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Kotaku Raves about early Pillars Experience


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http://kotaku.com/were-really-digging-pillars-of-eternity-1693310820

 

They seem to really really like it so far! I posted some of the thoughts but click on the link to see more!
 

We're Really Digging Pillars of Eternity 

A few of us have been playing Pillars of Eternity, the lovely new crowdfunded PC role-playing game that sets out to re-create the vibe of old Infinity Engine games like Baldur's Gate. Safe to say we love it so far. I've got many more hours to play before I feel comfortable writing a full, thorough review for Pillars, which comes out Thursday, but Kirk and I took some time last night to have a broad chat about what we like and don't like about Obsidian's latest. You can read it all right here.

 

 

Jason Schreier: Let's get this started: Pillars of Eternity is a stellar video game. Anyone who liked Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale, or any of those other old isometric PC role-playing games will absolutely love Pillars... and anyone who hasn't played those old games owes it to themselves to dig into PoE nonetheless.

 

Kirk Hamilton: Right to it! Yeah, I like it a lot. I'll admit that you and I are both kinda in the tank for this kind of game, since we both grew up playing CRPGs like the ones Pillars is (wonderfully) channeling. But I am enjoying the heck out of it. How much have you played at this point?

 

Jason Schreier: I think my clock is at around 13 hours, but that doesn't count the few hours on my first character (you know it's a good RPG when you feel compelled to start over after three hours just to try a new class) and it definitely doesn't count the time I've spent dying against particularly tough encounters. Hardcore RPG fans will rejoice to know that this is a very challenging game, even on Normal difficulty.

I think I'm in act two. What about you?

 

Kirk Hamilton: I've played about 8 hours, I'd say. I'm a bit behind you in the story, because I sense I was doing more sidequests, at least at first. I'm currently exploring the first big town, have a full party of six, and I've gotten my head around combat. It was a bit of an adjustment—like you said, this game can have teeth! Incautious adventurers will get wiped out more than a couple times at the start.

 

Jason Schreier: That first big town, it's worth noting, is nearly as big as the city of Baldur's Gate (from BG1). Defiance Bay, as it's called, has got five districts, a whole lot of buildings, tons of quests, an obligatory sewer/catacomb system, and like four different Kickstarter-backer-named inns. It's not quite as huge as Athkatla, the main city in BG2, but it's a substantial, interesting city, with tons and tons to see and do. And apparently there's another one that's just as big!

 

Kirk Hamilton: Oh, nice. Yeah, I'm still getting my bearings in Defiance Bay. I walked in on some thieves planning a heist and killed them all. Then I went to the library. Just another day in Dyrwood.

So, let's think... what do people want to know about this game? We're just supposed to be writing "impressions" of it, and neither of us has played enough to say anything SUPER authoritative, but clearly we both feel confident saying this is a good game. What do you like about it?

 

Jason Schreier: When I first loaded up Pillars, I was bouncing around a few questions: 1) Will this feel like old Infinity Engine games?

 

2) How deep and interesting are the progression and combat systems?

 

3) Are the quests going to be more interesting than your average "go kill some rats and deliver this package"? And finally,

 

4) This is an Obsidian game — is it going to be super buggy?

So let me try to tackle those, after ~13 hours of playing.

 

1) Yes, in every possible way, from the size and shape of the cursor to the way enemy health displays phrases like "Injured" and "Near death."

 

2) They definitely take some getting used to, since Pillars of Eternity has replaced the familiarities of D&D with its own set of rules and systems. Gone are +2 weapons and Magic Missiles, replaced by a whole host of unique yet somewhat similar weapons, spells, and mechanics. Let's touch upon all that more in a bit.

 

3) Sort of. Some of the quests have felt rote; others are really interesting, enhanced by the story and setting, which revolves around souls. Again, more on that in a bit.

 

4) Surprisingly not buggy! I've seen some typos, and once in a while the game will screw up a script trigger and I'll have to reload an auto-save, but everything's mostly stable, which is lovely.

Whew. OK, lots to talk about there.

 

Kirk Hamilton: I'm with you on most of that. What's struck me as remarkable about this game is how effectively it demonstrates the potency of a lot of storytelling techniques—writing, in particular—that video game RPGs have "evolved beyond" over the intervening decade and a half. The writing is the most obvious thing—dialogue boxes don't just contain dialogue, they contain descriptions of how the character said what they just said. That's because the characters themselves are tiny little figures viewed from on high—you can't see their faces, let alone their body language—but it's surprisingly, almost startlingly evocative.

