Pillars of Eternity is a game that is a bit of a culture shock when you first start to play it. Being a port of a PC game, it is something a little different from what we are used to as far as RPG’s go on consoles. The games that we seem to use as a benchmark for the genre are the Elder Scrolls and Witchers of the world. Pillars of Eternity is nothing like these games and it is all the better for it.
The character creation mechanism in the game is deep and involving, so much so that you could lose hours just creating your character. Not only do you pick their appearance but also race, origins and creeds. Some of these factors are merely background for your new hero but some of them can have a more lasting effect on how the game plays for you. We got a feeling that some of these choices affected how some of the NPC’s interacted with us but this could just be a feeling.
Pillars of Eternity is a game that is based heavily on dialogue and your interaction with NPCs. If you choose wisely then your dialogue options can lead to you been given useful goodies or even adding a new companion to your group of travelers. Your group grows as you play and this adds a new element to the gameplay. It gives you more options both in combat and the quests that you can choose to complete. Your actions can also affect your reputation in a certain area which can also have the same effect.
The controls initially feel a little jarring in Pillars of Eternity and aren’t as intuitive as we would like. With this being a huge title however, this becomes less of a problem the more that you play as the controls become second nature, even with the fact that you use X to pause the game. This is actually one of the handiest features of the game. During combat you can pause the game to change strategy or the weapons that certain characters are using. This adds a new dynamic to the game through a mechanism that, at first glance, looks like it could break your immersion in the game.
Immersion is a key word here. The lore in the game is incredibly deep and the world is alive with both characters and history. The characters that you meet and the characters that join your little band of travelers all have their own back stories and personalities that make you become attached to them. And then they will die. We had many of these heartbreaking moments but the developer doesn’t hold back on the sentiment when driving the story forward.
The dialogue and storytelling is mainly done through text boxes on the screen and there is only a limited amount of voice acting. This means that there is a lot of reading involved when playing Pillars of Eternity. This isn’t in anyway a bad thing but it is a little bit unexpected in the modern world. One of the main bugs that we found with the game is that when two characters are present who do have voice actors saying their lines for them then these characters can often end up speaking over one another, but then this isn’t really a huge problem as you still have the text on screen to guide you through.
At first, the combat seems a little tough and there is a lot to take in but you’ll soon realise that you can’t just run into any situation and will often find yourself being confronted by a group of enemies that it’s obvious you should avoid until you are a little stronger. The combat, when you are used to it, is fun and fluid even if it is a little slow paced. Every scenario needs to be planned out and every character will have their own roles to play.
Pillars of Eternity is not a game for someone who likes fast paced action and an ever developing plot. This is a game for the patient of heart. Story lines unfold at a slow pace but are incredibly deep with a lot of thought gone into every detail. It can take you a long time to get to the level and place that you want to be at but this patience is more than rewarded at the end and when you achieve an aim that you have in the game then you really do feel like you have genuinely achieved something.
The character leveling system is deep and filled with choices. These choices can have a real effect on how the game plays out for you. If you focus too much on your combat abilities and not enough on your Lore for example then you could find your dialogue options limited. But by the same token, if you don’t invest enough in your health stats then you will be at a disadvantage when you come to combat. This is certainly a thinking mans system.
At the start of the game you have a choice of seven different difficulty settings that range from the ‘nothing can really kill you but you like the story mode’ to the ‘everything will kill you with a glance’ mode. This gives Pillars of Eternity a huge amount of replayability. In game, you can tweak your difficulty settings in a lot of different ways. These range from the size of your stash to how much damage enemies can deal out to you. This is a game that is an experience and that experience is yours for the making.
Pillars of Eternity is not an entry level RPG. This is a game that requires a real love of the genre. But if you have that love then you will probably lose a lot of hours to this one. Patience is however the key here. This is a game that you have to work at, this is a game where you certainly get out what you put in. The rewards for your time are immense though and this is a game that we can see ourselves coming back to again and again, even if it isn’t the most beautiful game in the world
Pillars of Eternity is available to download from the Xbox Store, priced at £39.99.
Pillars of Eternity may not be the game for a novice to the RPG genre but those more experienced players could find something to love here. The lore is deep and involving and the time you spend in the game is rewarded tenfold with engaging gameplay and fantastic storytelling.