Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition Review

Back in 2012, Obsidian Entertainment started a Kickstarter campaign for Pillars of Eternity, a new isometric RPG meant to be the spiritual successor to BioWare’s classic Infinity Engine games (Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment being the most well-known among them). The Kickstarter turned out to be a massive success, and Pillars of Eternity was released a few years later in 2015. Now, the well-received RPG is making the jump to consoles with Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition. How does this port translate a classic computer-style RPG into a controller’s limited button setup?

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Surprisingly, Obsidian does a really good job of translating the PC controls into a more console friendly format. While I did struggle with the controls for a little bit—I had accidentally deselected my whole party right at the beginning of the game, and it took a bit to find out how to fix it—but after an adjustment period, it was relatively easy to control the game’s myriad of menus and commands. Pillars of Eternity also relies on players pausing and unpausing in combat to micromanage characters and skill usage, so if you’re one to press the wrong trigger buttons constantly (like myself), it won’t hurt you in terms of battle proficiency. If you’re interested in how Pillar of Eternity’s battle system works, our video review of the original will give you a great visual example of the game’s inner workings.

One thing to note, even on the Normal difficulty Pillars of Eternity is difficult. This game is not afraid to decimate you and your party if you decide to wander into a dungeon too early or neglect your equipment and skill setups. Characters can also permanently be killed, which really raises the stakes in harder battles. There’s a lot going on: You have six party members fighting at once, and each class has its own has its own skills and how to set them up. It can feel a little overwhelming at times, especially if you’re not used to Infinity Engine type games. Thankfully Pillars of Eternity has many difficulty modes for any level of gamer, including individual setting for permadeath and other modes and even a ‘story time’ setting that makes battles very easy so you can enjoy the plot.

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That’s a very good thing too, as Pillar of Eternity’s plot is worth experiencing, no matter what your RPG preferences. The world building begins in the game’s in-depth character creation system and continues through the entirety of the game, really creating a world you want to explore. I’m not always one to talk to every NPC in every game, but Pillars of Eternity gave me a reason to learn more about its unique world and the strange happenings within it. There, of course, is a lot of reading and dialogue options you’ll have to work through, but considering the games Pillars of Eternity takes inspiration from this is par for the course.

In terms of Pillar of Eternity’s graphical feats, it’s honestly not the best looking game out there. This is an old-school isometric RPG that at most has a few nice looking CGs and drawn ‘story book’ stills, but the majority of the game will take place in that same isometric field, which isn’t always the best for dramatic moments. There also isn’t always music playing, the tracks instead saved for battles and set to plot revelation. While I’d argue that’s a better sound direction choice than some games that always have some music playing, that’s a personal preference that not all gamers are going to agree with.

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Pillars of Eternity is worth looking into for any RPG fan. The game has a great plot and world to explore, and Obsidian has given players enough options to ensure that anyone can see the end of the story, regardless of skill level. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, and if you’re on a higher difficulty it’s not afraid to tear your party to pieces, but if you didn’t pick this up on Steam due to being a console gamer, you don’t have an excuse now.