At today's Microsoft developer direct, we finally got a good, long look at RPG powerhouse Obsidian's upcoming game, Avowed. The studio gave an eight-minute presentation of the first person spinoff of the Pillars of Eternity series, including a side quest, a breakdown of its new combat system, and a fall 2024 release window.
That combat system is definitely the highlight—it looks fluid and improvisation-heavy like Dark Messiah of Might and Magic or BioShock, a huge improvement on stiff, imprecise heartland RPGs like Skyrim or Fallout New Vegas. Spells include substantial, fun-looking crowd control effects like telekinesis, tangling vines, and ice spells that freeze enemies.
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Gameplay director Gabriel Paramo singles out a "gunslinging mage" playstyle where you dual wield wands, but you can also sling, you know, actual guns thanks to the abundant flintlocks of Pillars/Avowed's world of Eora. The presentation showed a player quickly cycling through a variety of weapon combos like two-handers, a gun and shield, or a sword and spell. This variety and emphasis on experimentation has me wondering what character building will look like—I'm guessing a classless, skill-based system like Fallout as opposed to the set character roles in the original Pillars of Eternity games.
We also got a peek at a quest, but it didn't feel like anything to write home about—some soldiers were attacked, it may have been the fault of a deserter, and it's up to you to investigate and decide whether he goes free or is punished. Avowed's director Carrie Patel alludes to potential ramifications for a nearby town, but without seeing how twisty things can get, this feels like a fairly standard set up for an Obsidian side quest—it absolutely beats grinding for Chocobo pelts or killing rats in a tavern basement, but I wasn't on the edge of my seat for it either.
One thing that really stands out to me is how pretty this game is—to this day, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is one of the best-looking videogames I've ever played, and I think Obsidian's managed to translate that vibrant look from pre-rendered backgrounds into full 3D. Speaking of Pillars 2, it's still unclear when Avowed takes place, and whether it addresses the world-altering conclusion of the last game set on Eora.
Avowed was in a similar boat to Elden Ring for awhile, with an evocative pre-rendered trailer in 2020 preceding years of radio silence on the project. Every showcase had the potential for ending my lonely Avowedwatch, but my vigil wouldn't end until last June, when Microsoft and Obsidian first showed off the game. Thankfully, I won't have to wait much longer to actually play the game with Avowed's planned release this fall.