Nick Capron - 2015-04-16
Available for: PC
Published by: Paradox Interactive
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I've spent around 40 hours with Pillars of Eternity since its release. I've just finished Act 2 of the game, here are my spoiler free thoughts so far.

First off, the game looks great. The isometric view of the game plays nicely to the feel of CRPGS of the late 90's, while using 3d modules to bring a more realistic look to the world. The backgrounds and environments are beautiful, visually Pillars of Eternity is everything I could hope for in a modern isometric CRPG. The music is top notch as well. It fits nicely with the mood of the game and provides a pretty epic score as you travel on your adventure.

I am enjoying Pillars of Eternity's battle system. The system is much easier to understand then the old dungeon and dragon rule-set from the Baldur's Gate series. Even with the simpler system, I've found Pillars of Eternity still provides a similar combat depth compared to the old Baldur's Gate games.

There where some nasty bugs upon release, such as one bug where saving would slowly artificially buff your characters stats. Thankfully since the new 1.03 patch, I have yet to run into any major problems.

Story Time

I've found the main Story to be just OK. There is quite a lot of reading and history to absorb, so if your into extremely detailed lore you will love the amount Pillars of Eternity throws at you. I personally enjoy a bit of lore, but I have found the amount of it in Pillars of Eternity a bit overwhelming. With the vast amounts of history about all the factions, places, and people, I tended to tune out and lose interest. Unfortunately this has hurt my understanding of the story, and the world, which has harmed my enjoyment of the main plot.

While I've found the story to be just OK, the majority of the quests I've experienced have been interesting, and feature multiple ways to accomplish them. Some quests even have had unexpected twists that completely caught me off guard. I've found the amount of quests offered to meet the sweet spot of not overwhelming you and enough to satisfy.

A Flawed Masterpiece

I've been playing on the hard difficultly, and unfortunately it has been pretty easy so far. With the amount of areas available to explore, I've been able to jump around multiple quests, bailing on them upon encountering tough fights. With the huge amount of gold the game gives you, I've been able to nicely equip my characters, and level them up very quickly, to the point where these tough fights become laughably easy. Honestly, that is how these games tend to work, but I wish it wasn't so easy to gain gold and experience, especially playing on hard difficulty.

The endless dungeon is well done, I've been exploring as I can between quests. It looks like a nice time sink, I've gotten a few floors into it and have enjoyed it so far. I look forward to completing it and finding the mysteries within.

Unfortunately the Player stronghold feature is pretty basic and I've found it does not add much to the game. I was expecting it to provide some tough decisions that would impact the main story, or at the very least, some fun political decisions that would impact the progress of the keep. Unfortunately I have ran into none of this so far, as the stronghold seems to be just a basic gold sink. The stronghold allows you to purchase buildings every few days for a small amount of gold. As you build buildings you gain some small side quests and increase the income of the keep. I was expecting a lot more out of this feature and have been quite disappointed by it.

My biggest disappointment with Pillars of Eternity is that the party members I've played with are not very memorable or impactful to the story. I've found that my decisions don't impact them much at all. To be fair, they will express some displeasure or pleasure at your choices, but not beyond specific dialogue during a signal event. For example, you can be a complete dick to one of your members via these specific events, and it will not affect their chatter or performance throughout the campaign. I was hoping for a much better implementation of party dynamics, such as members leaving your group, or any sort of consequence if you continue to disagree with them. The lack of party dynamics, even a basic morale system, has lead to me not feeling much attachment to my party members. Honestly I wish I just created my own party members instead of using the ones you find in game.

A minor complaint is that some of the kick-stater content that has been added to the game can be distracting, unnecessary, and break immersion. I would suggest avoiding any NPCs with gold backgrounds as these characters are all kick-starter backed characters with their dialogue created by backers. The writing quality for these characters can be rough, and completely optional in regards to the game's story and lore.

At this point I don't see myself running through multiple playthroughs of Pillars of Eternity. I am enjoying the game, but I don't see myself investing additional time into it after I complete it. This may be due to the size of my backlog more-so then the overall quality of the game.

Final Thoughts

I'm being very tough on this game as it was sold as a successor to Baldur's Gate series. Therefore I had very high expectations for it. While the game is great, I think the Baldur's Gate games are much better. I feel confident on saying this as I just shortly played through the original Baldur's Gate and enjoyed it more-so then I am enjoying Pillars of Eternity so far.

But at the end of the day, Pillars of Eternity is the best CRPG that has been released in a long, long time. If you enjoy CRPGs, you have no excuse to not try Pillars of Eternity. While it does have some deep flaws, it still is a good/great game that is worthy of your time and money.

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