Bethesda has long been the dominant player in the first-person RPG genre thanks to titles like Skyrim, Morrowind, and Fallout 4 but no king rules forever. Obsidian challenged Bethesda’s dominance with the release of The Outer Worlds in 2019, and it seems keen to do so again with the upcoming Avowed: its first crack at a medieval, first-person fantasy RPG. If newly-revealed gameplay rumors are anything to go by, the team might just have a chance at the crown.
Until now, we really haven’t heard much about Avowed. We saw a single CG trailer in July of last year, and we were told that it would take place in the same world as Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity series — Eora — but that’s about it. Otherwise, we’ve just had to speculate.
That’s still the case to an extent, but the folks over at Windows Central reportedly snagged an early look at the game thanks to their sources (presumably some anonymous Obsidian devs). In addition to seeing actual gameplay, reporter Jez Corden learned some juicy details about a few of Avowed’s core gameplay systems.
Apparently, the game will feature “multiple class playstyles,” and a Skyrim-like fluid class system. That means dual wieldable spells and weapons (we saw a bit of this in the CG trailer), and the ability to shape your playstyle as you go. You can be a dagger-wielding, backstabbing rogue, a sword-and-board warrior, a pure mage, an archer, or some combination of them all.
As for the types of spells you can expect to see, Obsidian is wisely drawing inspiration from its work with Pillars of Eternity 1 and 2. Fan-favorite spells like Fireball and Jolting Touch (Pillars’ equivalent of DND’s Shocking Grasp) are both present, and just as punchy as you’d expect. And what about non-magical abilities? Corden says fighter-style characters can kick and shield bash, though it’s difficult to say how impactful that’ll feel. Will it be more like the physics-based fighting of Dark Messiah, or closer to Oblivion, where every weapon hits like a wet noodle? I hope for the former.
At any rate, battle isn’t the only thing to look forward to in Avowed. The game is also reportedly set to feature swimming, destructible environments, and the ability to use magic to interact with the world around you — you can burn wooden barriers and watch fire splash across floors and walls, for example.
If true, those particular features would be notable improvements over Obsidian’s past work with The Outer Worlds, and Bethesda’s with Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. All three of those franchises have fairly static environments that really can’t be toyed with in any meaningful way. For example, you can’t launch a fireball into the middle of a forest and watch the flames spread in Skyrim.
Touching on visuals, despite the darker aesthetic present in Avowed’s CG trailer, Corden says the gameplay he saw was actually surprisingly vibrant and colorful, with “luminescent cave mushrooms” and “verdant forests awash with gigantic flora” aplenty. That sounds pretty nice to me, but hopefully, it doesn’t resemble the heavily saturated color palette of The Outer Worlds. The Pillars of Eternity universe is a much more serious one, after all.
As great as all this sounds, we should still take these details with a grain of salt. None of it seems too far outside of the realm of possibility given Obsidian’s new, deep-pocketed parent company — Microsoft — but until we see gameplay for ourselves, it’s perhaps best to keep our expectations in check.
With any luck, we won’t have to wait too much longer to see what Obsidian has in store for us. 2022 is just around the corner, and there will be plenty of opportunities for the studio to show off Avowed in all its glory, provided the title is nearly ready.