Sales of Pillars Of Eternity 2: Deadfire were disappointing enough that Obsidian Entertainment would need to “re-examine the entire format of the game” before making a hypothetical third, game director Josh Sawyer has suggested. Writing in response to a fan asking after a third game, Sawyer explained that the sequel sold worse than the original, and he’d need to understand why before they were to do another in the same style. He makes clear that whether Pillars 3 happens is not a decision he himself has control over, but this does sound like the series is at least taking a break.
“That is not something that I get to decide, but I do think that the relatively low sales of Deadfire mean that if we consider making another Pillars game in this style, we’re going to have to re-examine the entire format of the game,” Sawyer answered on his blog on Friday.
“It is difficult to know exactly why a sequel sells worse than its predecessor if both games review relatively well,” he said.
“The problem is that without really understanding the reason(s), it’s hard to know how to move forward. It would be easier in some ways if Deadfire were also a colossal critical failure and we could point to the massive screw-ups that we needed to address.”
He raises a few ideas and potential issues–including the main plot, the low difficulty at launch, that its combat is real-time with pausing rather than turn-based, that the first game might have sufficiently scratched that nostalgic itch for many people–but ultimately he doesn’t know why.
This lack of confidence to pin down a cause, he says, “is one of several reasons why I am leery about trying to direct a sequel.” Which makes sense with such a big financial and creative proposition.
Our former John (RPS in peace) was one of those who liked the original Pillars more than its sequel. He adored 2015’s game, calling it “a classic in every sense” in his Pillars Of Eternity review. Come 2018, his Pillars of Eternity 2 review liked parts but found much to be “swings and misses”. He explained:
“The naval battles are beautifully delivered, but almost immediately redundant, and don’t meaningfully impact a boarding raid. The story is enormous and intricate, but doesn’t feel weighty or important. The combat is astonishingly detailed, but played at the standard setting rarely requires you to use its many mechanisms.”
It wasn’t bad, he just preferred the first one.
There’s no shame in a series ending, mind. Or even not becoming a series in the first place. Developers and fans may wish to explore a game’s world and systems more, and it can certainly be easier for devs to build on existing foundations, but ah I rarely mourn the sequels we never see. It’s okay for things to end.