Obsidian is still putting the finishing touches on Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, but we managed to play a snippet of it before its April 3 release. After a few hours with the game, it’s apparent that RPG fans are in for another enjoyable ride in Obsidian’s fantasy world.
Prior to starting our journey, we had to make a new character. One of the newest additions to Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is the ability to make multi-class characters. This allows you to have the benefits (and drawbacks) of two different classes, which gives you access to more abilities and specialties. For our playthrough, we created a Brute-class elf (a combination of a Fighter and Barbarian). With overwhelming strength, we had the potential to be a powerful character on the battlefield.
The beta preview put us in the island of Tikawara, which is home to the indigenous Huana tribe. We weren’t the only outsiders on the island at the time. Representatives of the Vailian Trading Company used the beach as a trading post, and its remaining member gave us our first and main quest. We had to travel to another island called Poko Kohara in order to search for the missing members of the company. They disappeared under mysterious circumstances, so it was more than likely that we would encounter hostile forces.
The story and characters are the most important part of an RPG, especially in a game such as Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. Even with our small amount of time with the game, Obsidian easily hooked us into the fantasy world. Some foreign words in important conversations are highlighted to provide background information about its meaning. We also found some journals that told us the fate of the lost members of the Vailian Trading Company. The developers created such as a beautiful and mysterious world, and it’s only right that there are multiple ways for you to discover more about it.
Because it’s an RPG, we opted to explore Tikaware first before going to Poko Kohara. By talking to a few people we managed to obtain two other quests. If you played the first game, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire should be familiar in terms of its interface and controls. However, there are a few improvements to the overall experience, specifically during travel. When moving between major settlements, the game transitions to a large map screen. In the case of Tikawara, this screen allows you to travel from one end of the island to the other in less than a minute. During this stage, you can also visit other areas of interest, find additional loot, or run into a random encounter. It streamlines the experience so that you reach your destination faster, but it also provides a random chance to get unexpected items or fight enemies.
Traveling to other parts of Tikaware also gave us the chance to experience combat, which is somewhat similar to the first game. You can still micromanage and utilize the attacks and actions of each member in the party or leave it to the “A.I. script.” Some players might be wary of the computer controlling your party in this game, but Obsidian improved it and implemented a more detailed system. You can create multiple move sets that will tell your character to perform specific actions. For instance, you can tell your party’s healer to cast a spell on an ally whose health is below 25 percent or command your main fighter to use its Knock Down ability on a foe with melee range. You can even set the priority of these commands so that some attacks or spells will take precedence over other abilities. There are multiple conditional scenarios to choose from, which means that you can create a different sets for every type of encounter. If you don’t want to micromanage your characters during combat, we suggest you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the script to get the most of out the A.I.-controlled encounters.
One notable addition to the game is your ship, which also serves as a mobile base. In order to travel to Poko Kohara we had to “steer” it by utilizing a similar map screen to the one we used when we traveled across Tikawara. Sailing across the open sea also meant that we could run into hostile ships and engage in combat. However, ship-to-ship fighting is handled differently in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. A small, yet simple “radar” will appear at the bottom of your screen to show your ship’s orientation in relation to the enemy vessel. Based on different text prompts you can attempt to run away or steer your ship close enough to the enemy and attempt to sink them. This method stays true to the Obsidian’s text-based approach to conversations and major encounters. You might not get the hang of it the first time around so it’s best to save before you embark on a naval voyage.
Simply put, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire seems on track to be another successful RPG. Obsidian made improvements to existing elements, such as graphics, combat, and world-building while also adding new mechanics in the form of naval combat and overall travel across the world. If you were intrigued by the first game, then its sequel will undoubtedly keep you hooked for hours on end. April 3 is still a few weeks away, and you can still play through the original Pillars of Eternity before you embark on the next chapter in Obsidian’s latest work.