Obsidian Entertainment is set to return to Pillars of Eternity’s world of Eora with Avowed, a first-person action-RPG that’s currently in development. After its reveal trailer, it was quickly compared to Skyrim for its first-person perspective melee and magic action. Obsidian has a history of creating well-received RPG titles including Fallout: New Vegas and its own IP Pillars of Eternity, so fan expectations are high. For gamers who enjoy first-person action-RPG titles, this could fill the gap for some while The Elder Scrolls 6 continues to be developed, though Obsidian has a deep well to draw from to help it stand out from the Bethesda series.
Little is known of Avowed outside of some key details. It’s set to take place in Eora, the same world as Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity games, and it will take players to The Living Lands. This location hasn’t been seen in the developer’s games before, so Obisidian Entertainment has a blank slate to work with when crafting its world. The reveal trailer has also suggested that Eora’s gods will be involved in the game, as it contained prominent appearances from Woedica, goddess of law and justice. Ultimately, to avoid continued comparisons with Skyrim, there are some features that Obsidian could look at adapting from Pillars of Eternity to help the title stand out.
The Pillars of Eternity titles are party-based RPG games, and this could be one of the biggest characteristics that Obsidian could bring to Avowed. It’s not very often that action-RPG games make use of companions, and when they are featured, they can often be somewhat basic. A possibly clever move for Obsidian Entertainment would be to look at Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire and how that game handled adventuring parties.
In the pirate-themed RPG, gamers can hire fully-fledged party members with their own personal stories, and sidekicks who are viable compatriots but don’t have developed narratives. TES 5: Skyrim used companions, but as there was minimal interaction required from the player, Avowed could look at having a more in-depth way of managing them. Developing a more direct way to instruct them in combat and potentially upgrading them could add more flavor to the characters but also make combat scenarios more diverse.
Managing in-depth systems such as party members could be difficult to manage in real-time, so another opportune feature for Obsidian is a tactical pause. PoE, like Baldur’s Gate which inspired the series, contains a real-time pause element and this could be transferred to Avowed and prove to be useful. GreedFall from developer Spiders is a great recent example of an action-RPG that used a tactical pause to great effect. At the touch of a button, combat is paused, and the player is free to map out their next move. This approach could suit Avowed as it’s simple to use and wouldn’t detract from the action-orientation of the game too much. Using a straightforward pausing system like this could help gamers manage their followers’ actions and insight into their combat situation.
Rumors suggest that Avowed will have in-depth spells. It’s common practice for action-RPG titles to include abilities that have cooldowns so that they can’t be spammed, and make fighting enemies more of a challenge. These are often only seconds long and still enable players to use their skills fairly liberally. What Avowed can take from Pillars of Eternity to differentiate from Skyrim and other similar games are skills which have longer cooldown periods. In PoE, gamers have access to a deep well of abilities that can be used per encounter and rest, and this could work well in the upcoming action-RPG. Potent abilities that can only be used infrequently would help players turn the tide in close battles, and also encourage getting basic combat and tactics mastered, as the more powerful skills couldn’t be used very often. This could also necessitate limited resting when on adventures, making each rest more valuable.
Avowed has several ways to distinguish itself from Skyrim, thanks to it spinning off from a series that already has an established setting and lore. Another way to further separate it from the Bethesda series would be to use the ship mechanic from Pillars of Eternity 2. While it wouldn’t have to be ships specifically as the mode of transport, it made traveling in Deadfire more interesting. Players were liable to be attacked by enemies while traversing the sea and altogether made for a more interesting way to travel the game world. This could work in Avowed even for land travel, with gamers risking being attacked depending on where they were journeying to and how far their destination was.
It’s in the best interest of Obsidian Entertainment to keep a balance between RPG mechanics and action gameplay. While there is going to be competition between The Elder Scrolls 6 and Avowed due to the titles sharing a genre, the developer should look at doing enough to ensure it stands out from the Bethesda game series. There is a balance to strike between taking enough from PoE and keeping the title action-heavy while not leaning into its RPG roots too much. Adapting too many role-playing mechanics has the potential to alienate a new audience to the world of Eora, who are looking for a more combat-focused experience. It’s possible that if Avowed concentrated on role-playing features too much, it could push gamers towards Skyrim or the forthcoming Elder Scrolls 6.
Obsidian has a big task ahead of them with Avowed and making sure it can stand out from the crowd. Using what has come before in Pillars of Eternity will help the team craft something more unique, but it remains important for Obsidian to make sure it can stay within first-person fantasy action without delving into stat-heavy mechanics too much. There are few confirmed details for Avowed at the moment, with many players hoping to see some more official news soon.
Avowed is currently in development and will release on Xbox Series X and PC.