Obsidian Entertainment has returned to the world of Eora with the sequel to Pillars of Eternity. In the time I had with the Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire preview I was thrust into the swashbuckling world of magic, souls and adventure. The Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire preview took place across two main locations; Tikawara and Poko Kohara.
This region of Eora appears to be an analogue for our very own Polynesian islands. Complete with seafaring deities, small tropical islands, tattooed natives and a wide open ocean. The Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire preview commences without much in the way of an introduction. You and your party are standing on a dock on the island of Tikiwara. Free to explore at your leisure there are natives and foreigners to talk to, places to discover and missions to complete.
You Enter a Hut…
Entering into conversations leads to branching dialogue options, many of which are locked by specific skills. If you need to bluff your way through or out of something you’ll need to have a high enough bluff skill. History and lying also play prominent roles in conversation. In fact, each and every skill your character has is likely to be tested. And not just in conversations. However, you’ll be able to rely on your party member’s to make up your shortfall in any situation.
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For example, if you need to pick a lock, you’ll need both a lockpick and a high enough Mechanics skill. If yours is too low, but any of your party members have a high enough skill, you’ll be able to pick the lock. This kind of streamlining does away with fiddly party swapping and micromanaging. At least for the most part.
As with most RPGs, you’ll level up by gaining experience. Unlike most RPGs though, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire doesn’t award points for defeating enemies. Players will only gain experience from completing missions or discovering locations. This allows those who want to play stealthily to still feel like their option is valid. I chose to play most of my time in the Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire preview as stealthily as possible. In part due to my lack of experience with these types of games and in part because I found the difficulty to be quite high,
Never having played an isometric, party-based RPG before I was, initially, a little overwhelmed. Luckily, I have recently started playing Dungeons & Dragons and my knowledge helped speed up the initial few hours.
I’ll Attack With My +1 Mace
Even though Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire’s mechanics and gameplay systems are not based on Dungeons & Dragons, they’re similar enough that I could easily grasp them. Learning to control multiple characters at the same time took a little more effort. Thankfully, when combat is triggered Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire pauses the action. This gives you time to check your abilities and plan your battle. Your party members can be controlled by the AI or you can take complete control.
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I am definitely not skilled or practised enough to control all five characters at once. I opted to let the AI take control for the most part. I’d pause intermittently to issue commands, try and heal my party and make sure I was staying on top of the status changes. Of which there are many. Both the party and enemies can be afflicted with fear, paralysis, poison and so on and so on. The list is truly staggering.
While afflicted with status changes, your characters will be far less effective in combat. Depending on what injuries of afflictions they’re suffering they may die from losing all their HP. In battle, party members have both an Endurance meter and Hit Points. If the Endurance Meter is depleted, your party members will be knocked unconscious until the end of the battle. However, HP can only be regained by resting. Either by camping and eating food or by paying to sleep at an inn.
A Whole New World
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is still two months away, but the impression I get from the preview is that it’s going to be an amazing experience for RPG fans. This new region of Eora certainly feels enormous. You can explore by foot and by sea and both are vast. Even in the preview build there’s so much to see and do and it only promises to grow when the full game is released.
For fans of traditional pen and paper RPGs, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will bring to life that which usually only exists in your mind. It can never replace the feeling of getting around a table with a group of friends, but it can give you an incredibly focused, tightly scripted and expertly crafted narrative in a fully realised world.
Playing the Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire preview was my first experience with a game in this genre, but it certainly won’t be the last. I am incredibly excited to play the full game when it’s released in April.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will be available on April 8, 2018. This preview was provided to PowerUp! by the publisher.