution wasn’t just restricted to my job description, and that if I had something meaningful to say to improve the game, that I didn’t need to have “designer” or “director” in my job title to say it.

What was the most challenging thing you remember about this game?

Not disappointing the fans.

We were very aware of the success and the fanbase of the original Thief games and there was a mix of not wanting to disappoint them, while also wanting to offer something new in order to bring in new players into the fandom. It wasn’t just about making a game, it was about continuing a legacy. No pressure!

How did you find the reaction from players?

Of of all the games I’ve worked on so far, Thief fans are some of the most enthusiastic! If they mention Thief to me, it’s because it’s their favourite game and they’re completely blown away to meet a dev.

What they don’t realize is that I’m 100 times more blown away when I meet a fan of the game I worked on and hear them tell me why they love it. I remember everything from the good stuff but also all the things we couldn’t fix, finish or improve, and having someone just love it for what it is an amazing feeling!

The last time it happened was recently - I met a friend of a friend a few weeks ago and we just talked about Thief for the entire time.

Another crazy experience was at San Diego Comic Con, when we met cosplayers dressed as our version of Garrett for the first time! The game wasn’t even out yet and they’d nailed it!

it was so unreal to see someone dressed as the main character of the game you’re currently working on, and all the details they were able to get from only a few seconds of a trailer.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015) – collaboration with Crystal Dynamics

Rise of the Tomb Raider screenshot

After the success of Tomb Raider, fans were eager to see what was next for Lara Croft. They found out in 2015, with the release of Rise of the Tomb Raider, developed by Crystal Dynamics in collaboration with Eidos-Montréal.

This new adventure sent Lara into the frozen mountains of Siberia on a desperate search for an artefact known as The Divine Source.

The game built on its predecessor with wider, more detailed areas to explore, increased traversal options, more intricate puzzles, expanded combat and a riveting story that hits the young archaeologist very close to home.

Rise of the Tomb Raider screenshot

Emilie Guilloux (Director Performance, Level Design) talks Rise of the Tomb Raider

What does Rise of the Tomb Raider mean to you?

Tomb Raider is a franchise that I always loved, with all my heart, since its very first release on PlayStation back in the day.

As a French person (not knowing I would come live in Canada, and not knowing Eidos-Montréal would co-develop the new generation of the franchise), I would have never imagined that one day, I would have the chance to work on a Tomb Raider game!

Rise of the Tomb Raider was my first experience of working on a franchise that I love as a player, not just as a game developer. That will always mean something very special to me.

What’s your favorite memory about working on the game?

That’s easy - my favourite memory was our team spirit and the social connection we developed.

Because we were co-developing the game with Crystal Dynamics, the team in Montréal was very small. As a result, we built up a very strong community during those days.

We had a bit of an “indie” vibe, in a sense that everyone was helping out everyone else. Even if someone was not “supposed” to work on something, they would anyway to help the team move forward.

We also had to learn together what the new Tomb Raider was about, as only a few people at the studio had worked on the previous game. We wanted to prove to Crystal Dynamics that we could handle this project, and they were so friendly and so willing to help us anytime we needed.

In other words, we were all on the same boat, both at Eidos-Montréal and with Crystal Dynamics. I felt that I was part of a family, rather than a project, or a company.

What was the most challenging thing you remember about this game?

The most challenging thing for me, as a Designer, was to create gameplay situations for Lara that would emphasize her vulnerability.

I’ve always known Lara as a badass character, who could overcome any situation. But with the Survivor series, we were showing players how Lara actually became the character we all know and had to design fun and meaningful moments where she would not be overcoming anything - where she would actually endure, more than anything else.

I basically had to learn about who Lara was, at the very core of her character, and this was very challenging.

2016 – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex Mankind Divided cover art

Eidos-Montréal took players to a futuristic Prague in the follow-up to Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

This large city was more intricate and detailed than any from the previous game, stuffed full of explorable interiors, quirky and charismatic characters and hidden secrets.

It continued the series tradition of player choice, and offered even more ways to complete objectives. This flexibility means it also had some of the most memorable missions in the series.

Who could forget the Palisade Bank heist?

Steve Szczepkowski (Senior Audio Director) talks Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

What does Deus Ex: Mankind Divided mean to you?

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was my second game in the franchise and, looking back, I can see how valuable of an experience it was. All of the challenges or obstacles I had to face and overcome during this game made me a better Audio Director going forward.

I consider it an important stop on the never-ending road trip of trying to be the best version of me that I can be and I took away some great learnings from that project.

What’s your favourite memory about working on the game?

I was on vacation up in a cabin in the woods overlooking a beautiful lake. We were at a crucial point in the development where I was looking to bring in some additional musical talent to help us close the game, as well as launch Breach mode.

It was a bit stressful as I had a couple names that had been recommended to me and I really didn’t want to have to throw the wide net out to find the right fit. I had no Wi-fi at the cabin, so my family and I drove into town and sat outside a Tim Hortons coffee shop with free Wi-fi for close to 30 minutes so that I could download demos from Ed Harrison and Sascha Dikiciyan.

That night I sat on the deck outdoors in the dark with the stars shining down and I plugged in my headphones and hit play. Both Ed and Sascha`s pitches were excellent. I sat under the stars smiling and enjoyed the music and let my mind start having fun with the possibilities that lay ahead.

What was the most challenging thing you remember about this game?

It was a very complex game with a new engine as well as a very ambitious design. Also finding all the language accents that I wanted to support made it challenging. I had to find and record actors all over North America.

How did you find the reaction from players?

Deus Ex fans are very passionate! It’s what we love about them. They know the franchise as well as we do. Anytime that I’ve engaged with the fans it’s always been fun. Like I said they`re passionate and I respect that as I’m the same way!

