Pillars of Eternity raised nearly $4 million through a Kickstarter campaign. At E3 2014, Obsidian gave players a small taste of how gameplay works in Pillars of Eternity.
The demo started with the player created character, a human wizard, traveling with a small caravan from Dyrwood, a colonial area, to the free land, Gilded Vale. While the demo featured a human wizard, players will have a wide number of options when creating their character. Players will be able to choose from six races–Human, Aumaua, Dwarf, Orlan, Godlike and Elf–and 11 different classes–Chanter, Druid, Fighter, Paladin, Rogue, Cipher, Monk, Ranger, Priest, Wizard and Barbarian.
As the caravan travels toward Gilded Vale, it must stop for the night because your character is sick and there is an ominous feeling in the air. Odema, the leader of the caravan, fears a soulstorm is on the way and it is best to find a cure for your sickness. He tasks the playable character with gathering items to create a cure, so players take Calisca, a female fighter, along to gather the necessary items.
Exploring the Dyrwoods is not without peril. When players find one of the ingredients for the cure, they will stumble upon ornery wolves. This is where developers showed off the game’s party-based combat. Before battle begins, the game pauses to allow players to plan out their moves. Skills can be selected by clicking on character profiles in the bottom-right corner of the screen. This small pause before battle gives players a minor tactical advantage before combat returns to active-time.
Combat is smooth and the number of different races and classes in the game should allow for tons of battle formation combinations.
On the way back to the caravan, players happen upon the body of another member of the caravan. Pillars of Eternity plans to use scripted interactions with a storybook art style to highlight important moments in the game. These interactions also feature choices in a choose-your-own-adventure style that can affect gameplay. In this instance, a lazy caravan member tasked to help gather ingredients has been murdered by thieves. The scripted moment shows what fate befell the man and ends with a battle against those thieves.
Skill and Grace
Upon defeating these murderous thieves, players head back to the campsite only to discover it has been ambushed and the thieves are holding a member hostage. The wizard can use a skill check to throw a weapon at the captor to free the surviving caravan member. If successful, players will gain another party member, but if your skills aren’t up to snuff, the man will die and players will be forced to fight with only two party members.
Skill checks can happen for any of the game’s five skill sets: Stealth, Athletics, Lore, Mechanics and Survival. In addition to skill checks, characters can utilize the demeanor system when speaking to other characters. Depending on how you choose to interact with other characters, they will treat you different. Other characters remember how you treat them and react accordingly. The demo showed how subtle yet significant these smaller choices will affect players in the full game.
With the caravan gone and threats swarming over the Dyrwood, players head onto Gilded Vale before discovering a cave with a number of ways through. One is a floor puzzle with glowing orange runes, but by circling around the runes, players fight through some minor enemies and find a giant rock wall. Players cab knock down the wall by making the right choices during a scripted moment. If successful, players can avoid a tricky puzzle, but failure will lead to a challenging puzzle.
A Small Taste
This small taste of Pillars of Eternity gave a good idea of how combat, minor story choices and exploration will work in the full game. Fans of the Infinity Engine games and older isometric RPGs are in for a treat.
Pillars of Eternity also has plenty to offer those who are not already converted to an Infinity Engine game by Obsidian. The game has solid fantasy RPG elements from a developer that knows how to make a great RPG.