Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, like its predecessor, did exceptionally well on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Critics were generally positive about the game and it earned plenty of awards when it released back in 2019. Despite these facts, sales figures disappointed, as confirmed by Obsidian Entertainment. The console release was set to launch right after the PC release, but those eager to play it on their PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles had to wait until recently to play.
That said, however, the delay doesn't seem to have been a bad thing. In fact, the console release has managed to land in the middle of the void that is the beginning of the year and as plenty of bigger projects have been delayed and pushed back until later in the year, the timing for the release of this relatively high-profile RPG is perfect. The success of Obsidian's other RPG, The Outer Worlds, surely generated some goodwill with console fans as well, which hardly hurts.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, however, isn't as accessible as The Outer Worlds. The first game helped initiate a renaissance for Dungeons & Dragons-inspired CRPGs, and in true D&D fashion, you must go through a comprehensive setup consisting of an introduction, plot exposure, and character creation. As it's a direct continuation of the first game, there's a lot of story elements that need to be clarified from the get-go. If you have a save file from the first game, you can continue from where you left off. If you're new to the now-series, you can pick and choose your stance as you go as if you had played the predecessor.
All in all, it's a rather rough introduction that one encounters when opening up Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire for the first time, and it gets even worse due to the fact that the load times in the game are lengthy. The console release does, however, come in Ultimate Edition form, which means that it contains all of the extra content released for the PC version, so there's a lot to experience in the adventure. As with most of the games in the CRPG genre, there's a wealth of mechanics and a tsunami of dialogue to go through as you progress, at least if you decide to play it the way it's supposed to be played.
Because of this, the game may feel a bit overwhelming when you throw yourself into things, but it does at least have some phenomenal characters and lots of well-written dialogue when you get through the introduction. The main story itself isn't particularly interesting but it works well as a framework for all of the intriguing tales that are hidden around the place.
As such, the world of Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire isn't one to revolutionise the D&D-inspired RPG space. The classes, weapons, equipment and magic in the game are familiar. These aren't surprising elements. We've seen gods and demons in battle before. In fact, the most original thing about the game is the sailing trip around the Deadfire archipelago. That said, it's a pretty nuanced role-playing experience with a lot of mechanics to dive into.
The game also offers a turn-based combat system, which was added post-release on PC. In a game such as this, turn-based combat is actually our preference. In general, the combat isn't the most interesting part of the experience, but it's fun to see the character roster evolve and expand on the battlefield.
At times, it's clear that Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire was developed with PC in mind, and it seems to be a pretty direct "translation" from PC to console. The controls feel a bit awkward, especially when steering your characters around the place, and it doesn't feel like the developer has made many tweaks to make things work with a controller. Because of this, we'd recommend the PC version for anyone who has a PC that's decent enough, over the console port. If you're a dedicated console player, however, the game is still pretty decent. Despite some rough loading times, the game runs fine and actually offers a nice experience that's packed with atmosphere.
The arrival of Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire on the console scene may come after a long wait and it may be a bit rough getting started, but the quality of the storytelling and the nuanced characters make it worth sticking with. It's not revolutionary in any way, but it's a solid RPG for those who like to dive deep when playing a game and play at a less frantic pace.
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