More details about Obsidian’s next first-person RPG, Avowed, have been revealed. A recent episode of the so-called Official Xbox Podcast (it’s…not a podcast) has a bunch more footage from the game than we saw during Microsoft’s January Developer Direct, along with a good deal more information about how it’ll actually play.
Set in Eora, the same world as Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity games, Avowed has pronounced itself to be a “choices-based RPG,” which seems to boil down to a game that emphasizes a player’s whim over a channeled storyline, and opportunities to pick allegiances within. What makes it look immediately different to other examples of the genre, like Skyrim or Fallout, is a far more action-oriented approach to combat.
Being a Pillars game, this isn’t a solo affair. You will have companions with you, joining in the free-form combat, as well as in conversations with world characters. Two companions are shown—Kai, a magic-using tank, and Giatta dropping heals—but there are at least “a couple more” to be found. I’d be very surprised if Obsidian left it at only four, of course.
The developers also seem very keen to present just how forgiving the game will be to players who don’t want to commit to a particular style of play. Respeccing is simple, we’re told, and the phrase “mix and match” is used with feverish abandon. There’s clearly a desire that people not brick themselves into a character that doesn’t work for them, and presumably be able to adapt on the fly depending on what companions are bringing to the mix.
Vague plotlines have been revealed. Our character is the Envoy, representing the Aedyr Empire while on a mission to discover more about a spiritual plague called the Dreamscourge. We are in Shatterscarp at this point in the game, and local factions are ramping up tensions over ongoing conflicts. At the same time as investigating the Dreamscourge, we also learn about a pesky archmage who has built a frozen labyrinth in one corner of the land, and it seems we’re heading that way. But the area shown in the demo is “discoverable,” which is the term they’re using for “optional.” Of course, it’s a familiar humblebrag to see a preview set in a location that a developer is so nonchalant about that the player might not even find it when they play—only for it to turn out to be flagged with 500-foot neon signs when you eventually play the game, but who knows!
Watching it all, the game looks so pleasingly vivid and colorful, rather than being mired in the usual muted browns and grays of the fantasy genre. There’s also something about it that keeps making me think of Arkane’s wonderful Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, all but for one rather crucial aspect: the combat looks so intangible. Obviously this is all marked as alpha footage, and the game’s not due to miss its release date until fall 2024, but those blood splatters look like they’re projected on afterward, and there’s no sense of impact whatsoever. I would desperately like to see something like Dark Messiah’s incredibly oof-inducing kicks and slams, rather than this strangely VR-ish ethereality.
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