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider cover art

Eidos-Montréal took the primary development duties for the biggest and boldest Tomb Raider yet.

Following the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider (and some adventures detailed in books and comics), Lara has fully committed to protecting the world’s treasures from the sinister organization Trinity. But when their ongoing feud almost sets of a Maya apocalypse, she must step up and become a true hero.

With its vast and detailed world, super-satisfying exploration and some of the best puzzles in the series to date, Shadow of the Tomb Raider stands tall as another super-satisfying adventure for Lara Croft.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider screenshot

Jason Dozois (Narrative Director) talks Shadow of the Tomb Raider

What does Shadow of the Tomb Raider mean to you?

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is very important game in my career. I worked on it for over three years, and while it was difficult and challenging at times, I am very proud to have contributed to Lara’s canon of stories.

What’s your favorite memory of working on the game?

I was lucky enough to travel to Europe, the Middle East, and Mexico to do PR for the game. To see how loved Lara is all over the world was very rewarding. Everywhere I went, people would tell me about their local ancient history, and recommend locations for Lara’s future adventures.

What was the most challenging thing you remember about this game?

The hardest thing about making a game is stopping. You always want to do more, polish more, and try to constantly make it better.

It was hard when we had to stop and finally release the game because you’re always thinking of ways you could have made it better.

Marvel’s Avengers (2020) - collaboration with Crystal Dynamics

Marvel's Avengers key art

Eidos-Montréal again worked alongside Crystal Dynamics on this Super Hero extravaganza.

The game puts Earth’s Mightiest Heroes into an ongoing conflict with the sinister organisation Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) and a veritable army of soldiers, robots and Super Villains.

Fortunately, the Avengers have a pretty impressive roster of their own, including Captain America, Black Widow, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Ms Marvel.

The game now has a staggering nine playable Marvel Super Heroes (plus Spider-Man on PlayStation) - all with completely distinctive move sets and fighting styles. You can take these heroes into battle in the exciting campaign or join with friends online and take the fight to AIM in the ongoing Avengers Initiative!

Marvel's Avengers screenshot

Philip Pavlin (Producer) talks Marvel’s Avengers

What does Marvel’s Avengers mean to you?

Marvel’s Avengers was my first project at Eidos-Montréal, so it will forever have a special place in my heart. It was a great project with an amazing amount of heroes per square inch. It’s not every day that one gets to work on a game with so many beloved characters.

What’s your favorite memory of working on the game?

I vividly remember the day we were about to release our first story trailer. I kept refreshing the web page impatiently, as if that was going to do any good to speed things up. I was excited to see the shots we had worked on shine bright on the screen.

What was the most challenging thing you remember about this game?

Making sure every hero had their time to stand out was very challenging. We kept going over and over every level we worked on to make sure they were fun to play and that their stories were compelling and engaging.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2021)

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy key art

In its most recent game, Eidos-Montréal put their own spin on Marvel’s team of scrappy space heroes to glorious effect.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy puts players in control of Peter Quill, on a mission to build the Guardians’ reputation, make some serious bank and keep the team from falling apart at the seams. Oh, and maybe save the universe too.

It’s a lengthy single-player adventure that shows off the team’s incredible skills at world-building, art design and exciting action. What else is there to say except… it rocks.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy screenshot

Mary DeMarle (Executive Narrative Director) talks Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

What does Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy mean to you?

When I knew we’d be creating a game focusing on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, I was hesitant – even scared – to do it. All those characters! All that humor! Could we really craft a story and dialog that captured them?

But fear can push you to greater heights, especially when working with incredibly talented people. I’m so proud of what we did with the game, how we pushed ourselves and grew, and how we came together as a team to succeed.

What’s your favorite memory about working on the game?

I have so many great memories from working on this game, it’s hard to pick a ‘best’. Many of them occurred during our Friday script reads, when the writing team got together to read our work-in-progress scripts out loud. Writers, coordinators, narrative QA and Tech people would all volunteer to read for specific characters just so we could know if the dialogs were working.

I will never forget hearing our Narrative Coordinator, Camille Riviere, performing Mantis. He didn’t exactly volunteer for the role - it was more like he was coerced into it. Didn’t matter. Didn’t matter that he could even act. Once he agreed, he threw himself into the part with such gusto, we all loved it.

What was the most challenging thing you remember about this game?

When making a game, we need to balance the production schedules of so many different departments. This has a huge impact on how the story is written.

For instance, the cinematics team needs their scripts written much sooner than the mission teams do, and mission teams sometimes need later chapters written first because of how complex their art, level, or gameplay designs are to produce.

This means writers are often writing the story out of order, working on final scenes and dialogs without knowing what earlier, yet-to-be written scenes will establish or say. So, I’d have to say the biggest challenge for me as Narrative Director was maintaining a tight, coherent story with the right pacing that built to a satisfying climax without contradicting or repeating itself.

Oh, and let’s not forget - it had to be funny!

How did you find the reaction from players?

I love seeing and hearing how much people who play the game are enjoying it. I love how much everyone likes Kammy, the space llama. (She’s an alpaca, by the way.) I love how much fun people have hanging out in the Milano with the team. I love that they’re moved by specific hard-hitting emotional scenes.

And of course, I love their reactions to that universal constant - the fridge that never closes.

Many thanks to everyone at Eidos-Montréal for sharing their experiences - and for making some truly memorable games. It’s been an incredible 15 years and an impressive body of work, but we’re certain the best is yet to come!

So let’s raise a (metaphorical) glass and toast this talented team. Joyeux anniversaire Eidos-Montréal - here’s to the next 15 years!