“You must gather gather your party before venturing forth”. Hearing those words sent shivers down my spine. They epitomize, for me, the best parts of being 14, and were the first indicator that Obsidian Entertainment had not squandered their crowdfunded booty.
Honestly, I should not have had any doubts that they would pull it off. After all, Obsidian was founded and run by the same titans that created such titles as Fallout, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, Neverwinter Nights, Baldurs Gate, and the godly Baldurs Gate II, (the holy trinity being of course Baldurs Gate 2, The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, and our Lord and Saviour Gabe Newell). The question now is, I suppose, not whether Pillars of Eternity is a triumph, but how great of a triumph it is.
To answer this question we must first realize that this game should not really exist in the first place. In a time where microtransactions can be found even in triple A games, free-to-play and mobile reign supreme, and indie is all about innovation and newness, who would fund an old school D&D style RPG? No one, that’s who.
And yet, as of March 26th, Pillars of Eternity can be purchased on Steam and enjoyed in all its glory by all of humanity. How did this wonder come about? In short: a Kickstarter campaign that raised close to 4 million dollars from fans such as yours truly. This is where the true beauty of this whole story lies. Obsidian offered, we replied with a resounding “yes, please!”, and the best part is, they delivered.
Pillars of Eternity has the soul of all those old games we love so much, but it is also incredibly different, so much so that it becomes its own thing entirely. The attributes, loot, spells, and leveling, among others, are completely reimagined, so that the player feels he is playing something new, even if he has played earlier games of this type. Some things, such as the stronghold mechanic, are a first, and cannot be found in earlier games.
Playing the game is like someone taking you for a ride in a souped up vintage car that you once had as a teen: it’s the same car, but made better by all that modern times have to offer.
At the same time, the maps, the point of view, the storyline, the wonder and the magic will be familiar to fans of the genre. Playing the game is like someone taking you for a ride in a souped up vintage car that you once had as a teen: it’s the same car, but made better by all that modern times have to offer.
Obsidian took a big risk even attempting to make a game like this, and their brave and innovative approach is even more ballsy, but the fact is they have managed to add a title that can hold its ground among the best of them, and is an unexpected and welcome addition to the pantheon of great high fantasy RPGs.
Of course there will be arguments about what was a good idea and what was not, but that is a testament to how good a job the creators did at reimagining this type of game. For example, I personally did not think the individual stories bound to the “strong” souls added much to the game and actually found the whole mechanic quite annoying.
I attribute these and other imperfections to the fact the game was made on a crowdfunded budget and seems to be a labor of love more than a blockbuster game meant to generate profits. It reminds me more of a Baldurs Gate than the masterpiece that is Bardurs Gate 2. It is a fantastic starting point willed into being that is a preview of greater things to come.
Pillars of Eternity was a blast, a wonderful trip down memory lane, and an overall great game. I cannot wait for Pillars of Eternity 2, and recommend that everyone get in on the ground floor of this epic adventure.