In the late 1990’ through the mid 2000’s, I played a lot of Black Isle Studios’ Dungeons & Dragons games. Torment, The Baldur’s Gate series, and Icewind Dale games were my life. No games had visually captured the feel of D&D before, yes there were text based games with low res graphics, but these always felt more like a choose your adventure book. With so much customization, great characters, and awesome storylines, these games formed a new genre within the RPG realm. In 2015, twelve years after Black Isle shutdown, taking with it our dreams of Baldur’s Gate 3, with the help of Kickstarter, developer Obsidian Entertainment revived the sub-genre with Pillars of Eternity. Now you can own Pillars of Eternity:Complete Edition for consoles and I couldn’t be happier!
Pillars of Eternity:Complete Edition had me smiling as soon as I started it up. There are so many character choices and customizations that I spent a good hour just going through the various options until I finally settled on my old standard, the dwarven fighter. I have played the same character as either a fighter or paladin for most my life and it always feels most comfortable to me to be short, bearded, and wielding a sword and shield.
Pillars of Eternity:Complete Edition brings all the complexity and customization of the D&D systems back along with the same overhead view of your adventure party. Using the controller as a opposed to a mouse, players move the cursor over objects to interact and can move their character or whole party as well. Players are even given the option of a “fast mode” when in combat or traveling, speeding things up for those impatient gamers. Combat will auto pause, giving the player time to plan each party members turn.
Using radial menus, players can customize the wheel to contain the spells they use most often or even choose from different auto behavior plans so characters support you but require less interaction on the player’s part. If you have played Dragon Age this will all be familiar, just in a different perspective. Bioware developed the first Baldur’s Gate games and brought much of this same party management experience to that series as well.
Cloning a previously defined paper system and even the classic gameplay of the aforementioned games will only go so far though, a fantasy adventure RPG is only as good as the story, and Pillars of Eternity:Complete Edition has an epic one! With over 80 hours of content, the mature, complex, and well paced tale unfolds as your player character meets a plethora of NPC, some will join you, some will try to kill, all depending on your choices in chat or attitude in general.
The ability to play your character however you choose, be it chaotic evil to lawful good, is there, and affect your relationships with NPC. Many paths are set before you as far as who will end up being your trusted partner in battle, or betraying you and running off because of your comments. Quests will be different and your reputation will follow you and change the course of conversation options. Many of your stats will also affect these conversation choices. Players really must enjoy “being” their character, the “Role” in RPG is highly suggested to really get the full experience out of Pillars of Eternity:Complete Edition.
Pillars of Eternity:Complete Edition is the best version, of the best game in recent years, that continues the tradition of well crafted overhead RPG set by Black Isle Studios and Bioware back in it’s heyday. If you enjoyed any of those games, you MUST pick it up. Having it on console now opens the way for a new generation of gamers who may not play games on PC to access this incredible title. I found the conversion was one of the best I have ever seen, with no issues finding my way around the various menu’s and planning combat. With tons of content, a fantastic story, character customization, and classic beautifully done graphics and audio, Pillars of Eternity:Complete Edition is one of my favorite games of year!
Pillars of Eternity:Complete Edition is available now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with the standard version and expansions available for PC via Steam. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.