Obsidian Entertainment showcased the first gameplay footage and additional details on Avowed, their upcoming fantasy action RPG, during Xbox’s Developer Direct livestream event on January 18th, 2023. Slated for a Fall 2024 release window, the gameplay reveal gave fans a deeper look into Avowed’s setting, combat mechanics and overall ambition.
First Details on Avowed’s Setting and Story
While past trailers hinted at Avowed’s connections to Pillars of Eternity, Obsidian has now confirmed Avowed is set in Eora several hundred years before the events of Pillars of Eternity, during the latter years of the Aedyr Empire. Players will explore the Living Lands, a frontier region still being settled.
Obsidian says a key theme will be the clash between civilization and the wilderness, with players interacting with a variety of human and inhuman factions vying for control over the Living Lands. Concept art depicts ruins of an ancient civilization players can uncover which could connect to Pillars of Eternity’s backstory.
Flexible Combat Showcased with Choice of Playstyles
The Avowed gameplay footage showcases combat across multiple encounters, highlighting the flexibility players will have. Combat design director Brian Heins stressed Avowed is “not just hacking and slashing” but incorporates magic and ranged weapons.
Players can approach situations with stealth or aggression and also have dialogue options to potentially resolve conflicts peacefully. For actual combat, melee, magic spells and bow & arrow gameplay were showcased. Players can wield combinations of weapons and magic, with the gameplay highlighting a character dual-wielding wands to unleash devastating magical attacks.
Environments are also destructive, with the footage showing the player collapsing a tower onto enemies using the kinetic blast spell. Overall the combat emphasizes player choice in how to leverage Avowed’s flexible magic/weaponry system.
More Details Trickle Out Ahead of Release
While the gameplay footage impressed many fans, some criticism remained around the lack of details showing exactly what players will be doing moment-to-moment in Avowed beyond combat. Obsidian has been tight-lipped with specifics regarding quests, storytelling and the general gameplay loop. Insider sources have given some tidbits that Avowed will have a settlement building mechanic akin to Fallout 4, but official details remain scarce.
The developers explained Avowed is still early in development and the gameplay reveal focused on combat as a proof of concept for fans. With the Fall 2024 release window still far off, Obsidian will likely trickle out more details throughout 2023. For now, they seem focused on getting the complex magic and weapon combat right before revealing too much else.
What Avowed Means for Xbox & Obsidian
As Xbox’s biggest first party RPG slated for 2024, Avowed has a lot riding on its success. Xbox head Phil Spencer himself introduced the gameplay reveal, emphasizing Avowed will release day one on Xbox Game Pass.
For Obsidian, Avowed represents their first internally developed franchise where they have full ownership. While games like Fallout: New Vegas and The Outer Worlds were well received, they belonged to other publishers.
The Pillars of Eternity games have been Obsidian’s most fully owned titles so far and Avowed looks to take that franchise into a larger, AAA scope. It will serve as a showcase for Obsidian’s talents with modern technology and budget afforded by Microsoft.
If Avowed succeeds critically and commercially, it could cement Obsidian as one of the premier western RPG developers. However, if it falls short of expectations, questions around Obsidian’s ability to scale up will continue. There is a lot on the line for the respected but historically underdog developer.
What Comes After Avowed’s Launch?
While the Fall 2024 launch may feel far away, it’s unlikely Obsidian remains focused solely on Avowed until then. They have already announced the small-scale mystery game Pentiment for November 2023. Rumors suggest a sequel to The Outer Worlds is also early in production along with even more unannounced titles.
Once Avowed is launched, post-release content plans remain unknown. Traditionally Obsidian RPGs receive story expansions so fans could expect something similar. However, Game Pass business models also lend themselves well to regular content updates over time.
Regardless, Obsidian looks to have a busy 2023 and 2024 between all their projects. We will likely get glimpses of what comes after Avowed during that time, but for now Avowed itself remains the keystone that could elevate Obsidian to the top tier of RPG developers.
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