 

At one point early on in the story, the character Edér makes a short joke, which is followed by: "He smiles at this, but it is the smile of one recounting a joke for effect rather than enjoyment." That bit of writing is so effortlessly potent, when it'd take a crew of well-paid animators and mo-cap artists to capture such a thing visually.

Of course, text-based games didn't just stop doing this sort of thing even as big-budget RPGs moved more toward representative animation. Hell, the whole Twine-game resurgence is based on the ideas that 1) Simple writing can more easily capture the imagination than complicated animations and 2) It's much more cost-effective to favor writing over graphics, meaning the games about more things can be made by more people. Back in 2000, the tech limited people and forced game designers to rely on text as a means to convey nuance. Now, it's more optional, but in channeling the vibe and approach of those older games, Pillars is a good reminder that simple writing can be a wonderful thing in a video game. That was kind of a whole digression, but you know what I'm saying? For all the thoughts I have about the combat design, the quests, and all that, the writing is the thing that really sticks out to me so far, both in quantity and in quality.

 

Jason Schreier: Yeah, I mean that's been one of Obsidians finest finest skillsas a developer from Fallout: New Vegas to Alpha Protocol to Knights of the Old Republic II. They've got some of the most talented writers and narrative designers out there, and that's clear in Pillars, both through the big themes and the little character moments. One thing that's unique to this game is that rather than just striking up random conversations with an NPC, your character can go up to them and look at their soul, which tells you a short story about who they are and where they came from. I haven't done this with every single NPC — there are points where I just want to get on with the story — but the ones that I have read are lovely little bursts of story and flavor.

 

Kirk Hamilton: I'm amazed that they made so many of those! I've stopped doing them all because there are like five or six in every area I visit, and each one is such a mini-emotional-journey. But while I do like the writing, I guess the specific thing I'm talking about is how the game uses... "every part of the language buffalo," maybe. It uses writing in a way that modern big-budget RPGs rarely do, at least outside of the codex. I can't even remember the last time I played an RPG and the game TOLD me the character's eyes were downcast as he spoke, rather than trying to show me. Like... the "cutscenes" in this game are just text, with music, sound effects, and black and white illustrations. I have to imagine everything. It makes me feel less like I'm playing a modern CRPG and more like I'm doing a pen and paper D&D campaign.

 

Jason Schreier: Which is awesome! Maybe not for everyone. Maybe Pillars won't sell 40 billion copies like, say, Skyrim has. But if you can appreciate what it's doing, and you don't mind reading a lot, this is something special—an RPG that is OK giving you mini-choose-your-own-adventures where you can decide whether to climb up those vines or throw a grappling hook at the window, all in text. I love that sometimes I'll talk to an NPC and see them lost in thought rather than just cutting straight to dialogue. Or how sometimes I'll try to open a chest and find myself suddenly participating in a text adventure, where I can examine the chest more closely, or try to force it open, or walk away and hunt down the key. It's really rad.

 

Kirk Hamilton: It really is. It's funny—as much as text-based games have been the province of more experimental indie games over the last few years, this is a good reminder that a lot of that stuff has its roots in more conventional (or, "conventional") PC gaming. Fantasy, dragons, dungeons, the sort of stuff so many big-budget games these days still focus on. Text-based gaming has something to offer everyone! And hey, speaking of conventions—what do you think of the world Avellone & company have built here? I like some aspects, but some of it hasn't quite drawn me in yet.

Edited by kozzy
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Have they even bothered to read the manual that comes with the game? They seem to not understand that there's a friggen Cyclopedia that explains the game mechanics to them, yet none of them even mentioned it.

 

*facepalm*  :banghead:

Edited by TrueMenace
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Calibrating...

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A little worrying that the people at Kotaku like Poe, makes me somewhat nervous, then again they've probably not really played and are simply jumping on the what's popular at the moment bandwagon. I'm surprised they don't have a problem with the tens of thousands of gamers whom funded this project, one would think that they'd boycott it for that reason.

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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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But I have a strict policy of doing the opposite of what Kotaku tells me to do... ;(

 

 

 

Quick Obsidian, pay them off to say your game is garbage before people get the wrong idea.

Edited by Longknife
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"The Courier was the worst of all of them. The worst by far. When he died the first time, he must have met the devil, and then killed him."

 

 

Is your mom hot? It may explain why guys were following her ?

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But I have a strict policy of doing the opposite of what Kotaku tells me to do... ;(

 

 

 

Quick Obsidian, pay them off to say your game is garbage before people get the wrong idea.

Exactly.

Something is rotten if Kotaku likes it, haha!

 

There's some story spoilerish stuff that they talked about for the main character that I wasn't too happy about.  Besides that, this is encouraging.  Especially the part about limited bugs and an immersive world.

