PlayStation Plus Is Losing A Fantastic Pirate RPG In January
Set sail before it’s too late.
It’s hard to imagine Baldur’s Gate 3 as anything other than a turn-based game, but that detail was actually a bit of a surprise when it was announced. Previous games in the series melded turn-based and real-time combat in a system called real-time with pause. While it’s not nearly as popular today as it was with the great RPGs of the ’90s, some games still carry on the tradition of the original Baldur’s Gate series — and you only have until January 16 to play one of the best on PlayStation Plus.
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a swashbuckling pirate adventure set in a fascinating fantasy world. While there’s more than a little Dungeons & Dragons inspiration on display, it also features soul-powered magic, a walking statue possessed by a vengeful god, and an archipelago full of distinct cultures.
Pillars of Eternity 2 continues the story of the first game, so playing that one is ideal, but you can also pick up straight from the sequel. The gist is that god-powered statue I mentioned has destroyed your home, so you set off to see if you can keep it from destroying the world. The biggest hurdle to starting with Pillars of Eternity II is the mountain of lore necessitated by the game’s unique setting. Fortunately, there’s a deep in-game encyclopedia explaining everything from its factions to metaphysics.
But while the specifics of its universe might take some getting used to, there’s more than enough to grab onto in the story. Following a rampaging god is straightforward enough, and the first few hours of the game do a good job of laying out the peculiarities of the world without feeling like a history lesson. And by the time you finish that, you’ll be too embroiled in political machinations and world-altering heroics to care if you’re a little unclear on the bigger picture.
The biggest change Pillars of Eternity II makes from its predecessor is the introduction of sailing. To chase your kaiju-sized quarry, you need to follow it from island to island on a ship crewed by your companions. That adds a layer of strategic management as you assign workers to your ship, maintain a store of provisions, and work to keep your ship floating between missions.
As you sail from one island to another, you’re always at risk of attack. Naval combat is turn-based, unlike the rest of the game. It’s a complicated dance of positioning your ship to inflict damage without taking too much yourself. If that style of battle isn’t to your liking, you can also board the enemy ship to initiate normal combat and still feel plenty piratey about it.
Combat in Pillars of Eternity II takes place in real-time, with each of your party members acting automatically. You can tweak each companion's AI to decide what abilities they’ll use on their own, or take direct control at any time. By pausing the game, you can issue orders to each party member and set up more coordinated combos. It’s a system that includes all the complexity of something like Baldur’s Gate 3 without you needing to give commands for every individual attack.
Every character class in Pillars of Eternity II feels totally unique, with class-specific mechanics and resources. Some of the more out-there systems include the Monk powering abilities by taking damage, and the Chanter swapping out verses of songs to sing in battle for customizable buffs.
If you want to give Pillars of Eternity II a shot, you should get on it soon. Clocking in at more than 40 hours a playthrough, it’s not the kind of game you can breeze through in a weekend. And if it really gets its hooks in you, you’ll find dozens more hours of optional content to explore. Pillars of Eternity II demands a lot of attention, but its captivating world and deep gameplay are more than a worthy reward.