The new cRPG by Obsidian Entertainment!

The new CRPG by Obsidian Entertainment!

Pillars of Eternity is a new CRPG by Obsidian Entertainment which harkens back to the days of Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. As a longtime fan of these games, I was quite pleased to see a modern spiritual successor being made. It’s easy to tell that Obsidian made Eternity from the ground up with such fans in mind just at the beginning of a game, with a myriad of options to customize one’s game experience such as permadeath (deletion of the saved game upon death) or the ability to remove metagame hints from dialogs.

Eternity is set in the world of Eora, a medieval world that is heavily influenced by soul-based magics. This world is inhabited by a handful of playable races, some familiar, some… well, “wtf”. We all know too well humans, elves, and dwarves. Then there are the Aumaua, which for brevity’s sake, are Avatar’s Na’vi with a boner for water. Next up are the Orlan, which strike one as fuzzy gremlins, which seem to be better suited for classes that don’t rely on brute strength. Last, but not least, are the Godlike. The Godlike look like something I made up as a 13 year old boy trying to make an edgy D&D character. They often have a large set of horns, disfigured facial features, and glowing nasty bits just hanging out around their faces. However, even given my personal distaste for the Aumaua and the Godlike, the races overall seem balanced and capable of filling any class role.

Yep. This goofy cartoon character could be the tough guy in your party.

Yep. This goofy cartoon character could be the tough guy in your party.

The lore of the game seems very consistent thus far, but I’ve not delved into it enough to give a truly educated opinion on it. Though some may like it, many of the names in this game could double as the name of a prescription drug. Names such as bîaŵac, Rauatai or Glamfellen. Now, I get that this type of thing is fairly prevalent across nearly all RPG worlds; but it seems as if Eternity turned it up to 11, to the point that keeping up with what is what can be a bit of a hassle. That aside, the game so far has done a good job of not shoveling you into the role of a great hero destined to save the world from some nameless evil, one of my big gripes with the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The game starts you off slow and simple, and you quickly get into a predicament that you can address or ignore at your leisure, much akin to the original Baldur’s Gate. Though full of fantastical magics of magical fantasy, the game has a distinct dark undertone to the story, which becomes extremely obvious when you enter the first village of your adventure to be greeted by a tree full of hanging, rotting corpses. Being a fan of horror, this is a big plus for me.

Welcome to the Gilded Vale... sorry!

Welcome to the Gilded Vale… sorry!

Art and music are pretty much spot on, there’s not a lot I can add here. I was disappointed to see that characters are rendered in 3D, as I would have much preferred 2D high-res sprites. That aside though, they do a good job of blending the 3D elements in with the 2D. The special effects of spells and traps are vibrant but not gaudy, and the sound effects lend some umph to them. The voice acting, both the narrator and the various NPCs, are all good. Not on par with, say, The Secret World, but quite well nonetheless. I was disappointed to see that not all NPCs have voice acting, or that only some of their dialog has voice acting. But, considering the sheer amount of dialog and options therein, I can certainly understand why the voice acting is limited.

The UI should be familiar to anyone who has played past CRPGs. You can select one character at a time and give them specialized commands to pick locks, cast spells, and what-not, or you can select multiple characters and give them generic commands such as move or beat the shit out of something with sticks. You can also pause the game mid-combat (Highly suggested!) to issue specialized commands to get the maximum use out of each of your characters. Eternity’s mechanics are both familiar and unique; any fan of D&D or D&D based video games will quickly recognize some of the stats and their uses, even if they go by a slightly different name. Each stat affects several things, which is a good change from D&D where, let’s say Charisma, is only good for talking to people or casting spells as a Charisma based caster. With this change, there isn’t a real clear dump stat for any class. Removing all the points from an attribute is going to have some tangible effect on your character – and I think that’s a good thing.

Hey, you, with the hat. You shouldn't kill me because, uh, oh fuck it.

Hey, you, with the hat. You shouldn’t kill me because, uh, oh fuck it.

I’ve only played the game on normal difficulty so far, and at least so far that I’ve played it, the difficulty is refreshingly hard. Dungeon crawls are full of missteps, dangerous encounters, and “Oh shit!” moments. Picking dumb options in conversations lead to dumb consequences. Every downed foe isn’t a fountain of gold or loot. In an era of games full of auto-saving, life-regenerating, hand-holding and 5-hour playthroughs (Until the next DLC!!!), all of this makes for a solid ode to the games that got me into PC RPGs.

With all this being said, my preliminary score for this game is 8/10, and I doubt it’s going to change by the time I finish it the first time. Definitely worth getting if you’re a fan of CRPGs or fantasy RPGs in general.

gos8

Pros:

  • Classic CRPG gameplay & feel.
  • Great art, sound effects and music.
  • Balanced stats and races.
  • Challenging difficulty with the ability to customize the challenge to you.
  • Voice acting, even if it’s limited.

Meh:

  • Lore seems decent, nothing too amazing though.
  • Classes are up to snuff with standard D&D style fantasy, but nothing truly new or exciting.
  • Somewhat confusing names, very few thus far really catch the imagination.

Cons:

  • Silly races, particularly the Aumaua and the Godlike.
  • 3D characters in a 2D world.