Tonight’s Xbox Developer Direct brought an update on Avowed, Obsidian’s first-person fantasy RPG. A new trailer provided a substantial look at combat, including pistols, dual-wielding swords and wands, as well as a slightly updated release window: this autumn.
It looks… fine? A ‘fine’ that I’m deeply ambivalent about.
The video above focuses on combat in which you fuck up lizard people who live in camps, and who can have slightly different methods of attack or special abilities like healing their comrades. You can then deal with them in an efficient order and using different kinds of loadouts, such as dual-wielding pistols for medium ranged fights, freezing enemies with a left-handed wand and then shattering them with the sword in your right hand, and so on.
It then switches into showing a brief glimpse at a quest where you investigate the aftermath of a battle and try to determine who is at fault, with culminates in the option to blame (and thus fight) a particular person, or to side with them and see them return to town alive. Players will then be able to see the consequences of their action when they return to that town later.
All of which comes across like extremely Xbox 360-era game design to me, because the choice-and-consequence systems seem so thin. I am already imagining the handwritten note you can find near the battle that will explain exactly what happened, and the two lines of extra wrap-up dialogue you’ll receive back in town depending on whichver binary decision you made. Neither will be a happy ending, because it’s easier to wring pathos out of misery – or mild regret, since misery is too bold. Your options will be pressing E on him to make him say “Maybe I should have died in that cave, too, because now everyone thinks I’m a coward”, or pressing E on his, I dunno, younger sister to make her go, “I’m so lonely since my older brother died, but at least he died a hero.”
Too harsh? Probably – because the flip side of this is that it’s got a bow and arrow in it, and if it feels good to slaughter the lizard people by shooting them in the head with an arrow then I’ll play it merrily for 15 hours. Probably lots of people will find their own enjoyment within the modest ambitions of Another Of These Games. So: fine.
Avowed is due for release this autumn.