Pillars of Eternity 2 approaches with a shiny new trailer

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

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’.

Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire is coming to Windows, Mac, and Linux via Steam and GOG, priced at £33/€46/$50.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Normally I frown on pre-orders, but I’m a fig investor and need my nest egg back, so everyone buy five copies of this.

    In all seriousness, it looks quite exciting, more than I would have asked for, and the companion relationships thing seems really good, looking to raise the bar on ‘mood tracking’ and companion romance in the same way that Witcher 3 did on average sidequest quality; I don’t know how succesful it has been, but it’s such a difficult problem to solve that nobody has even *tried* to do better than Bioware’s low bar in the last 15 years.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Didn’t Alpha Protocol already annihilate that bar? The NPC interactions in that are still without peer.

      • LexW1 says:

        Alpha Protocol is superb in the way it tells the story but it doesn’t have particularly complex mood/relationship tracking or anything, and has no tracking for interrelationships between NPCs and so on. The biggest things it does are highly predictable response tone (Borne/Bond/Bauer) and limited response time, which work extremely well. Bioware learned a bit from the response-tone stuff and implemented a decent take on it in DA2 and DA:I, but never dared try the limited response times (which is a pity, really). They also completely screwed up a take on response tone in ME:A but that was a generally screwed up game.

        So this is kind of to the side of the approach AP took. It’s more about if these NPCs argued with each other back then, will they argue further now and so on, what difference will your intervention make, what difference will stuff they’ve experienced make, and so on. That’s not something that’s really ever been attempted in depth before. There’s always been a bit of inter-party banter and sometimes arguments and so on in various games, but you rarely see stuff like NPCs relating to each other and certainly not in a complex way (it tends to be as simple as “If player does not romance this NPCs, other NPC will romance that NPC”). Bioware has told some decent stories of NPC friendship, but they’re typically just linear background things (DA:I has the most complex ones IIRC).

        Sigh all this talk of Bioware reminded me of the mysterious and probably failing Anthem. By the time we even hear what that game is about Destiny 2 may no longer be a shit game and Anthem will have to work hard to even get any market share.

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      Did you go in with both feet first?

      If you don’t mind, in time, it would be very interesting to hear how this Fig campaign pans out.
      It would be a lot of fun if you actually ended up making a buck or two.

  2. Someoldguy says:

    D:OS2 was more than six months ago. Six! If you can’t manage a huge RPG game every quarter you must be a reviewer with other game genres to play, or somebody with kids, because any self respecting student throwing away their £9k/year tuition fees ought to be able to get through one a month, at least. That’s with Friday nights spent getting legless in the student bar and Sundays spent playing real RPGs with books, dice and shit.

    Oh okay, between being tempted into a few non-RPGs and some time spent on D&D Online, I haven’t actually finished D:OS2 yet. But that doesn’t stop me wanting there to be a good RPG every quarter so I can cherry pick between them and students get the option of under-performing in their studies the way we all did a quarter of a century ago!

    • Scelous says:

      I agree, without the jokiness. I’m a 36 year old man, and it takes me about a week to beat one of these rpgs. Seeings how rpgs are my most favorite genre, I am absolutely starved for more of them.

      You’re right that D:OS2 came out almost half a year ago (and I didn’t even like the game). There exist people — full-grown adults — who can play and beat more than two games a year.

      • markerikson says:

        I too, am a 36 year old man. With two kids and a full time job. I backed both PoE and Torment on Kickstarter back before I had kids. I have both installed, but have not played more than a few minutes of either. I’m lucky if I can manage 4-6 hours of gaming a week. Diving into a huge, sprawling RPG would likely take me all year to finish, with a solid chance I’d have forgotten how the story started by the time I got to the end.

        I did play Tyranny specifically because it was billed as a shorter RPG, and I really enjoyed it. I recommend it to everyone. But even that took me two months.

        I’ve managed more than two games a year the last couple of years, but only because I’ve been limiting myself to shorter games, and yeah, only one of them was an RPG. (I’m currently playing Prey, and it’s turned out to be considerably longer than I thought it would be, so it’s taking me months as well.)

