Avowed: everything we know about Obsidian's Skyrim-like RPG

Avowed reveal trailer - in first person, a player holds a sword with glowing blue runes on it while their left hand is engulfed in magical purple flame, ready to attack.
(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

Avowed has been simmering on the back burner in our minds—particularly for those of us who want nothing more than the simple joy of a brisk countryside walk with a longsword and a fistful of magic. After all, we're probably safe in assuming Elder Scrolls 6 won't hit for, oh, half a decade or more. You have to get your first-person high fantasy fix somewhere. Where better than a Pillars of Eternity Skyrim-like from the devs at Obsidian?

We haven't seen Avowed since its 2020 announcement, however, so there's only enough to keep any excitement at a very slow burn. Still, there's reason to hope: Grounded has left Early Access. Pentiment is out the door. Aside from the eventual Outer Worlds sequel, it's gotta be all skeletons and environmental storytelling over at Obsidian HQ. That's what I'm choosing to believe, anyway.

Until we have Avowed details available, here's what speculation we have about its story, setting, and gameplay.

What is the Avowed release date?

Does Avowed have a release date? 

Avowed doesn't have any indicated release date yet. The reveal trailer didn't hint at any window or suggest a possible release year. We have no indication whether Avowed will release in 2023 or later.

But given that other Obsidian games Grounded and Pentiment have left the stable, we might here some Avowed information this year. However, Obsidian has also committed to an Outer Worlds sequel. We can only wait and see which game gets shown first.

Will we see Avowed at the Xbox 2023 summer showcase?

We certainly hope so! After three years since its announcement without any additional previews, an Avowed appearance during summer showcase season would be a welcome one. If we see Avowed, it'll most likely be at Microsoft's Xbox showcase on June 11 at 10 am Pacific. Be sure to check our full summer showcase schedule to map out your preview calendar.

Does Avowed have any trailers?

Here's the Avowed announcement trailer 

Avowed was first revealed during the Xbox Games Showcase in 2020 with an ominous cinematic trailer. What we saw is brief, but it reveals a few key details—most importantly that Avowed is a first-person RPG in a similar vein to The Outer Worlds and Skyrim. Though no gameplay was shown, the trailer ends from that perspective, as the player brandishes a sword and traces out a spell in the air that charges their hand with some violet energy as an unseen enemy, presumably one that is very large and made of flames, approaches. It's cool, and it very much evokes the scene in The Lord of the Rings when the Balrog chases down Frodo and the gang.

Not much else is revealed, but the narrator in the trailer does place specific emphasis on oaths, which seems like it'll be a central theme in the story. Clever players on the Avowed subreddit have 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. 

What other information is there about Avowed?

(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

What will Avowed's gameplay be like? 

Right now, all we can really confirm is that Avowed will be a first-person RPG, but rumors have long persisted that the game will mirror elements of Skyrim and other Elder Scrolls RPGs. Back in 2019, Obsidian posted several job listings that might give an indication of what Avowed will play like.

Based on its reveal trailer, and some prior job postings, we've suspected that Avowed will be a first-person melee and magic style game similar to The Elder Scrolls. A report from October 2021 gets into some early details on combat that suggest the same.

According to Windows Central, Avowed will have action-oriented first-person combat in which you can dual-wield different weapons. You might use two daggers for a rogue style character, a bow, a combination of weapons and magic, or just dual-wield some powerful spells. Weapon enchantments such as magical swords or frozen arrows are mentioned as well.

It does certainly sound familiar for Skyrim fans.

Here’s what's supposedly a leaked Avowed screenshot

Listen, without any official material, we’ve got to share what scraps we can get. Back in October of 2022, this screenshot materialized on Twitter. It was originally shared on an unspecified Discord server, and it's supposedly from an early playable build of Avowed that was already a year or more out of date by the time it was uploaded.

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Not much to go off of, given that it’s a screenshot of some nonspecific woodland and a distant ruin—and that it might not even be legitimate. But if nothing else, we have reason to hope that the spellcasting in Avowed will feature some impressive finger-based theatrics.

What Avowed rumors are there floating about?

(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

Though much of Avowed is still a mystery, some self-proclaimed Microsoft insiders have come forward to share details about Avowed's development. The biggest of these leakers is Sponger, a member of gaming forum Resetera who dumped a long list of rumored gameplay features Obsidian is looking to implement in Avowed. The authenticity of Sponger's leaks was backed up by another notable Microsoft leaker named Klobrille, who had also leaked some key details about Microsoft's other big games at the time.

The following are just rumors at the moment, and haven't been confirmed. Here's what Sponger had to say:

  • Avowed will be "fully open world" and much larger than Skyrim, but not necessarily in total size. The world will be "denser" and "more contrasted"—which presumably means diverse.
  • The main setting will be The Living Lands region of Eora, which is a northern frontier not seen directly in either Pillars of Eternity game.
  • There will be a "big focus" on world reactivity, lighting, and next-gen AI systems.
  • There will be a real-time weather system.
  • Character creation is supposed to be very advanced and detailed.
  • Mod support is planned.
  • The world will have lots of factions, but they won't be similar to Skyrim's factions.
  • You will be able to enlist the help of companions, but it is supposedly very different to how it works in Obsidian's other recent RPG, The Outer Worlds.
  • The game will feature boss battles that happen on a very large scale.
  • Two large cities are being planned, with smaller settlements dotting the map and large areas of wilderness.
  • Creatures and wildlife will be based on Pillars of Eternity lore but will make new additions.
  • "Dynamic presentation of dialogue"—whatever that might mean.
  • Obsidian wants to make it possible to kill anyone in the game, similar to how Morrowind let players terminate the main plot by killing certain key characters.
  • Around 100 people are working on the game currently, and it's been in development for two years with seven months of pre-production.
  • The target release window is "late 2022 or early 2023." (Probably not, considering.)

(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

How does Avowed relate to Pillars of Eternity? 

Aside from being set somewhere in Eora, it's not clear what connection Avowed might have to the characters and events of Pillars of Eternity or its sequel. It's very possible that Avowed is set on a different continent or in a different period of time and that the games only share minor lore references.

Over on the Pillars of Eternity subreddit, however, players have noted some interesting connections. The castle shown in the opening shot flies banners that resemble the symbol for Woedica, the god of justice and law who also goes by the name—get this—Oathbinder. That's the same name as the sword shown in the trailer, and those runes etched on it are Aedyran, the language of one of Eora's biggest empires where Woedica was primarily worshipped. Woedica serves as a kind of indirect antagonist to the player in both Pillars of Eternity and its sequel, a god who is looking to restore her influence and power to assert dominion over all of creation.

Given that information, one of the bigger rumors is that Avowed is a prequel to Pillars of Eternity and set in the Aedyr Empire. And when you consider the banners shown in the trailer and the Oathbinder sword carved with Aedyran runes, it makes a lot of sense. By the time Pillars of Eternity starts, Woedica was exiled. Avowed could explore her fall from power, which might also explain the trailer's ominous monologue about forsaken oaths.

How do you know all this Eora lore? 

It's amazing what you can learn in an hour browsing a wiki. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.

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