Obsidian’s Tyranny Coming November 10th

“I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the oppression of aged Tyranny; who sways, not as it hath power, but as it is suffered,” said WillzShakalaka in his preview of Tyranny [official site], “Come to me, that of this I may speak more.”

Yeah yeah come on mate, enough with your New Games Journalism patter. Tell me if Obsidian’s upcoming fantasy RPG is a good game or some sort of crime. How many spells does it have? What’s in the options menu? Score out of ten? You’re useless.

Here’s how it’s done, Shakespeare, with facts: Tyranny will come out on November 10th, publishers Paradox announced today. Booom. Lick my dust, Willz.

Tyranny, to refresh your memory, is a party-based RPG set in a fantasy world where evil reigns. Our Adam explained in his own preview:

“In your position of privilege in the new world order, you have an enormous amount of responsibility – you’re carrying out big tasks for The Man and The Man is a Bad Man – but you’re not being used as a tool to terrorise the factions and individuals you meet along the way. You’re part of the post-conflict plan, switching between warrior, peacekeeper and diplomat as the situation dictates. The great promise of Tyranny’s story is that it’ll tell the high fantasy version of post-occupation blues, and in what I’ve seen there are some tricky decisions to be made about asserting control of populations and cultures in a power vacuum or the aftermath of brutality.”

See, Shakespeare? Informative. Clear. Interesting. You should take notes.

Tyranny is made by Obsidian Entertainment, the gang behind Pillars of Eternity and Alpha Protocol.

November 10th is when Tyranny will arrive on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’ll run you £34.99/41,99€/$44.99.


  1. Gordon Shock says:

    Haven’t played PoE yet, should I be hopeful?

    • Jeremy says:

      I’m assuming that you are a fan of the BG series, and if that’s the case I would say yes, as PoE hits all of the same beats. Party management, pause and play combat, overwrought end of the world storyline. Ultimately, I felt that PoE was a bit too sprawling which kills any sort of replay, and it ran out of steam towards the end, but it’s a great game and am glad I played through it. My hope is that Tyranny will focus in a bit more, and not try to do too much, which I think would really improve the experience.

      • Gordon Shock says:

        Never played Baldur’s Gate. But I did really enjoy Divinity’s gameplay. In fact, if it wasn’t for the lousy story and sub-par voice-over I would rank it as one of my best.

        • DelrueOfDetroit says:

          PoE has different combat than Divinity. Pillars is real-time with pauses so you basically pause the game then queue up positions, moves and spells and your characters will keep doing what they’re doing until you give them different commands or something interrupts them. It also doesn’t have the massive levels of interactivity that Divinity has nor the whole spells spilling out over everything thing.

        • lesslucid says:

          IMHO, liking Divinity is no guarantee you’ll like PoE. The biggest difference is the combat system; D:OS is turn-based while PoE is realtime-with-pause. I like the former much more: YMMV.

          • Babymech says:

            This. I never felt that the Infinity Engine hit the RPG sweet spot for me, and it actually put me off getting into PoE. Combat-wise, Divinity OS and PoE are very different beasts – I’ll probably give Tyranny a try, but it will be for the story and not the pause-fight-pause-fight combat.

    • Clarksworth says:

      I bought PoE and started playing fairly recently. So far it seems to hit high points of the Infinity Engine games while at the same time not having much of what used to really bug me about them. I’m really enjoying the combat at the early stages, the classes are fun and interesting, and I like being able to hire mercenaries instead of relying on companions.

      It’s not perfect, pausey-real-time-combat, is still kind of janky for all that I enjoy it, and the health/endurance divide seems to be there to make you do something dumb and need to reload, and not all of the text is as good as it thinks it is.

      But I’d say there’s reason to have hope, at least early on it’s a fully decent game that manages to be retro while still learning from the intervening years of game design.

    • DelrueOfDetroit says:

      It’s a good game with the problems mentioned above. Luckily you can skip a lot of the last area if you want.

      The game was very buggy at launch including one major game breaking glitch that would over-level your character. I would keep my eye on this but wait for a few patches.

