Pillars of Eternity - PC

Release Date:

26 March 2015

Viewing UK:

Also on USA.


In Pillars of Eternity, recapture the thrill of exploration, adventure, and leading your own band of adventurers across an original fantasy realm. Journey into the depths of monster-infested dungeons in search of lost treasures and ancient mysteries. Gather your party, venture forth, and embrace adventure as you recapture the wonder and nostalgia of Pillars of Eternity. Choose to play as one of the six playable races: Human, Aumaua, Dwarf, Elf, Godlike, and Orlan. Then choose to play as one of the eleven unique classes, including Barbarian, Wizard, Paladin, Chanter and more.

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'Pillars of Eternity' on the PC was launched on March 26th, 2015, upon release the game met immediate critical acclaim and it was with a full heart that we took to the title. The game was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and it seeks to blend several different RPG styles into one cohesive experience. If you were a fan of the 'Baldur's Gate' games then you will be sure to find something interesting in 'Eternity'. Without any further ado let's jump right into the review and get talking!

The top down RPG dungeon crawler is as intrinsic to video games as the very controller with which we've played them. Top down crawlers made their mark on video gaming history with some impressive games like 'Diablo' and 'Baldur's Gate'. The genre seeks to blend all of the entertaining aspects of traditional RPGs (epic stories, fantastical creatures, different classes) alongside an easy to learn but hard to master combat system. Looking at 'Pillars of Eternity' we could easily lampshade it as another top down crawler, but that would be doing a disservice to the genre's long and storied history. It all starts back in 1998.

'98 was the year that 'Baldur's Gate' hit shelves. The game itself came out to rather quiet anticipation, with nobody truly knowing how big of an impact it would have on gaming. In truth, 'Baldur's Gate' created an entire genre. The top down, party based RPG crawlers that we know and love started back then. Just because it was new doesn't mean that the title had an easy time finding success. It took doing several different things well otherwise it would not have caught on. The game blended gorgeous artwork with a detailed setting, fun characters, and a world rife with exploration and tactical fighting segments. 'Gate' soon led to titles like 'Planescape' and 'Icewind Dale' and before we knew it the RPG was firmly established on the personal computer.

But in a blink of an eye the third party isometric RPG was gone. Done in by fancy 3D graphics and developers wanting to push technical limits. And the genre has largely stayed that way. The type of game that 'Baldur's Gate' influenced was relegated to niche titles and relatively cult like followers. But then 'Diablo' came back. And then third party game development became even bigger and now more and more gamers are finding their way back to these storied classics. Digital distribution and crowd funded game development was integral in bringing 'Pillar of Eternity' to our screen.

A cursory glance at 'Pillar of Eternity' could lead you to think that the title is merely a cash in on an established and easy to manufacture genre. It isn't. That isn't to say that the developers turned totally away from the 'Dungeons and Dragons' style of game that was so popular almost 20 years ago. Instead, 'Pillar of Eternity' picks when it wants to be the great modern RPG and when it wants to adhere to the classics. Some of the improvements that Obsidian forced into the title make it a fantastic experience regardless of the niche that it sits in.

We should speak primarily to the combat in 'Pillar of Eternity'. If you are familiar with the genre of top down dungeon crawlers then you know how important it is to get this basic element correct. 'Pillars' doesn't flinch away from the task and they, indeed, actually push the envelope a little bit. Rather than being a click spree of aggressive hack and slash, Obsidian pushed a more tactical approach to your dungeon crawling madness. The system is custom built for the game and shines so bright when enemies are filling up your screen.

Instead of being limited to a clumsy sorta-turn-based system, 'Pillar of Eternity' instead puts you almost in full on MMO mode. At the bottom of the screen you have a variety of attacks that can be used in real time battle, though they are all fixed with their own different cool downs. The different moves that you can employ during battle are as limited as your imagination, almost. You can send out the over arching area of effect attacks: buffs and debuffs, big damage, little damage, knockdowns, particle attacks. Other special attacks that you have can be limited per encounter that you face. So your super special techniques are better off being marshaled for the proper time to use them. And it is sometimes hard to figure out when the right time is. Combat is varied in this game and the difficulty never sticks to any one level. You'll feel comfortable at some points before sweating out a battle with a boss that pushes you to your limit. Your enemies are diverse in both their skill level and their abilities, and it seems like they are mixed well enough to hide their weaknesses behind another's strengths.

We have to applaud Obsidian Entertainment for their clear commitment to getting the control and interface section of this game now. In RPG's it is too easy, seemingly of late, to over render your HUD. You don't want the HUD to fill up too much of the screen nor do you want it to be so small that interpretation becomes difficult. Instead 'Pillar of Eternity' carefully allocates its space so that you are never wasting movements or squinting your eyes to figure out what certain things do. You'll primarily keep your eyes focused on the hotbar at the bottom of the screen as that is where most of your work happens.

Far from just an RPG, 'Pillar of Eternity' is also a beautiful game. The title has been carefully rendered so as to show off the work of the amazing artists called in on the job. Textures are unique and vibrant and the colors are appropriately subdued for the gritty and violent world that we exist in. The title itself is gorgeous. The production values are clearly all there and that is surprising as this is far from a AAA title.

We suggest 'Pillar of Eternity' to any fans of the RPG and isometric crawler genre.

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