Bitksel - Pillars of Eternity stole my heart
I finally finished Pillars of Eternity and it's White March expansions, and yes, it got it's deserved place on my "favorite games" list! It's very hard for me to even start to explain how much I like it, but I'll try. I also keep this a bit shorter than the Tyranny overview: There's so much things in this game it's hard for me to talk about everything without writing this for next 10 hours..
It's 5 am while I'm writing this and I really got to sleep.
The game starts with making a character, obviously. Character creation is really nice and simple: You give your character name, race, subrace, class, statpoints, culture and background and appearance.
[caption id="attachment_314" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] Character Creation[/caption]
When that's done, it's time to start the game with the first "cutscene."
Pillars of Eternity has beautiful narrative "cutscenes" whenever a new chapter begins. They're voice acted and have beautiful imagery in them and they're a nod towards older CRPG's that handled cutscenes like this. I really like them and they build athmosphere really well. They're not really cutscenes, but I don't know what else to call them.
[caption id="attachment_315" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] "Cutscene"[/caption]
At first, your character starts in campsite. You have been traveling with a caravan towards greener pastures, thinking of settling down to nearby town, or just wandering the new lands. However, things never go as well as you'd hope: You have an illness that needs curing. You got this illness during the travels. Luckily, the area has a remedy and you go looking for it.
When you come back to the camp.. Well, let's say that events start to transpire, and rapidly. This starting area hooked me to the game really quick and before you knew, you were deep in all kinds of stuff and you have to figure out what's going on.
But in short, the game is heavily about souls and reading them, and you learn you're something they call "Watcher." There are also gods and other weird things. It's all really interesting and the writing is excellent in my opinion. Obsidian truly knows how to write, but I doubt anyone would say otherwise!
[caption id="attachment_318" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] My elven wizard: Dahl. He is the character I used my first playthrough.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_319" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] Enjoy my shiny armor![/caption]
I'm gonna talk about the combat first. Like in Tyranny, I'm not big on combat in Pillars either. It can be really tactical and challenging, if you so wish, but I played on easiest difficulty. I just wanted to explore the story and the world. However, the combat is fun and it's fun to watch your dudes whoop ass.
There are lots and lots of skills, spells and whatnot to fight with and against. You can do really cool tactical stuff, if you know how. But unlike Tyranny, Pillars doesn't have any combo skill stuff. When playing the game through with my mage character, I loved whacking people in the head with my grimoire, which is my characters spellbook.
[caption id="attachment_317" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] Combat can get quite chaotic. Luckily you can pause and slow down the game![/caption]
Next, the dialogue system. It's really simple, you press links to talk back to people and so on. Sometimes it's voiced, sometimes it's not. There's lots of reading and dialogue, which I personally really liked. This can be off putting to some, since the writing can be a bit "dry."
I loved how you could talk enemies out of fighting you, or just taunt them, or change the outcome of something big with a silver tongue. Your dialogue choices do matter and it's good to raise those skills that help you with dialogue, so you get most of it if you enjoy playing someone who can talk their way out of anything. Attributes like strength help with dialogue too: You can flex your muscles to someone and intimidate them to let you go and so on. It's a big part of the game and the devs made it really fun!
[caption id="attachment_316" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] Dialogue system[/caption]
During your travels, you get followers you can talk with. They can give you quests if they like you enough. You can also travel completely alone if you so choose and the game even has achievements for that.
I do recommend getting all the followers though. They all have their own stories and things and they're all really interesting and fun. I was never annoyed nor bored by any of them, and they were all memorable to me. They react to your actions and comment on them every so often.
My favorite follower was Eder. He constantly tried to pet random animals, then complained that they bit him. His backstory was somewhat sad, which made helping him feel even better. I also really liked Aloth, who is a bit more complicated character and he gets more and more interesting the more you travel with him.
Also minor spoiler: You get a stronghold in this game, so you can place your characters there. You have to build your stronghold by repairing things and hiring people to guard it and it plays a key part at one point of the game.
[caption id="attachment_320" align="aligncenter" width="714"] The gang[/caption]
I have to mention the "Choose your own adventure" style action scenes.
[caption id="attachment_321" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] Careful...[/caption]
I loved these! They fit the nature of the game perfectly and were beautifully illustrated! The outcomes of these things were affected by your characters (and your followers) skills and attributes and so on. Even spells. They were actually one of my favorite part of the game.
But the best part of the game, for me, is the exploration!
[gallery ids="322,325,323,324,326" type="slideshow"]
Pillars of Eternity is a damn beautiful game. The graphics are stunning and the enviroments are always beautiful, no matter if you're walking in sewers or the nearby forest. There's so much things to see and do in the world, and many kind of secrets and treasures to find! It's hard for me to even begin to explain how much pleasure just walking around and looking at the environment gave me.
On top of that, amazing soundtrack that builds athmosphere and the really good writing which adds to everything you do in the game. I read everything in this game, except for some books. But next playthrough I'm going to read even all the books and delve deeper into the lore.
I explored the game 100%. Did most sidequests, if not everything. Even the bounty quests. And that makes me a bit sad: I wish I could forgot it all just to experience it all over again. The ending of the game was really pleasing too, and according to the developers, you can use your Pillars 1 character in the Pillars 2 that is coming early next year! (Hopefully.)
I can't say I rushed the game. I took my time with it and it took me ~50h to complete the game. I paid ~50€ total, basegame + expansions later and I have zero regrets. Well worth the money, especially since the game has replayability.
Pillars of Eternity got on my "favorite RPG's of all time" list. It's a short list, but every game that is in there deserve it. In fact, I would say Pillars is my second favorite RPG ever, behind Morrowind. Yes, I found it that good.
So, I would recommend this game to any RPG/Exploration fan, even if you haven't played CRPG's before! In fact, Pillars was the game that got me into CRPG's: Now I'm playing stuff like Divinity Original Sin 2, Icewind Dale etc.
You can get the Pillars of Eternity Definitive edition from Steam and GOG. Definitive edition comes with basegame and the White March expansion, that added a beautiful snowy places to the game and a new story.
What are you waiting for, the world of Eora isn't going to explore itself! Now excuse me, I got to sleep.. And start my second playthrough tomorrow.
PS. I'm sorry about the lack of screenshots, I like to spam my game overviews with screenshots but... Since my game is from GOG, it doesn't have the screenshot key like Steam has, so I kept forgetting to take screenshots. Hopefully you still can see the beauty and intrigue of this game, and of course, Google offers more screenshots. :D