If you liked Western RPGs in the 90’s, you probably liked Baulder’s Gate. If you like Western RPG’s now, you’re probably going to like Pillars of Eternity.
That was my main take away from my interview with Rose Gomez, Associate Producer at Obsidian Entertainment.
Rose walked me through basic character creation, as well as a few nuances of combat and social interaction. Allow me to give you an idea of the setting of Pillars of Eternity: The player will adventure through the world of Eora as a member of one of a number of races. There are standard Humans and Elves, but also Aumaus (their answer to Orcs), Orlan (a small somewhat feral looking race) and Godlike.
Obviously we picked a Godlike.
Godlike were pretty cool because they weren’t actually a race themselves. They could be of any race, but they were a collection of individuals that began to assume physical attributes linked with the gods they worshiped. In this demo, Death, Fire, Moon, and Natural Godlikes were available. Also during character creation, players have to choose a class, culture and background. Class obviously dictates how the player is going to perform in combat, but culture and background (while having some influence on the mechanical parts of the game through things like dictating starting equipment) were primarily there to effect how players would interact with the various NPC of the world.
How the players interact with NPCs will dictate how the narrative of the game progresses, as players will build a reputation that will affect how other NPCs will treat them in the future.
As for combat, a few specific classes were brought to my attention. The Chanter is their “bard” equivalent, but with the abilities to write custom songs. Using “notes” or small segments of a song that have specific effects, Chanters can chain these together to perform a song that has custom benefits. The other was a Cipher which, while I was given fewer details of how they worked, apparently utilizes “souls” (an important narrative aspect of the world) to aid their allies in battle.
It should be noted that Pillars of Eternity has a good old fashioned Hardcore Mode, where death will erase the player’s save file. The only problem with the aptly named mode is that there isn’t going to be a record of it anywhere, so if you get a Hardcore character to max level and die, you’ve got to just hope your friends believe you.
Death is permanent for most characters in the game even on normal modes, but there is yet further options that will allow players to disable this. With all of these options, Pillars of Eternity seems geared to not only appeal to late 90’s gamers that will feel the draw back to familiar systems, but also new players that want to discover a genre that hasn’t shown its face in quite a while.