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Pillars of Eternity: The Baldur's Gate spiritual successor you've been waiting for

Hayden Dingman | March 27, 2015
I'm not done with Pillars of Eternity.

I'm not done with Pillars of Eternity.

Let's be clear: The only context in which that statement is bad is in the context of writing a review. Do I wish I could've finished the game in time to slap a score on it today? Sure, kind of.

On the other hand, I'm thirty-five hours into the game and I just popped an achievement telling me I completed Act Two. Out of (I think, maybe) four or five. All week I've inhabited this zone where I'd wake up at like, six in the morning and think, "Would it be weird for me to get out of bed right now and immediately start playing Pillars? Because I really want to play Pillars." There's no doubt in my mind that if the second half of this game is as good as the first, this is one of 2015's best games.

Endless paths

Obsidian's Baldur's Gate, Infinity Engine-era throwback is massive. It's sprawling. It's exactly the type of game (I hope) fans wanted and expected when that Kickstarter page went up two years ago. It's like an Infinity Engine game with the rough edges sanded off.

And normally that's something people say in a derogatory tone, at least when it comes to video games. Like, "Oh, they dumbed it all down." But this time it quite literally just means taking away all the things that didn't quite work in those games, or made them intimidating or boring or not fun to play.

For Infinity Engine veterans, that means: Getting rid of THAC0. Fine-tuning the "Miss/Miss/Miss/Miss/Crit-and-the-enemy-is-dead" combat. Adding a slow-motion mode so you can play combat (especially the easy encounters) without needing to constantly pause and unpause. Adding a double-speed mode that minimizes the pain of retraversing enormous maps. Allowing you to upgrade the equipment you love instead of throwing it away every level or two. Making inventories more manageable. A better-sorted journal. The list goes on.

Make no mistake: It still feels distinctively like an Infinity Engine game, in ways the other two CRPG revivals last year (Divinity: Original Sin and Wasteland 2) did not. It's polished, though. Modern even, in some ways. I can't help but think a lot of that comes from the fact Obsidian got to start from scratch here, rather than converting Dungeons & Dragons rules into ill-fitting video game form.

I've especially come to love the game's two-reservoir health system. Your characters each have a per-encounter stat termed "Endurance" and then a larger, overall stat termed "Health." For instance, if a character has 80 Endurance and 240 Health, that character will get knocked out if Endurance hits zero but will only die if, say, knocked out in three subsequent encounters without resting.


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