Obsidian Entertainment is known for being an RPG powerhouse studio, with fan-favorite games like Fallout New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity (and Deadfire), Tyranny, The Outer Worlds, Alpha Protocol, and more under its belt. Its next major RPG is slated to be Avowed, a first-person entry set in the Pillars universe. It has now come to light that the game was originally supposed to be a multiplayer-focused RPG.
Recently, the studio has been publishing a five-part documentary series on its YouTube channel covering the past 20 years of its projects and experiences. In the finale episode, Obsidian developers touched on the development of Avowed, and how it has changed drastically since the original pitch.
"One of the things I really pushed was that Avowed was going to be multiplayer," says studio head and founder Feargus Urquhart. "I kept on that for a long time, and I think in the end — not 'I think', I know — it was the wrong decision to keep on pushing on it."
This co-op RPG version of Avowed had been in development before Microsoft's acquisition of Obsidian. The studio had been looking to entice publishers to pick up the project and fund it using the multiplayer and RPG mashup concept that was deemed interesting at the time.
"We were too focused on co-op," adds head of development Justin Britch. "And we were too focused on changing the way our pipelines work, and the way that we write conversations, the way we do quests and everything else."
After eight months of hectic development in this cooperative experience, the studio had ditched it to focus on its strengths and make it a traditional Obsidian single-player RPG featuring "bespoke content, deep systems and incredible storytelling that's focused on characters, societies and factions."
"After working on [co-op] for a little bit we realized we weren't focused on the things that we're best at, and so we did make a pivot on the game to refocus, basically, and make sure it was at the end of the day an Obsidian game, and not something different," continues Justin Britch in the video.
Avowed currently has a broad 2024 launch window attached to it, with it coming to Xbox Series X|S and PC alongside Game Pass. Check out the documentary series in full here. Obsidian is also working on its other RPG project The Outer Worlds 2 while also providing support for its survival game Grounded.