Whenever developers ‘remake’ a classic game, or attempt a ‘spiritual successor’, there is always a balance of what to keep and what to change/update, and if you don’t get that balance right, you disappoint. Often-times you not only disappoint, but also end up with a below-average product overall.
Pillars of Eternity (PoE), 4-5 hours in, gets most of the Baldur’s Gate formula right.
The graphics look good/great, but it also looks like Baldur’s Gate would if it was released in 2015. Same with the sound and voice acting, its all very solid, and the quest text is a mix of voice and writing, much like it was in BG (I find games with 100% voice tiring as too often you are waiting over something you aren’t fully invested in, while having lesser-important parts be written means you read through them at a better pace). The UI is parts BG theme, part smart UI design for 2015.
Combat, a very critical aspect, also feels like an evolved version of BG. You still can pause and then let things play out, and you still have spells and special abilities, but the entire game isn’t confined to AD&D rules, but instead uses a ruleset that likely better fits a computer RPG.
I love the stamina and HP systems too. Stamina is like a short-term HP pool that auto-regens during and at the end of combat, while your true HP pool can only be restored by camping or at an inn, and camping is limited by a consumable that you can only carry so much of. If your stamina hits zero in a fight, you are knocked down and out, until either your party wins and you stand up, or everyone is knocked out and you lose. Since HP don’t regenerate and aren’t easily restored, that system acts as a ‘wear you down’ mechanic during a dungeon crawl, and tougher fights that deal a lot of HP damage are more meaningful, while smaller fights with weaker creatures will likely only take some stamina that is fully recovered after the fight. Hopefully the above makes sense, but in short it really is a wonderful system to both capture the struggle of a single fight, while also providing a system to show long-term fatigue/damage.
The one ‘flaw’ for me so far is the need to use stealth to find secret, since this results in your party going around in stealth mode 99% of the time, which just feels off and is a bit annoying (you walk slower in stealth). I’d much prefer the game just do a skill check when needed, to still reward having a character with that ability, without forcing that extra click and slowness. Plus it would leave the stealth mechanic for, you know, actual stealth when you need it. I wonder if that’s something that can be ‘fixed’ with a mod in the future.
More as I get deeper with the game, but even this far in, its very easy to recommend PoE to any RPG fan, it’s a gem.