Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Review

Author: Andrea "Skree" Giongiani
Date: 2020-07-31 00:21:43
The importance of Pillars of Eternity in the world of classic role-playing games is undeniable, and it is at least partly thanks to the Obsidian game that there has been a revival in the last few years of the genre after a long stagnant period. With a deep plot, well-written characters (especially those created by Avellone) and an atmosphere that fished with Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment, Pillars of Eternity was a love letter to all fans.

Three years go by, and this Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire picks up the plot exactly from where it left off in the first chapter. The Watcher (this is the title with which the protagonist is known) retires to his fortress in Caed Nua after having foiled the threat of the Leaden Key and enjoys some well-deserved rest, at least until the giant of Adra built in the foundations the fortress itself does not decide to free itself by destroying the castle and massacring hundreds of people in the meantime. I also allow myself to make a short parenthesis both for those who do not know the setting and for those who have played the first chapter maybe too long and do not remember some details: the Adra is a natural stone that is formed in the ground, in all the world that is the setting for Pillars of Eternity, and it is believed that the souls of the dead use it as a way to reach the afterlife and end up in the "Wheel" that will bring them back to life in another form, human or animal, without no memory of past life.

The Watcher, at this point, receives an offer that he cannot refuse from the divinity of death, Berath, who "asks" him to go and follow the giant of Adra that others is not, it seems, that the incarnation of Eothas, god of the rebirth that had apparently died shortly before the events narrated in the first game. This research takes place in a region known as the Deadfire Archipelago which, as it was thought, closely resembles the chaotic pirate and corsair world of the Caribbean.

With four factions fighting for control of the region, plus natives trying to survive the presence of settlers with negotiations and military force (as far as possible), it is undeniable that the stage set up for the player is designed to offer a wide range of possible actions. Even the supporting actors, from this point of view, offer a wide range of cultures, with some characters returning from the first chapter and others who are unpublished for this sequel. From here on, on the ways in which it is possible to influence the game world or how the plot proceeds, I do not allow myself to elaborate further.

As in any role-playing game, the setting and the plot itself are integral parts of the experience and it would be criminal to risk too many spoilers. What I can say is that Obsidian has learned from some of the criticisms that had been raised for the first Pillars, and the storyline is much more organic and much less imposed here. There are also many more possibilities to ignore it in order to pursue personal interests or even to give oneself to the exploration and resolution of secondary quests, sometimes however in turn linked to the main plot. In short: a great job.

The exploration of the game world takes place in a classic way: the view is isometric, the party is controlled (consisting of up to five characters) with the mouse and everything is managed in real time with the possibility of activating a tactical pause by pressing the space key or by setting some options in which this is activated automatically, a possibility that I strongly recommend taking advantage of at least to pause the game at the beginning of a fight or when one of the characters that you control is with little residual life.

Even the system of rules has remained almost unchanged, with just a few changes in class management (now the characters can be of two classes simultaneously) and how the hit points are managed. In the first Pillars of Eternity the characters had two different life counters, a temporary one for the single fight and a global one that reached zero would have decreed the character's death regardless of other circumstances. In Pillars of Eternity 2 there is only the presence of temporary life points and if they end in combat, you suffer an injury. At the fourth "wound" you die. A streamlining of the system that makes it easier to accept the "fall" of a character in combat but maintains the tension of not being able to take too many risks since in this game death is permanent: resurrection does not exist.