Amidst the recent flurry of information about Obsidian’s forthcoming RPG Avowed, one crucial morsel of information went under the radar. We learned that the first-person role-player would have lively combat, a classless main character exploring large, sprawling levels set in the same universe as Pillars of Eternity, and that there would be companions accompanying us on the journey. But can we kiss those companions? Eurogamer reveals that, no, we cannot.
Avowed was announced in 2020, but we didn’t get to know what it really was until January 18’s Xbox Developer Direct. Here it was revealed to be something that evoked memories of Dark Messiah of Might & Magic (albeit lacking the combat’s oomph), a first-person action-adventure that felt fast and fleet compared to the more plodding pace of Obsidian’s Bethesda-like The Outer Worlds. The player character will be able to switch between swinging melee weapons and dual-wielding magic wands as they see fit, we learned, all the while supported by companions who were integral parts of the story.
Obsidian, now wholly owned by Microsoft, is renowned for its story-heavy approach to RPGs, but is often miscategorized as being known for one specific approach. There are those who see the studio exclusively as an isometric hardcore D&D-style developer, and others who expect to see games only in the style of Bethesda spin-offs. However, its games have been as disparate as hardcore D&D epic Neverwinter Nights 2, crafting survival game Grounded, and lest we forget, South Park: The Stick of Truth. It’s also notable that the studio’s two most famous games, Pillars of Eternity and Fallout: New Vegas, occupy entirely different corners of the RPG space. Which is all to say, there really shouldn’t be any specific expectations of “type” when it comes to Avowed, given the company’s propensity to head off in such entirely differing directions.
Although, some aspects remain hard to shake. Given it’s Obsidian, and given they were birthed from the loving womb of Mother BioWare, it would be fair to assume that RPG + Companions = Smooching. This, I’m shocked to tell you, isn’t going to be the case.
“I know we did some romances for companions in [Pillars of Eternity II:] Deadfire,” game director Carrie Patel told Eurogamer, “but the thing we found…is that to pay them off, you really have to invest a lot in doing them well. And you also want to balance whatever you’re putting into romantic relationships with ensuring that players who don’t choose the romance path still have a fulfilling and complete experience with those companions.”
Which really does sound a lot like “We just didn’t want to.” Which is totally reasonable.
Read More: New Obsidian RPG Avowed Shows Off Slick Movement, Reveals First Companions
Romances have been such a core part of the BioWare family tree of games, further normalized by Larian’s games (Divinity: Original Sin, Baldur’s Gate 3) heavily inspired by the same developer, that the existence of companions tends to lead players to think at some point they’ll get to doink them. This has been the subject of much derision over the years, questions raised over the legitimacy of absolutely anyone you turn your attentions to falling impossibly in love with you, and what Patel doesn’t quite say is: sometimes it’s just really naff. Not doing it at all is a pretty good solution to avoiding all that awkwardness.
We know that there will be at least four companion characters in Avowed, seemingly with two of them accompanying you at a time, and that they will be key to the story being told. Patel told Eurogamer that these relationships could be too easily messed up by, you know, relationships. “We wanted to make sure that we were paying that off and we didn’t feel ready to do romances as well. Especially because it gets kind of awkward if you’re trying to save the world together and then you’ve broken up but this person is still traveling with you.”
We’ve all been there.
Avowed is aiming to release fall 2024, so put it in your calendar for February 2025.