        • jozinho says:

          Exactly this. I’ve almost stopped RPGs for these reasons, and find myself dropping any open world games.

          • BobbyDylan says:

            This. And I only got 1 child, and I haven’t beaten POE1, I haven’t started DOS2 or torment. I wont be buying this not cos it doesn’t deserve my money, but because I just don’t have time.

        • Premium User Badge

          Earl-Grey says:

          In the same boat, 30 not 36 though.
          1x 2.5 year old daughter.
          Finding time, hell finding the energy, for games can be challenging.

          You want to know what I did last week?

          I stayed up til 5am playing Bloodborne, then slept an hour before dropping of at daycare and sodding off to work.
          Want to know how many days after that I had crippling headaches? Two.
          Want to know how many days after that I was king of grumpy as shit mountain?

          I’ve been wanting to play Witcher 3 since it came out, but I’m resigned to the knowledge that I’ll probably not be able to play it for the next 16 years.
          But, if we’re all still here by then, affording a computer to run it should be dirt cheap so yay!

          • khamul says:

            It gets easier. It might not get *easy*, but my boys are 7 and 10. These days, evenings are mostly a matter of pop them in bed, and go clean the kitchen – and after that, if you’re lucky, there’s an hour or so.

            Of course, you might prefer to spend that time with your partner. My ex did me the favour of realigning my priorities on that score by buggering off with another man, but you know, some would say that finding a co-op game to play together is an even *better* plan.

            Also, the point where the kids are old enough to enjoy proper games is quite fun. My eldest is rather enjoying conquering the Old World as Archaeon, and my youngest was quite taken by the Talos Principle. Good times!

          • Unclepauly says:

            If one night of no-sleep affects you that much you need to get your health in better order. Exercise and cut out all the junk, take some vit D and fish oil along with a good macro and micro nutrient profile. Easy mode is eat your fruits n veggies along with grass fed proteins. You’d be surprised how little sleep you need when your health is in order.

        • Premium User Badge

          Big Dunc says:

          I’m pretty much in the same boat. I have 3 young children and also have about 4-6 hours a week for gaming if I’m lucky. I’m currently using that time to clear some of my backlog by playing shorter games like point and click adventures, but I’ve also got some grand strategy games and long RPGs that have been untouched for years. Like you, I’m reluctant to start them because the time investment is so large.

          • Calculon says:

            I’ve got 3 kids, 4,2 & 1. As it stands at the moment I have maybe 1-2 hours a week to play between children, work/commuting and community obligations.

            I tried Victoria 2 recently (thrust should be right up my alley) but I was too tired to learn it. I stick to Grand Strategies (that I know) for the most part – because I can just shut them off, and quick games.

            I imagine it changes as they get older and become more independent- but they will always be the priority over gaming

        • nanotechnics says:

          I have always wondered, how does gaming and married life with kids go together. I’m not married yet, and i can’t imagine the possibility of gaming in some quiet atmosphere like single people do, after you get married.

          Really, how does gaming and married life go together?, i’d like to get some insight.

          • gi_ty says:

            Well I have a friend who is an ER nurse, married with 2 kids 3, and 8, and fosters two teens. We still manage to play Stellaris, Rocket League TW:W2 campaings, he carried me through all 3 Dark Souls as well. I would think the key is to foster some teens for occasional babysitting duty (they also love having multiple gaming pc’s and consoles) and have a spouse with a borderline obsessive hobby as well lol.

          • briangw says:

            Not to 1 + everybody but I have four kids. Although the oldest (girl, 17) is hanging out in the basement with her boyfriend as my oldest son keeps an eye on her. So maybe three that I have to pay attention to. The only time I have to game is when everyone is in bed after 9pm so my paltry 30 minutes to an hour of game time barely nets me enough time to get the mechanics down of a game like Hearts of Iron IV. 😞

    • Don Reba says:

      D:OS2 was more than six months ago. Six!