    • Fry says:

      From what I’ve seen, Tyranny game play (and by the I mostly mean combat) is PoE Lite. The systems are simplified and you max out at four characters in the party as opposed to six.

      I’ll certainly give it a try. A shorter game in the same engine with more focused writing could be great.

    • Zekiel says:

      I’d echo what’s said above – if you like Infinity Engine games you’ll probably love Pillars of Eternity. If you’ve never played IE games, I have no idea how you’d predict whether you’d like it or not.

      One thing to mention is that the writing is *fantastic* – evocative, sometimes thought-provoking, almost always interesting. Its somewhat gloomy in tone (there’s not a lot of humour, although there is some). Its also a great example of world-building – in fact I can’t recall another game world I’ve enjoyed exploring and finding out about as much as this one.

      If those sorts of things float your boat then *definitely* give it a try. (If they sound boring to you, then you can actually skip or ignore most of it, but it feels a bit like you’re ignoring a major strength of the game if you did.)

      • Someoldguy says:

        Provided you don’t hate the combat system (I was quite happy with it) PoE is a fine game. My only suggestion not already made by others would be to learn to identify the backer NPCs early and completely ignore them. Their backer-written text is occasionally flavoursome but is usually not up to Obsidian standards, delivers nothing useful and just obfuscates the storyline. I suspect if Obsidian choose to crowdfund again they won’t look to raise money that way again.

        • malkav11 says:

          They’re everywhere, too. Thankfully they are easily ignored, and my experience improved dramatically once I started doing so.

          • DelrueOfDetroit says:

            Their names have a different coloured font if I recall correctly.

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      FhnuZoag says:

      To put in the contrary point of view to the others, I played Pillars, was very disappointed by it, and so I’m not terribly hopeful here.

      The issue with Pillars was that relative to say Baldur’s Gate, it is very high concept… but the concept is such that the whole doesn’t fall together consistently. There’s no real established characterisation of the main character, and you are basically dropped into this alien world with no friends and very little motivation. The NPCs are written fine in the moment to moment dialogue but fail to be memorable, fail to be opinionated and have agency in the plot. There’s a bunch of other niggles as well. The combat system rapidly grew tedious to me. The UI obfuscates very basic information like rate of attacks. The special NPCs are all weaker than generic recruits, you are also encouraged to trade off narrative involvement with combat effectiveness. The artifact items being weak and boring. And so on.

      But I think the deeper problem is still the writing. Like with Pillars being built on the ‘soul transfer’, Tyranny sounds like another game built on a high concept but I question whether they have a deep notion of why. My worst case scenario for this game is to see a series of conversation options like

      1. EVIL option 1
      2. EVIL option 2
      3. EVIL option 3
      4. Boring good option

      as opposed to the reversed situation for most RPGs.

      Overall I think RPG writing should aim for the situation where the player genuinely finds most of the conversation options difficult to choose between, but having chosen them can feel like they own that decision. I don’t like the idea of replayability for its own sake.

  2. Phantom_Renegade says:

    Wait…. it’s already coming out? I didn’t know they were anywhere near close. I actually expected another kickstarter…

    So I guess it is possible to do a kickstarter and afterwards just keep making games without crowdfunding everything. Might have to pick this up then, even if only to reward that behaviour.

    • JFS says:

      Already? It was scheduled for release in June or July, I believe. Has been on “Soon”(tm) ever since then. I hope it’s nice, a little more focused and less traditional than PoE.

      • Talahar says:

        First time I hear June or July and I’ve been following the game ever since they’ve announced the game in March of this year. All I ever heard was “2016” until they announced the real release date just now. So yeah, glad they actually made their 2016 release window.

      • Werthead says:

        I’m trying to remember where I saw it, but I recall an interview which seemed to be suggesting a shorter game than PoE, maybe 25-30 hours compared to PoE’s 50+. More like Planescape: Torment than Baldur’s Gate in length.

