I think the biggest issue that I had with Avowed’s showing at the Xbox Developer Direct was that we didn’t see or hear much that was new or exciting. I know I’m not alone in thinking that either, judging from posts on social media and forums. Well, our collective concerns have been somewhat eased, as a new gameplay breakdown shows fresh gameplay footage and shares interesting information – including first details on two Avowed companions.
Avowed got roughly seven and a half minutes of airtime during the direct, and to be honest, it didn’t do much to convince me that this could be one of the best RPG games of this console generation. What it really needed was a longer, extended gameplay showcase – and hey presto, that’s now exactly what we’ve got thanks to the most recent episode of the Official Xbox Podcast.
In the 25-minute episode, we see lots more footage of Avowed’s combat (the most controversial Developer Direct talking point for many fans, us included) but also learn some details about two companions. Obsidian has proven with past projects that it can develop great characters, especially when it comes to those that you can bring on a journey with you, so this new information on companions Kai and Giatta has certainly improved my current mood when it comes to Avowed.
Game director Carrie Patel confirms all the usual information you’d expect when it comes to companions in a narrative-heavy RPG like Avowed. They act as “your allies, your advisors, and in some ways your local guides” through the game and the decisions that it forces upon you. They can give their opinions and get involved in dialogue with other characters. And they will all assist you in combat, giving different skills and benefits depending on who you have in your party.
Patel also interestingly highlights that “they all have deep ties to different regions of the Living Lands”, which can help them provide unique “commentary and context” when exploring certain areas or interacting with specific characters. But it’s the specific details on each companion I’m most interested in.
First there’s Kai, who has a “pretty deep history with Scatterscarp”, the region that is being explored in the gameplay footage. He is said to have left the region, and when you return with him in tow, he begins to see the change in the people living there and wonders if he has let them down by being absent.
We also learn that Kai is also descends from Rauatai, a “fun but somewhat militaristic culture” that was featured in Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity games (Avowed is set in the same universe as the Pillars series, for those unaware). Gameplay director Gabe Paramo also reveals that Kai is something of a “tank” during combat and possess an ability that can taunt enemies, which will be handy if you’re getting overwhelmed by aggressive enemies.
Then there’s Giatta. We sadly don’t hear anything from the devs about her specific backstory, but we do see a very brief snippet of dialog from her, which might give you an indication as to what kind of a character she is: “In other words, you’re a gang of vigilantes. Not that I’m one to judge”. Paramo does reveal some gameplay details about her though, and confirms that Giatta is a healer that can replenish health to both you and other party members.
We also see from the gameplay footage that you can have at least two companions by your side, as we see both Kai and Giatta taking down enemies during combat sections. Neither Patel or Paramo confirm the size of parties, but it’s likely that two is the limit – this is also how it was in Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds. In terms of how many there will be in total to choose from is unconfirmed, but Patel jokingly says that “you’ll meet a couple more” when Avowed arrives.
I’m personally feeling a bit more excited about Avowed following this Xbox Podcast episode than I was after the Developer Direct. Companions were one of my favorite aspects of The Outer Worlds, so it’s reassuring to finally hear more about the ones in Avowed. I’m still not completely won-over by what I’ve seen, but here’s hoping it becomes one of the best Xbox games of recent years when it launches later in the fall.
On the topic of Xbox exclusives, here’s the one game that I was desperate to see at the Developer Direct, and that I’m hoping comes out of hiding sometime soon.