The Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire review

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire starts where Pillars of Eternity left off (literally, if you kept the final save from the first episode). The introductory video, placed before the creation of the character, shows us the destruction of the stronghold of Caed Nua (the one we had painstakingly restored to its former glory during our raids for the Eastern Reach), torn to pieces as if it were tissue paper of the revived. god Eothas, the colossus that lay in the mega dungeon "Endless Paths of Od Nua" (made up of fifteen layers of increasing difficulty and placed just below Caed Nua).



The fights are much more spectacular than those of the first episode

His objectives are mysterious, but his impetuousness almost ends up killing the landlord Watcher, that is, us. After the movie, the character creation sequence begins, in which we have to answer questions regarding some events that occurred in Pillars of Eternity to define our story, or load the final save of the latter to follow up on our old actions. So we have to define our characteristics, choosing one of six races, each with its relative subraces; one (or more) among eleven classes, which also have a variable number of subclasses; the place where we were born; our work (among the eight available); our specializations with weapons and the values ​​of our characteristics. Once the various choices have been made, we will be given the opportunity to review the entire card, including the many attack and defense values ​​and the active and passive skills, the latter linked to the other items.


The new graphic engine allows a better rendering of the surfaces

After the creation of the character we will wake up aboard a ship, which we will discover is ours. Here we will be given some insight into what happened and where Eothas headed. We will also be able to take our first, real steps. Anyone who has played Pillars of Eternity will find Deadfire's interface extremely familiar. Indeed, let's say better: it is practically identical to the old one, apart from some adjustments such as the ability to customize the position of the various windows or a few more icons. However, the most noticeable improvements will manifest themselves in the fighting, which we will talk about later. But let's take it slow that there is really a lot to say. Even if we are on a ship, it is not yet time to sail: the first hours of the game are basically a long tutorial that introduces us to the various gameplay functions. Shipwrecked on a large island following an event that we do not reveal to you, we must immediately start looking for a way to free the ship. From here on, Pillars of Eternity II gradually introduces us to its vast and multifaceted world, which we will have to travel far and wide learning a multitude of new game systems to get the better of it.


The new map

The main novelty of Deadfire, compared to the first Pillars of Eternity, is represented by the game map freely explorable by land and by sea, with the exchanges between the two environments taking place through ports. In reality this is not a real experiment for Obsidian, who had already done something similar with Storm of Zehir, the second expansion of Neverwinter Nights 2, with which Deadfire also shares some names of the designer team, in particular Josh Sawyer and Bobby Null. Obviously many of the limits of the time have disappeared and now the system has a much broader scope, as well as offering many more things to do, but it is undeniable that the starting point is identical, with the player having to explore the map looking for hotspots to interact with, be they ruins of ancient manors, shipwrecked ships or gloomy caves, to activate related events that can lead to different situations.


The new map allows for freer exploration of the game world

For example, there are many sequences that are experienced as if you were in a paper role-playing game, with the user choosing the action to be performed through a multiple choice system, also deciding when necessary which character should perform it. In other cases we are asked simply to invest some time to look for resources, while in still others we have to face encounters with characters who can be friendly or hostile depending on a multitude of factors that we are not going to list all in order not to run out of space. available. Just to give an example, some encounters are different depending on how you behaved in the first Pillars of Eternity (as long as you have kept the rescues), while others can be influenced by attitudes held during some missions, primary or secondary . Granted that in the land areas there are also normal areas that can be explored with the party, which usually reserve unique adventures, sometimes even disconnected from quests or other secondary plots. The more adventurous, that is, those who will dedicate themselves to exploration rather than following the recommended routes, could solve some quests even before obtaining them. Which greatly increases the satisfaction of the discovery.


Naval battles

To the exquisitely terrestrial events must be added the marine ones, in particular the fighting between boats, another of the innovations introduced in Deadfire. To start a naval battle it is necessary to attack or be attacked by another sailing ship: these are not events that take place in real time, but of mini-games in which the captains take turns deciding the moves to be made, such as turning to position the enemy ship within gunfire or groped to ram it, and then maybe board it and have the two crews face off in combat (in the normal modes of the rest of the adventure, in this case). There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for winning a naval battle, because a lot depends on how you choose to develop the vessel.


Naval combat is a discreet addition that tires you in the long run

If you have a very strong party, but a low firepower, it is worthwhile to try the boarding in any case to resolve the situation sword in hand. The system itself works very well in the beginning, when it is new, but it becomes very repetitive as the hours go by. The basic problem is that it is really limited and ends up turning into a kind of work to be done, necessary to get supplies if you don't want to spend too much money in the ports for supplies, rather than in an activity capable of giving something more from the playful point of view. Paradoxically, the best fights are the practically mandatory ones, because they are narratively characterized and therefore manage to arouse more attention. It must also be said that the management of the ship is in general really simple and basically requires finding the crew, buying more and more powerful cannons and never lacking food and alcohol, under penalty of loss of morale which determines a lower effectiveness in combat. Honestly, in about seventy hours of play, apart from the early stages, we never had major problems keeping the crew in shape. In fact, even from this point of view the implemented system is really simplistic ... perhaps too much, given how much time you spend at sea.


General exploration considerations

If we want, the entire exploratory part shares the same problem as naval combat: basically it is pleasant to go around to discover what is hidden in the various hot spots, but in the long run some of them completely lose their meaning and become almost physiological needs to be carried out. as quickly as possible, without getting any satisfaction.

Interesting discoveries can be made by exploring

We are not just talking about the collection of materials, which simply ask us to click on the writings, but also the role-playing events which, although well written, are in most cases completely disconnected from the rest of the adventure and do not lead to much in terms of booty or storytelling. With explorable areas it goes much better, because that's where the game manages to give its best, especially in some exceptional and unexpected fights (sometimes exceptional because they are unexpected), but at that point it becomes inevitable to ask whether the addition of all the outline described above was not necessary only to widen the game in some way, since the best part of the gameplay still remains the one most rooted in the original Pillars of Eternity, and consequently in the tradition of the genre. Do not misunderstand, because exploring gives its satisfaction, but there is no doubt that with the passing of the hours the contribution to the game of some activities becomes weak, almost insignificant.

To say, trying to replay the first part of the game for the second time with a different character, we found ourselves scrolling through the narrated events very quickly, a sign that, regardless of the different choices we could make, they didn't have much to offer anymore. if not different loot (and not always).

Storytelling

Like exploration, the narrative side is also in a certain sense ambivalent: if on the one hand the main story is not bad at all, on the other it is clear that it does not reach the heights of the first episode. Overall it is much more linear, despite some twists are present, but above all it goes less in depth, while taking up many of the themes already treated previously. Perhaps the main problem is precisely the comparison with Pillars of Eternity, whose story had an exceptional level of writing, with the player who found himself embroiled in problems that mixed politics, sociology and religion, reaching very high qualitative peaks and creating a fascinating and engaging, with important metaphysical implications that did not leave indifferent. Deadfire tries to follow the same path, but only partially succeeds. The problem is not so much in the quality or quantity of the texts, in line with his ambitions, as in the lower overall incisiveness of the given direction, which is much more fragmented.

The same can be said of the stories of the characters that make up the party, with those of the new generation who are more interesting than the others by virtue of their being more organic to the scenario. Probably the general fragmentation that is perceived throughout the adventure derives for the most part from the exploration system, which naturally tends to atomize events, diluting them in a very different way in the game structure compared to what happened in Pillars of Eternity. After all, the campaign is managed in a pleasant way compared to the canons of the last Obsidian, which suddenly returned to Fallout: New Vegas. To say, in Pillars of Eternity the main story was the backbone around which everything else was based, side missions and ancillary explorations included. Here, on the other hand, it is an activity among others, to be carried out perhaps after you have explored the rest of the game world in complete autonomy. It must also be said that it is quite short, to the point that at the beginning it is better to ignore it if you do not want to rush towards the end. To say: we spent the first fifteen hours of the game approximately, with the introduction removed, wandering around Deadfire on our own terms, going in the exact opposite direction to what was requested of us.

To be altered by this new setting is also the scenario itself: while in the first episode the different places of the Eastern Reach were read by the player as the different facets of a single continent, and they collaborated in their own way to form the overall picture. , with the mythology that was the background to the story that was compact, however fluid, in Deadfire the island structure of the game world is reflected in a determined way on the description and perception of the same, with the different places that are so more autonomous , but at the same time poorer in their background, because they are less linked to others. To gain is certainly the variety and if we want it was really difficult to hypothesize a different solution, given that in any case the map is a large archipelago. There are probably also those who will prefer this approach to the old one, which as already specified makes exploration much more adventurous.

Translation into Spanish

As promised, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is also playable localized in our language (lyrics only). In general, the translation work is to be considered acceptable, also because it makes the game usable by those who do not know English. However, it should be noted that many texts have been translated literally and sometimes do not follow the thread of the dialogue well. In particular, the menus have obvious blunders. For this reason we preferred to play by selecting the English language.

Combat, loot and crafting

To be completely successful is the combat system, which takes up much of what was seen in the first episode, further refining it. The news is few, but interesting. Nothing revolutionary, mind you, but now it is possible to change the targets of an attacker in the middle of an action (for example by performing a spell) and you can disengage the entire group in melee to reposition it. Both options are really useful and add something extra in terms of tactics to use on the battlefield, allowing for sudden second thoughts and drastic changes in case things go wrong. The new graphic techniques used did really good to the game, not only for the overall impact, however higher than that of Pillars of Eternity thanks above all to the new lighting system and to a greater vitality of the maps, as much as for the superior precision of the pathfinding, which is now evidently able to better read the morphology of the scenario.

Even the fights have been enriched with visual effects far more refined than those of the old system. We think in particular of spells and abilities, but also of the surrender of weapons and armor. The battles themselves always work the same way and allow you to control the entire party or individual characters, entrusting the others to artificial intelligence, which can also be modified in many parameters. The enemies you face are many of those already seen in Pillars of Eternity, with some new entries related to Deadfire, such as sea monsters, pirate camps and more. Anyway, let's say that those who have played the first Pillars of Eternity or any role-playing game similar to Baldur's Gate will find themselves at home in the phases of exploring the individual areas, which remain the fundamental backbone of the entire experience.

It is in these that you fight, meet new characters, obtain and finish quests, find the best loot, overcome traps and solve puzzles. If we talk about them faster than the rest it is not because they are secondary, but because they are substantially identical to what we saw in the previous chapter. The same, if you like, applies to the dialogues, once again based on a multiple selection system, in which the various sentences contain the entire answer, with some of them being influenced by the character's background. The game spells out with icons when speaking a certain skill or knowledge is used. To give an example, the sentences referring to what was done in the first Pillars of Eternity all have the logo of the first stylized chapter alongside, while in those linked to a certain stroke, the same is written next to the answer and highlighted with a color different. The result is, needless to say, excellent and gives a strong motivation to replay the entire campaign several times with different characters, so as to experience all the possibilities.

Loot, on the other hand, plays a much more important role than in the past. Meanwhile, it must be said that there is much more: already after the first hours of the game the inventory literally overflows with objects, including generic weapons and armor, magical objects and various ingredients, but in the later stages you end up accumulating a really impressive amount of stuff, which fortunately can be organized in various ways. The reasons for so much wealth are simple: on the one hand there is the already specified need for supplies for the management of the ship, with the crew, hired in the ports of the various cities, which must be salaried and fed, as well as cared for, and with the means that must be maintained; on the other hand there is the crafting system, based on a classic recipe model, which requires the use of a large amount of money and materials, both to create potions and food, and to devote oneself to weapons and armor , some of which are in very bad condition and need to be repaired before use. Deadfire's greater focus on loot, compared to previous Obsidian titles, also hints at why a more open and exploration-based game structure was chosen. and why a system such as that of naval battles was introduced, unique in guaranteeing a constant supply of materials.

Overtaking

One of the most obvious problems in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is Divinity: Original Sin II: the title of Larian Studios has in fact raised the qualitative bar of the entire genre, bringing a series of innovations, especially in terms of interaction with the scenario and with the characters, which have redefined the expectations of the players. Obsidian on his own has chosen a more traditional approach, which is however weakened precisely by the comparison with the direct competitor.

In short, the novelties he tried to introduce are not as effective, while the old schemes are even older by comparison. Framed in 2018, Deadfire is a title full of virtue, but that he has lost part of the position of his predecessor and who pays a competition that has become very hot, also because of Obsidian herself who missed a key figure like that of Chris Avellone. In short, you play with great taste, but you can't get rid of the thought that some things could have been done better or differently. Finally, a small technical problem should be noted, which we hope will be solved with future updates: the uploads are long, especially those of the first access to the new areas. Nothing dramatic, but you notice it, especially playing for several hours in a row.

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • Intel Core i7-4770 processor
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 video card
  • Windows 10 operating system

Minimum requirements

  • Windows Vista 64-bit or newer operating system
  • Processore Intel Core i3-2100T @ 2.50 GHz / AMD Phenom II X3 B73
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • Video Card Compatible with DirectX 11
  • DirectX 11
  • 45 GB of hard disk space

Recommended Requirements

  • Windows 10 64-bit or newer operating system
  • Processore Intel Core i5-2400 @ 3.10 GHz / AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 video card

Comment

Digital Delivery Steam, GoG Price 45,99 € Resources4Gaming.com

8.3

Readers (49)

8.4

Your vote

Playing Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is like listening for the umpteenth time to the still fascinating tale told by an old man with undoubted storytelling skills, perhaps in the evening around a bonfire. Unfortunately Divinity: Original Sin II, told by the old man of the next bonfire, has raised the bar of the entire genre and Obsidian's work, however successful, cannot keep up with him, either for the narrative side, successful but inferior. to that of its own predecessor, and you want for some novelties that leave some time they find. This is not to say that it is bad. Indeed, fans of the genre should buy it without too much hesitation. Only it was legitimate to expect something more from the sequel to one of the games that has managed to revitalize and give impetus to an entire genre.

PRO

  • More extensive than the first chapter
  • The combat system has been fine-tuned
  • The new engine is the technological upgrade that Obsidian needed
AGAINST
  • It pays a little to compare with Divinity: Original Sin II
  • Some of the new mechanics feel fake
  • Narratively it succeeded, but inferior to the first Pillars of Eternity
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