Obsidian recently showed off a sizeable chunk of Avowed, its upcoming first-person fantasy RPG. As you’d expect from the developers behind Pillars of Eternity, Avowed looks like a colourful, characterful affair. As we’ve also come to expect from Obsidian, it currently looks a little bit wonky. In particular, the combat depicted in the video drew criticism from the community, with complaints that fights lacked a sense of dynamism and impact.
As reported by IGN, game director Carrie Patel has now responded to these criticisms. Speaking on the Dropped Frames podcast, Patel explained that the footage shown in the video is from an older build of the game. “We’re getting to show more and more, but all of that is while the game is still in progress,” Patel said. “One of the heartening things has been seeing fans call out some of the things we are actively working on, like the sense of hitting impacts as you’re attacking enemies.”
Patel adds that what players saw was “still a few weeks behind where we were even when that footage was released” and that “the team’s been working on it” since then.
Let’s hope she’s right. Looking again at the combat shown in the game overview, it does lack weight and momentum. The spell effects are pretty, and I like the thwip thwip of the one-handed wands, but there’s something missing between the fancy first-person animations and how they affect all those slightly cartoonish lizard people. It reminds me of fighting Underworld Ascendant’s Saurians, which is not good. That said, I prefer developers honestly showing their games in a work-in-progress state, as opposed to plunging huge amounts of resources into promotional material that isn’t true to the final experience and distracts from working on the game itself.,
I can’t speculate as to the effect “a few weeks” of work would have on combat in a game like Avowed. But it’s a moot point. The game isn’t due to release until the autumn, so Obsidian has plenty of time yet to get it right. Nonetheless, it’s important Obsidian does get it right. The studio has previously stated that Avowed won’t let players do pacifist runs because the game has a “focus on combat”. If it’s the focus of the game, then it needs to be great.