Avowed: everything we know about Obsidian's next big RPG

Avowed — the player character faces a plague-ridden bear in combat, pointing their longsword towards the bear as it roars.
(Image credit: Obsidian)

Avowed spent a few years lurking in the shadows since its 2020 reveal, leaving us wondering about when it'd bring the timeless joy of sword and sorcery spelunking. Patience gets rewarded, however. We've finally gotten an extended look at Avowed's colorful fantasyland, magical combat, and the many crushable skeletons its Pillars of Eternity setting has to offer.

Since we aren't expecting Elder Scrolls 6 for, oh, half a decade or more, we're looking forward to Avowed stepping in to fill the open world fantasy void sometime in 2024. Check out our Avowed interview from 2023 to get more details from Obsidian's creative director.

Here's everything we now know about Avowed.

Does Avowed have a release date? 

Avowed will release in fall 2024, as announced during the Xbox Direct show in January 2024. We don't have a specific date yet, but we did get a gameplay deep dive during the same showcase so we've got plenty to chew on for a while.

Obsidian's also got an Outer Worlds sequel in the works, but since Avowed got a broad release timeframe first, we're expecting the space sequel will come along sometime later.

Avowed trailers

Here's the latest Avowed developer deep dive from January 2024

At Microsoft's Developer Direct in January 2024, we got to see eight-ish minutes of gameplay and developer insights about Avowed alongside the announcement of its Fall 2024 release window. In the video, we see a good amount of combat highlights, showing off potential weapon combinations like a paired sword and pistol, dual-wielded wands, or just a big battle-axe—useful for smashing enemies you've frozen with ice magic. We also get an overview of a questline from the game's craggy Shatterscarp desert region.

What other Avowed trailers are there?

We first met the game with the Avowed announcement trailer, revealed during the Xbox Games Showcase in 2020. What we saw was brief, but it revealed a few key details—most importantly that Avowed is a first-person RPG in a similar vein to The Outer Worlds and Skyrim. Clever players on the Avowed subreddit also deciphered the runes etched on the sword in the trailer, realizing that it's a language that already exists in Pillars of Eternity, to discover the sword's name is Oathbinder.

After that there was the first Avowed gameplay trailer from 2023 that was mostly big flyover shots showing Eora's colorful landscapes. It did show some very quick shots of magical, hand gesture combat and big plague monsters.

Avowed gameplay details

What will Avowed's gameplay be like?

Avowed will be a familiar RPG experience for anyone who's played Skyrim. The gameplay footage we've seen is very Elder Scrolls; lots of bashing bandits and skeletons in first person. You can bash sword-and-board style. You can bash with dual-wielded axes, or a two-handed sword, or ranged weapons.

There's plenty of magic to throw around, too. The gameplay showcase gave us a look at dual-wielding wands as one very magical option. We'll also be able to go for a sword and wand combo for things like snaring enemies in vines while you hack at their friends.

You'll be able to save customizable gear loadouts that you can swap between mid-combat. Maybe you'll have a heavy two-handed weapon loadout for cleaving through crowds of weaker enemies, but you'll swap to your wand-and-shield combo when you need to take things more tactically with a little bit of distance.

As we learned in a January 2024 interview with game director Carrie Patel and gameplay director Gabe Paramo, Obsidian is looking to other premier first-person melee experiences to inform the combat in Avowed. In particular, Paramo called out the melee excellence of Vermintide developer Fatshark: "We're trying to get our inspiration from there, just that masterclass in having a sense of hitting and impact," Paramo said.

Avowed has guns

I don't want to just say that Avowed is like Skyrim with guns, but, well—there it is. Sharing a setting with Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity games, Avowed is in a fantasy world where society has discovered the powerful magic of shooting bullets at guys. The Avowed gameplay reveal shows the player character firing dual-wielded flintlock pistols, but we'll have to see whether other flintlock fantasy options are available. I've got my heart set on an enchanted blunderbuss, personally. 

Avowed — a screenshot of a rolling, sunny hillside, which descends toward a cliffside harbor city. Spiked wooden barricades cross the approaching road.

(Image credit: Obsidian)

Avowed won't tie you to character classes

As we learned in a January 2024 interview with Avowed's game and gameplay directors, Carrie Patel and Gabe Paramo, Avowed is setting aside the character classes of its Pillars of Eternity predecessors. Instead, it'll have a more free-form character progression, with ability trees similar to Skyrim's perk constellations. "It is a classless game," Paramo said. "The player will be able to kind of pick and choose their abilities as they level up and progress, and you will be able to respec."

