Last week, Obsidian gave us an extended look at upcoming fantasy RPG Avowed, leaving many feeling underwhelmed when it came to the weight of its combat. While it didn’t quite hit at the Xbox Developer Direct, there’s hope that the leaked Sebile Xbox controller – which is expected to have haptic feedback, similarly the PS5’s DualSense – could solve one of Avowed’s biggest issues.
Over the weekend, The Verge’s Tom Warren kindly reminded us via the XboxEra Podcast that Xbox’s brand new controller is still on course for a May reveal. The upcoming addition to the list of best Xbox controllers, codenamed ‘Sebile’, is set to sit between the ‘Core’ and ‘Elite’ pads in the product line-up. According to FTC vs. Microsoft documents that were leaked last year, Sebile’s set to sport everything from modular thumbsticks, to quieter buttons, to – and here’s the important one – “precision haptic feedback.”
Now, let me preface this by acknowledging that Obsidian still has plenty of time to tweak the feel of Avowed’s combat between now and its Fall 2024 release. Additionally, you shouldn’t have to go out and buy a brand-new controller just to make up for a disappointing feature in a game. However, modern problems require modern solutions and, technically speaking, Sebile’s haptics can make up for what’s currently lacking in one of the year’s biggest Xbox exclusives.
While the classic rumble system already present in the standard controller will innately aid the feel of Avowed when it arrives – something that can’t be conveyed through gameplay footage alone – a more bespoke haptic system has the potential to elevate every swing of the sword and flick of the wand. PS5 owners can attest to this, having enjoyed a tighter in-hand experience since the console launched back in 2020 thanks to the DualSense’s various bells and whistles.
Conversely, there’s every chance that those who do snap up a Sebile will end up worse off. Picture quickly executing the dance of death, making use of Avowed’s much-welcomed loadout system, only to find that the growl of the controller in your hands is completely out of sync with the whimper that you’re seeing on screen. Sebile could end up exacerbating the game’s swishy shortcomings.
Of course, weight is only one of the issues when it comes to what we’ve seen of Avowed’s combat so far. Perhaps the more prevalent one is the seeming lack of urgency in enemy AI, making for underwhelming encounters that don’t require nearly as much thinking as Obsidian would like. Again, we’re still many months out from the Avowed release date, so I’m not going to write it off just yet. Additionally, we can’t tell what sort of difficulty the game was set to, and we may be in for a more chaotic and challenging experience further up the scale.
Hopefully, we won’t feel compelled to shell out for a new controller just to accomplish a sense of weight when Avowed reaches our consoles. I have incredibly high hopes that Obsidian’s chops for making some of the best RPG games out there will translate into its new IP, and I can imagine the studio’s been keeping a close eye on player feedback following the Xbox Direct. Though it’s left a dour impression on me at this point, I’m quietly confident that we’ll see the necessary improvements over the coming months to make this discussion completely redundant.
For more post-Xbox Direct thoughts from us, be sure to check out Jamie’s longing for Contraband – the game he thought should’ve been the showcase’s big surprise. Alternatively, read up on why Sam’s excited about Indiana Jones and The Great Circle despite its dated look.