I still feel like I barely know anything about Avowed, but it's looking like a rare game that nails the wizard fantasy

I want to fling guys in the air and freeze them solid, not spam plinky plonky little missiles at them!

janeiro 18, 2024 - 23:00
I still feel like I barely know anything about Avowed, but it's looking like a rare game that nails the wizard fantasy

Avowed's second big showcase from Obsidian was kind of odd⁠—we still don't know much about its main story, and the one quest that we've seen was rather boilerplate: help a soldier who deserted or make him face "justice." It feels more like a respectable, middle of the pack quest than the one you use to show off your game. Four years since its first unveiling, we've heard a lot about what Avowed's doing with its main quest and world design, but haven't seen much of that.

But what has been shown off has me excited. There are those gorgeous environments that look like a perfect full-3D translation of Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire's impeccable pre-rendered look. There's also the combat, or more specifically, the magic: the impactful, powerful spells Avowed's shown off have me hoping it's the rare RPG (and even rarer action-RPG) that makes being a wizard fun.

(Image credit: Obsidian)

There are so many games where magic is just lame. Skyrim's summoning spells and behavior-altering illusions are sick, but otherwise the magic's all in convenient missile form, or otherwise simple effects like healing or invisibility. Dragon Age also disappointed me with its spells, which always felt so weak compared to the reality-warping power its mages are supposed to have.

Give me something like Morrowind, where there are spells to let you jump all the way across the map, and some dungeons even have out of the way treasure that's only accessible through the game's uniquely permissive levitation magic. Even before Baldur's Gate 3's masterclass on letting you just get weird with spells, Larian's always done an excellent job at making magic feel powerful and expansive: making enemies wet so they're more susceptible to lightning damage, maliciously teleporting them into lava pits, and turning them into chickens are just a few standouts that come to mind.

Avowed looks extremely promising on this front, with its most recent trailer demonstrating freezing and shattering enemies, force pulling them with telekinesis, and breaking them up with the sort of mass crowd control you don't usually see in a first-person RPG. There's even a gnarly-looking antigravity vortex spell in the first trailer that looks like the bigger brother to the Mass Effect series' Singularity ability.

That's what the wizard fantasy is all about to me, and more low-fi, old-school RPGs always seemed better able to tap into it⁠—they relied on your imagination to fill the gaps of less photorealistic graphics, or were able to more cheaply introduce awe-inspiring visual effects like Planescape Torment's high-level magic cutscenes. When you're trying to do the same thing in a modern game, good RPG magic needs this commitment to cool systemic interactions and even letting you break the game.

That magic feeling

(Image credit: Obsidian)

What we've seen in the trailers has me excited, but there are so many strange spells in Pillars of Eternity that I hope make it into Avowed. On the arcane side, I'd love to see battlefield-altering stuff like Wall of Force, or the mass-petrification spell Gaze of the Adragon. One of Pillars' signature spell-types were abilities like Ray of Fire where you create a beam between yourself and an anchor point, damaging any enemies in the way. This could get wonky with Avowed's new perspective, but wouldn't it also be sick to hit an enemy archer with Ray of Fire and then kite some mooks through it?

I've also wondered ever since Avowed's announcement how it might implement the psionic abilities exclusive to one of Pillars' coolest and most unique classes, the Cipher. Avowed seems more open-ended than the class-based Pillars games, but even if the class' unique mechanics aren't replicated, it'd be awesome to see mind reader powers used for dialogue-based quest solutions.

For all the open questions around Avowed's plot, quests, and characters, I'm excited to finally get my hands on it and become the kind of freakish, overpowered spellcaster so few games seem to want to allow. Its fall release is still many months away, but even this far out I know it's gotta be dual-wands weird magic guy or bust.

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