Recently, I got the chance to play some of Obsidian Entertainment’s upcoming RPG, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. Having been a fan of the first Pillars of Eternity as well as Obsidian’s last RPG, Tyranny, I was looking forward to seeing how Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire would play. Our preview build saw our characters start at level 7 and did not include the intro/tutorial area. Once the game had started up and my group of adventurers found themselves in a strange land just having docked at port, the character creation screen appeared so I could give my group some individuality. Character creation is pretty straight forward, but it should be known that Obsidian Entertainment has added the ability for characters to multi-class! This is such a cool addition to the game and adds a lot of replayability to find out what combinations work best together, etc. Also, creating your characters is much more forgiving to new players as there are several places where abilities are explained a bit.
Combat has been overhauled in Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire with a focus on more important encounters rather than numerous combat sessions with hordes of throwaway monsters. The combat is still in real-time with the ability to pause it and issue commands, though part of me wishes they would include a full turn-based mode with initiative, etc. That more tactical approach to isometric RPG combat is something I always loved in various games of my youth. This must have been some sort of thought among the developers as, while the combat is not turn-based, it definitely has been slowed down slightly in comparison to the first Pillars of Eternity title. This is a terrific choice as combat in the first game could get so crazy it was easy to lose track of where each character was and what was happening overall. Another combat addition for Deadfire is that character skills and spells recharge after every fight! Also, spells have been further enhanced by allowing players to re-target them in mid-casting! It was always an annoyance in the first game where targets would move out of the fray while your wizard was mindlessly casting away at an place with no enemies.
Visually, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire looks great for this kind of game, and the camera seems somewhat closer than in the previous game. This gives the game a more intimate feel – especially when taking into account that your maximum party limit has been decreased to 5. You end up caring a lot more about your individual characters and the story in general. Speaking of which, the overall quest writing and progression system have been greatly-improved in Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. Now when talking with NPCs, you can hover your mouse cursor over certain words and symbols to get a brief definition. Additionally, side quest quality has increased quite a bit, with plenty of twists and turns that I didn’t expect to find. Usual side quests end up being somewhat simple in comparison to the main plot of the RPG. Not in this case, the world is replete with things to do and quests to complete.
A big addition to the Pillars of Eternity world with Deadfire is the ship management and ship to ship combat systems. Now you captain your very own sea vessel across the high seas, which is basically your home base/stronghold for the game (that we know of). While this opens up your options as a player in terms of deciding where to go and what to do, the system itself does take a little getting used to. You will have to care for the needs of your ship’s crew (those mangy bilge rats need food and money) as well as modify your vessel to stay alive. There are multiple ship types to eventually command, so I am sure those will each have their strengths and weaknesses. In traveling around the seas, you can also run into random encounters which present consequences all their own. Ship to ship combat is handled in an intriguing narrative manner, in which you are presented the combat encounter in a sort of book. You are presented with a number of options as combat unfolds and it is one of the most intriguing ways I have seen combat play out in a game before.
Overall, Obsidian Entertainment’s upcoming Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, is going to be a must-play RPG for both fans of the first game as well as Obsidian’s previous RPG, Tyranny. Deadfire’s gameplay has been optimized in many ways over the first game, and I look forward to playing the finished product when it launches on April 3, 2018 for the Windows PC platform.