Obsidian's Avowed shows off a 25-minute deep dive—revealing a 3rd person mode, a first look at its RPG mechanics, and a flirty wizard in need of a vase

I've been carefully tempering my expectations of Avowed—an upcoming RPG made by Obsidian, the creators of Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, and The Outer Worlds.

I'm a fan of all of those games, though The Outer Worlds felt like it fell a smidge short of the studio's usual CRPG pedigree—failing to get its hooks in me with its worldbuilding, characters, or RPG mechanics in the same way that Pillars did. I remember Aloth and Durance pretty vividly, but I couldn't tell you a single thing about The Outer Worlds' cast and crew from memory.

From what we've seen about Avowed, I was worried it might stumble into the same forgettable pitfalls. However, after seeing what Obsidian's been working on during a 25-minute deep-dive that took place after the Xbox Games Showcase, I'm a hair more optimistic than I was before. Compared to the January direct, the game's combat has far more heft overall—and we get to set eyes on a much prettier environment than a bland desert with some kobold-looking mooks mucking about in it.

In the preview, the game's director Carrie Patel walks us through a couple of quests in the Emerald Stair, which is the home of a group of Animancers researching the local Dreamscourge phenomenon. Yatzli, a saucy Orlan (who is moments away from, as your companion Kai puts it, climbing you) needs you to get a vase for her, but it's protected by mushroom people at the top of a cliff—and wouldn't you know it, she forgot to bring a ladder. Happens to the best of us.

It does seem like there's a marked improvement in the game's combat feel when compared to what we saw in January, at least once your gear's up to snuff. While the sword-swings Patel shows off seem to be thudding dully into the dense, mushroomy hide of her enemies at first, that's actually the game telling you that you need sturdier weapons.

After dipping back to the Party Camp—a Baldur's Gate 3-style hub where you can upgrade your gear, chat to party members, and "huddle together to share a moment of respite," Patel casually reveals that yes, the game will have a third person mode. The deep dive doesn't show off its presumably work-in-progress combat animations, but I'm personally pretty happy to hear it. If I'm playing an RPG, I like to get a look at my character.

(Image credit: Obsidian)

We also got a first look at the game's RPG mechanics. Avowed will have six main stats that underpin your character:

  • Might, which increases your damage and carry weight.
  • Constitution, which increases your health, poison and bleed resistance.
  • Dexterity, which increases your attack and action speed.
  • Perception, which boosts your crit chance and max range.
  • Intellect, which increases your essence (the equivalent of mana) and elemental resistances.
  • Resolve, which boosts your stamina and the recharge rate of your Second Wind—a mechanic which stands as a buffer between you and a grisly death, restoring some health when you'd take otherwise lethal damage.

There are also four skill trees available—Fighter, Ranger, Wizard, Godlike, and a tree for your companion's abilities. The Godlike tree wasn't shown off here, but it's likely to centre around your innate abilities as, well, a Godlike—an individual touched by the gods of the setting, which you'll be no matter what.

It's hard to judge before we get more information, but I'm interested in the potential build variety at play, since you'll be able to mix and match your way through these trees. Compared to, say, Bethesda's RPG mechanics, which seem to get thinner and thinner with every game it releases, I'm excited for something that hews a little closer to Oblivion than Skyrim (or Starfield, which had thrilling abilities such as 'you can use your jump pack, now').

Patel shows us a second quest tool, where you can either choose to storm through a grove of Delemgan (primordial forest spirits) or sneak your way inside. Butchering your way through causes their leader to immediately distrust you—fair, you killed all their friends. Meanwhile, sneaking your way in can lead to a more diplomatic route, where you can swipe your sidequest MacGuffin without a fight. It's pretty simple, but it's a nice reassurance that your choices will at least, superficially, matter.

While the pacing of the game looks a little slow, that's partially down to what I'm going to call "showcase movement", wherein the developer wants the viewer to soak in the atmosphere. This results in footage of an RPG being played in a way that no-one actually plays them—walking everywhere, only gently kissing the analogue stick to move the camera so you get some nice sweeping landscape shots, and so on.

My curiosity is, however, otherwise piqued. I don't think Avowed looks like anything groundbreaking—but it's very pretty and its combat is shaping up nicely. Avowed is, most likely, arriving this Fall—so we'll soon see if the proof is in the Godlike pudding.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.