For just a second Avowed looks like any other fantasy RPG. It comes with a sword and shield, shiny armor and helmet, and a funny little nose guard. Then came the dual-wielding flintlock handgun. and a bear infected with a fungus. And Willy Wonka’s butt mushroom. Obsidian was once an RPG studio playing in other developer’s sandboxes, but at Avoided, we’re painting the world we created for Pillars of Eternity on a much larger canvas.
Okay, okay, it’s not quite fair, you ain’t offal to be an asshole. But you have to be an outsider, Avowed director Carrie Patel told me in an exclusive interview ahead of Avowed’s release on Sunday.
At the start of the game, your character arrives as an emissary of the Aidir Empire in a corner of Eora called the Living Lands, where he is sent to investigate a mysterious plague. “Not all Livinglands are overjoyed to have an imperial presence in this faraway land,” she said. “So the adventure continues.”
It’s been three years since Avowed first appeared on Microsoft’s livestream and promised Obsidian Entertainment’s first-person RPG. Since then, Obsidian has released Ground, an ant-scale survival game, and Pentiment, a 16th-century murder mystery. Both were hits, but it’s time to develop another RPG, and in Avowed’s trailer he says 2024 will be the year. The first was just CG hinting at the game, but this time we saw the real thing and Obsidian was ready to talk about it.
CEO Feargus Urquhart has said that Avowed is more similar in scale to Obsidian’s past RPGs, The Outer Worlds, than a vast open world like Skyrim. was Obsidian’s first pitch. When the developers sat down and focused on what Obsidian does best, specifically story and companions, a more compact scale came naturally.
“As a narrative designer with a background in development, companions are such a big part of the experience that they appeal to me both as a player and as a developer,” says Carrie Patel. “One of the things we wanted to do with Avowed was make sure companions felt really integral to the story. In Avowed, they’re deeply connected to the story, they’re connected to the party… what we really wanted was to create the feeling of being on this vast, unexplored frontier, and you’re on this adventure of discovery. Head out, and share the feeling that this small but tight-knit crew is adventuring in the wilderness with you. It’s just as much part of your story.”
The way you interact with other characters in Avowed is similar to TheOuterWorlds, with dialog options reflecting the tone you want to use. “When we create dialogue options, we invest enough personality in them to make them fun and interesting, while also allowing players to really invest in the headcanons they build for their characters. We try to find the sweet spot of leaving enough space around the perimeter, and we go into that option,” she said.
Patel wouldn’t say much about Avowed’s story, but he did give us some basics about what type of RPG to expect from Avowed.
- You have an established role as an emissary, but it is up to you, the player, to define your “personality, appearance, and the philosophy and atmosphere you bring to that role.”
- You can play as a human or an elf, but not as any other race
- Purely single player – no co-op
- The world is lightly systemized. Consider the interaction of water and lightning. But it’s not an old-fashioned bucket-on-head trick.
- Two companions will accompany you at once, each with their own combat specialties and, of course, personalities.
- There are several ability trees to grow and you are not tied to a particular class or playstyle
- Level up, but the focus is on unlocking abilities rather than throwing points into stats to get stronger.
Early in development, when Obsidian decided to prioritize a story “emphasizing depth over breadth”, first-person combat ultimately benefited as well. Patel said this was an example of his Avowed being surprisingly fun in the first vertical slice where the team had to decide what to dedicate more resources to and what to downsize. . Combat will be a major focus, and should be music to the ears of every Elder Scrolls player who has felt a little weak in swinging a sword. “Our fighting has gone very well and the bones have been there since the beginning,” she said.
Patel said he spent a lot of time adjusting the feel of swords, maces, and axes to get the combat just right, but the options available to the player seem to be the more important factor here. I think You are free to dual wield your weapons or use magic and melee attacks at the same time. There are also some old school guns available, like the Pillars of Eternity. When I told her how sick I was of game loot with invisible stat differences for each sword, she said they care about it too.
“The way we tried to approach it is wrong in terms of fewer upgrades but meaningful upgrades. If you upgrade your weapon from one tier to the next, you should feel the difference. If is the small number change next to your weapon, the item name, it’s as meaningful as going through the upgrade process, trying the weapon again, and noticing it’s doing more damage. You won’t feel it, there are fewer upgrade stages, but they make more sense.”
Looking at today’s trailer, it looks like magic could actually be part of Avowed, which gives it its own fantasy vibe. Great hand animation is at work as the envoy draws runes in the air to conjure fireballs, then lifts the pulsing void into the sky, sending out mountains of guards orbiting weightlessly around it. I would love to do more of it. And I’m excited to be able to combine magic and melee without being forced into a class.
We’ve only seen two minutes of Avowed so far, but I don’t think Microsoft and Obsidian will be talking about it any more until Starfield is in the spotlight. Once that happens, I think the Obsidian characters will start to get some attention. When I asked Patel what she couldn’t do with the Isometric Pillars RPG she’s looking forward to with Avoed, she didn’t hesitate to take it back to her buddy.
“While we believe companions are optional in most of our games and provide players with great choices, it’s a limitation to how deeply you can tie companions to the core story. At Avowed, we’ve decided that companions will be: “The core. They become part of the experience. can be tied more closely and personally to the events and parts of the world that players encounter.”
And can they die?
this time there was pause. “We’ll have to take a look,” Patel said. Until 2024.