Fallout: New Vegas and Outer Worlds developer Obsidian Entertainment was originally making the upcoming RPG Avowed a cooperative multiplayer game before returning to its single-player roots.
speaking in a documentary In celebration of Obsidian’s 20th anniversary, studio head and founder Feargus Urquhart has admitted he was wrong after pressure on Avowed to be multiplayer.
“One of the things that really pushed me was that Avowed would be multiplayer, and I’ve been keeping that going for a long time,” he said. “I know in the end it was a wrong decision to keep putting pressure on him.”
Head of development Justin Britsch said earlier in the documentary that Obsidian showed Microsoft early in the acquisition process, and while Urquhart didn’t specifically mention Microsoft, he made it clear that multiplayer added a lot of value.
“When we were still independent and I was selling it, it was a much more interesting game for publishers,” he said. “And when you ask for $50, $60, $70 million, you have to have something interesting to talk about. Making it multiplayer is interesting. That was the idea, it’s almost like peanut butter and chocolate, and putting it together, like, ‘Wow must be It’s interesting.”
Forcing a multiplayer project, as a studio known for its single-player games, caused many problems for Obsidian, as it had to essentially re-learn every aspect of game development.
“We were very focused on collaboration and we were very focused on changing the way our pipelines work, the way we write conversations and the way we do tasks,” Pritsch said. “We didn’t focus on the things we excel at. And so we focused on the game, mainly to refocus and make sure it was, at the end of the day, obsidian and not something different.”
Obsidian’s initial focus on multiplayer is similar to the recent controversy surrounding fellow Xbox Games Studios developer Arkane. Known for its single-player games like Dishonored, Arkane developed the co-op multiplayer game Redfall which launched to scathing reviews earlier this year.
ZeniMax’s parent company reportedly pushed for a multiplayer focus that caused countless issues, and 70% of the staff who worked on single-player Prey left by the end of Redfall’s development. Things allegedly got so bad at Arkane that despite her two-year stint on Redfall at the time of the Xbox acquisition, staff wished she could be rebooted as a single-player game or scrapped entirely.
Avowed has stuck to its Obsidian roots, and even though it’s set in the same universe as Pillars of Eternity, the developer wants to make the world and universe more accessible this time around.
“The thing that was both exciting and scary about stepping into this role in Avowed is that it’s an IP that I know but it’s a different style of play for us,” said game director Kari Patel.
“Knowing exactly how much we want to take from Pillars 1 and [sequel] Deadfire, and then how do we make this game more accessible to a larger audience that may not have played the Infinity Engine games and may not have played any of the original Pillars games at all? How do we stay true to this IP but how do we create a more accessible experience for a larger audience? “
Only time will tell if Obsidian can achieve that goal, with players knowing when the game will release in 2024. No specific release date has been shared, though Obsidian did release a new trailer for Avowed in June.
Relatively little is known about the game so far, though it will feature destructible environments and is closer in size to The Outer Worlds than Skyrim.
Ryan Dinsdale is a freelance reporter for IGN. He’ll be talking about The Witcher all day.
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