DEVELOPER: Obsidian Entertainment
PUBLISHER: Versus Evil
PRICE: $49.99 (Standard) $59.99 (Deluxe)
RATING: M (Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence, Blood & Gore)
RELEASE DATE: May 8, 2018
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire takes place about five years after the first game. Your character is the Watcher from the first game and you are once again pressured into doing the bidding of the Gods. You are enjoying the peaceful life in your castle of Caed Nua when the God, Eothas revives inside the Adra statue that was underneath your keep. Climbing out of the soil he destroys your castle and wreaks havoc on the surrounding area and mortally wounds you. You appear in the In-Between where you relive memories of your past. You finally arrive before Berath where you are then given the choice of returning to your body and tracking down Eothas to discover what he is ultimately up to. If you choose to help then you are told to recall what you look like, this then prompts the character creation screen. You now have the choice of starting fresh and picking a preset past for your character or importing your save from the first game which will affect certain parts of the game. (Side Note – If you played the first game on PS4 or Xbox One, you can still import your decisions by creating a custom PoE history to choose from.)
Deadfire Archipelago is where the majority of the game takes place and consists of a mass amount of islands, some are small and uninhabitable while others are filled with cities, towns, and people to interact with. One of the fun features added to the game is the ability to name the smaller islands once you have fully explored it. The world you are adventuring in is beautiful, vibrant, memorable, and full of life. From the capital city of Neketaka to the vast ocean waters you will want to explore and experience everything the world has to offer.
This entry in the franchise has changed a lot from its predecessor. For starters the party size was decreased from 6 to 5, which when I first started playing I thought would be a huge deal. Yet after playing for several hours with this new party size I felt the battles were just as challenging as the first game. You still need to make sure you are using the best party members and tactics for each situation. PoE2 has several new features added to it – companions, naval battles, multiclassing, and even a reputation system to your party members. In the first game the way you replied in a conversation could trigger a response from your current party members, but now those responses will actually affect the way they feel about you. Every decision or comment you make is now tracked and will increase or decrease your reputation with your party members. You can ruin your reputation with a party member so badly that may quit partying with you or possibly even turn against you. This time around the game is fully voiced and makes the conversations you have more enjoyable and satisfying at times. A few other changes that were improved upon are the pet system and the food you eat. Both now can added bonuses to your party members or party skills.
New to the game is the ship combat system. Battles are a turn based system that offers you several types of choices to make. From boarding ships, making turns, ramming the other ship, firing cannons, or even sailing ahead at various speeds make them enjoyable as every decision is yours to make. Your ship actually replaces the stronghold in this game as it is where you go to recuperate, change out party members, store items, etc. Your ship though is customizable, so you can upgrade it, name it, choose your flag and colors, hire new crew members and make various other changes. Your ship is like having another character to control and micromanage.
Obsidian definitely took advantage of their creative freedom for this entry as it definitely shows in every aspect of the game. They wanted to not only improve on the first game, but to make sure that there was so much more to do and see in this one. As someone who thought the first game was amazing – I can see how much blood, sweat, and tears were put into the development of this game!
It’s really hard to talk more about the story without having spoilers, but you can tell that the writers took their time to figure out the best way to tell the story. One thing that makes or breaks an RPG game for me is the story. From the way it’s told and presented to the dialogue with your companions and various other NPCs, says a lot about how well I will enjoy a game. The writing in POE2 is very well done! The tonal changes in dialogue and narration, the colorful vocabulary, and the vibrant descriptions from the narrator not only making the conversations believable, but also make reading and listening to the game a delight. The voice actors chosen for the game and the script are also notable changes that helped improve the story and storytelling in the game.
The game is filled with many memorable moments, enjoyable character interactions, lots of quests, and overall a great story. Add to that the well done voice acting, exceptional writing, fantastic setting, enjoyable storytelling, and the challenging combat, making this a near perfect example of a well done RPG. Besides a few minor technical issues which are not game breaking in any way. My main complaint has to be that I was sad that I beat the game, because it was one that I enjoyed playing every minute of the 80+ hours I put into it.
Overall I feel that Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is one of the best RPGs I played on PC this year! It is definitely a 9.5/10 in my book!
A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review
Part time employee of a major video game retailer.