The announcement of Pillars of Eternity 2’s delay into May came as a blow to fans. When I spoke with Katrina Garsten, a producer at Obsidian Entertainment, the delay had not yet been announced. The philosophy behind the Pillars of Eternity 2 design is one that makes the delay understandable.
With Pillars of Eternity 2 not launching until May 8, 2018, Obsidian has plenty of time to polish it up to the highest degree possible. Making the best possible game, for fans and for all gamers has been at the forefront of the Pillars of Eternity 2 design.
This is why the delay is something I can swallow and it’s why Pillars of Eternity 2‘s design philosophy promises to make it one of the most accessible yet complex games ever made.
Pillars of Eternity 2 design
When Obsidian set out to create a sequel to Pillars of Eternity 2, it opted to go down the crowdfunded route for the second time. Instead of using Kickstarter for the sequel, Obsidian opted to use Fig.
Fig is a platform for crowdfunding, exclusively for video games. Created by ex-Double Fine COO Justin Bailey, it allows backers to invest in the games and see returns on the investment.
Unlike Kickstarter that only offers rewards, Fig gives backers the chance to get rewards as well as a percentage of the profits. When Obsidian developed the first Pillars of Eternity, backer and fan feedback was something it took to heart.
“It’s very important for us to get that feedback from fans about the game,” Garsten explained. “That’s also why we wanted to crowdfund the second game as well.”
However, with Pillars of Eternity 2 being funded via Fig, Obsidian was even more conscious about listening to fan feedback and using it to inform the Pillars of Eternity 2 design.
According to Garsten, “We really wanted to try out the investment side of things and having people invest in the game, then get returns when it comes out.
“We wanted to try that out and see how that would work. And the reward system and all of that is very similar. The enlisters don’t get any physical items and just get returns.”
Pillars of Eternity 2 design philosophy for fans
Garsten told me that it’s incredibly important to have fan feedback and fan content in Pillars of Eternity 2. he explained that by getting feedback directly from fans Obsidian can ensure “we’re making to make sure we’re doing it right.”
Gamers are incredibly passionate in general, but RPG fans are some of the most vocal and most passionate gamers there are. So much so, that Obsidian was sometimes surprised by what fans reacted to.
Garsten told me that Obsidian changed the name of one of your character’s attributes and fans went a bit feral.
We changed the strength attribute and changed it to might and a lot of people didn’t like that.
We listened to all their feedback, and we actually just changed it back to strength.
According to Garsten, RPG fans, especially those who play games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale are very particular.
“The passion is nice, but we don’t want to cater just to that small audience. We want to try and increase the number of players and the types of gamers that play, that may not have had experience with all of those old games.”
A niche game for all players
A perfect example of that Pillars of Eternity 2 design philosophy in action is the brand-new storybook difficulty. “Storybook difficulty makes it very difficult for you to die. It’s more of a narrative experience and gets you immersed in the world and learning about the story,” Garsten said.
“You can still go through the main quest, but when you’re fighting in combat, it’s significantly easier.”
Players who do opt to play using the storybook difficulty can change it later should they choose. On the flip-side, an incredibly complex AI companion system has been included for hardcore fans.
Garsten gave me a quick example of how the AI system can be tailored.
If one of your party members falls below 50 percent health, you can make one of your other companions who has healing cast a healing spell. Then you never need to worry about your companions’ health because.
It makes your party self-sustaining so you can focus on your watcher, and hop in when needed for the other companions.
Incredibly in-depth, endlessly accessible
This is a perfect example of the Pillars of Eternity 2 design philosophy that caters to both casual and hardcore players and newcomers alike. The AI system is a deep or shallow as players like. There’s a really deep, granular level that players can dig down into.
Characters can be aggressive or passive and they can all be customised or predefined. “You don’t get as overwhelmed with the system if you don’t want to. But you can get as involved as you want, and get really really detailed with their actions,” according to Garsten.
She told me it was her favourite thing about the Pillars of Eternity 2 design. She feels that the AI system and storybook difficulty options can be combined to make combat much more enjoyable and a much smoother experience than the first title.
This in itself is an excellent way for new players to be engaged and experience Pillars of Eternity 2 without being overwhelmed.
Fan Content Galore
Aside from making Pillars of Eternity 2 a game that will appeal to and please both fans and newcomers, Obsidian worked hard to put as much fan content as possible into the game.
The higher tiered backers had the opportunity to help design elements such as bands of pirates, island, quests, inns, taverns, NPCs and even animals. Garsten told me that plenty of backers had the opportunity to have their pets immortalised in-game.
She even let slip that somewhere in the Deadfire archipelago is a Shiba Inu, just waiting to be found. And while a Shiba Inu may be a strange choice for the game’s setting, Obsidian worked hard with all the backers to get their chosen content in.
“Most of their ideas fit in perfectly and we don’t even have any concerns about it. Then a couple people that the idea doesn’t quite fit with our Lore.
“We’ll get on a phone call with them, or we’ll sit down and send some emails back and forth to make sure that what they’re suggesting fits in the game. But also make sure that the backer is happy with what we’re doing and the changes we’re making.”
This is yet another example of just how dedicated Obsidian is to making Pillars of Eternity 2 a game for everyone, yet still a game for the fans.
With Pillars of Eternity 2 being delayed, those looking forward to it are obviously disappointed. When you speak to Obsidian though, you very quickly learn that it is so passionate about the game and so dedicated to making it as good as it can possibly be.
This means that while we may need to wait a little longer to play it. When we do, Pillars of Eternity 2 is going to be the absolute best version of itself.
Pillars of Eternity 2 is poised to be a game that fans will love and appreciate and one that will definitely draw newcomers of all types.
Pillars of Eternity 2 will be available for PC on May 8, 2018.
We’d like to thank Katrina Garsten for her time.