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Obsidian Explains Why Avowed Won't Let You Romance Your Companions

With games like Starfield and Baldur's Gate 3 last year having players wax poetic about which of their video game besties they most want to smooch, it can sometimes feel like romance systems are becoming a staple of AAA party-based RPGs. But that's not going to be the case with Avowed, which is opting to forego a dedicated romance system for a focus on "building thoughtful relationships" with companions instead.

This comes from an interview IGN did with Avowed game director Carrie Patel, where she confirmed Avowed would not feature romance options, and why:

"We are building thoughtful relationships with our companion characters," she said. "Ultimately, I personally am a fan of making that an option, but I feel like if you're going to do it, you really, really have to commit and make sure that you're giving all to fulfilling that in a way that feels both true to the character, but also creates an engaging player experience. So not something we're doing for Avowed, but I wouldn't say never."

Patel points out that having a dedicated romance system in a story-focused game is a ton of work: you need options for both a fulfilling romance as well as a regular friendship for those who don't want to go down that path. In addition, players generally expect multiple romance options, and expectations around the depth of such relationships only seem to be climbing higher and higher with each new Karlach and Shadowheart video games introduce. It's a big ask, and also not a necessary one if the story of the game doesn't lend itself to romance in the first place.

Later in our interview, Patel further hinted at the ways in which Avowed's non-romantic companion relationships could possibly manifest. Thus far, the studio has given multiple nods to how player choices will impact the world around them, most notably showing this off during a quest in the latest Xbox Developer Direct. Patel and I chatted a bit about this in the context of games like Avowed letting players shape their character's moral compass via character actions and reactions. Avowed is not a game with a morality meter, she said, but characters will certainly have feelings about the actions you take, and won't be shy about expressing them.

We are building thoughtful relationships with our companion characters

"One of the fun challenges with design, particularly around consequences or even sometimes around player options that are reactive to either the kind of character you've built or choices you've made earlier in the game is over the years I've learned that that stuff is always a lot less obvious to the player than to the designer," Patel said. "And so I think sometimes you have to be a bit more direct in tying those options and those consequences to content that's come before, because if it feels too natural and too understated, it feels like a thing that's happening, not a thing that's happening because of what you did."

In short: prepare for characters, possibly including your companions, to let you know if you're behaving like a little jerkwad.

Avowed is
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, having
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at the Xbox Games Showcase and getting a deeper look
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. It's set in Eora, the world of Pillars of Eternity, which incidentally
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despite the game being nine years old.

Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to [email protected].

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