      I’ll get around to starting it any month, now, sunny.

      • Cyrus says:

        Same. Bought it last week since I got a 25% off check on Steam. Best price thus far! Been waiting for it for a while now so finally.

  3. oyog says:

    Videogame Music!

  4. Blowingsand says:

    Deeply, discounted White March DLCs would persuade me to embrace their celebratory spirit.

  5. woodsey says:

    I love the look of this but I really struggled to get to grips with the original’s combat. Too proud to drop it down to Story Time (after starting on Easy, no less), I gave up after a few hours.

    Part of it is me being a bit thick, no doubt, but I do think they could do with rethinking their UI and tutorial delivery.

    Even basic stuff, like the character sheet only using a fifth of the screen so that all the main stats are needlessly abbreviated (I can’t be the only one who reflexively reads PER as Personality, can I?) makes parsing everything that little bit harder.

    I’m playing Torment right now and while I know its using simpler rules it is so much more readable.

    • Mikemcn says:

      There is so very little to feel satisfied about in the combat, each character has a million powers none of which do much of anything dramatic, and what is happening is obfuscated to point that it’s impossible to keep up with. Your enemy might have 12 debuffs on him at once and you’ll only know what half of them even mean or what caused them!

      As for the UI, i remember POE’s character creation was full of highlighted words with informative tooltips about what each term meant, but in the main game that was nowhere to be found, helpful information got pushed to the codex and outside of context, it was very hard to glean anything from. I wish i knew why they got rid of that tooltip system =(

      • Cyrus says:

        Yeah, it seems like Priests were mandatory due to the buffs and such you mentioned.
        It’s a lot to keep track of in my opinion.

      • skyst says:

        PoE combat is far from how you describe it. It can be complex and it assumes that you bother to learn what the spells and abilities do, but if you fail to keep track of these things, that’s on you – it’s not a shortcoming of the game!

        There seems to be this trend of people who don’t really want complex RPGs playing them and then being vocal about how they’re too hard or too complex for them. Then our BGs turn into NWNs, our Fallouts turn into Fallout 4s and our PoE parties get reduced from 6 characters to 5. The complexity and wealth of options in PoE’s combat, more in the expansions than the base game, are what make it great! Complexity is a feature not a failure.

        And to Cyrus, yes, Priests are kind of mandatory. Or a Druid can fill in as the divine caster. Haven’t you played a game like this before?

        • mlcarter815 says:

          The combat is the least interesting part of this style of RPG, in my opinion.

        • Cyrus says:

          Admittedly, no. Closest is DA: Orgins. I have played some Baldur’s Gate 2, but I find the UI and gameplay to be a bit clunky so I gave up on it. Unsure if the enhanced edition is any different in those aspects. Although I might give it another shot sometime.

          I just think there a tad bit too many spells in the repertoire, whether there’s the Wizard or Priest, while the Warrior has barely none! You get 5-6 new abilities with every level up with mentioned classes, so when approaching level 12 you have more than you bargained for.

          • skyst says:

            PoE declared itself as a classic RPG along the lines of BG, PST and IWD from the initial KS pitch. They also discuss the game’s ‘mature themes’ numerous times in the pitch and over the years leading up to relase. I can’t see the sense in bothering to write a post about disliking a game like this because of combat complexity or thematically dark content when these are two of the most advertised aspects of the game. It’s like buying Super Mario Bros and posting about how you wish there was less focus on platforming.

        • Coming Second says:

          If a game is incredibly fiddly and arcane, shoves all of its relevant information into tightly-written codices then fails to adequately join it all up, it’s not the fault of the player for finding it frustrating.

          PoE came across to me as both uncompromising and unwelcoming – a wet dream for board game and old-style RPG enthusiasts that wasn’t interested in reaching any other audience. It had typically A Grade Obsidian writing, but the story it told was grindingly unpleasant. Soulless children described in remorseless detail, thanks.

