Another win for Isometric RPGs on Console.
I’ve been a rather huge fan of Obsidian RPG games for years now. I never got involved with them in the older PC days, but ever since the console RPGS from KOTOR 2, Fallout New Vegas, and the criminally underrated Alpha Protocol, I’ve been a fan. A few years ago they went back and did a Kickstarter for their very own isometric strategy RPG called Pillars of Eternity. They then later released some expansion content. I never expected a console version to release, but lo and behold here we are with a complete edition for the new consoles, and in saying that did it transition over successfully is the real question. Most folks know the overall idea behind Pillars, but let’s go over a few of the main features.
Brave adventurer, your quest awaits
Pillars of Eternity is one of those RPGS where players will create their own avatar to play as the main character. Along with their own background, skills, and history to select, it can be overwhelming, especially for those that have never played a game of this type. Once selected, the core story elements will come into play that start the intriguing tale involving souls, and the abilities to become what they deem a “watcher” This leads to a long story filled with twists and turns. It’s interesting, with main characters to meet, dialog to read, and the world begins to take shape not only on the screen but in the players mind.
Price I’d Pay: $49.99
How long to beat: 40+ hours
When not managing the characters skills, equipment or solving one of the main/side story quests, battling is what will take up another huge chunk of time. This is the biggest area I worried about for the transition of the port, as Pillars is an old school RPG that is primarily controlled via the mouse. Surprisingly, the way Paradox Arctic has brought this over is sufficient. It will take some time to master, but overall using a controller isn’t nearly as heavy handed as expected. The stick controls the main character, while the side characters follow automatically. Want to use one separately? Scroll through the available ones with the bumpers. Bring up the menu wheel with one trigger, and the ability/skills with another. Battles pause, but that’s a good thing as sometimes it can get fairly chaotic with enemies on screen.
Another great aspect about the console version that moved over from PC is the ability to really customize the experience, from a menu that lets players tailor their experience to how they want to play. Want a challenge? Up the difficulty. Want to play mostly for the story? They have that option too, which enables battles to be fairly easy. The ability to tweak options for when the game pauses on commands, AI to program for the other characters, or even speed up walking during exploration. All that is there, and it makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Tailoring the game to how players want to play is always a great feature, and the more options the better.
A trip worthy
Pillars is an extremely lengthy game, and add in the expansions and players will have plenty to do for hours. The transition to consoles was much better than I ever expected, especially when using the interface. While the item and inventory menus can seem a little small or rather daunting, it’s something I grew accustomed to. It’s a game that can potentially put players off at the start but any RPG fan, I implore you to stick with it though. Controls for battles and interacting with the world are intuitive and, even if a little clunky at times, are really a suitable feature for a console edition.
The Xbox One version seemed to perform decent enough, though there are times when smoke effects or other graphical elements kick into play that causes some system performance issues. Luckily, with the type of game this is, it was never a huge hindrance. Pillars of Eternity is a great RPG experience by Obsidian, and my time with the port was a very good experience. The excellent music and voice acting, the wonderful writing, and the multitude of ways quests can play out just add up to Pillars being a wonderful RPG to add to the collection. PC players have known this for a while, but console owners can now experience this for themselves. Now if everyone will excuse me, I still have plenty more adventures to partake in the world of Eora.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.