Back in 2015, developer Obsidian Entertainment created a Kickstarter campaign to fund their new game idea. This new game would be a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment, which happen to be two of my most favorite games of all time. The Kickstarter campaign raised over $4 million and Obsidian Entertainment introduced us to the world of Eora with Pillars of Eternity. To my shame, I never picked up the game. I always meant to, but with other obligations and games coming my way it never got installed onto my PC. Three years later, Obsidian Entertainment and publisher Versus Evil have released the sequel, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. Since I never played the first game, this review will be focused on Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire as a stand alone game and whether or not you need to play the first game to truly enjoy the second.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire picks up five years after the events of Pillars of Eternity. The god, Eothas, awakens and reanimates a huge statue underneath your stronghold of Caed Nua. Eothas destroys your stronghold and absorbs the souls of every living person in the area, including a part of yours. Being mostly dead, you are contacted by the goddess of death, Berath. You are restored to life and made Berath’s herald, in exchange for being tasked with finding out what Eothas is up to. Following Eothas to the Deadfire Archipelago, the Watcher and crew are set upon by pirates and stranded on an island, needing to regroup before continuing their task to find and stop Eothas.
Right away, if you haven’t played the first game, you will feel like an outsider who does not know what is going on or who you are. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will look for a Pillars of Eternity save file to see what decisions you made in the first game, and will modify the sequel to match. If you didn’t play the first game, you will need to make some choices and will have no idea of the ramifications of these choices will be. These choices are all made based on how you feel you would have played the first game, if you had. What type of character do you think you would have been? How would you have treated others during game play?
The world of Eora is full of lore and backstory. If you skipped the first one, like I did, you are in for a steep learning curve in regards to learning and understanding the world around you. If you played the first game, then the sequel will feel like an extension of the story and gameplay of the first. I highly recommend playing the first game first, if you have any inclination of playing the second. With that being said, the story of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is outstanding. Characters you meet have depth and feeling, the story progresses well, and is nicely constructed to keep the pace fresh for the length of the game. But to get the full effect, play the first game before starting the second.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is an isometric, role playing game in the spirit of Baldur’s Gate. You play as a Watcher and can customize your character’s look, stats, and class to fit your play style. You will be accompanied by many companions throughout the game. These companions will also change, depending on your actions in the first game, if you played it. You will also have a ship at your disposal. This ship will be how you get to move around Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire open world environment, exploring the islands of the Deadfire Archipelago.
The game play of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is very typical of this type of genre. Combat is a real-time with pause system, which means everything you do is done in real time but you do have the option to pause combat in order to make a decision or plan your attacks. Each character has their own set of abilities, inventory, and attacks. Managing all of this seemed fairly easy to do, especially with the pause option. Inventory is very typical of a Dungeons and Dragons style rpg, with items that can be dragged into inventory slots, or attached to quick use slots.
Quests are plentiful in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. There are the main questline, as well as secondary and tertiary quests to do, and faction quests also to help flesh out the characters you have chosen along the way. Obsidian Entertainment made sure that each quest felt weighty, and that there wouldn’t be any fetch quests to do. While not every quest felt as epic, you did feel that each one had a reason to exist in the first place for story, and not just to help padout game play time.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a gorgeous game! The art direction helps bring the world of Eora to life with it’s vibrant environments and lush landscapes. The towns feel lived in and real, yet exotic and new. The world was interesting and begged to be explored, with dungeons and caverns around each corner. Character models looked fantastic and truly belonged in this setting.
The voice acting was similarly well done. Every line in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is voice acted, you will not have to read a single line of text if you choose not to. Also, the cast of Geek and Sundry’s podcast, Critical Role, all had a hand in voicing characters in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire.
Pillars of Eternity is on many best lists when it comes to an rpg for the PC. As a huge PC rpg player, I am really ashamed of the fact that I never picked it up and installed it. Playing Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire forced me to finally pick up the first game and install it. I plan on playing both games now as a different type of character to get a better feel for how the games pair up together. Even though I didn’t play the first game, I truly enjoyed Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. The combat is well done and is never boring, the quests all feel like they have purposes, and the world is vibrant and full of lore. If you want to get the most out of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, you have to play the first game first. If you have already played the first game, then the odds are good that you already have Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and don’t need me to convince you to buy it. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is available now on Steam for $49.99 and Pillars of Eternity is also available for $29.99. For little more then the cost of an Xbox One game, you can have hours and hours of pure rpg goodness on your PC.