          Which is perfectly fine, games shouldn’t be designed to try and please everyone. But every time somebody enthuses about PoE, I remember I stopped playing it because it felt like the game didn’t particularly want me to play it.

        • nanotechnics says:

          I’m of the same opinion, even though the combat is complicated, it’s very satisfying to execute a well thought out plan. I played both PoE and Tyranny and even though Tyranny’s combat was more accessible, PoE’s was no less fun.

          • khamul says:

            Mmmm. There’s lots to love about DnD – and I *do* love it – but it’s just not the best combat system out there. If you don’t take it seriously, then it’s just too fiddly and detailed. And if you *do* take it seriously, it just invites an obsessive fixation with mechanics which ends up detracting from story and atmosphere.

            I think Divinity Original Sin and XCOM have done fantastic jobs of building small-team tactical videogame combat systems, and POE is not even near close.

            But… there’s nothing wrong with loving DnD, and there’s nothing wrong with building a game for that market.

  6. SaintAn says:

    Ugh, I really need to play the first. Every time I see something about the sequel I feel the need to rush through the first one to get ready. Sadly I’m OCD about RP and have trouble picking races and classes and end up recreating my character over and over. It’s really hard to create a character for RP when you don’t know anything about the world and there’s no encyclopedia with links from the text in the game, so I have no idea what some of the stuff in my backstory is.

    I seriously have 20 hours played and that’s mostly just making characters over and over. I made it to the first town once and recruited the wizard, dog, and sexy man.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      I can relate to all that.

      In addition ive an issue with all these Baldurs Gate-a-likes (Tides/Pillars/Divinity etc). I love them but as soon as i get into a fight that proves to be a bit much for my party I bang the difficulty down to easy, at which point the combat becomes a cakewalk and then a monotonous chore and i’ll drift away from the game. I’m my own worst enemy really

    • hungrycookpot says:

      My friend gave it to me for free, and to my shame I still haven’t done more than the first 2 hours or so. I loved BG and I love CRPGs, but I just can’t get into it for some reason! I’ll have to give it another shot after KCD

    • tapette101 says:

      My god I felt like reading myself there. I always thought I was the only one… I can’t stick with a character. Even if I get this cool new one in my party with awesome spells, I just restart and pick his class. Over, and over. PoE is worse because the game is like 60h long, but I managed to finish it (with like a gazillion hours on it), on the 5th or 6th character creation. Thank god The Witcher 3 imposed a character…

  7. nanotechnics says:

    Can’t say i wasn’t disappointed by the delay. But i’m totally going to pre-order this. It’s shaping up to be quite well.

  8. kud13 says:

    Hmm, I still need to play dig up my old save and replay with White March. I enjoyed the original and finished it, but then Witcher 3 came out and stole almost half a year of my life.

    The problem with that original save was that I made my char a Cypher, so I had very little gameplay reason to bring one of the best-written companions on actual adventures with me.

    And then I gotta get back into Torment (I started it on release day, but couldn’t commit enough time to it then, and it ended up drifting into the dank pit of backlog).
    And then there’s a Tyranny and the Divinities…

    I think I might try for a 2019 catch-up with isometric RPGs. This year is for euro-jank RPGs and action/adventures.

  9. Disgruntled Goat says:

    I don’t even remember any of the decisions I made in the first game, so carrying them over doesn’t matter to me.

    Playing the first Pillars was like reading a 60-hour lore codex. Obsidian spent a huge amount of time building their world, let’s hope they find an interesting story to put into it this time around.

    • Abacus says:

      They did put in a good story, quite a few in fact, and The White March is up there with The Witcher 3’s Hearts of Stone in achieving some really solid thematic highs.

  10. Maxheadroom says:

    i had half an eye on this and was looking forward to picking it up but after seeing the much touted naval combat im much more hesitant

    im fine with issuing orders and seeing them carried out (i wasnt expecting some Black Flag mini game), but what they’ve got looks so tedious and repetitive i hoped it was a place holder.
    Rules of Engagement did order-based *ship combat better 25 years ago

    *admissibly spaceships but the principle was the same