There was once a time when anyone looking for an RPG fix could only satisfy their craving with a ninja PC armed with the latest high-end graphics card and turbo-charged processor. The reason for this was simple; controlling RPG games was considered too complex for consoles and required all of the keys of a pc as well as a mouse pointer.
Over the years a number of developers have tried to argue against this by attempting to port PC RPG titles over to consoles with various levels of success.
However, with the release of Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition on the PS4 Obsidian and Paradox Interactive have achieved what many thought was impossible. An RPG game that plays as well on a console as it does on a PC. If you find this hard to believe, read on dear friend. Read on.
Released back in 2015 as a Kickstarter project, Pillars of Eternity was a PC RPG title that set new benchmarks for the genre and, in doing so, won universal critical acclaim. Decidedly old school in its appearance, Pillars of Eternity managed to modernise the role playing experience while staying true to the ideas and fantasy lore of games such as Dungeons and Dragons.
Through some incomprehensible alchemy the gaming druids at Obsidian and Paradox Interactive have managed to take all of the controls of the PC game and make them work on the console controller. The results of their effort is a game that feels like your playing it on a PC but on a larger screen and from further away.
The added benefit of playing the PS4 version, however, is that you get the two-part expansion pack called The White March thrown in for free. Hence the ‘Complete Edition’ part of the games title.
As is standard fare with games of this type, you begin Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition creating your character. You have all the usual fantasy world choices with a few unique races such as the rorlan, aumaua, and godlike thrown in just to keep things interesting. We counted no less than eleven classes to choose from: barbarian, chanter, cipher, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, priest, ranger, rogue and wizard. And each of these have different skills and abilities that you can tweak to match the way you like to play.
After you’ve created your character, the game throws you into a scene which involves you and a group of travellers being wiped out by some sort of hurricane and being forced to seek refuge in a cave. This introductory section is little more than a training level intended to familiarise you with the controls, how to use your characters and the basics of combat.
Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is probably the most text heavy RPG game ever. This baby is stuffed to the brim with dialogue, detailed character back stories and tons of choices. Each dialogue tree spawns a different response from NPC’s and often creates new in game options and challenges. We were pleased to discover that there is a definite ending to Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition. But how you get there depends on the choices you make.
The first half hour or so of Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is deceptively simple. As we expected, the battles are pretty pedestrian and the plot not so challenging. After the first 30 minutes however, the game becomes far more demanding. You get to learn how to acquire and use skills, you can grow your party to up to six characters (five including you) and battles take on a more tactical and strategic role. Luckily Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition comes with a handy pause button, so you can select individual characters, issue them with instructions and press ‘un-pause’ when you’re ready to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. It’s worth noting that in Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition you gain experience points from completing quests rather than killing enemies. So if you’d rather take a more strategic approach to difficult situations – other than fighting, that is – you can still make progress and increase your characters skills and abilities.
Graphically Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition retains the isometric top down feel of its PC counterpart. The maps are huge and the characters are relatively small unless you zoom in so you can inspect the level of detail that’s gone into their creation. The world of Eora is truly a wonder to behold on a large screen. Each area of the map is painstakingly drawn and you can find yourself wandering around for hours just to admire the view.
In contrast to the lush splendour of Eora The White March is a snowy ice-laden land where distant mountains are topped with frost.
In the audio department the developers have done a great job with the voice acting and the music. While playing Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition we couldn’t help but be reminded of some of the haunting music of Game of Thrones.
Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is packed with so much dialogue and side quests that you can easily write off the best part of six months playing your way through the game. That’s not even including the extra twenty hours or so offered by The White March. And, with all the choices available, it will be hard to resist replaying the game at least twice so you can check out what could have happened if you’d made different choices.
For anyone who’s ever doubted that RPG’s could work on a console, Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition lays any fears to rest. This is probably the best RPG game we’ve ever played on any device and is highly recommended.
9 out of 10