The highly awaited sequel to Pillars Of Eternity is here, and boy is it here to stay.
Genre: Classic RPG
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Obsidian Entertainment,
Release date: 8 May, 2018
Pillars Of Eternity II Deadfire is the sequel to the highly acclaimed first chapter of the series, and proposes the same Classic RPG gameplay formula, but overhauled and expanded with many new mechanics. Without spoiling much of the story, let’s just say that after succeeding in your quest, you became the ruler of Caed Nua, a legendary fortress in the Living Lands. But, of course, nothing ever stays the same for long, and the fortress is abruptly destroyed by a mysterious, gigantic Adra statue risen from the depths of the catacombs below. Soon you find out it is Eothas, one of the Gods, who possessed the statue and he now roams the land reaping souls, for yet unknown reasons. The other gods then call upon you and task you with the mission of finding out what Eothas is planning, not wanting a war among Gods to destroy the world. This task falls upon you and as such, this is how your adventure begins.
Pillars Of Eternity 2 features a classic RPG gameplay, inspired mainly by the all-time classics such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, which in many aspects is similar to the first Pillars game.
Before starting your journey, you will be able to choose what happened in the previous game from a list of presets. Players can choose their own custom story by making each choice again, or of course, load the save file from Pillars I. The choices you made in the first game will bring important changes, such as having different companions, better or worse relationships with them, different reputations with the characters you interact with in the world, and even blessings or curses from the Gods themselves. There are a wide variety of combinations that each will bring a unique development in the game’s story.
After these choices and some introductions to the events of Pillars II, you will finally be able to create your character, and in this part the game doesn’t differ much from the previous chapter except for the implementation of multi-class. Multi-class allows you to fuse together any of the many classes, achieving better flexibility but at the cost of having a less specialized character, a mechanic not seen anymore in many games. Of course, expect a deep, statistics-based, multi-layered character creation worthy of the most complex Classic RPGs.
In this Pillars chapter there is a much higher concentration of “pen and paper like” interactions, starting with a dialogue describing a situation and presenting you with various choices to overcome it. Many of these choices will be viable only if your character, or the characters in your party, will have the required skills such as Alchemy, Athletics, knowledge of Metaphysics, or training in Survival and these are only a few of the many available. Something very innovative is the Party Assist mechanic where if multiple characters in the party have experience in a given field, they will work together and sum up their abilities to overcome greater difficulties, something I have not seen in any other game.
The exploration of map locations maintain the classic feel seen in the previous game, with isometric 2.5D environments and 3D character models, always filled to the brim with secrets and loot. What really changed is the world map exploration. It’s not tied anymore to pre-determined paths but instead is completely free roaming both on sea and land. Players can explore the vast Deadfire Archipelago, land on islands to explore ruins and forgotten places, then sail again, all done in a very seamless, polished way that expands the number of locations and variety by a lot compared to Pillars I.
One of the completely new mechanics is the management of your ship and crew. Via a dedicated interface you will be able to manage everything from food and water supplies (consumed for each day of sea travel), to ship armaments, repairs, equipment, and the roles assigned to each crew member. These crew members will gain experience and become better at assigned roles each time a sea battle or event is completed. There is not only this, but random crew events will happen once in a while, and your decisions as captain will bring consequences, such as a high or low morale rating, and even crew members living or dying onboard. Morale is crucial at sea, and having it too low can very well mean desertion or mutiny! Also, if you need better equipment for your ship, you can visit ports to refill supplies and get better cannons, sails, and so on.
Another wholly new mechanic are Sea Battles, written in dialogue form and based on batteries of six turns, three for you and three for the enemy, where ship maneuvering will be crucial and you will have a wide array of movements and tactics at your disposal to try and sink the enemy ship with cannons, flee, or even ram it full speed ahead and proceed with ship-to-ship melee combat. Spoils to the winner!
Combat in Pillars II follows along the lines of the previous game, proposing real time pause-able combat of the highest craftsmanship and depth. Your characters each have a specific role in the field, making your decisions for formation and positioning fundamental for victory. It is important to develop your characters for their specific roles accordingly, with the right equipment for each task. There are a plethora of active and passive skills at your disposal for each available class, many more than even in Pillars I, and with multi-class available, the combinations for battle are endless.
One new important mechanic introduced for combat is the possibility of making your own custom AI scripts, deciding what abilities a character must use when a given event happens. This is done with a dedicated editor, but you can also use preset AI or disable it altogether and issue each command yourself. The Custom AI editor is one of the best I have ever seen, and allows the player to forge perfectly coordinated battle machines if used right.
Another new mechanic is Empowerment, an ability usable only once per combat for each character that restores half of the total ability uses for a character, or instead, can be used on a single ability to cast it TEN levels higher than the caster.
With an entire island archipelago and consequent locations to explore, a deep branching story, hundreds of encounters, and incredible role-playing, to complete a single full play-through can require more than 100 hours, and of course, to see everything you will have to replay the game many, many times.
Here, the challenge depends on difficulty. On Hard, the game be a very intense challenge but fair. The Path of the damned option is for die-hard maniacs who want absolute punishment.
Masterfully crafted 2.5D backgrounds blended with excellent 3D models and modern light effects as well as particles give out a splendid and atmospheric look for each location, making the game a sight for sore eyes.
Sonically, the soundtrack is excellent with music, effects and even sea shanties in a very pirate fashion.
As of now, the performance is not good. Even on high end machines the game has incredibly bad frame-rates ( 20-30 FPS) in larger areas, while much better in tighter spaces.
Nothing to report.
The Enemy AI is advanced and ruthless, they will use abilities and tactics exactly like you do, and give no quarter. Excellent.
Quality of Life
Nothing to report.
Bugs / Issues
Nothing to report.
With a complex and deep gameplay that succeeds in the arduous task of overhauling the already excellent gameplay of the first chapter, a new exciting storyline, and better than ever role-playing interactions, this title is definitely destined to become one of the all-time milestones of the genre. A very good contender for GOTY. Get it now.