Obsidian responds to 'concerns' about Avowed's Xbox and PC visuals and scope

(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

What you need to know

  • Avowed is an upcoming Xbox and Windows PC exclusive from Obsidian and Microsoft. 
  • The game is set in the Pillars of Eternity fantasy universe, and was shown off at an Xbox Games Showcase event in June, 2023. 
  • Some fans have offered negative feedback about the game's visuals. To that end, a developer apparently verified to be from Obsidian offered some feedback on a popular RPG forum. 
  • Read on for the comments in full. 

A while ago, I shared some thoughts on some very early Avowed preview footage I saw, and described it as sharing common DNA with The Outer Worlds. Those assertions may be unfair, though, according to one of the game's developers. 

At the Xbox Games Showcase 2023, Microsoft studio Obsidian showed off Avowed, the firm's latest AAA game following 2019's incredible space RPG The Outer Worlds. Obsidian has been on something of a roll in recent years, after a strong showing with the narrative adventure title Pentiment, and in the microscopic adventures of back yard survival game Grounded. After a debut CGI trailer some years ago, fans who were wondering how Avowed would present, and last week their questions were answered. 

Avowed is a fantasy RPG set in the similarly excellent Pillars of Eternity universe. Pillars of Eternity was a Kickstarter-backed homage to the likes of Baldur's Gate and other CRPGs Obsidian originally made its name on. The title is on Xbox Game Pass for both console and PC, and remains a truly rewarding game for fans of more classic isometric roleplaying experiences. For more typical audiences, though, Avowed should be the answer. 

Set in the Living Lands, Avowed will allow players to experience a tighter narrative experience, focusing on personal character-driven stories and companion gameplay,  with choices and consequences that impact the outcomes of quests. You'll be able to take up traditional RPG archetypes including wizardry, stealthy assassin gameplay, or defensive warrior roles, in a world that looks as beautiful as it looks brutal. However, there has been some discourse online about the game's visuals. 

In my unofficial preview of the leaked pre-alpha footage, I described the game as sharing more colorful notes we saw in The Outer World. Some fans have taken exceptions with the brighter color pallet, which wasn't present in the game's initial reveal CGI, nor in the art style of Pillars of Eternity. On a forum called RPG Codex, an apparently-verified Obsidian developer going by the name of Briar Diem answered concerns from the community about the game's presentation and scope (via HazzadorGamin).

The trailer fails to show much in its 2-minute run time. To clear up misconceptions though I'll say this, the game is big and open, it is unfair to compare it to OW (I think Feargus is trying to keep expectations down just in case), which I think it is nothing alike. The studio that did the trailer did some compression of colors and image editing, the screenshots that have been released are much more representative of what it looks like just running through it (they also [appear] to be totally random shots from the game, I'm not sure why these were chosen out all the things, probably to keep spoilers at minimum). A lot of the game is being kept hidden right now, I think you will have to wait until the next trailer or some sort of presentation to really see it, but it is safe to assume it is very Obsidian. No, the entire game isn't all bright and happy town, no it is not all so indistinct visually. There are lots of characters, quests, conversations, various game mechanics, big story, etc. [...] Development is going well right now, MS is allowing Obsidian free license to do as they will, and if it is success or fails it'll be on Obsidian's own terms.

Briar Diem, Obsidian

Later in the thread, Briar Diem notes that the alpha/beta period for Avowed will be the longest the firm has ever had for a game, which mirrors the way Microsoft has treated games like Starfield to focus on polish and refinements. Briar Diem also noted that "various things" and lighting will be improved in subsequent showings of the title. 

If you look at how Starfield showed up in its initial reveal compared to now, there's a ton of detailing that has been added to the game's characters, models, environments, and lighting that bring the game's visuals up several notches. I suspect that Avowed will go through a similar process, in a world where game development has become more layered and complex than ever. In a recent interview, Obsidian's CEO Feargus Urquhart explained how Avowed is taking a different approach to storytelling than the likes of Bethesda's more sandbox-oriented RPGs, and is well worth a quick read. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Zombra
  • Thretosix
    The game is still too far out for people to be freaking out. Sometimes things that look too good end up with other issues like Watchdogs.