Obsidian's CEO comments why Avowed is not the studio's take on Skyrim

Avowed skeleton.
(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

What you need to know

  • Avowed is a AAA RPG by  Obsidian Entertainment that was revealed in 2020. It will be the third release from Obsidian since their acquisition in 2018, joining Grounded and Pentiment.
  • Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart gave an interview to PC Gamer about Avowed following the Xbox Games Showcase.
  • Avowed was originally pitched at Obsidian’s take on Skyrim, but production pivoted to be more focused on a more traditional RPG delivery as opposed to Bethesda brand sandbox-style gameplay. 

If you look for Avowed content on your search engine of choice, you will undoubtedly be inundated with results that refer to the game as Obsidian's take on Skyrim. In the three years since its initial CGI trailer reveal, all we knew of Avowed was speculation, rumors, and those Skyrim comparisons. According to Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart, who sat down with PC Gamer for an interview, the comparisons were justified. “Originally, we were pitching, in essence, our Skyrim,” Urquhart confirmed in the interview.

Despite all of the comparisons to Skyrim, the team at Obsidian ultimately decided to do what they do best, and Avowed shifted to a more RPG-focused experience. While medieval magic and swordplay remained, the weight of crafting a massive open world eventually fell to the wayside. “Every game development process for every title is this chain of ideation, iteration, and polish,” says Carrie Patel, director of Avowed.

Obsidian Entertainment has had experience in the open-world genre before with Grounded, which has garnered over 13 million players across PC, Xbox, and The Outer Worlds. When it came to Avowed, however, the studio wanted to dig into a more linear storytelling method that could focus on player companions and their surrounding narratives. “. . . We want to tell more confined stories that the player can experience with their companions and then move from part of the world to part of the world.” Urquhart said.

There was plenty of speculation that Avowed’s development was undergoing an internal reboot, and the new statements from Urquhart and Patel seem to support that the original direction of creating Obsidian’s take on Skyrim just wasn’t meant to be. “Sometimes you realize the way you’re building; it is not quite living up to the experience you want to create. And so, in iteration and refinement, you say, ‘Well, how do we create the experience that we want to deliver to players, and particularly as a studio? How do we deliver on what we’re really good at specifically?” Patel said.

While Avowed will not be the sprawling open world that it started life as on paper, the team at Obsidian seems confident that the changes made to the game were the right choice and that they Avowed that they’ve created is a more true-to-self RPG than what had originally been laid out. “Bethesda makes an awesome Skyrim….” Urquhart says in his interview with PC Gamer, “What we do is we make our awesome RPGs, right?”

Avowed’s latest trailer was part of the massive lineup of games from the 2023 Xbox Games Showcase along with a new launch window of 2024. The fantasy RPG is just one of many games that Obsidian Entertainment has recently released or announced since their acquisition and is sure to find its place among other Obsidian's esteemed portfolio which consists of some of the best RPGs you can play on Xbox.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.