I only scim-read through the OP here and didn't venture to the actual article, but I wholeheartedly agree. It seems I will be pleasantly surprised at the lack of bugs.

Obsidian, what happened? A lack of bugs and glitches? What!?

Edited by soedenone
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But I have a strict policy of doing the opposite of what Kotaku tells me to do... ;(

 

 

 

Quick Obsidian, pay them off to say your game is garbage before people get the wrong idea.

Exactly.

Something is rotten if Kotaku likes it, haha!

 

There's some story spoilerish stuff that they talked about for the main character that I wasn't too happy about.  Besides that, this is encouraging.  Especially the part about limited bugs and an immersive world.

I only scim-read through the OP here and didn't venture to the actual article, but I wholeheartedly agree. It seems I will be pleasantly surprised at the lack of bugs.

Obsidian, what happened? A lack of bugs and glitches? What!?

 

It's almost like getting to push back their game and not release it on someone else's schedule actually helped?!  WHAT

 

 

 

 

Also.....what's with despising Kotaku?  What am I missing?

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Also.....what's with despising Kotaku?  What am I missing?

 

 

They hate America.

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"The Courier was the worst of all of them. The worst by far. When he died the first time, he must have met the devil, and then killed him."

 

 

Is your mom hot? It may explain why guys were following her ?

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But I have a strict policy of doing the opposite of what Kotaku tells me to do... ;(

 

 

 

Quick Obsidian, pay them off to say your game is garbage before people get the wrong idea.

I usually feel teh same about most big gaming websites and reviews but this is Obsidian, I always like to see them do well. If a mainstream website says they like it, that is good in my book just for the fact it will get even more people interested :biggrin:

 

Would love to see Obsidian get rave reviews all around :bow:

Edited by kozzy
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Have they even bothered to read the manual that comes with the game? They seem to not understand that there's a friggen Cyclopedia that explains the game mechanics to them, yet none of them even mentioned it.

 

*facepalm*  bangheadir0.gif

 

It's Kotaku. Did you really expect them to read anything?

 

A little worrying that the people at Kotaku like Poe, makes me somewhat nervous, then again they've probably not really played and are simply jumping on the what's popular at the moment bandwagon. I'm surprised they don't have a problem with the tens of thousands of gamers whom funded this project, one would think that they'd boycott it for that reason.

We've all been tricked into paying for Social Justice: The Video Game.

Edited by Luckmann
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t50aJUd.jpg

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It's almost like getting to push back their game and not release it on someone else's schedule actually helped?!  WHAT

 

 

 

 

Also.....what's with despising Kotaku?  What am I missing?

 

Ah, the story of Kotaku is a long and troubled one.

And yes, it's almost like Obsidian set their own releasedate, this time!

 

 

Why are people so obsessed with bugs? It's ridiculous.

What? I assume you have played other Obsidian titles? 

As much as it pains me to say it, because I think Obsidian have made some of the best games I've played in recent years, like Alpha Protocol, Fallout: New Vegas and NWN2:MotB, they have had some serious issues with bugs and glitches on release.

Edited by soedenone
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Have they even bothered to read the manual that comes with the game? They seem to not understand that there's a friggen Cyclopedia that explains the game mechanics to them, yet none of them even mentioned it.

 

*facepalm*  :banghead:

 

It's Kotaku. Did you really expect them to read anything?

 

I don't follow Kotaku at all, so I wouldn't know. 

Edited by TrueMenace
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Calibrating...

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But I have a strict policy of doing the opposite of what Kotaku tells me to do... ;(

 

 

 

Quick Obsidian, pay them off to say your game is garbage before people get the wrong idea.

Exactly.

Something is rotten if Kotaku likes it, haha!

 

There's some story spoilerish stuff that they talked about for the main character that I wasn't too happy about.  Besides that, this is encouraging.  Especially the part about limited bugs and an immersive world.

I only scim-read through the OP here and didn't venture to the actual article, but I wholeheartedly agree. It seems I will be pleasantly surprised at the lack of bugs.

Obsidian, what happened? A lack of bugs and glitches? What!?

 

It's almost like getting to push back their game and not release it on someone else's schedule actually helped?!  WHAT

 

 

 

 

Also.....what's with despising Kotaku?  What am I missing?

 

Literally every video games website is despised.

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jcod0.png

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Why are people so obsessed with bugs? It's ridiculous.

What? I assume you have played other Obsidian titles? 

As much as it pains me to say it, because I think Obsidian have made the best games I've played in recent years, like Alpha Protocol, Fallout: New Vegas and NWN2:MotB, they have had some serious issues with bugs and glitches on release.

