I wasn’t aware of Obsidian’s critically acclaimed RPG, Pillars of Eternity, until last year when I read the chapter on its development in Jason Schreier’s book, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. I found it to be quite a fascinating read, particularly after the release of last year’s similar and also critically acclaimed, Divinity Original Sin 2. I was lucky enough to get the chance to preview Pillars of Eternity II during GDC, and I once again found myself impressed from learning about its development.
The first thing I was told was that every single asset from the first Pillars of Eternity was remade for the sequel, despite the incredible amount of effort it took. A tedious process, but seemed like a necessary evil if the developers wanted Pillars of Eternity II to feel like a fully fledged sequel, rather than just a rehash with some new bells and whistles.
Pillars of Eternity II features an expanded open world and as such, exploration is not only encouraged but also rewarded. Unlike the first Pillars, which takes place on one giant land mass, Pillars of Eternity II consists of several islands collectively known as the Deadfire Archipelago. In order to venture through these islands, players will have their own ship as well as an increased variety of companions who can join them during their adventure.
Another new feature is that choices made in the first game will affect what happens in Pillars of Eternity II. This can be both good or bad depending on the choices made. The example I was shown was that the player ship was covered in bird droppings due to fighting against a god in the first Pillars of Eternity. Of course, those who haven’t played the first game or would prefer a fresh experience won’t have to worry about their previous choices, but the feature provides some thought-provoking options.
In addition to previously made choices, choices made in-game will largely affect the game’s world. Every character in Pillars of Eternity II can be attacked and killed, and the world will react accordingly. This may cause more players to think about their actions before going through with them, or else they may have to deal with some unforeseen consequences.
One other distinct feature I was told about was that every magic item has a different effect, so no two magical items are alike. This beneficial feature seems to be gaining traction in some other upcoming games as well, and is a great way to decrease the amount of repetitive and unwanted items players pick up.
Pillars of Eternity II will launch on PC on May 8, 2018, and has several different editions available for preorder. The Deluxe Edition includes a game download, a digital soundtrack, an in-game pet, a special in-game item, a digital pen and paper starter guide, a digital high-res map and a digital guidebook, while the Obsidian Edition will include all of these in addition to the three DLC content packs, a notepad, postcards, and a cloth map.
A console launch is planned at a later date for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. I’ll be most interested to see how the Nintendo Switch version turns out, as it may be the first game of its kind to release on the console.