Obsidian has managed to bring us another rock-solid RPG, because after a very successful crowdfunding campaign, they were able to fund and develop the sequel to “Pillars of Eternity”. So now we get to see the fruits of their hard labor, as “Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire” is a game that has managed to improve almost in every single aspect of the original game, all while simplifying things a little.
In PoE 2, we return as The Watcher of Caed Nua, the hero of the first game. A giant statue that lies under your keep has been possessed by a god, destroyed your fortress and left you for dead (our hero have seen better days for sure). Anyways, the game starts with you in a ship, giving chase to the huge statue by sea on the Deadfire Archipelago.
And this group of islands is where the game takes place, and your ship acts as your mobile base, as for game improvements and what not. Well, PoE 2 has been improved on a lot of fronts since the release of PoE1. For example, right away it’s pretty easy to see the graphical improvements, the character models that were kind of underwhelming in the first game look much better now.
Furthermore, PoE 2’s character creation feature is a pure joy to play around with. As you got six races, eleven classes and multiple subraces and class specializations to choose from you have more than enough options to make the character you want, not to mention you can choose your background story and homeland too. Combat seems to have been a little bit streamlined, the party size was reduced, and almost all the abilities are per encounter instead of per rest.
I would also like to point out that AI customization is available for companions from the get go, which is great, in PoE 1 this was not a feature that existed at launch. You can avoid a lot of the combat with dialogue. However, if you love combat, then you could always pick the violent route. Furthermore, there are also a ton of bounty hunting quests to be found in PoE 2 ( PoE 2’s bounty hunting quests actually reminded me of the popular mod New Vegas Bounties for “Fallout: New Vegas”, which is another Obsidian game).
Other than that, exploration is a lot more fun in PoE 2, as It’s like a game in itself. You see, your ship serves as your mobile base. So you will have to manage your crew, and other resources like food rations, water and medical supplies that get depleted while you explore the world.
Additionally, completing quests will let you recruit special NPCs as crew members. While not related to the main story you have a lot of Naval bounty quests and sea exploration quests, that require you to visit uncharted islands and discover their secrets.
Naval combat is a turn based mini-game, while it might not be for everyone. So it’s completely option, and you can always choose boarding action, which takes you back to the classic real-time combat using your character. Exploring all the islands has been a pleasure. However, there is not a lot of diversity in the places you visit, you mostly get some age-old ruin or an Aumaua tribe.
While the combat and the exploration was very enjoyable, the story was not so thrilling. A lot of the plot points seem to have been taken from New Vegas, but without the charm of the Fallout setting. You get a nice recap of the events of PoE 1 when you start the game, but the info dump might be too much for a newcomer to the franchise.
PoE 2 seems to have considerably more voice acting than the previous game (I’m saying ” seems” as I haven’t played through the whole game just yet). Especially in the main story, while not every side quest is fully voice acted, a lot of them are, and that is a welcome improvement. Dialogue in the game contains a lot of fun skill checks, and party members can assist you with these checks. So picking the right skills for you and your party is very important.
The story focuses on four different factions trying to make a living in the Deadfire Archipelago. However, most of these factions are very samey and don’t have a lot going for them. So I couldn’t really support any of them because none of them truly stood out, except the pirates, everybody knows what pirates are all about.
A small issue I had with many of the characters is that almost every sentence they made was a mix of two languages, which can be annoying at times, and it feels like every character is trying to show off. The game features the Aumaua race heavily, if you’re more of a fan of classical fantasy races that could be a little disappointing as well, but Neketaka and a lot of the places you visit look absolutely beautiful.
So, all in all, I feel like Obsidian has managed to create yet another great RPG experience with “Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire”. Simply put, PoE 2 is a must play for fans of the first game, and fans of RPGs in general.
+ Notable graphical improvement over its predecessor
+ Exploration has been expanded with the new overworld map
+ A lot more voice acting than in the previous game
+ Combat is as fun as in the previous game, even if a little bit more streamlined
– Lack of diversity in locations, even if they are beautifully drawn
– The story and factions are not the best Obsidian has done
Replay value: 3/5
Pillars of Eternity 2 is a great isometric RPG that builds on the lore and mechanics of the previous game and makes improvements wherever possible. While it’s not the finest RPG Obsidian has made, that’s not something to be ashamed of since Obsidian has made some of the best western RPGs ever.
Title: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Resolution: Highest possible on PC
Release date: 2018-04-03
Spent time: +5 hours
Average grade internationally: N/A
PEGI age rating: +18
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
More by Jack Davis: