Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition Review
I have to be honest, I’m a huge fan of both Obsidian and Black Isle’s work throughout the years. I’ve played the majority of their releases; hit titles like Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic 2, and the Neverwinter Nights series have always been a big part of my gaming repertoire and definitely steered me towards games with deep stories. When Pillars of Eternity came out on PC in 2015, I spent months adventuring throughout the Eastern Reach and it was everything I wanted it to be. Now, they’ve brought this fantastic journey to consoles with the help of Paradox Arctic and I’m happy to say they’ve struck gold all over again.
Arriving on Xbox One and PS4 is the complete edition, which comes with the White March expansions and some minor changes to the UI and controls. I was originally worried about playing Pillars with a controller, but I was quickly put at ease. For the most part, both moving around the maps and interacting with objects is a breeze. However, it’s not perfect. There will be times where you’ll want to interact with something and if you want to save yourself frustration, you’ll have to switch to cursor mode and slowly move the cursor around with a thumbstick. It’s a good solution, but I often found myself trying to save time by moving my party around in hopes that the correct object would just get highlighted for me instead.
The only other issue I ran into had to do with leaving my console on and bringing Pillars of Eternity out of extended rest modes. My entire first file got corrupted roughly fifteen hours in, and despite loading previous saves there was nothing I could do. Load times became abysmal, and if I managed to actually load in properly, combat and the frame-rate slowed to a halt. It brought me back to the dark times of attempting to boot up 100+ hour Morrowind files on the original Xbox, and starting over was a bit soul crushing. That being said, I’ve got an additional 40+ hours in my current playthrough with zero issues so far. Maybe it was bad luck, but it was disheartening to watch none of my numerous backup saves work.
“The world is incredibly fleshed out, and countless strings of dialogue await those who can’t help but talk to everyone they see.”
Now that the minor issues are out of the way, all I have is praise. This RPG absolutely deserves all of the previous praise it was given on release, and with this package including the expansions, you will absolutely get your money’s worth with just a single playthrough. You start out creating your own personal hero, with several races and classes to choose from. Like many Obsidian RPGs, you then go out into the land on an epic journey, collecting team members and completing side quests along the way. You can have up to six party members including yourself, offering an absolute ton of diversity to those who want to craft the perfect team. Inns offer mercenaries for hire, giving you the choice of hiring your heroes with gold to get exactly what you want. I’m a sucker for dialogue, and while I hired a couple mercs for the tough early game, it wasn’t long before they were replaced by found characters.
The world is incredibly fleshed out, and countless strings of dialogue await those who can’t help but talk to everyone they see. As you move throughout the land, your actions will garner favor and reputation within different regions, giving your actions and words a lot of impact. For those who want a more immersive experience, you can turn off notifications of these changes. You can also hide dialogue options that are out of reach. This is the perfect feature for those who want to play through multiple times, as you’ll often end up with completely different choices if you play as a different class or race. There are also plenty of options in terms of difficulty, so you don’t have to shy away from this if you’re worried about dying constantly.
Combat in Pillars of Eternity can be difficult, but it’s manageable thanks to the ability to pause and set up actions. This was another main concern of mine when it comes to playing on console, but the developers have done a great job with the UI changes and controller configurations. The ability wheel is easy to navigate, with plenty of slots for your spells or abilities. Changing heroes is quick and painless, as is leveling up or moving around the world. The inventory is massive, especially when you have a full party, and this is easily the biggest area where having access to a mouse would have made things much more painless. Swapping equipment or simply moving items around in the inventory is a chore, moving one square a time and I was cursing under my breath every time I put an item in the wrong slot by mistake.
“The particle effects for the various spells look great, and heroes are easily identifiable amongst the maelstrom.”
Visually there hasn’t been much change since the PC release. Environments still look beautiful, with detailed maps accompanying each zone. I did notice a bit of a frame-rate dip when combat got a little hectic, but for the most part, it’s smooth. The particle effects for the various spells look great, and heroes are easily identifiable amongst the maelstrom. I would have loved some more portrait options for the various races, but the ones present work just fine. Probably the most important aspect of the artwork is that almost every environment truly looks unique, and wilderness zones don’t end up feeling like you’re retreading over old ground.
If you’re a fan of classic RPGs or didn’t have a PC to play Pillars of Eternity when it originally released, pick this up. Pillars is hands down one of the best RPGs I’ve played within the past few years, and the amount of gameplay you can walk through is staggering.
*** Xbox One key provided by the publisher ***
- Deep story
- Memorable characters
- Lots of customization
- Minor control issues