Pillars of Eternity: Thoughts after a few hours

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.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Random, Review. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Pillars of Eternity: Thoughts after a few hours

  1. Sjonnar says:

    I agree almost completely – the ‘almost’ in question being that i’m 100% fine with having to be in scouting mode to find secrets. It automatically puts you in the cautious frame of mind for a good old-fashioned d&d dungeon crawl.

    In other news, i got TPK’d by forest giants or something about 3 hours in on my first playthrough and had to start over from scratch, so i just recently got put in charge of the stronghold of Caed Nua. Since the PC is referred to as a ‘Watcher’, i suppose that would make Caed Nua the keep of the Watcher – a “Watcher’s Keep” if you will =)

    • Matt says:

      There are no autosaves? Or did you just decide your setup was suboptimal?

      • RohanV says:

        There’s an “Ironman” mode you can enable, where you only get one save and that save is deleted upon death.

        I think you’d have to be pretty crazy to use that mode, but then again I got killed by a bear on Easy.

        • Sjonnar says:

          Yeah, was on iron man mode for that first try. Turned it off for second go around, to get a better feel for the game, but now that i’m being more cautious and conservative and properly dungeon-crawly, i wish i could turn it back on, but i’m not about to quit and start over just for that. I’ll just delete my save if i get wiped. Third run will be iron man again.

          And Kana fucked that bear in its stupid face with his OP arquebus. Bards are definitely not a joke class in this game.

  2. Sjonnar says:

    Hey, does anyone know what’s up with Pallegina’s DR? Her DR is two points lower than it should be for everything, and i can’t find any in-game reason for this. Is it a paladin class feature, a bug, or something unique to her?
    (Also, when i unequip her armor and turn off her DR aura, she has base DR of -3 piercing, -2 in everything else.)

  3. maljjin says:

    I’m getting my ass kicked and I’m somehow loving it. I’m only a couple of hours into the game, maybe my party is suboptimal, but I have to be extra careful in most fights. Maybe there’s something I don’t get, maybe I’m not reacting fast enough. Still tons of fun though, my journey is difficult but not impossible.

    You can also count me in the ‘most-time-I’m-in-stealthed-mode’ club hehe.

    If anyone wants extra difficulty, you may also disable your stash access from the world. I’ve put so many things in there, it must be bottomless!

  4. Halycon says:

    This is going to sound odd, but my largest problem with the game so far is the level cap. It’s too low for the amount of content. I hit it and still have many many hours of gameplay left.

    • Sjonnar says:

      I had a nasty feeling this was going to happen. And now i have a pretty good idea what’s coming in the first expansion/content patch.

      • Halycon says:

        Um, hopefully they also give us a better antagonist. They set themselves up for the following comparison by saying it’s the spiratule successor to Baldar’s Gate…. The story is good so far, but frankly, it sucks at pulling you in. If you’re doing sidequest as you come upon them you’re 20 hours in before the main story even starts to make sense. There’s nothing to latch onto.

        Now.. Baldar’s Gate II. The first thing that happens in the game is Irenicus torturing you. From the opening moment he’s large and in charge. You then spend 2 hours getting out of his house and learning what sort of man the villian is. Of course there’s more to it than that first glimps which plays out over the rest of the story, but the writers grabbed you with the overarching narrative immediately.

        Pillars does not do that. A lot of the side quests have better narrative hooks than the main story.

Comments are closed.