Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Seeker, Slayer, Survivor Review

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire's first DLC pack, Beast of Winter was a fun addition to the game, but it felt largely inconsequential and isolated. The presence of a DLC expansion that didn't interact with the rest of the core experience was basically failing to play to many of the game's strengths. Unfortunately, Seeker, Slayer, Survivor only exacerbates these same weaknesses. 

Seeker, Slayer, Survivor opens up with the player-character receiving a mysterious cargo with a decapitated head in it. Luckily, as The Watcher, the player is able to communicate with the ghost of the mangled corpse, who instructs the player to head to the island of Kazuwari in order to meet with Humaire. Humaire is the caretaker of the Crucible, an arena of sorts that holds regular combat challenges in order to gain favor with the god Galawain.


Unfortunately, this premise just seems like the bare minimum to set the stage for what turns out to be a very dull combat treadmill. In order to gain the favor of the Faces of the Hunt, you have to take on numerous combat challenges in the Crucible, almost arbitrarily divided among the three facets: Survivor, Seeker, and Slayer. It might seem like an odd comparison, but the whole setup is highly similar to the Glitz Pit in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. That is, you'll fight a series of mostly unremarkable battles with small nuggets of dialogue thrown in between them.

Unfortunately, most of the combat encounters are not at all memorable. There's a stated distinction that the challenges associated with each facet should act out differently, but these are almost always superficial in the end. Survivor challenges might have enemies come in in waves, and Seeker challenges might have you disable a few traps before the fight actually starts, but most of the time I found myself executing the same general strategy with every encounter in the arena. Buff with your favorite pre-combat ritual, execute your favorite combat abilities, and heal when necessary. Repeating this a dozen-plus times to cross tasks off a list (literally) failed to engage me in any significant way. 

There are a few highlights (relatively speaking), like a fight with a two-story tall immolated colossus and a fun battle royale set piece near the end, but these serve as pleasant distractions from the tedium rather than actual climaxes. The DLC also gives you opportunities to track down up to nine "artifacts" from around the Deadfire in order to unlock more combat encounters, but these often serve as little more than scavenger hunts. You're provided a small hint about where to find something, and merely have to correctly deduce which city or temple to revisit in order to go fetch the item and bring it back to the Crucible. 


At the very end of the DLC, the player finally gets a chance to actually role-play when it comes to deciding the fate of the island's connection with Galawain, but it feels like too little too late.  On top of this, the decisions made do not seem to stretch into the rest of the game in any fashion, and the lack of consequence makes the whole package seem disposable. I personally even received and ending where I was no longer a "friend" of the island due to the choice I made, but I can still go back to clear the rest of the challenges. Well, if I wanted to.

It's hard to recommend Seeker, Slayer, Survivor to anyone except the most die-hard fans of the game: those that want a few new weapons to play around with and a few more enemies to swing them at. For those less invested in the game, this one's okay to skip. 

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