In the past year or so, more and more details have gradually made their way to me via trusted and proven sources familiar with Microsoft's plans for the future of Xbox. First, we detailed Contraband, previously known as Project Typhoon, which is set to be a co-op smuggler's paradise. Then, we detailed Project Dragon, which looks to be an online RPG from the creators of Hitman, IO Interactive. We also recently offered some details on InXile's Project Cobalt, which is a steampunk-style FPS RPG, alongside Project Indus, which we believe is a 4X strategy game from the team behind Ashes of the Singularity.
There are mountains of known games on the horizon too, from Hellblade II to Perfect Dark, and other rumors, such as Kojima's reported cloud-oriented game project with Microsoft.
Now, there's Avowed. I've got a small update on this project making its way to Xbox, and details on why I'm more excited for it than ever.
The World of Eternity gains a new dimension
Sources familiar with internal plans have reached out to us in recent months offering details on Avowed, moving through pre-production towards a playable alpha state. Indeed, Obsidian is likely close to having a working early version of the game, with many mechanics and core gameplay pillars already implemented. I can't be sure how old some of the footage I've seen is, and there's a good chance it's far further along.
For those who don't know, we've only seen Avowed in a pre-rendered CGI trailer thus far. The game is set in the Pillars of Eternity universe, known as the World of Eternity, and utilizes a first-person viewpoint similar to Obsidian's The Outer Worlds.
The Outer Worlds fans already have plenty of reasons to be excited about Obsidian's upcoming slate, given that The Outer Worlds 2 has been confirmed. Avowed seems to be based on a similar, albeit enhanced engine from The Outer Worlds, complete with action-oriented first-person combat and deep RPG exploration and narrative systems. We were told Avowed will feature multiple class playstyles and borrow from Skyrim's two-handed combat system. You could wield two daggers and be a stealthy rogue, or dive into archery with a two-handed bow. You could use a combination of swords and magic, or go full two-handed magic, which is required to wield some of the game's more potent spells and abilities.
Avowed will feature many elements Pillars of Eternity fans will be familiar with. Wizard spells like Jolting Touch, which can fry enemies with forks of lightning, will be present. Two-handed spells like Fireball are conjured using complex-looking hand gestures, but decimate enemies in a storm of magma and fire. I also saw status effect spells like Fetid Caress, imbuing enemies with corrosive poison. Weapon enchantments seem to be a big feature too, with magically enchanted swords and frozen arrows, as examples. Pillars-style guns may also appear in the game, similar to the muskets and arquebuses found in the original two titles. Familiar creatures such as the lizard-like Xaurips will appear, alongside much larger and deadlier threats, all the way up to wyverns and drakes.
The combat seems to be more loadout-based than The Elder Scrolls, which gives you mountains of spells in a gigantic list. Warriors will get access to more physical attacks like swordplay, powerful kicks, and shield bashes, while casters will be given a range of spellbook options to customize and tailor their combat style, with attacks bound to specific buttons.
I am a huge Pillars of Eternity fan and seeing stills of Avowed's early builds filled me with a ton of excitement. As much as I love the tactical combat of Pillars, seeing the classic CRPG add new dimensions with action-oriented combat is undoubtedly going to bring in a whole legion of new fans to the franchise. I think fans of The Outer Worlds should be particularly excited, too.
The Outer Worlds meets Pillars of Eternity
If The Outer Worlds was Obsidian's take on a Fallout-style game, Avowed is undoubtedly Obsidian's take on The Elder Scrolls. The two-handed, first-person combat style is unmistakable, but there are obvious differences in early documentation.
At least directly compared to the likes of Skyrim and Oblivion, Avowed seems to be a far more colorful game, reminding me far more of The Outer Worlds. Luminescent cave mushrooms, verdant forests awash with gigantic flora, and hulking sunlit temples complete with skeleton-infested depths and tombs are plentiful. It came as a bit of a surprise given the game's original trailer, which seemed like it was trying to strike a much darker tone, save for the neon spell effects.
Pillars of Eternity does seem to take environmental interactivity a bit further than The Outer Worlds too, complete with swimming capabilities. We've even heard of destructible aspects of environments, using lit torches and fire spells to burn down blocked entryways, for example. Fire spells leave areas coated in flames too, which cascade against walls and floors.
The content I saw does represent a pre-alpha state with certain aspects like lighting and textures not fully implemented, which is one reason I'm not sharing the documentation I've been shown. The finished art style is expected to elevate what we saw in The Outer Worlds, though, with a brighter, more lively color palette, although it could end up looking a bit darker akin to the debut trailer. I only saw a couple of areas, although it could represent the diversity of locale styles Obsidian aims to deliver.
As for the story and layout, I can only speculate. I'm not sure whether it will go full-blown open world like the modern Elder Scrolls games or utilize something more like The Outer Worlds' hub system, which connects large areas with an overworld map, complete with interior areas and dungeons. I'd expected it to be the latter, as it gives Obsidian greater control over the pacing of the narrative, which is one of the studio's biggest strengths. There is some evidence that it may go fully open world though, given previous job listings (thanks for the tip, Camonna Tong).
Even in its pre-alpha state, Avowed looks like it plays extremely well, with refined action RPG combat set in a vibrant, medieval fantasy world I cannot wait to explore.
Avowed fan of Avowed
I feel like there's a good chance we'll see Avowed in a playable state by E3 2022 at the latest given the quality of the content I've seen, which may even be several months old at this point. Perhaps there's even a small chance we'd see it at The Game Awards at the end of the year. I teased on my podcast recently that I'd bet money that we'd see another Xbox exclusive, Hellblade II, at The Game Awards this year — since I've indeed heard that it was in the plan to show more of the game by the end of the year. Perhaps we could get a two-for-one deal and see Avowed show up there too, but it may be too early just yet.
Either way, Avowed went from relative obscurity in my list of most anticipated Xbox games to sitting near the top, especially as a big fan of The Outer Worlds. Obsidian's excellent character writing and penchant for branching narratives, combined with the rich World of Eternity gives Avowed some seriously huge potential, and I can't wait to see the game fully revealed.
While you're waiting, if you haven't already, I recommend giving The Outer Worlds on Xbox Game Pass a try to get an idea for how Obsidian can pull together a modern action RPG. If you're a fan of classic-style tactical CRPGs, I also cannot recommend Pillars of Eternity enough too. It's hard to get into if you're unfamiliar with the gameplay style, but if you can get to grips with it, it's one of the most rewarding RPGs I've ever played.
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