 

Yes. I have played every Obsidian game. AP and MotB I had zero issues with. Recent games such as DS3 and Stick of Truth, zero issues. I remember having problems with the camera and group movement in NWN2 which made it borderline unplayable at times, but that was fixed in a patch before I had finished the game.

 

So first off, I haven't really experienced a lot of bugs in Obsidian games (unlike the Troika games - Bloodlines and ToEE were both impossible to complete because of bugs in the state I first installed them in).

 

You don't play a game because it has few bugs. There are gazillions of complete **** games out there without a lot of bugs. What matters is the style and substance of the game - I'd rather Obsidian focus on that and then patch things up afterwards.

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"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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Weird, I have Kotaku on Facebook and see a lot of their stuff.  I'm a veteran nerd and I've never encountered anything reprehensible.  Is this like a gamer hipster thing? 

 

Why did the hipster burn his tongue?  Because he sipped his coffee before it was cool.  hur hurr

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Why are people so obsessed with bugs? It's ridiculous.

What? I assume you have played other Obsidian titles? 

As much as it pains me to say it, because I think Obsidian have made the best games I've played in recent years, like Alpha Protocol, Fallout: New Vegas and NWN2:MotB, they have had some serious issues with bugs and glitches on release.

 

Yes. I have played every Obsidian game. AP and MotB I had zero issues with. Recent games such as DS3 and Stick of Truth, zero issues. I remember having problems with the camera and group movement in NWN2 which made it borderline unplayable at times, but that was fixed in a patch before I had finished the game.

 

So first off, I haven't really experienced a lot of bugs in Obsidian games (unlike the Troika games - Bloodlines and ToEE were both impossible to complete because of bugs in the state I first installed them in).

 

You don't play a game because it has few bugs. There are gazillions of complete **** games out there without a lot of bugs. What matters is the style and substance of the game - I'd rather Obsidian focus on that and then patch things up afterwards.

 

Hey, I absolutely one-hundred percent agree with your sentiment.

That doesn't change the fact that while Obsidian games haven't been, as you say, quite Troika-esque, in my experience they have been almost there.

Even doing runs in NWN2 complete edition this year, that I bought on GoG, has forced me to reload earlier saves a couple of times because of broken triggers and other such nonsense making quests unfinishable.

 

Anyway, it was more a pleased, joking statement than anything else. A couple of small bugs don't bother me in the slightest, as long as they aren't gamebreaking :-)

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Why are people so obsessed with bugs? It's ridiculous.

What? I assume you have played other Obsidian titles? 

As much as it pains me to say it, because I think Obsidian have made the best games I've played in recent years, like Alpha Protocol, Fallout: New Vegas and NWN2:MotB, they have had some serious issues with bugs and glitches on release.

 

Yes. I have played every Obsidian game. AP and MotB I had zero issues with. Recent games such as DS3 and Stick of Truth, zero issues. I remember having problems with the camera and group movement in NWN2 which made it borderline unplayable at times, but that was fixed in a patch before I had finished the game.

 

So first off, I haven't really experienced a lot of bugs in Obsidian games (unlike the Troika games - Bloodlines and ToEE were both impossible to complete because of bugs in the state I first installed them in).

 

You don't play a game because it has few bugs. There are gazillions of complete **** games out there without a lot of bugs. What matters is the style and substance of the game - I'd rather Obsidian focus on that and then patch things up afterwards.

 

 

I'm not some over picky person who expects perfection.  I can live with bugs as long as they don't break my save game. Considering I and many others are literally invested in this game, hearing that the game is light on bugs is good for its overall success.  Having a bad reputation for bugs (especially from a big media source) would scare off many buyers.

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Jason Schreier: Right, sure, sometimes you can't get away from a claustrophobic environment, which is Not Great if you want to, say, cast a giant fireball that would also inadvertently blow up your own party members if they were in the area of effect.

 

Shouldn't cramped spaces actually feel harder to fight in?For me the annoyances added a claustrophobic feel to dungeons that made outdoor battles seem more fun and I always liked that.

 

Kirk Hamilton: Yeah, that's definitely true—you have to take your environment into account. Sometimes that feels by design, like with the fireball example you cited. I guess that for me, sometimes it still feels like the areas are just too cramped and, maybe more importantly, the game itself can be too difficult to read once the fur starts flying. Still, like I said, it's something I'm sure I'll get better at as I go.

 

Though I have to agree that disappearing circles from spell effects is not good.Whats crazy is the bloom and how every single game comes out and then modders take months to years to remove or reduce it.I wonder if POE lends itself to modding the same way Skyrim does.

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