Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is an isometric RPG in the vein of games like Baldur's Gate and Divinity: Original Sin 2. The game has made the jump from PC to consoles, which has brought some major technical issues that keep pulling an incredible RPG down under the water.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire eschews the traditional fantasy setting used by many RPGs for one that rarely appears in gaming. The rolling hills and quaint towns from the first Pillars of Eternity are replaced with the high seas and mysterious islands of a fantasy equivalent to the Caribbean, as the player replaces their robe and wizard hat with a doublet and tricorn hat, in order to sail the waves in search of adventure.
Dreaming, Don't Give It Up, Watcher
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire starts out with a bang. The game is set five years after its predecessor and it starts with the Watcher (the protagonist from the first game) being killed in the opening cutscene when a slumbering god named Eothas awakens from beneath their castle and crushes all of its inhabitants. The Watcher is brought back from the dead by Berath, the God of Death, and is tasked with stopping the rampaging Eothas in its tracks. The Watcher follows Eothas to the Deadfire Archipelago, where they must seek allies among the locals and side with different factions in order to complete their quest.
Avast, Ye Mateys
The gameplay of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire involves controlling a group of adventurers as they explore dangerous locations. The people who have played games like Divinity: Original Sin 2 will feel right at home with Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, especially as the console port has a turn-based mode that allows players to take their time during battle. It's highly advised that newcomers use the turn-based mode, as the chaos of controlling several party members at once with a controller could be overwhelming.
The battle and leveling up system in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will be familiar to fans of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, with the player able to choose from a number of classes and abilities as they level up. The nautical setting of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire means that firearms are an option in the game, but most of the powers are standard fare and are just Dungeons & Dragons abilities with different names. The combat system is still a lot of fun (even if it's not very original) and the few unique twists that are added, like the ability to Empower abilities a few times a day to make them more effective, are a welcome addition to the game. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire isn't just about the combat, as there are a number of allies that can be conversed with and a number of NPCs that can be influenced in different ways. Every faction in the Deadfire Archipelago is forced to react to the arrival of a giant god in their lands.
One of the most thrilling aspects of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is its exploration, as the player manually moves their party around each island, as well as guiding the ship from place to place in the search for adventure (and hopefully, treasure). The sea is a dangerous place and the player can encounter all kinds of nasties on the open water, which keeps things exciting every step of the way. The resource management aspects of owning a crew and ship are less interesting, but this is something that the player can ignore if they are willing to throw cash at the problem and just try to max out their supplies at each port.
The console version of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire comes with all of the expansion packs from the PC version of the game, which means that the game has an incredible amount of content for its asking price. A player could easily spend eighty hours playing Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, and that's just on a single playthrough.
The Endless Load Times
Having played Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on the PlayStation 4, it's my sad duty to report that the console ports are inferior to the PC version of the game in a number of ways, starting with the horrendous load times.
On a base PlayStation 4 (not the Pro model), the load times when entering a new area were far too long. The game could take over a minute to load the next location. This becomes a huge issue whenever the player returns to a town and needs to visit quest-givers, a tavern, a store, etc. If the player needs to quickly visit several locations, then they can expect to spend more time staring at the load screen than actually playing the game, which is a major detriment to the experience. This becomes less of an issue in single areas where the player spends a lot of time (like a dungeon), but it's an issue that crops up enough to make the console port the worst version of the game.
The console version of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire has controller support, which takes some getting used to, mostly because the game does a terrible job of explaining the different shortcuts to the player. Once the player finally comes to grips with the control scheme, then it will become second nature, even if it feels unintuitive at times, such as when it comes to selecting multiple items.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a game that manages to be both a homage to the classic games of the past, while also being one of the most original RPGs in years. It's just a shame that the console version of the game has so many issues, as they really hamper the experience. It's advised that people play this gem of a game on PC in order to experience the best version of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, but the drawbacks of the console version can be overlooked by people who are really patient or don't mind messing around on their phone every couple of minutes when going back to a town to restock on times.
A PlayStation 4 copy of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire was purchased by TheGamer for this review. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and will be coming to the Nintendo Switch in 2020.
Amouranth scored a blue check after a series of bans elsewhere.