From its engrossing, larger-than-life narrative and lovingly crafted characters to its well-paced humour, enjoyable combat and beer chugging, treasure swindling piratey charm, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is an instant classic. There’s really no better way to put it.
It’s clear from the moment you start a new game, developers Obsidian Entertainment have poured their heart and soul into it. It’s a lot of what you might expect from your classic isometric RPG (CRPG) – deep, involved story; complex character progression; turn-based, tactical combat; and just a tiny bit of zaniness. And, it does all brilliantly.
The world is massive, filled with unexpected adventures – even for someone like me who has come to expect quite a bit from the folks over at Obsidian Entertainment. Its characters are well narrated and full of personality, and combat and character progression manages to be complex and filled with possibility, but not so involved that it gets tiresome after your thousandth battle.
Even fetch quests, infrequent as they may be, offer some level of reprieve from the tired old formula, often by throwing interesting characters or a meaningful choice or two at you.
It’s hard, really, to describe why Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is so good when there have been numerous titles recently that have tried something similar and come nowhere close. It’s definitely got something to do with Obsidian’s experience, which comes through in spades, but ultimately, it’s a ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ sort of deal. It’s just so nice.
Without wanting to take away too much from a story that really needs a hundred hours (and then some) to tell, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire continues on from the previous title, placing you in the shoes of a watcher. It’s your job, as a watcher, to commune with, as well as guide, souls to the afterlife. From there, they’re given the opportunity to be reborn, and the cycle begins once more.
Unfortunately, after settling the score with a rogue god intent on screwing with the cycle of souls in the previous game, among a number of other supernatural mishaps, you’re forced out of retirement with a rather life-altering event – you were killed. It turns out, it’s really hard to kill a god, and he’s not one to forgive so easily. So, after stomping you into the afterlife, he sets on his merry way to ruin everyone’s day.
It’s your job, having been revived with one purpose in mind, to kick some godly ass, to track down and finally put an end to him – or don’t, there’s a surprising amount of choice in Pillars of Eternity, and a lot of it affects the story. Throw in the opportunity to set sail aboard your very own ship across the mysterious Deadfire archipelago and face off against pirates and other malevolent forces, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire even comes complete with cute pets, like Chauncey the pig, who gives your team +1 to dexterity. There’ also an adorable little doggy, too, who makes you extra stealthy, probably because your opponents are too busy ooh’ing and awh’ing at the PUPPY – “It’s so fluffy!” In fact, the pets of Pillars of Eternity 2 are a great analogy for the game as a whole. Obsidian Entertainment didn’t need to add them, but they did anyway because it makes the game better.
If you’re familiar with the CRPGs of old, then Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is sure to warm the cockles of your heart while it simultaneously dazzles you from start to finish; you’ll love it. If you’re new to the genre or you’re just looking for a genuinely good story-cum-RPG-romp, then Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is for you, too. Play it.