Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Review
The Cheese Factory
"A respectful sequel to an amazing title that could have been a little more..."
*This is an old review; much of what you will read here no longer fully represents my view, skills, and knowledge.*
Pillars of Eternity 2 is a sequel of a very successful game created by Obsidian Entertainment, an American game developer responsible for creating other famous titles such as Fallout New Vegas and more recently a space exploration game called The Outer Worlds.
The game starts with a beautiful cutscene with a brief introduction to the world we play on, as well as a little backstory to our character. The beautiful introduction cuts with us being thrown to another story that tells us about the awakening of a God through the possession of a huge statue on the yard of our castle. In the process, most of our progress in the previous game is lost, as well as the lives of many of the inhabitants of our castle.
Pillars 2, as well as its predecessor, has a very pretty and unique design, with Pillars 2 developing many aspects of the previous game that many considered somewhat dated, with the list including improved visuals, quality of life features, and a more interactive world and objects.
Gameplay-wise Pillars 2 feels very polished, the animations are superb, character models are much better if compared to the first game, bosses and enemies design are impressive, skills and combat work well just like in the previous game, with a few changes here and there with the most noticeable change being the party being reduced to only 5 members maximum.
The most interesting aspect of this second game, in my opinion, is the new multi-class system that in short basically allows you to combine two classes to benefit from other class attributes and skills to complement better your style and the role you planned for your characters.
Developer: Obsidian Ent.
Publisher: Versus Evil
Release Date: May 08, 2018
The World Of Eora
Pillars 2 takes place on the Deadfire archipelago, a set of volcanic islands, and a place we are introduced after a series of events in which our character is killed and given another chance to live through a pact with the God of death, setting us on the trail of the one responsible for causing such tremendous damage to us and those we cherish.
Contrary to Pillars 1, this game has a very interactive world-map that we control our character’s main way of moving around other than walking that is through a ship, a newly implemented feature that raised controversy whether or not it was absolutely necessary and if it helped add more to gameplay quality or degrade it. In my opinion, the whole ship navigation system felt very shallow, and I believe a lot more could be done with the concept of ship navigation and combat.
Going from one place to another via a controlled ship, instead of a click-get-to increased the time you’d spend on the world-map, which shouldn’t be a problem if the system were fun. The game tries to compensate this by adding random events, a little resource management system, islands to explore, and ship combat. The only problem with all of this is that, again, they all feel very shallow. The random events are repetitive, it feels like there’s only three of them playing, making it a pain whenever that book would pop to tell the same thing over, and over again.
In both Pillars games, we play as the watcher, a person who can read and talk to souls. This is only made possible because of an event similar to a ritual we witnessed on the first game right after we arrived in Dyrwood, a nation that was suffering from hollow-borns, a disease many believed to be a punishment in the form of a curse for killing a God. With the intention to put the visions and horrible nightmares to rest, our character leaves in a quest to find the person that was present when the mysterious event happened. Later on, we discover that this person was an agent of the gods known as Thaos Ix Arkannon and that he was protecting a great secret that could change the world and how we see the gods forever.
At the end of our mission, retired and free of our visions and nightmares, we spend our following days in Caed Nua, a castle built atop of a massive statue of Adra in seemingly endless peace. Unexpectedly peace is then disturbed when the statue is possessed by Eothas, the God that was slain ages ago, and through this, the plot of the second game starts, with our character going after the colossal statue to retrieve his soul and avenge the people slain by the walking soul-magnet that was the possessed titan.
The game has five difficulty settings, with each greatly affecting the amount of enemies you find in the world and their stats. Being the master strategist that I am, I played on the hardest difficulty, seeking a greater challenge.
What I noticed that improved with Pillars 2 was how the enemies react to your actions — for example, there was an enemy that kept teleporting my tank to another area, exposing the DPS members on my group. What I did in an attempt to solve this was by positioning the other members of the group in said area and wait for the enemy to do his thing. To my surprise that never happened, and instead, by leaving my tank character there alone waiting to be teleported, he just got destroyed and the other four members couldn’t do a thing. In the end, I had to rethink my whole strategy to finally succeed. I was surprised, overcoming the challenges proved to be more difficult and interesting than in the previous game. But sadly, this good adaptive characteristic of Pillars 2 brought me to what I think is an issue with this game…
Some encounters are hard, forcing us to think of strategies to overcome the difficulties presented in each encounter, which is great. Some are slightly too hard, forcing us to maximize and use everything possible to overcome the challenge, testing patience and micromanagement more than strategy… That’s how it should be all the time, and there shouldn’t be any other approach to it, yes ? No ! There’s another superior way.
After playing the game for a while, I accidentally noticed that if you position your party far away on the map and send one member of your group to call the attention of the enemies and run away to where you left your group, only a smaller group of enemies will actually follow you all the way there, making it much easier to take down encounters that would be otherwise extremely hard.
I would try different strategies for hours, and when none of them worked, I could always resort to cheesing enemies. The problem with this is that I don’t think the game should be played that way, and I didn’t like abusing the flaws on the system, but what I didn’t like also was to spend hours on a single fight just to be punished immensely for a small, silly mistake.
An example is when I had a fight with a giant imp that took me literal hours just to think of an approach that could work. After a lot of tries, I had an attempt that felt promising, a great number of the enemies were dead, everyone on my group was alive, it was just me, the giant Imp boss, and some other minor enemies. It all fell apart when a unique NPC character on my party went from full hp to dead in a second, it didn’t even become disabled, or whatever it’s called when a member reaches 0 hp, it was just removed from the group and that’s it. Even though I still could’ve won, I had to restart because I didn’t want to lose that character, and that was another painful hour of cheesy micro-management just to reach that same spot.
Pillars of Eternity 2, along with its predecessor is a very unique game. The game like many others has its flaws, and despite it living up to what the first pillars represented to me, it still didn't completely meet my expectations. But in any case, it was a really great and impressive experience still.
Once the game came out I dropped it too early for I wasn’t too interested in the story. A few patches later I came back and I’m happy I could go further this time for it was mostly worth the time investment. I love strategy and story-telling games, and Pillars will always have a special place in my heart.
Its final score is a 7.0 for improving what felt dated in the previous game, and despite its flaws, it still managed to be pretty engaging in the long-run.
Gives great, extensive character and group building ability to players, as well as an improved party color (build) palette.
Graphics, visual effects, characters, or just models in general, are all much better if compared to the previous game.
Much more engaging and dynamic combat than the previous game, with fights requiring a more in-depth strategical approach.
Cool concept revolving around the exploration of an entire archipelago while on the pursuit of a God who stole our soul.
Ship crew, a few side characters, and the interactions we have with them feel odd or sometimes just straight up dull.
Some mechanics aren't super engaging or feel too shallow, which is only a problem because of their strong presence.
Most unique items didn't sound too interesting (more personal), and quality (expensive) weapons would dropped in abundance.
The concept sounds really promising on paper but the end result felt like missing something to be truly engaging.
Pillars of Eternity 2
A great game that may not be too appealing to everyone. Despite the game not living completely to my expectations, it was still a pretty fun, somewhat entertaining experience, and managed to surprise me in some parts all the way to the end.
07/15/2020 - Caius, The God Seeker