        • Cerulean Shaman says:

          It is a shorter game. The scope is in fact much shorter, but the choices you make in the game will decide the events you see and the companions you come across/befriend/oppose. The idea is to allow a good degree of replayability through this. So I suppose it’s a wider rather than longer game, but instead of artificial widening (replayability through something like what ARPGS use, builds and loot) it’s content-rich replayability, which also means it sort of has a limit of its own.

          I hate this kind of stuff personally… once I reach an ending I tend to accept it as the One True Resolution, but I’ll make the effort here. I loved POE.

          • Zekiel says:

            I’m almost as excited about that as everything else about this game. I *love* Pillars of Eternity, but I’m put off doing a third playthrough because I know it’ll take 100+ hours [the way I play] and about 4 months of my time! I considered trying Divinity Original Sin recently but decided not to based on the reporting playtimes of 80 or 100 hours.

            It always mystifies/frustrates me that RPGs seem the most likely genre of games to have both a long playtime AND high replayability. So the Planescape Torment-style 30-hours-with-lots-of-replayability-potential sounds fantastic to me.

          • Someoldguy says:

            I sympathise. I am quite happy with games where you know you’re going to get to play only 4/10 companion quests in any playthrough. Generally half the companions are people I wouldn’t want to adventure with anyway, so missing their personal content does not worry me. However if the game is so wide that you miss whole areas if you save the wizard instead of the knight it starts to bug me. That’s content I feel I ought to experience to get full satisfaction out of the game, but may necessitate making choices i wouldn’t normally choose to make just to see the stuff I missed.

    • welverin says:

      That’s what publishers are for, apparently the relationship with Paradox was good enough that they wanted another game from Obsidian.

    • Werthead says:

      I think that was everyone’s assumption, but Paradox simply paid Obsidian enough money to make the game without the need for it.

      I think this is also a commissioned job: Paradox wanted Obsidian to make something for them, with Paradox presumably owning the IP and all rights to the game. I suspected that Pillars of Eternity 2 will be crowdfunded again so that Obsidian can continue to own the IP and have full creative control over the series.

      If Tyranny is a big success, it also makes the likelihood of an Obsidian-made Vampire: The Masquerade game a lot more likely.

      • Someoldguy says:

        If the wiki sources are right, this is a game that Obsidian has been shopping around in various forms since 2006 and almost made it to Xbox in 2012 as Stormlands, but got cancelled. With Obsidian having staff coming off PoE that knew the engine well and a developed IP on the shelf that hadn’t quite been realised it has been relatively easy to stitch it together into a finished product. It will be interesting to see if Obsidian has relinquished rights to the IP as part of their publishing deal or not. Fingers crossed it’ll be a relatively bug free launch. With no need to kickstart this one I’ll be awaiting post-release reviews before purchasing, just to be safe.

    • Hobbes says:

      *looks over at Fig, InXile, DoubleFine*

      What amazes me is that people don’t grasp that frontloading your risk onto your consumers is amazingly bad practice yet they keep falling for it. Yes, when it’s your first project and you’re trying to make that breakout hit, that’s reasonable, but when you’ve already sold well on your titles and then you have the audacity to go “You know what, we’ll just keep shunting the risk over to the customers because we lack the spine to put much of our own coin into the ring from now on” that’s when things get screwed up.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        > yet they keep falling for it.

        Yes, I keep falling for the dastardly plan of helping small studios stay alive and making titles the big publishers are uninterested in.

        Woe is me.

        • Zekiel says:

          Using your money to help fund the creation of something you’re interested in seeing? You fool!

      • Sonntam says:

        After seeing Obsidian shouldering the risks of so many publisher games, I will gladly throw my thirty bucks at them.

        Seriously, Obsidian always gets left with shitty contracts with short development times, publisher looking over their shoulder and making creative decisions for them. It’s frustrating to look at Obsidian’s games and see a lot of games where Obsidian itself made mistakes, but then they were exacerbated by publishers.

        Same goes for indie gaming companies. Either they align themselves with a publisher in hopes of stable money flow and good management or they take the Kickstarter route. Obsidian way of doing business (making one-time contracts with publishers) is very rare for a good reason: it leaves the company vulnerable, publishers don’t trust the outside firm and that’s why the constraints on the company are too high.

