Pillars of Eternity – First Impression
I backed (then) Project Eternity on KS because I missed this type of game, the level of detail that was lost in the transition from isometric to the typical 3D engine first or third person view. When I mention detail, I’m talking about the usually massive loss of information, that often occurs when also switching from text to fewer, voiced lines. Text, that could and never should be fully voiced, because reading is much faster than listening to a well pronounced interpretation. Not that there weren’t great games since then, there definitely were and are, but it’s just a different kind of experience.
So I thought, if anyone could get it done, it would be Obsidian. Loved every game they ever made. Just finished Knights of the Old Republic II AGAIN with all mods applied, before PoE was released.
And they did it. They didn’t just give it their best shot, they actually came through. This is sacrilege, I know, but I think Pillars of Eternity is better than Baldur’s Gate and I’ve been a fan of these games and their expansions forever. Obsidian kept everything of what made these games special and refined it even more. There is pretty much nothing that was great in BG and isn’t also in PoE, while there is hardly anything that was bad in BG, or could have been done better, that wasn’t done better in PoE.
It feels really good to have such a Kickstarter project live up to all its promises on top of it being a great game.
I’m really impressed by how well crafted everything in this game is. Originally I feared the lack of the proven (or FAMILIAR) D&D rules might be a problem, but it’s not. I think the rules Obsidian came up with and implemented here are even better. Obsidian truly seems to be the best company out there for a game of this type. It’s not just the big stuff that looks and works great, the game is intricate right down to the smallest bits and pieces. It’s astonishing how well thought out everything is and this makes the game very satisfying in its entirety.
I really like how the stats work in this game (e.g. might determines damage for everything, no matter if the character is a fighter or a mage – stroke of genius) and how powerful and meaningful the character builds are as a result. Everything makes sense and thinking a character through pays off. This might be the first game in which I really want to play as different classes and not just pick one because it seems to be the best amongst all of them for some weird reason. Everything can be made viable for different play styles. There is no lame druid you can’t do anything with. Or a dumb monk character you can’t find equipment for. Things like that used to happen all the time, but not in PoE.
The whole experience is this nifty. Interactive spots can’t just be highlighted, containers appear in blue as long as they contain items and grey out when they don’t. This is so helpful in such a game. Often the player has to memorize what containers he has emptied or at least hover over everything with the mouse, which is much less elegant (and so much more time consuming without adding anything of value). Many features with the same level of quality ensure I’m spending my time with playing, the thing I want to do, and not boring or even tedious chores. The fast mode is another welcome addition of that type. It makes even otherwise annoying backtracking bearable. During battles, however, combat can be slowed. This game man…
I also love the scripted, interactive interactions which are at first glance simple drawn pictures but turn out to be a powerful and smart way to add something important that solves several problems. It’s sooo effective when sounds are played to support the pictures and the text.
I’m not done with the game (it already bums me out that it will end), I’m only on level 8/15 of the endless paths of Od Nua for example, but I couldn’t wait this time to write something, because the excellence of this game is so energizing. As far as I’m concerned, the game hardly could be any better. They did so much more here than “just” fulfill the KS promise. I’m actually a little bit stalling right now, because this week a patch is supposed to come out and I would really like to install it before continuing. So far I didn’t really encounter any gameplay-affecting bugs, but not everyone was so lucky. Besides, improvements are always welcome.