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May 24, 2023

Will Smith plays a post-apocalyptic guide in his first video game appearance

In 'Undawn,' due out June 15, the Oscar winner helps players navigate mines, swamps and abandoned cities

A video game character played by Will Smith will guide players on a post-apocalyptic journey in "Undawn," an open-world survival game that will become available for free on mobile devices and PCs next month. 

A trailer released Wednesday by the game's developers shows Smith, who plays Trey Jones, running through a debris-laden town and gunning down enemies with a playful smirk on his face. 

In the multiplayer game, survivors of a global disaster are split into factions, each with its own rules for survival. Players are assigned to the Raven Squad and face off against the Clowns, Eagles, Night Owls and Reivers to establish territories and maintain boundaries in an effort to make it to sunrise, according to a plot synopsis

Players are equipped with a variety of armor and weapons, including guns, decoy bombs, axes, spears, knives, katanas and drones. As Trey, Smith helps players understand and navigate the world they've stumbled into four years after a disaster. Alongside Trey, players explore mines, plains, swamps and abandoned cities, each with its own potential dangers. 

Survivors brave hazardous weather conditions, including rain, thunderstorms, snow and extreme heat, while monitoring their health to ensure their survival.

Feng Zhu, the game's art director, previously worked on design concepts for movies in the "Transformers," "Star Wars" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series. In a short documentary about the game's design, Zhu said his vision for the art style was focused on the concept of an "urban forest," contrasting what the world looked like before the disaster with the desolate environment that players see when they first start the game." 

Though Trey is an original character, fans have speculated that he's loosely based on Robert Neville, Smith's character in the 2007 thriller, "I Am Legend." The movie marked Smith's first foray into a post-apocalyptic universe, complete with greedy mutants looking to destroy one another for survival, Polygon reported. 

Smith, a West Philadelphia native whose leading role on the 1990s sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" helped propel the hip-hop artist to global stardom, is no stranger to straying from traditional film and television roles. Over the last few years, Smith has released a memoir, began vlogging on YouTube and started making videos on TikTok. "Undawn" marks his first appearance in a video game. 

Last year, Smith co-produced and starred in "Emancipation," an AppleTV+ film about a runaway slave trying to survive a journey to Baton Rouge. The film, which has a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, earned Smith a NAACP Image Award for outstanding lead actor in a motion picture earlier this year. 

"Undawn" will be available on iOS, Android and PC devices Thursday, June 15. Those who pre-register for the game can gain access to in-game rewards before it goes live. Check out the official trailer for the game below.