      • Yachmenev says:

        Obsidians Feargus Urquhart is part of Fig’s advisory board, and he has stated that Obsidian will use Fig for future crowdfunded projects. That they don’t use it for all doesn’t mean that they won’t for some of them.

  3. physicalist says:

    They should have released two days earlier. “Tyranny coming November 8th!” – That would really get people’s attention!

  4. Deviija says:

    It’s coming out already? Wow. I admit I didn’t see that coming so soon.

  5. Stepout says:

    I loved Pillars of Eternity, it was my favorite game of 2015. Everything I have read about Tyranny sounds great EXCEPT apparently it doesn’t have friendly fire. I don’t know about that one. I absolutely LOVED the combat in PoE and I think it’s the best RTwP combat there is by a country mile. But being able to just throw all of your spells willy-nilly without worrying about player positions? It just doesn’t seem right. Hopefully I’m wrong, but that little change is enough for it to not be an instant buy for me.

    • Zekiel says:

      I agree. It sounds very nitpicky, but the tactical consideration of having to avoid hitting your allies actually adds rather a lot to combat (particularly if combined with making positioning important, like flanking).

      Hopefully the mechanics will make up for this loss in other ways though.

      (Its not an instant buy for me either, but that’s more because I never buy RPGs too quickly – in a sprawling game there are *always* bugs to be squashed, and that’s not getting at Obsidian particularly)

      • malkav11 says:

        I think it adds a lot…to turn-based combat. In real-time it’s a fast route to ensuring I never use those spells. There’s just too much messing with your ability to position yourself outside the blast radius in real time combat. Or anyway, there certainly was in Baldur’s Gate and Pillars of Eternity. I was less bothered in Dragon Age: Origins, but I think that was because my party for that game was three mages and Shale, who could pretty rapidly just tank spell hits without much worry. And then I turned it off in later games in that series because they abandoned any sense of tactics and started having people teleport around and/or spawn out of thin air. :P

  6. GGiyo says:

    “I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the oppression of aged Tyranny; who sways, not as it hath power, but as it is suffered,” said WillzShakalaka

    This sounded more stupid and pretentious than intelligent. Does he really expect gamers to read this. Try hard. Git gud journalists. Try not to sound like film critics.

    • amblingalong says:

      Please, please, please tell me this is a troll.

      • DoctorDaddy says:

        ok! That was a troll.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        Sadly no, this is worse than a troll. This is someone who most likely genuinely believes that a “good” review reads thus:

        “Tyranny runs at a capped 60fps, has a playtime of approximately 49 hours, with one main quest and 127 side quests. The cursor has a 0.28 second latency and features some small visual artifacts on AMD hardware while scrolling the screen.

        It is an objectively good game with a rating of 8.8 out of 10.

        P.S. It features one sock-puppet joke.”

      • xsikal says:

        It pretty much *has* to be a troll. I hope.

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        zapatapon says:

        I suspect this is simply humour, not trolling.

    • Werthead says:

      “Does he really expect gamers to read this”

      Since the name of the article writer is very clearly displayed at the top of the article, I can only assume from context that you are asking if William Shakespeare was expecting gamers to read this article.


      • Robert The Rebuilder says:

        Or, more specifically, expecting gamers to read King Lear.

  7. DefaultVillain says:

    Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale got me hooked on RPGs, way back when they came out, and I’ve played all the Infinity Engine games since. So I was really looking forward to PoE.

    Pillars of Eternity was really disappointing, because there was no player agency. Nothing ever got resolved, in the entire game. All of the major plotlines (and a lot of the minor ones too, like companion plots) ended with a shrug and a “well, I guess that’s it, then.” You, the player, never meaningfully changed anything, influenced anyone, became a part of anything, or had any effect on the world besides a single, incredibly anti-climatic boss level right at the end. And all the changes you ‘potentially’ made on the world in the final dialogue tree have no significant impact on the game, because you never get to see them. The game ends right after, so you don’t even get to enjoy your victory. Pillars of Eternity felt like I was playing the Chosen Groupie, who always showed up just in time to see the plot unfold but never got to actually do anything significant.

