Title: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Ultimate Edition
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Inc
Publisher: Versus Evil
Website: Pillars of Eternity 2
Genre: Action, Role-Playing Games (RPG), Adventure
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 28/01/2020
Price: £49.99 – Rapid Reviews were provided with a review code for this title.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a MASSIVE game. There’s no denying this game is vast! Grab a drink and snacks; this one’s a long haul.
Deadfire released on Windows, Linux and macOS back in May 2018, but has since made its way to PS4 and Xbox One in January of 2020. I never played the original, but it’s likeness to Baldurs’ Gate intrigued me. Then upon reading, they introduced a new turn-based mode (like XCOM 2), I was ready to go.
I did have to do a little research on the original game though because after starting up and dropping in, I was instantly lost. Now there are the pre-set choices for you to quickly navigate your history (think Witcher 3 if there’s no saved game detected), but I wanted to flesh out my character and history a bit more. So I spent 3 hours, reading about the last game, watching youtube videos and then creating my history, this was an intense start.
So Previously on Pillars of Eternity
*Pillars of Eternity 1 Spoilers ahead*
A big old God names Eothas occupied a mortal body (I suppose it was just lying around) and rallied a holy crusade. Obviously, the other Gods weren’t too happy, and they worked against him and using human agents (we do all the hard work), they did so using the GodHammer.
Now, for every action, there’s an opposite and equal reaction kind of moment here; Afterwards, a plague known as the Hollowborn crisis moved across the land known as Drywood, this is the Nation that Eothas invaded. Hollowborn caused children to be born without souls (some parents would attest to their kids being demons already).
Eventually, you, the “Hero“, The Watcher of Card Nua, gets caught up in the situation and works to uncover what has happened. I won’t spoil the rest of the story, but there is a very poignant look at how we are “controlled” and lots of death.
*Pillars of Eternity 1 Spoilers End*
Pillars of Eternity 2 is set five years later and sees the return of Eothas, and you as the Watcher.
*side-note* He’s not happy, he pretty much destroys Caed Nura and drains their souls.
The Watcher; the main protagonist in this adventure, is someone who can read other peoples memories via their souls and also see past lives.
The Journey Begins
As I said, I spent a good few hours creating my character background and model look, I settled on a Godlike avatar, mainly because they look incredible. These are a race blessed (or cursed) with visual features of Gods, and I went for a Fire Godlike, virtually the Hellboy look, the anti-hero was my background. It also gives resistance to fire damage and lashes out burn damage when close to death. Figuring I’d be dying a lot, this looked handy.
Now at this point, I made a mistake, being a first-time entry to this franchise I thought I knew better and chose multi-class, I’m a child of Dragon Age, Neverwinter and Baldurs’ Gate, what could be so tricky?
This was not advised on a first play-through. Stubbornly I kept this setup, I was 3 hours in and hadn’t started, I didn’t want to restart.
So I make my deal with the *you’ll have to play and find out* and end up in Deadfire Archipelago. Where the decisions made in PoE 1 influence the storyline elements here.
To summarise the story without spoiling it, Eothas is in a violent, murderous rage, with one target, the traitorous Gods who opposed him, how he plans to do this though, I’ll leave for you to find out.
You also engage and converse with many different people and factions in this game, these factions, like so many power-hungry groups, are fighting over who will control the Deadfire area. They consist of the Imperials, Mercenaries, Traditionalists and Pirates.
Now you can help or hinder these factions as you play through, and honestly, you can play it as you’d like, but I sometimes found the best result wasn’t always the right one.
The game is set up with every decision influencing the gameplay and the ending, like so many choice-based games, the epilogue will outline the choices you made and their consequences on the world at large.
Visuals, GamePlay and Stand-Out Audio
The graphics are awe-inspiring, details on the character models and town areas are full and vibrant and also dark and miserable (caves for example) when necessary.
The lighting when crawling through dungeons is very impressive, torches, for example, bleed light out and fade to darkness with different strengths of orange/red/yellow building that natural ambient light feel.
There’s also been an improvement in visual effects when considering spells from the first one, but I have no point of reference for that, but they do look impressive either way.
My biggest gripe though, is how “off” it feels for me on a PS4 controller, I ended up wanting to use a keyboard and mouse setup for this, but the Developers hadn’t enabled that. I found navigating the menu and between the inventory tabs quite difficulty and clunky, for want of a better word.
The menu system didn’t flow for me like this would using a mouse, I never felt like I could quickly navigate to a spell, or even move my group around quickly. You can choose the point and move function or walk singularly/grouped as you rotate the sticks.
The loading screens between areas is quite long and not very smooth, I’d imagine the PS4 hard drive is more of a contributor to that than the game, but I felt myself picking up my phone more often than not. Although I used this time to write notes, for a regular player, this could be boring.
I was also plagued by game crashes, which I now come to expect when playing any game and as a result, I’ve become a bit of a save-game spammer.
One thing that majorly impressed me was the voice acting, the audio for the game is very well put together and in doing so, gives an immersion into the characters that story-based games like these require, so kudos there. I never felt the need to skip a conversation and just read the subtitles.
Not so Rapid
This game took an extra two years to come to consoles, and as I see that as an excellent start for a quiet beginning to 2020, I feel the game is better suited to PC and the controls available there. I struggled to face the extensive menu system on-screen with the controller, often pressing the wrong thing, plus the loading times and clunky nature of the PS4 didn’t help the situation.
PoE2 isn’t groundbreaking, it’s not something new and exciting, but it is a quality bit of storytelling, acted by incredible voice talent and fleshed out with characters developed so well, it makes you want to stick around.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – Ultimate Edition from the PlayStation Store on the following link, https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP0131-CUSA13480_00-PILLARDEADFIREVE
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.