During the latest Xbox Showcase, mere months after releasing Outer Worlds, Obsidian announced its latest project: Avowed, eerily reminiscent of Bethesda’s Skyrim. However, the similarities make sense. Obsidian worked with Bethesda when they developed Fallout: New Vegas, and it’s influences can be seen in Outer Worlds. Obsidian has never attempted an Elder Scrolls style RPG, but after their successes with Kotor 2, FNV, and Outer Worlds, it’s exciting to think what the developers can accomplish.
The short teaser introduced a medieval-fantasy style kingdom surrounded by lush forests. Flaming arrows launch from atop the kingdom’s castle walls, flying over verdant cliffs, and descending into a subterranean civilization, reminiscent of Tolkien’s Mines of Moria. One arrow lands in front of the protagonist who, in first-person view, unsheathes a sword in one hand and prepares a spell in the other, as bestial roars echo from ahead. The teaser fades to black as the narrator asks, “Is an oath worth the weight of a crown?”
An Oath Avowed
Avowed takes place in the Pillars of Eternity universe and could be a prequel to Pillars of Eternity according to rumors on the PoE subreddit. Users noted the castle in the opening scene has banners resembling the symbol of Woedica, god of justice and law. She goes by the name Oathbinder, which coincides with the sword in the teaser, the runes on which were deciphered by Avowed redditors to mean Oathbinder. The runes themselves are Aedyran, the language of a large empire in which Woedica was worshipped.
Woedica serves as an indirect antagonist in Pillars of Eternity. It’s possible Avowed will take place before Woedica’s exile and explore her character. The question “is an oath worth the weight of a crown?” further supports the game’s focus on Oathbinder. The Pillars of Eternity universe is rich with lore and, while touching on similar topics such as enchanted forests and godly beings, different enough from The Elder Scrolls to leave its mark. In fact it already has. PoE and PoE 2 are known as excellent games.
It’s all but guaranteed Obsidian will be using a system similar to Skyrim’s, where one-handed weapons can be wielded with spells or other light weapons. Expect one-handed swords, axes, maces, as well as larger two-handed variants, and shields of course. Archery, unlike spellcasting, isn’t seen in the teaser but is a certainty. Obsidian wouldn’t show this single bit of gameplay for any reason other than to say “yes, this is our take on Elder Scrolls.” Gamers know what Skyrim looks like, this looks like Skyrim…but different.
Seeing the player dual-wielding a sword and spell in similar fashion to Skyrim certainly sent chills down the spines of Elder Scrolls fans. Though, when the casting hand begins tracing runes and projecting glyphs like those in Dr. Strange, one fact becomes clear…this is not a next-gen Elder Scrolls, but it is a spiritual successor. It’s only a trailer, but if it’s in any way portraying real casting animations, mage fans will cheer in delight.
Currently, the website claims it’s a first-person RPG, a concerning detail for third-person lovers. All hope is not lost, however, as last year Obsidian posted job listings mentioning “combat with emphasis on exceptional first-person melee experience” and “combat actions utilizing both first- and third-person animations,” as well as branching dialogue and day and night cycles. Obsidian knows what fans want, and Outer Worlds’ third-person animations were only a test run. The company will be revving its engine to max RPMs for Avowed.
Rivals or Pals?
Avowed will likely rival The Elder Scrolls in every aspect. Obsidian creates excellent RPGs, even if some of its original IPs never reached the spotlight. Outer Worlds is a testament to its devs. The Sci Fi RPG blends elements of Fallout and KOTOR, then infuses them into a uniquely humorous universe. The player uses a ship to fly to different planets and, in similar fashion to KOTOR/Mass Effect, it serves as housing for squadmates who possess unique personalities, dialogue, and story missions. Fallout’s imprint is also difficult to miss, and appreciated.
In many ways Outer Worlds was a trial run for Obsidian. The short-and-sweet game proved the company could succeed in making a successful RPG using years of development experience, and work with Bioware and Bethesda, to its advantage. The time has come for Obsidian to stand out on its own and it has the fanbase to do so. Fallout: New Vegas is a cult-classic and KOTOR 2 was every bit as good as its predecessor. Avowed can be its own success.
This is Obsidian’s chance to stand out from the ever-growing list of RPG developers. Avowed can be like Skyrim in the way Outer Worlds was like Fallout, similar but enhanced. The developers may plan to add KOTOR style squadmates like they did with Outer Worlds, though, that is a questionable choice for an Elder Scrolls game where the lone traveller archetype should always be an option. One thing is certain, Avowed will play like the craziest Skyrim mod ever created. Speaking of which, modkit or bust!