The game will have character backgrounds that you'll choose from during character creation, Patel told us, but that's more for establishing a foundation for your idea of your character. It won't restrict any character build choices.

Avowed won't have a sprawling open world

Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart told us that, while Avowed's original pitch was a sprawling open world like Skyrim, the studio shifted to a more focused scope to emphasize Obsidian's strengths. Instead, Avowed will have a similar scale to Obsidian's scifi RPG, The Outer Worlds. "We could go off and create an 8km x 8km open world and then deal with all the consequences of that—because that makes it a different style game," Urquhart said. "But 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."

In the January 2024 developer deep dive, we got a look at Shatterscarp, a rocky area that was described as "the third region" you'll explore in the game, making it sound like the game will have a fairly linear sequence of areas.

Avowed will emphasize companion characters

Echoing Urquhart's statement above, Avowed director Carrie Patel underlined the game's focus on companion characters. "One thing we wanted to do with Avowed was make sure the companions felt really integral to the story," Patel said. "In some games they're optionally recruitable, but in Avowed they're deeply tied to the story, tied to your party… we really wanted to create this sense that you're in this big wild frontier, you're going on this adventure of discovery, and you have this small but tight knit crew with you."

In Avowed, Patel told us, you'll be bringing along two companions at a time, each with their own combat specialties. From the sounds of it, Avowed is a couple degrees closer to CRPG-style party emphasis than its obvious Elder Scrolls counterparts.

In our January 2024 interview with Patel and gameplay director Gabe Paramo, we learned some new details about companions in Avowed:

  • You adventure alongside two companions at a time. Your other companions, which you'll gather throughout the story, will wait at a "player camp."
  • In "a few cases," you'll need a specific companion character's specific knowledge or skills to resolve a situation, but otherwise you're free to run with whoever you want.
  • There's no "approval system" where companions could potentially leave if you make a decision that upsets them, but you will be able to make choices that influence the outcomes of their individual stories.
  • Every companion will be relevant in every playthrough; unlike Baldur's Gate 3, you can't skip recruiting someone.
  • Companions will have abilities that are useful both in and out of combat. You can issue basic orders, but you won't micromanage your party like a tactics game. Think Mass Effect.

Avowed story and setting details

Avowed — Cranes and scaffolding surround the construction of a giant statue on a volcanic mountainside. The statue has a bearded face, and ridged brows.

(Image credit: Obsidian)

Avowed is set in Eora, the Pillars of Eternity setting

Sharing a setting with Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity CRPGs, Avowed takes place in the fantasy world of Eora. Eora's slightly more modern than your usual medieval fantasy fare: there's a lot more gunpowder and tall ships hanging around. It's closer to our Age of Sail than it is to the Middle Ages. Still plenty of magic being meddled with, though.

More specifically, Avowed is set in the Living Lands, a remote island that, until now, has been distant enough to avoid direct attention from Eora's colonial powers. Foremost among these is the Aedyr Empire, an intercontinental imperial state.

While it's been rumored that Avowed is a prequel, we don't know yet whether Avowed takes place before or after the Pillars of Eternity games in the Eora timeline.

(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

What do we know about Avowed's story?

Not much yet, but we do know you play as an envoy to the far off Living Lands, sent by the Aedyr Empire to investigate rumors of a plague. Given the "Empire" bit, the inhabitants of the Living Lands aren't exactly ecstatic to have you around, which the narrator in the gameplay trailer says outright. In fantasy as in life, things tend to take a downward turn once agents of colonial powers start arriving.

According to Carrie Patel, Avowed's creative director, you'll have a say in just how much of an imperial nightmare you end up being. The "personality, appearance, and philosophy and vibe you bring to that role is up to you as a player to decide," Patel said.

Lincoln Carpenter

Lincoln spent his formative years in World of Warcraft, and hopes to someday recover from the experience. Having earned a Creative Writing degree by convincing professors to accept his papers about Dwarf Fortress, he leverages that expertise in his most important work: judging a video game’s lore purely on the quality of its proper nouns. With writing at Waypoint and Fanbyte, Lincoln started freelancing for PC Gamer in Fall of 2021, and will take any excuse to insist that games are storytelling toolkits—whether we’re shaping those stories for ourselves, or sharing them with others. Or to gush about Monster Hunter.

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