Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (PC) Preview

By Athanasios 06.02.2018

Review for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on PC

Amongst the many reasons why Pillars of Eternity was loved by so many was that Obsidian Entertainment remained true to its promise, offering a magnificent, Infinity Engine-inspired RPG for the modern era. Perfect? No, but, boy (and girl), what a ride! The quality offered by this promising storyteller from sunny California garnered lots of respect from the gaming community, leading to their next project reaching its crowdfunding target within a bunch of hours. Its name? Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – which, by the look of things, has made tons of improvements over the original recipe.

Pillars of Eternity II could very well be named Pillars of Eternity: Edition Arrr!. It's the "same," hardcore, top-down isometric RPG you know and love, but with a heavy, seafaring theme. After all, 'Deadfire' refers to the Deadfire Archipelago; a cluster of volcanic island nations, with a tropical climate. As expected, the typical medieval fantasy setting of the original gets put aside for a more… pirate-y one. The change in look might disappoint some who wanted to visit a different corner of the world of Eora, but the members of Obsidian, being the master world-builders that they are, has actually made the trip worth your time.

In terms of plot, this once again follows the soul-reading Watcher, as he or she chases after a certain powerful fellow from the first instalment. This small taste Cubed3… tasted… didn't provide the answer to whether it will be great, decent, or plain boring as a whole, and, to be honest, the mysterious atmosphere of the original seems to not be as strong here (at least, for the time being), but the writing definitely retains its top-notch quality. As for the technical portion of it all, music and voice acting-wise it's pretty much the same as before (which means great), but the graphics are vastly improved, especially when it comes to the lighting, which helps this world pop-out.

Screenshot for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on PC

Once more, the gameplay revolves around talking with people, doing quests, exploring the land (and sea), and, of course, fighting! Now, while an incomplete build, this is the part where most major improvements can be seen, as well as some alterations, like, for instance, the disappearance of the might attribute, and the introduction of strength, which now just represents raw physical brawn. The party size has been reduced to five, which makes it easier to handle it; spell-casters can retarget their mumbo-jumbo mid-action; and the auto-AI can be tuned in all sorts of ways, instead of just choosing a simplistic aggressive or passive behaviour.

The character creation itself appears to offer a far more diverse set of options, something aided by the appearance of multi-classing, as well as the fact that all classes have a couple of subclasses, which offer a boost in certain areas, in exchange for a penalty in some others. The number of possible builds is simply awesome, and everything already feels quite balanced, although some more tweaking is a must. Visually, this currently lacks new portraits, but the addition of poses for characters (heroic, hunched, and so on) is quite a smart one, as it adds one more pebble into the whole role-playing shebang.

Screenshot for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on PC

There’s a new ship management mechanic that is a work-in-progress and it shows, but it already feels good, even in its current, incomplete, and buggy state. The Watcher can acquire, equip, man, and, of course, sail, all sorts of ships, with which it will be possible to explore this large archipelago, while also engage in some swashbuckling fun by fighting against other happy sailors. Crew vs. crew fights are similar to the rest of the battles; ship vs. ship ones, though, are a wholly different thing, as it’s turned-based, and mostly revolve around the use of cannonry.

Something that couldn’t be tested here is the save import feature, which will enable the use of a save file from the first Pillars of Eternity, which in turn will affect the protagonist, as well as the world around him/her in all sorts of ways – it’s unknown how, and to what extent, but, according to the developer, it will be possible to choose your “past” in the character creation screen, via a lot of multiple choice questions.

Screenshot for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on PC

It's important to note that, although this won't be a "short" RPG similar to Tyranny, it won't be a 100+ hour journey, either. Obsidian has stated that this will mostly be designed with a more replay-friendly sort of mindset. What's great is that, even in the sample that was tasted here, there were tons of things to do. Hopefully, the final product will be extremely immersive, a part that will surely be aided by the addition of dynamic weather, as well as towns where NPCs don't just stand there, but instead go about their daily chores.

There are tons of small things that haven't been mentioned here. Obsidian once again provides an insane quantity, and, by the look of things, quality. Sure, things can get quite overwhelming at first, especially for newcomers of the genre, but not only is it easy to get invested into the game and learn about everything on offer, but the developer has once again made its product very beginner-friendly, as it offers explanations about almost everything. Needless to say, however, haters won't be convinced by this or change their minds - that's okay, though. Their loss…

Screenshot for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on PC

Final Thoughts

Even without additions like ship battles, the dynamic town life and weather, or the various gameplay, as well as visual, improvements, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire already seems bound to be successful - not because of its popular name, but due of the diversity offered, especially when it comes to character creation. What remains to be seen is how interesting the seas of the Deadfire Archipelago will be compared to the Eastern Reach.




Versus Evil


Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Del_Duio (guest) 07.02.2018#1

PoE was a lot of fun, but ulitmately couldn't really touch the great Baldur's Gate titles from the late 90s (yes, including the first one with its "every zone is empty ZOMG"). I'm hopeful this sequel will be better!

Mechanics/Gameplay-wise its probably a LOT better...
Story/world-building-wise though... who knows...

Can't a fella drink in peace?


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