Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – Preview
CRPG’s are back in a big way, there is no doubt. Divinity: Original Sin 1 & 2, Wasteland 2 and Tyranny have all come and impressed fans of the complicated, yet satisfying genre. A lot of this renascence can be laid at the feet of Obsidian, a team that is rooted in the genre. A few years back they recognised a desire to return to the style of game that classics such as Baulder’s Gate and Icewind Dale employed and put it to the people to fund. That funding was a huge success and thus Pillars of Eternity was born. It went on to be a huge hit that was loved by both critics and the general public and it brought the humble CRPG back into the spotlight. Now we are on the brink of a Pillars sequel and we were lucky enough to go hands on. But the question remains, can it live up to the high standards set by the first title?
Diving into an RPG of this nature can be daunting but Pillar’s 2 seems to go out of its way to make itself welcome to everyone. There are all sorts of auto select options, hints and guides for people that have been put off by this genre in the past. That isn’t to say the game is lacking depth, far from it. Veterans of CRPGs are well catered for and can get as deep into the weeds as they want. It is a very well put together framework that does exceptionally well at opening the doors to new players while enticing existing pros back into the realm.
Being a preview build there were a few little issues with the graphics and framerate, but that is to be expected. Frankly, none of the issues took away from what is a very good looking game. It captures the feeling of CRPGs of old while at the same time being highly detailed and visually pleasing. The environments and characters are both looking great, with some really interesting design choices in play. The sound design also seemed to be a cut above for an early build. The sound effects were especially noticeable as they were used in interesting ways and sounded new, not just retreading the same sound effects we have heard in a million games before.
The combat so far has been very similar to that of the original game, with the Pause/Queue action system still in place. It is perhaps the area that can be most confusing for new players but there are once again a range of AI scripts and auto features that can be employed to guide those that are unsure of how to progress. There is a new combat mode however that took us by complete surprise. Pillars of Eternity II is based on the open seas as much as it is on land and therefore there is ship to ship combat. This is a strategic form of turn-based combat that involves instructing your crew to outmanoeuvre the opposition and get into the best position to fire the cannons. It was a little daunting at first, but once we had a few turns, we realised it was logical and engaging. If the ship-to-ship battle went south we also had the option to board the opposition and just kill everyone on the ship in a more traditional combat scenario, looting the vessel once victory was achieved.
From our time with Pillars 2, it is easy to see this game becoming another hit for Obsidian. It is more welcoming than most of its CRPG brethern but it does that without losing any complexity for those that have spent years with this sort of game. With Obsidian’s track record it is safe to say that the story will more than likely be great and the visual aspects of the title are shaping up nicely. Pillars of Eternity II is one to watch and we can’t wait to dive into the full release in April.
*You can check out Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire in action in the latest episode of Player 2 Plays.