Pillars of Eternity is a unique RPG experience that offers a new perspective on games such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale while paying homage to these classics. Most RPG’s are taking the 3D open world approach and leaving the realms of the Isometric viewpoint, Pillars of Eternity embraces it and creates a beautiful 2D pre-rendered world. It has been on PC for about two years with all of its DLC released. After gaining acclaim from critics and the public it’s now being ported to home consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, can this port live up to the game’s standard?
Obsidian Entertainment had originally put Pillars of Eternity on Kickstarter to figure out if the fans wanted a classic RPG, to their surprise fans went out in the droves to raise four million dollars at the time being one of the most funded crowd-sourced games. With this much attention and the funds to put into the project, they set out to make the RPG they promised the fans.
The story is based around a foreigner who is traveling with a caravan through the nation of Dyrwood. The caravan sets camp for the evening when suddenly a magical storm called a Biawac gets closer to the campsite. Known for taking the lives of everyone who gets stuck in one of these storms you have to make your way to safety. You end up getting knocked out and awaken to find out somehow you survived the storm and yet something is different you see the world in a different light, and so you venture out to Dyrwood. Later you find out you are a watcher you have the power to see into other people’s souls and see their past and their past lives, which come in handy when you are trying to figure out how to handle delicate situations.
One of the game’s greatest advantage is how it looks for being a 2D pre-rendered game it’s one of the best worlds I’ve seen for this type of genre. Another great aspect of the world is its story, Pillars of Eternity is filled with interesting characters from all over the land from defiance bay to the snowy reaches of the white march, quest givers offer a bit of knowledge about the area and the problems they’re facing. Usually, compelling quests will motivate you to progress through the quest and care about what happens to these people. As you play you will find followers that will join your cause there are eight in total and three in the DLC with their own backstory and quests, I personally found the grieving mother and a village farmer named Eder to be the most fascinating. There is also an option to hire adventurers at inns, you make them in character creation but they won’t have the same complexity as the 11 companions you find in the game
At some point in the game, you become a proud owner of a broken down keep that you can spend time into rebuilding. Repairing the keep will offer new rewards and make a name for yourself in the world. The unique aspect of the keep is it offers its own side story that can last for hours and can be challenging offering one of the hardest bosses in the game.
Obsidian Entertainment makes some of the best music for their RPG games and this is no exception. The sound track can be compared to Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale. The man in charge of the soundtrack was Justin Bell and he does a wonderful job at making the game feel alive.
The White March
Pillars of Eternity offers two DLCs both set in the snowy lands of the White March. In White March part one, you are hired by stalwart village to open up an ancient dwarven forge that is known to make some of the best steel in the world that is highly valued, the dwarfs built the forge inside a castle that is well guarded but abandoned with its only inhabitants being the spirits of the dwarfs and creatures that thrive in the dark like giant spiders. The DLC offers new weapons, 2 new companions, several new quests and a level increase. Part one is an interesting piece of DLC that offers more story and expansion to the already detailed world of Pillars of Eternity
In White March Part two, stalwart village is now making steel weapons from the dwarven forge and is becoming a thriving community. The problems start when an invading army shows up nearby trying to take the forge from the village because the gods showed their leader a vision of their destruction because of the village. You must set out and find out what the leader saw and how the gods are involved. This piece of DLC offers the same as before new weapons, new companion, several new quests and a level increase. White March part two actually kind of disappointed me when it came to the story but it’s still worth going through.
The gameplay is an odd experience at least for the console port, first, we have character customization which offers 6 races ranging from human to dwarf, to elves and a few more. There are 11 classes you can play as a fighter, barbarian, paladin, Monk, Rogue, Ranger, Druids, Priest, cipher, Chanter, and wizards offering a range of fighters and magic based experiences. What’s unique about priest and paladin is their faith in the gods when you make a paladin or priest you pick a god to follow and you get a bonus from it the more faithful and loyal you are throughout the game the more rewards you get but if you differ from the gods who you follow, you will be punished offering a new type of role playing experience.
Combat is the weakest point of the game, it’s a party-based real time with pause tactical gameplay. Which means half the time you’re pausing the game to get special abilities out and to move party members to the right place because if you don’t they tend to walk into each other or just stand there doing nothing. If you don’t send that party member to attack an enemy even when he’s being swarmed he will just stand there dying. Party a.i is pretty weak it can sometimes work but the game does require a lot of tactical managing when it comes to fighting.
Another issue is the loading times it can last from thirty seconds to two minutes and when you have to go into ten different areas for a quest it can add up especially if you’re trying to complete the game or if you die a lot and have to go through the loading process. Pillars of Eternity has its problems with the gameplay but it still shines.