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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.

And these characters are, in turn, bolstered by Obsidian's unique character classes. The game industry seems content to settle mostly for a fighter/rogue/wizard paradigm, and that's fine. It's easy to understand, and the distinctions between those three are huge.

Obsidian's range is both more granular and more diverse — the mark of people who have a lot of experience building these systems and a lot of talent to back it up. Having now dabbled in all eleven classes, I'm amazed how different they all are, even amongst "similar" classes.

The wizard, for instance, has a lot of heavy offensive spells to choose from but only gets to pick one or two when leveling up. Priests? They get access to entire tiers of spells when leveling, but these are mostly support buffs and heals, not offensive spells. Then there's the cipher, who's the most interesting "magic" class. Like you, ciphers can "see" into an enemy's soul. The difference is ciphers use this ability akin to magic, causing enemies to for instance relive old wounds. And since their "magic" deals with souls, it can only be targeted at individuals.

Bottom line

What I'm saying in way-too-many words is this: Obsidian has a reputation for crafting fantastic RPGs, and deservedly so. Pillars of Eternity is, as far as I'm concerned, Obsidian at its best ever.

There are a few oddities — you'll have way too much money if you regularly complete side quests, I still find it strange not getting XP from every monster slain, and I miss some of the dynamic effects from Divinity. It's weird to cast a lightning bolt while standing in a pool of water and have it do nothing. Oh, and pathfinding is a bit janky at times.

But Pillars of Eternity is masterful. Earlier this week Obsidian released a documentary on the making of the game where it revealed the studio almost shut down before Pillars. Like, entirely. Obsidian was working on a project when the publisher pulled out, tons of staff were laid off, and there was even an expected shutdown date in place.

What a shame that would've been. With Pillars of Eternity, Obsidian once again proves that it is the foremost RPG studio in the world, with an understanding of its mechanics, its lore, and (most importantly) its story on a level most games don't even aspire to.

 

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