Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pillars of Eternity: Further Thoughts

The Bear

I killed the bear.

I had to gain two levels and get two companions, but the bear died. And it turned out that there was a really interesting story and moral dilemma attached to the bear.

As well, apparently there are two bears on Hard Mode! I'm not trying that any time soon.


The story in Pillars of Eternity strongly reminds me of Robin Hobb's Soldier Son Trilogy. It's obviously not directly related, but seems to hit similar themes. The Soldier Son books were pretty decent. Hopefully Pillars of Eternity is not as "mean" to the main character. Ms. Hobb really put her hero through the wringer.


One interesting mechanic is that the game pushes you to explore dungeons in stealth mode. If you are in stealth, you detect traps, find extra treasure and secrets, and get advanced notice of enemies before they see you. You can put the entire party in stealth and move as a group, so at least you don't need to micromanage a scout. But stealth still slows you down significantly.

It's an interesting design choice. On one hand, it is very atmospheric to sneak through the dungeon, carefully watching for traps or enemies. On the other hand, it is a bit tedious.

Conversation Meta-information

I turned on the conversation meta-information option. This tells you if a conversation choice has an associated trait like Honest, Cruel, Passionate, etc. I was having a really hard time matching choices to what the developers thought were the traits. For example, I got a point in Stoic, and I was completely surprised by that.

I'm really not sure about this decision, though. It might be better to just choose the response that I think best fits the situation, and take the traits as they come.

The other part of the issue is that it's sometimes hard to tell when it's an important choice where traits come into play, and when you're just going through all the options in the conversation tree to extract as much information as possible.

Melee Damage Dealers

A while ago, I posted about the Trinity, and how threat was important to keep the melee dps viable. I think Pillars of Eternity is proving me correct. PoE does not have threat, but characters do have "Engagement". Basically if you are in melee combat with someone, you can't really break away to attack a different character. You can attack another character who comes into melee range though.

So I have two sword-and-shield tanks (my paladin and fighter). My standard plan is to have those two engage the enemy and have the other characters fire from range. So far it's working pretty well.

However, I got an NPC who seemed to have short-range spells. He also had a two-handed sword and heavy armor. So I sent him into melee combat with the two tanks. The monsters all turned to him and wrecked him. I ended up switching him back to range and trying to station him just behind the tanks.

I'm not sure I really understand how a melee damage dealer is supposed to work in this game.


All in all, Pillars of Eternity is going strong. I've done most of the first area, and have just made it to the large city. Time for some good old-fashioned city adventuring a la Sigil from Planescape.


  1. I've played a lot this weekend too. Got my monk and his party up to level 8 now and in the 3rd act. Took a turn I didn't expect to close out act 2, so it will be interesting to see how things turn out.

  2. I want to love the game but it bugged the heck out of me that they seem to autokill your two companions after making it seem like they'd be part of your party. Made me think I'd made some terrible mistake and would have to reload from a save or go Google to see what I was supposed to do instead. I guess I'm just supposed to move on but that sort of high-handedness without telegraphing it at all really put me off the game.

    Will have to push past that. Sounds like it gets good.

  3. Interesting that it is similar to Soldier Son, which probably means I won't like it.

    I just couldn't get into Soldier Son beyond the first book, and even finishing the first book was a struggle. It came off to me as suffering for the sake of suffering.

  4. If your tanks pick up the multi-engage skill, they do a much better job of tying up enemies in combat, allowing for melee dps to remain a bit safer. Also two handed weapons have longer reach, which allows someone to actually stand behind the tanks and still swing away, which is very helpful and just looks cool.

  5. @Magson, nice post. I've added you to my blogroll. (To be honest, I thought I had done so before, but I guess I had not.)

  6. @Polynices, yeah, that bugged me a bit at first. But I've played through it a couple of times, and I kind of see why they did that.

    Depending on your choices, the companions can die earlier. For example, if you choose to rest, Calisca runs off and gets herself killed by a trap.

    If they didn't kill off the companions at the end of the prologue, there would be one "correct" way to play through the prologue, the way that leaves both your companions alive.

  7. @Redbeard, the similarity is more in the post-colonial setting and general level of technology. As well, the magic "feels" similar, though it's been a while since I read Soldier Son.

    But I suppose there's a lot of suffering, it is a somewhat dark setting. But it isn't concentrated on the main character, as in Soldier Son.

  8. @Syncaine, really? I guess I can see that working with polearms, but it seems odd for 2H swords. And where does that leave rogues and dual-wielders?

    I guess I'll have to experiment some tonight.

  9. Small correction; staves have the extra range ability, but not 2h swords. Not sure about other weapons, or if you can put the extra range on via enchant.

    Keeping a melee dps alive is interesting for sure. I use my second fighter as a duel-wield dps and that's been working fairly well for me, but he has to use fairly heavy armor and generally gets the better 'tanking' items. I tried him with lighter armor so he would deal more damage, but he just could take the beating. That said even in 40% speed reduction, he still hits hard and has nice utility (trip, enchants from his weapons).

    I'm lvl 8 fyi.

  10. @Rohan: You can combine stealth mode with double time mode (press "D"), so your characters in stealth don't move so slow. And of course you can turn of stealth if you have to go through some part of the zone again, I have never seen traps or monsters respawn.