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Avowed early build impressions at Windows Central

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Avowed early build impressions at Windows Central

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 13 October 2021, 23:58:27

Tags: Avowed; Obsidian Entertainment

There's been no real news regarding Obsidian's Skyrim clone Avowed since the game was announced last summer. Between that and the various high-profile departures from the project over the past year, it's widely believed to be languishing in some sort of development hell (a belief that a certain Chris Avellone has only been too happy to encourage). One person who pushed back against that perception was a writer for Windows Central named Jez Corden, who appears to have inside information about Avowed's development. Yesterday he published a rather fanboyish impressions piece based on footage from an early build of the game.

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.

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 environments, using lit torches and fire spells to burn down blocked entryways too. 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.
Based on what he's seen, Jez believes we will get to see Avowed gameplay footage at next year's E3 at the latest. Perhaps there'll even be a glimpse of it The Game Awards this December. I guess we'll see.

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