by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
I have to admit, Pillars of Eternity started off rather slow for me. I’m generally not huge role-playing gamer to begin with. I created my character, putting in the time to choose which of the six races (I chose the Aumana race, as it was different from the usual human/elf/dwarf choices) and which one of the eleven classes I would play, as well as designing the look of my hero. But after travelling around for a small while and facing a couple of defeats early on in the game, I was getting a little discouraged. Had I chosen the wrong dungeon to head into too early? Should I have done some other side quests and leveled up my character before proceeding to the tougher battle? I'm still not quite sure. But I will say that after those initial setbacks, I hit a point where Pillars became addictive.
Pillars of Eternity does make it a little difficult for party-based RPG newbies to get started. The lack of a tutorial means that you're learning as you go. It's not a bad thing, but if you're someone that is not used to the party-based mechanics, your party could end up dead quite a few times whilst you get the hang of things.
Pillars of Eternity is a Role Playing Game which takes place in the world of Eora, a land full of traditions dating back through decades of generations. The history is immense, and you get a sense when playing through Pillars of Eternity, that what you achieve throughout the game could still be considered on a minor scale as far as the history of the land is concerned. As you travel from town to town, there are plenty of inhabitants just waiting to tell you their tales or, in many cases, ask you to help them in their plight. Initially, our hero is travelling through the Eastern Reach as a member of a caravan, making its way toward the Gilded Vale. As the caravan camps for the night, the party is ambushed. As our intrepid adventurer journeys towards Gilded Vale, he (or she, depending on your choice) witnesses a supernatural event that has far reaching consequences – consequences that need further investigation.
Once in Gilded Vale, the main quest and side quests begin. There aren't a whole lot of NPCs to speak to, but those that do, will have a task to give you. More often than not, the task will require further travelling which allows further discovery of the beautiful but often dangerous world of Eora. Dangerous because of all the unfriendly creatures inhabiting various parts of the land. Many can be avoided by sneaking around them or taking an alternate route, but most will need to be defeated before you'll be able to progress.
Defeating them will involve combat. The combat in Pillars of Eternity is primarily in real-time, although the pause function is definitely a godsend, allowing gamers to set up their party in readiness for the upcoming skirmish. As with many party-based games, the battles contain loads of pausing and unpausing, as you manoeuvre your party members into their optimal positions. With the range of classes available, there will often be a varied approach to winning each battle, and indeed, different enemies will require differing strategies in order to exploit their weaknesses. Whilst in combat, two important values need to be checked - Endurance and Health. Endurance replenishes over time and can be regenerated through the use of abilities, spells and various consumable items. Health, on the other hand, cannot be recovered via those means. Instead the only way to increase health is to rest. As such, it is a good idea to keep a ready supply of camping supplies.
Oh and just a tip...save often. Pillars of Eternity allows players to save at just about any point in the game, except when in a combat scenario. But entering a dungeon unprepared for what lays ahead can be deadly, so it pays to save often.
Deep lore and wonderful music sets the tone of the game.
Non-existent tutorial makes the learning curve quite steep early on