Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Pillars of Eternity

If you're a fan of old-school RPGs; like Baldurs Gate 1-2, Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale etc, buy this game now. 

Pillars of Eternity was a kickstarter project that was funded in 2012 and released just this year, missing its' original scheduled date of April 2014. However, with that being said and done, it is a pretty awesome game but it's also not for everyone. Unlike most modern RPGs such as Skyrim or so on, PoE is an isometric RPG that's really really similar to Baldurs Gate II in a lot of ways. 

I mean, just look at it. Other than a slightly updated UI and much snazzier graphics, this really really looks like it could have come from Baldurs Gate. Just look at the comparison picture. Sure, the new game has much smoother graphics but in all honesty, the spirit is the same. And the nostalgia is overwhelming. 

Despite all that, the graphics ARE pretty decent when you zoom in. They're not skyrim level but to be honest, I don't need them to be. 

Even the combat is BGish. You have all the same symbols, the little gauntlet mouse, the sword icon to signify an attack, the green and red circles underneath each character. This game is probably the closest thing to a time machine I'll find because it's just transported me back to my teens and my first experience playing BG2. 

How about the game play though? Well, it's pretty much BGish except due to them not wanting to use the D&D license, they had to change quite a few things. For example, the way the classes work now as well as the stat system. No longer do we have things such as Strength/Dex etc. Instead, we have stats like Might/Resolve/Dex/Perception etc. You can sort of see which are parallels of which stats in D&D but they're also not straight renames of the D&D stats. Don't make this mistake when making your character (which I did). 

Then there's the fact that the classes seem fairly different in a lot of ways. Paladins in the game don't really have spells per se, but have auras and function a lot more like Diablo paladins than anything else. The monks work off some funky wound system, that acts like mana but requires them to take damage first to gain it (in other words, they're masochistic monks and it works like the fury system in Diablo 3). The problem is that when you're dodging 1/2 the time and killing things before they can kill you, you don't really take a lot of 'wounds', which means your abilities can be useless sometimes. 

There are also different types of class powers now; other than spells, which can be differentiated between Encounter-type powers and Rest-powers. Needless to say, you can use your encounter powers once or twice every encounter but then you have to wait till the next encounter to use them again. You can break this pretty easily by just taking a short rest in between encounters and wait for the combat timer to reset itself. 

The UI itself could be better; I would have liked being able to hotkey powers or something, but honestly, that's a small hindrance. What annoys me more is the pathing script in the game, where characters can sometimes get stuck on insanely stupid things. For example, there were multiple times I've asked 3 characters to go gang up on this 1 enemy. 2 will reach him and the 3rd will just get stuck behind the two, as he tries to route a way to reach the enemy. He just keeps shuffling in between the two, as if they're blocking him and then I have to manually move the character myself. That's pretty annoying. 

The world itself seems pretty brutal. There was this one moment in the game where I walked into a town and I was like "woah" because of something that was in the center of the town (hint: it's the first town you arrive in). Not many games can make me do that now, so kudos PoE. The storyline seems to be more Game of Throneish than high fantasy, although there are very obviously gods in PoE and apparently they do sometimes intervene with the mortal war. But in terms of how the common folk interact though? Very GoT. I haven't gotten that far into the story so I won't be able to comment much on this. 

They've also brought back the old companion system that was in all Baldur Gates, as well as the MEs etc. And the companions actually banter with each other like in BG2, so that's good. I missed hearing that banter among companions. 

Overall, I haven't had much chance to play through the game yet but so far I am liking it a lot. Not everyone will like it because I think if you liked the old school CRPGs, you will probably like Pillars of Eternity.