I’m one of these people who really liked Pillars too. I also had no problems with the companions. They might not have felt as legendary as the group from Baldur’s Gate II, but… Let’s just say this doesn’t make them bad in my book. Not even close.
So I was looking forward to Tyranny as well, the only reservation I held, was that it might be too similar to Pillars. Same engine and all that.
All of these doubts went away rather quickly, once I started playing. Sure, it’s the same engine, but these games are primarily about story, characters […] anyway. Despite the same engine, this game really isn’t anywhere near to being a clone of Pillars. In fact so many details appear to be different, that it might be something the devs were worried about as well. Even the GUI is another one and the changes are almost deep enough to maybe even alter gameplay a bit.
Parties now consist of 4 people, instead of 6. While I do have the drive to drag along as many of the companions as possible, to not miss their unique dialogs (at the very least), in a game like this there is still enough micromanaging to do with just 4 characters. It made me curious if they are going to keep this refined design for future titles, or if this was just something to make Tyranny more unique.
In a way this game reminded me of Witcher 2, because some decisions in W2 have such deep consequences, that the player ultimately needs another playthrough to experience the other half of the game. Tyranny offers a shorter campaign (“shorter” in comparison to Pillars), but has a lot more variables. Again, I can’t say if it was their goal to make people happy who want shorter games AND those players who like spending lots of time with the same title. If it was, they came as close to this as possible.
At first I had real problems understanding who all the various factions were (I thought there was so much lore right away, it was much harder to get into than Pillars) and what their goals were, but ultimately Tyranny did a good job at explaining it. Not every game makes me learn/remember all the names and little stories behind them. At the end of the game I knew almost everything the game had to say about groups like the Scarlet Chorus. I was really down with the motivations of all of these groups. A huge part, of why I was able to remember it so well, was probably that I actually got to meet most of these groups and had to actually “deal” with them eventually. Pillars on the other hand only mentioned lots of factions as part of the lore and worldbuilding, but they had no further relevance to the story, they remained something abstract.
So once again, Obsidian has learned from their previous game and did not merely introduce changes, but improvements.
The ending had me wondering if they are going to add to it (maybe even in the form of an expansion) or if this is supposed to be a one-off. I have to say it would work either way. The ending doesn’t necessarily “demand” a sequel, it just allows one.