    Tyranny has me extremely excited because it looks to be changing that right from the start. You get to make meaningful decisions about the history of the world right at the character creation screen, you have the option to start your own faction as the game progresses, and you have the ability to make significant decisions early on in the game whose consequences will last for the duration of the game. That’s what an RPG should be, to me, and I’m very supportive of Obsidian taking the opposite approach that Pillars of Eternity did. It’s something I think I’ll enjoy significantly more, and I can’t wait for it to release.

    • Zekiel says:

      That’s an interesting perspective. I kinda see what you mean about agency in PoE, but I think you’re being a bit harsh.

      In my second playthrough I saved Gilded Vale from its vile tyrant (eventually), and that made a difference to the world (which was reflected in the ending slides).

      I also influenced a couple of my companions (Hirvaius & Grieving Mother) which made a small personal difference to their lives. I could have made different choices which would have led to different outcomes for them.

      On the other hand, I agree that in the main plot your character frustratingly lacks impact until the very very end (when you can’t see its effects). You spend most of the game uncovering stuff that’s already happened, and occasionally frustratingly witnessing stuff unfolding that you can’t affect.

      I fully agree that Tyranny’s “make choices about the state of the world during character creation” thing sounds extremely interesting.

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      FhnuZoag says:

      Tyranny has me extremely excited because it looks to be changing that right from the start. You get to make meaningful decisions about the history of the world right at the character creation screen, you have the option to start your own faction as the game progresses, and you have the ability to make significant decisions early on in the game whose consequences will last for the duration of the game. That’s what an RPG should be, to me, and I’m very supportive of Obsidian taking the opposite approach that Pillars of Eternity did. It’s something I think I’ll enjoy significantly more, and I can’t wait for it to release.

      See, this is a turn-off for me. It’s a turn off because I find that player choices in games are good if they allow the players to react to what they understand of the game world. A choice that is just handed to you at the start of the game, without context or motivation, is a lot weaker.

      If you are deciding whether to kill a guy 10 hours into the game having accompanied him for half of that, that could be a difficult and interesting decision. If you are just deciding ‘okay, this is gonna be my run where the guy is dead, I’ll play again with him alive’ that’s a far weaker decision that brings the artificiality of the narrative into sharp relief. You might as well just play another game instead of replaying.

      The other thing is that these ‘long term consequences’ are usually positioned at the start of the game to imply that they don’t matter. Because of the way games are structured, you can’t really have an unpredictable exploding out of consequences. The broad arc of the story has to still lead you to the same endgame. They might do it differently with this game, but I’ll have to see it to believe it. Most likely they’ll just open/shut down a few sidequests here and there.

    • xsikal says:

      I felt that way about the entire main plot of POE… very little agency and even less investment, despite the writers trying to tell me I was invested (through snippets of past lives where I had even LESS agency).

  8. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    looks like it’s a real bargain in pounds

  9. Emeraude says:

    Glad we have a date.

    Can’t wait for that one.

  10. Niko says:

    Minor nitpick: hope the tooltip writer won’t be the same as in Pillars of Eternity, who, as I suspect, went on a personal crusade against singular “they”, using clumsy and contrived “he or she”, “his or hers” everywhere.

  11. FireStorm1010 says:

    It makes me think of the glen cook book serie black company

  12. jrodman says:

    It’s probably wrong of me, but I misread the title as “Tranny” and in the context of “idle and fond bondage in the oppression of aged Tranny” I was pretty intrigued as to wtf was going on.

    Maybe it’s offensive, but I’ve been living and working with trans people long enough and only really encounter the term in a knowing joking way.

    As for the actual game, the setting of being in the employ of a baddy who runs the show to do bad things. These sorts of stories usually play out with the player turning his or her back on the regime and becoming an outcast. It’s an okay structure, but I wonder about a game where that isn’t really an option.