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Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire (PS4) – Review

“Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.” – Captain Jack Sparrow was right. The true treasure is made of Obsidian.

Pros:

Excellent gameplay
Good story
A visual treat (with rose tinted glasses on, of course)

Cons:

A few hitches
Ship management is dull

Score – 9/10

Pillars of Eternity 2 follows the story in a new part of the world, Deadfire archipelago. It came with a better gameplay, more action-based, especially for the magic classes that now can use their spells X times per fight rather than Y times between each rest. It now allows multiclassing, which feels refreshing and gives a new level of complexity for the team builds. It also gives the choice between two very distinct gameplays : real time with pause (like PoE 1), and turn-based combats. Each is enjoyable and it should please every kind of CRPG gamers.

The game runs totally fine on the PS4, with a few occasional hitches while loading in a new area. The performance and visuals are totally solid apart from that. It also plays totally fine with a controller, and in fact is a really fun couch experience.

The combat strikes me as the most successful iteration of the old BG style combat mode I’ve yet seen – party AI is notably smarter, which in fact goes to boost immersion for me (these adult adventurers shouldn’t need every single decision made for them to ensure their survival). The game difficulty is notably lower than the original (I’m playing it at, i believe, the top or second top difficulty, from memory), though again I don’t mind this as i am in it for the story and exploration first, combat a close second. This lower difficulty may come form the better team AI and perhaps better balanced encounters, more than the players being particularly powerful or anything.

The story is very good and has a bit more personality and atmosphere than the first title. The identity of the island zones is more interconnected, though not homogenous, and the characters are well fleshed out. The key races involved in the story are clear and distinct (though the various castes and theories of one of the races bares deeper attentions than one would usually employ in a game) and their interplay is, well, pretty riveting. In many instances the future of trans-island chain relations hinge on your decisions, but there’s usually a way for you to pass the buck with an inventive suggestion provided you’ve put enough points into diplomacy or some such.

There are, of course, drawbacks to this game. Most of them can be explained away as consequences of a limited budget, however. Sometimes an NPC can be sitting at a table, cycling standard animations, while narration text describes a very interesting person indeed, toying with a pocket watch of whathaveyou. The overworld map is kind of low tech and simplistic, though it serves its purpose very well. They probably could have got a bit more out of the ship management minigame, though that’s not to say it isn’t fun in itself.

Also, as often with games that touch me, a major flaw is the presumed eventual end to this wonderful experience, somewhere just beyond the horizon.

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