Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
If you can look past the sporadic technical issues and egregious load times, you’re in for a deep, nuanced and engrossing adventure.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire actually released on PC back in 2018, to much acclaim and joyful nerding. It has taken its sweet arse time being ported to consoles, but happily that day has finally arrived, and the result is largely positive.
Deadfire is a direct sequel to Pillars of Eternity, and opens with the player’s stronghold Caed Nua being given a boot party by antisocial deity Eothas. What’s a player character to do, other than assemble a crew, grab a boat and chase that mongrel god and find out just what the hell his bloody problem is. Naturally, the main story’s broad blockbuster quality stands in stark contrast to the dozens and dozens of hours of side quests, tasks, random exploration and dungeon crawling the large world offers hardy adventurers. It’s your classic Obsidian jam. However, an element that offers a much-improved experience is a revamped turn-based combat mode, which for console players in particular is a blessing from the various Gods.
See, playing with mouse and keyboard makes POE’s ‘real time with pause’ style of battle intuitive and responsive. On an XBOX or PS4 controller? Not so much. The speed and dexterity required to get all your ducks in a row pretty much guarantees all but the very best and most experienced players a rough old time. With turn-based combat that’s all changed, making the game feel more in line with the excellent port of Divinity: Original Sin 2. That’s not to say Deadfire is easy, because it’s not. At all. Even in turn-based combat, if you’re not paying attention you can die swiftly at the hands (or claws) of almost any foe. Expect loads of micromanagement, party stat optimising and wiki research during your 80-100 hour playthrough of the game, which includes all the DLC to date.
So, excellent combat, deep story, cool and interesting world, all good news, yeah? Okay, so now comes the bad. It can be summarised in two words: loading times. The console versions of Deadfire both suffer from ludicrously long load times between interiors, exteriors and other areas. This is a problem in a game that puts so much emphasis on exploration. Now, it should be noted that patches are ongoing to improve performance, but it can be aggravating and immersion-breaking.
Ultimately, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a cracking RPG yarn. If you can look past the sporadic technical issues and egregious load times, you’re in for a deep, nuanced and engrossing adventure. Just make sure to say goodbye to your free time, because Deadfire is a time vampire beyond compare.