It feels like it was just yesterday when the world turned to crowdfunding to spur the creation of a new generation of old-school CRPGs. We were so desperate for something, anything on the level of Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment again. Now, we’re drowning in them, struggling to find the free time to finish one before the next crashes across the bow. We’re still lurching from Divinity: Original Sin 2.
The next big impact looks to be Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, seafaring sequel to Obsidian’s broadly land-bound game of party management, dungeon crawling and extensive dialogue trees. While it might have missed its initial release date by a little, it’s back on track and due for a May 8th release, and we’ve got one more trailer for you to peruse; probably not the last, but packed deep with interesting tidbits.
Sailing! Party management! Dragon-thingies! Pretty much all stuff we knew, but it’s nice to see it all together and looking so slick. Despite the newfound focus on globe-trotting adventure, scuffles with piratical sorts and generally doing dungeons’y and dragons stuff but on the high seas, this does carry on directly from the end of the original Pillars of Eternity, and your decisions in the first game do matter.
On that note, one feature that doesn’t get mentioned in the trailer is, oddly enough, one of the most exciting. As detailed by director Josh Sawyer on Twitter, rather than force you to replay the entire (enormous) first game again, you can either create a custom save-profile from a variety of toggles and options during character creation, or you can pick from a handful of pre-defined starting templates. While many will start their adventures using the ‘everything’s fixed, all sidequests done’ preset, the one that excites me the most is ‘Everything Bad’.
If you pick the Everything Bad starting point, you will begin the game in the absolute worst case survival scenario. You may have somehow lived through the first game, but any of your companions who could have possibly died will be dead. On top of that, you’ll have somehow managed to piss off every single god, screw up every side-story arc, and basically paint a big shiny target on yourself. If you’re going to play on hard mode mechanically, you might as well do it thematically as well. I just hope that they come up with a better solution to missing companion characters than Mass Effect 3’s ‘Here’s an equivalent but personality-free stand-in’.