This post will be a non-spoiler (spoiler post coming tomorrow) review of Pillars of Eternity, having now beaten the game, with a playtime of just under 60 hours. I didn’t complete all of the side quests, but I’m guessing I did most, including finishing the Endless Dungeon.
Quite simply, the game is one of the best RPGs to come around in years. The story, the game systems, the graphics/sound; everything works here and it all comes together. I ran into one bug during my playthrough, and even that is now fixed with the recent 1.03 patch. On normal difficulty I had plenty of challenging fights, but never ran into anything that felt impossible and prevented me from moving forward.
The six companions I used (Aloth, Durance, Eder, Sagani, and I replaced Kana with Grieving Mother) all felt like real people with real motives rather than party fillers. Most of their personal quests were great, and I especially liked Eder and Aloth. They also add in dialog many times during the game, and it was always solid and in-character. Looking forward to playing with the ones I did not in a second playthrough.
The ending, which to me is critical to get right, was fantastic. It’s often very difficult to get this right, to make an ending that feels like a proper reward for all of your effort, but PoE nailed it. A nice bonus here was that the ending did sort of a “world update” based on your actions, which I felt was great, especially with an expansion and sequel already in the works.
A few other random bits:
Surprisingly I liked the crafting here, as it was somewhat minimal but useful. Being able to take a decent weapon or piece of armor and ‘update’ it to a higher tier was nice but not mandatory. I didn’t use food much, but for tougher fights it seemed to give that little bonus I needed. Same with potions, though I used those more often than food. Scrolls I only really used on a few boss battles, but I could see them being very powerful/helpful.
I liked the pace of the game. For something that took almost 60 hours to complete, I never felt the game was dragging or losing the pace of the main quest. I also liked the three tier breakdown of quests. You had the main quest line(s) always at the top, the you had the big side quests in the middle section, and finally the third section was tasks, which were always small, short, and less story-important things you could do for bonus XP or items. I liked this because it made it easier to decide what to skip, or what to consume if you needed a longer/shorter break from pushing the main quest forward.
Surprisingly I don’t have a problem with the level cap being 12, mostly because it allows for the final area/dungeon to remain challenging, and especially the final encounter. I think a game like this really leaves a bad final impression if you grossly overpower the final encounter, and so having a level cap helps to control this.
The Endless Dungeon might be my favorite bit of content in an RPG ever. It really was amazing, right down to the finally. More on that tomorrow.
Unless you absolutely hate RPGs, Pillars of Eternity is a must-buy.