I played Pillars of Eternity for the first time a few months ago when it became available on Origin Access. The narrative-based RPG is made by Obsidian Entertainment Inc, and is very obviously influenced Dungeons and Dragons, like so many RPGs before it. I was instantly in love. I couldn’t wait for a chance to play the sequel which had just been released. After finishing the original game for a second time, I finally dove into Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. Deadfire is the follow up that all other game sequels should aspire to be. It takes everything good about the first game, and says “here’s more of what you like, but better”.
Also, there are pirates.
The game begins 5 years after the first, with a flashback of the Watcher’s memories that refreshes players’ memories, or gets those who didn’t play the first game up to speed on the story.
At the start of the game, you can choose to either import your save from the first game, or select the endgame options yourself. This is a great feature, because it makes it easy to continue playing a previously established story, but also gives the opportunity to rewrite history. Plus it makes the game playable without having played the first at all. Without giving away too much of the plot, the game gets right into the action. There is involvement from the gods, a rampaging statue, shipwrecks, and of course there are a few lost and roaming souls.
There were no new controls to get used to or habits to unlearn, with the main difference found in slight improvements overall. There’s a significant facelift where the interface is concerned. The menu looks nicer, the dialogue and narrative screens are cleaner, and the maps are absolutely gorgeous. The detail in the city maps blew me away.The most recent save appears first, which wasn’t always the case in the original game, and there is also the option to quit to the desktop without having to exit to the main menu first. That seems simple, but saves me a couple minutes of loading time. Improvements to the graphics, and the effort put in to making the displays a bit more aesthetically pleasing, paid off big time. Even on my older laptop, the updated graphics add a new dimension that was missing from the first game. One example of this is the weather effects, which add a sense of realism to the game setting.
Gameplay is relatively the same, which makes transitioning from the first game to the second an easy task. There are a few small changes to gameplay that I also thought were nice improvements. Skill-use became a bit more intuitive in terms of picking locks and finding traps. There seem to be more options for skill specific dialogue early on in the game. One of the best new features is the improved map navigation. The world map can be explored by land or sea, and the player can move around and discover new areas, which is a bit more open and interactive than the first game. Along those same lines, there are significantly more side quests to embark on that I’ve barely even scratched the surface. If you’ve read my article on open world games, you’ll know I’m certainly not complaining about the increase in exploration and side quests, but you might express some concern about the expanded open world aspect. Never fear! Navigating the maps is quick and easy, and the quests can be organized by area or type, and sorted by most recent or difficulty level.
Now, about the most important part…the story. I loved the story of the first game. It was a detailed introduction into the world and lore of Eora, with a conflict that ties the player character and companions together nicely. There is even more going on in Deadfire, and the plot sucked me in immediately. The game’s main quest is an interesting follow up to the events of the first game without piggybacking too much on the same plot. From the beginning, the game allows the player to determine the Watcher’s motives behind going after Eothas. Whether it’s in servitude to their god of choice, or for revenge on behalf of Caed Nua (how dare you wreck my keep). Some companions return from the first game along with a few interesting new faces. As a big Critical Role fan, I was particularly excited about the CR cast all voicing characters in Deadfire. Along with similar companion quests and interactions as the first game, companions and crew members can be interacted with aboard the player’s ship, the Defiant. This is a little touch that makes the story feel more personal. It enforces the idea that the ragtag group you collect is a family, not just extra bodies in a fight.
While I have enjoyed playing the game immensely, the world isn’t perfect, and there are a few parts of Deadfire that aren’t either. Equipping and moving items around in the inventory is a bit touchy, which gets frustrating. I’ve also noticed some lengthy loading times. More time spent loading takes away from the immersive experience for me, and I get a bit impatient. I hit a bug in the Engwithan Digsite that didn’t let me advance, which had me very irritatedly trying everything I could to make the game work, until I dug around online and managed to find a console command that got me past it. The developers have responded to that particular bug online, indicating it will hopefully be fixed in an upcoming patch, which is good news for my future playthroughs.
The only bad thing I can say about Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is that I cannot start a romance with Edér, despite hoping for it as soon as I heard companion romance would make an appearance in this game. However, my disappointment over the missed love between my Watcher and my favourite surly farmer aside, the fact that they added romance at all was a treat.
I truly hope this series keeps going, and continues improving the way that it has with this game. If you love the classic RPG feel, or you just want to play an amazing game, give Deadfire a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. Now if you’ll excuse me, the Beasts of Winter DLC is done installing, and my Watcher has new adventures to embark on.