I just finished my first playthrough of Pillars of Eternity (50 hours –did all side quests + endless paths) and I wanted to take the time to give you my feedback. Before I get started, I want to stress that I backed the game the minute I heard about it, I started playing RPGs with the first Fallout back in 1997 and I have enjoyed and played pretty much everything from Obsidian. What follows is not a review of the game but rather the main points on which I wish to give you some feedback.
Feel free to comment this post but please note that I do not intend to start a debate but only provide my feedback to the devs.
First thing that caught my eye. The game is simply gorgeous to look at.
After PoE, I think I’ll find it hard to go back to old IE games, visually speaking.
In my opinion, it sets a new standard for isometric 3D games. Kudos to your visuals artist and the art director. Don’t change anything in that department
I find this part to be quite disappointing.
I think it has to do with the fact that you cannot free roam on the world map.
You know that you have a limited number of maps and you go to each one and once you have combed them, it’s over. You just have to move on. I really miss the fact that you cannot wander and chance upon a cave or have some random encounter on the map.
As a result, I found the game to feel “boxed in” and not providing the thrill of exploration
I was also disappointed by the fact that apart from a few variables in dialogues, you don’t really have that big an influence on the world and the ending of the quests.
My biggest disappointment was after the hearing at the duke’s palace.
I was really expecting Dyrwood and Defiance Bay to change based on my input during the negotiations but whatever I chose to do, it does not impact the script (if there is another outcome, it’s interesting).
In general, I found that different skills did not change the game experience that much.
You use force instead of resolve but it’s just a line of text that is different.
In Fallout 2 for instance, I liked the way that if you played a doctor or a computer technician, it opened completely new narrative paths adding to the replayability and the sense of discovery. Here if feel that the variations are more cosmetic rather than meaningful.
I am not a big fan of real time in the first place so maybe I am biased.
I would say that the combat is functional but not very interesting and maybe a bit unbalanced. I struggled a bit up to level 6-8 and after that I just steamrolled my way through the game in normal, only to struggle again at the end (last boss was really tough).When you know what you are doing, it’s always the same pattern of buffs, spells and positioning. Maybe I should have played in “hard” but I suspect it would have made the game just more frustrating rather than challenging.
I was also disappointed by the narration which is usually considered a strong point for Obsidian.
Don’t misunderstand: it is still miles better than most games out there or even some concurrent RPGs but I think it’s not in the same league as Kotor 2 , New Vegas or even Alpha Protocol.
Everything is well written, although sometimes a bit over-indulgent, but nothing really shines through.I find it hard to name a memorable character or quote a particularly stunning piece of conversation (I can easily do that for Fallout 2 and of course, Planescape and for New Vegas to an extent) The NPC companions share the same problem. They are competent but a bit bland.
The big reveal fell a bit flat for me and I never really did feel invested in the story like I did for your other games.
-Conservative and predictable
I am sorry to say this but I think it’s the cause of my semi-disappointment with the game.
Everything is kind of predictable and seen before: secret society, the pantheon of gods, big city with seedy districts and patricians, elves who live in the woods near majestic trees and curse the greed of “white men”. Except for a few quests that I will not spoil, I was never surprised or intrigued by the game or the story. Everything was as it should and safely on a well-treaded path.
Apart from new lore, I am sorry to say I did not bring anything new to the table thematically or design wise.In that respect, I found the endless paths to be the most interesting and thrilling part of the game because it combined a lot of things that are otherwise missing: an interesting location, surprising quests and enemies, intriguing narrative.
Someone once said that in entertainment it’s dangerous to innovate in all aspects at the same time.
I have a feeling you did innovate with Kickstarter and maybe unconsciously played it very safe with the design and writing. In my opinion, PoE is your most conservative and less interesting game with Dungeon Siege 3
To summarize: I thought that PoE is a very beautiful game with very solid roleplay foundations but it’s a shame it’s being very conservative and that nothing very interesting or memorable is happening in its beautiful world. Let’s be clear, I am immensely glad to have backed this and help brought the classic RPG experience back. However, I feel that you have played it very safe and that a lot of untapped potential remains.
Do not rest on your laurels because this is one of your weakest offering. I really hope you will up the ante for the next installment because this is clearly not Obsidian at its best (except visually).
PS: Most people think that 4M is a lot of money but anyone with some serious business and industry experience knows it’s actually peanuts for a game of this scope and ambition. So my hunch is that you guys had to deliver a tight package on a budget which would explain a lot of the shortcomings I am pointing out, especially regarding scope and reactivity.
I hope the success of PoE will take care of that issue.