Pillars Of Eternity is a fantastic old school isometric role playing game, with tons of micromanagement, rich lore, text heavy dialogue trees, party management, real-time combat with the ability to pause anytime, and everything you’d expect from a game of this sort. What you wouldn’t expect is to see such a title playable on consoles, but that is exactly what Obsidian Entertainment and Paradox Arctic have done, and Pillars of Eternity Complete Edition is still undoubtedly among the best role playing games of all time, even with a controller.
The game was crowdfunded via Kickstarter, attaining its original goal of $1 million in just 24 hours, and with stretch goals, going on to become one of the most crowdfunded videogames on Kickstarter. The studio developing the game, Obsidian Entertainment, comprises talent that worked on games like Fallout: New Vegas, Baldur’s Gate, Star Wars: KOTOR 2, and more, and they intended to create a game that could recapture the feeling of playing games like those in modern times. And Pillars Of Eternity more than delivers.
You start off with an in-depth character creator, where you choose from various origins, cultures, behaviors, skills and abilities for your main character. You then embark on a seemingly mundane journey, getting quickly wrapped up in a fantastical tale of magic, mystery, betrayals, politics, and adventure. The story starts slow, but is written so well, that you feel really absorbed in everything that’s happening. The game is very text heavy, and if that’s not your thing, this game is not for you. However, if you are ready to do some reading, Pillars has tons of it and of great quality.
As with any good RPG, your choices and decisions matter, and this is demonstrated early on with a choice that leads to you losing a party member. Your decisions matter, and they have important permanent consequences. This makes you want to pay close attention during conversations, which are well presented on consoles, and everything is easy to read and understand. Apart from just conversations, there’s tons of lore to uncover in books and other corners of the world. Be sure to explore and look around every region you travel through, and be sure to save often.
The gameplay is standard isometric movement, where you can switch between party members on the fly, move them and the camera with the joysticks. The game pauses when you enter combat, which you can change if you so desire, and everything is presented neatly so as to never feel cumbersome or overwhelming. Issuing commands, managing spells, sorting through inventory, character development, all felt easy on a controller. Combat offers a ton of options, and the game has a fairly smooth learning curve. The UI has been tweaked and optimized, and makes for an enjoyable gameplay experience.
There are also additional difficulty options, both easier and tougher, and you can choose to take on the challenge as you see fit. The Complete Edition also comes with both parts of the White March expansion, which add almost 30 more hours of gameplay to the already 40-50 hour long campaign.
While the game is not high on graphics or visual fidelity, the art style is absolutely gorgeous. Areas and backgrounds look detailed and beautifully rendered, and I rarely noticed any frame-drops. There is an issue of occasionally long load times, but it never really gets in the way of role playing and adventuring.
Pillars of Eternity is an absolutely delightful role playing game, the likes of which I have not played in years. I played the game back when it first released on PC, and never imagined to see it playable on consoles. Even last night, as I was finishing up the game on my PS4, I had a smile on my face, as the wonderful music played in the background, and I was reminded that, yes, great RPGs do exist in 2017, and I can’t wait for play what Obsidian is working on next.