Avowed Was Originally Co-op Focused, Now Changed To Traditional Single-player RPG
Avowed was originally designed to be a co-op focused game, but developer Obsidian ultimately pivoted towards a traditional single-player role-playing game.
Speaking during a documentary on the occasion of Obsidian’s 20th anniversary, studio head/founder Feargus Urquhart talked about how he had made decisions that he felt really good about but there were also decisions that felt not good about. One of the things that he really pushed was that Avowed was going to be a co-op focused game, and he went with it for a long time. In the end, he felt that it was the wrong decision to push.
He mentioned that Obsidian was an independent studio at the time (prior to getting acquired by Microsoft), and he had made the decision to push for a co-op focused RPG in order to make it more interesting to publishers. He stated that when an independent studio approaches a publisher and asks for 50 to 80 million USD, they have to have something interesting to talk about, and multiplayer made it interesting to publishers. It was also revealed that Obsidian had shown Avowed to Microsoft during the initial part of the acquisition process.
Head of development, Justin Britch, shared that Obsidian was too focused on multiplayer, changing the way its pipelines work, the way it handles conversations and quests. After a while of working on Avowed as a co-op focused game, the development team realized that it wasn’t focused on what it does best, and so it made a pivot on the game to change the focus to a traditional single-player game.
The current single-player focused version of Avowed is Obsidian’s version of what a fantasy first-person RPG is. The studio paid close attention to striking the right balance between taking elements from Pillars of Eternity and still keeping things fresh and more approachable for a larger audience. The game now focuses on unique bespoke content, deep systems, and character/society/faction-based storytelling. The development team refers to Avowed as the natural extension of all the things it cares about, and of all the things it is great at.