Avowed’s devs tap the it’s not Skyrim sign for the third time in a year (at least), and ‘don’t love’ to compare games, anyway

Seeing Obsidian’s developers make the same public statement for the third time in a year that the studio’s upcoming RPG Avowed isn’t like Skyrim reminds me of nothing so much as a prank interview with Elijah Wood—in which the Lord of the Rings co-star Dominic Monaghan torments poor Frodo with repeat enquiries into whether he wears wigs.

Well, it’s happened again. This comes after a statement made in June last year, wherein Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart told us that Avowed was no longer like Skyrim. Then an interview with PCGamesN in January, wherein Patel told them that the game was not like Skyrim. This latest assurance comes from GameInformer, who were once more told that Avowed is not (you might want to sit down) like Skyrim.

When asked about the comparison, game director Carrie Patel replies: “I think the best comparison is The Outer Worlds. I think that gives a much clearer idea of the scope of the game and also the design and layout.”

While this looks like an effort to manage expectations at first (which it still arguably is), I think it’s fair enough when we’re talking scope—Skyrim is a big stonking open world, while Avowed will be a set of interconnected, smaller zones that are ideally denser than Bethesda’s draugr-filled mountains. “In terms of the kind of the quest structure, the narrative structure, it’s a lot closer to The Outer Worlds, as well,” Patel adds.

In terms of the actual story vibes, though, Patel notes that it’ll hew closer to Pillars of Eternity: Deadfire, which she says told a “very grounded and serious political story. A very kind of weird and esoteric, metaphysical, and divine story beneath that. A lot of moments of seriousness, but also moments of levity to kind of to kind of break that up, and a lot of those things are very character-based.”

Fellow director Gabe Paramo proceeds to note that, in terms of comparing games (presumably after taking some form of sigh) that they “don’t love” the lines people are trying to draw. “I’ve learned in my role, comparing two games, even for the team—let’s forget the player for a second—even for the team it’s hard to say, ‘Use this like this.’ You have to break down the mechanics more … a lot of players can take whatever they want from those games and go, ‘It’s gonna have this and this and this.’ I prefer if we just better just explain what it is our game is doing.”

Also fair. However, I can’t help but feel like Obsidian has, naturally, brought the comparisons on itself—quite literally, in the words of Obsidian’s CEO, who told us that the studio was “originally we were [pitching], in essence, our Skyrim” in the early stages of its development. It doesn’t help when you look at The Outer Worlds, which smacked of ‘Fallout, but in space’.

Mind you, Avowed will take place in the Pillars of Eternity universe, which spawned two crunchy CRPGs that are about as far removed from Skyrim as one’s grandmother is removed from a bike—really, the only comparisons are face-level, spawning from the fact that Avowed will be a first-person RPG where you hit things with a sword sometimes, unlike Skyrim, which was a first-person RPG where you hit things with a sword sometimes and also yelled at them.

Paramo is bang on the money when it comes to the fact that no game, especially an RPG, is skin-deep, and that Avowed will probably feel a lot different to the last Elder Scrolls game. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to help the game escape the Skyrim allegations, even after it comes out this year—potentially in November.