GAMETECH: Pillars of Eternity won’t rock the foundations

Pillars of Eternity is well worth a look for console players who love high fantasy worlds and thoughtful, explorative gameplay, says Ronan Jennings

IMAGINE a pillar. (No, not your father-in-law, a real pillar.) The pillar’s most important job is to support something. So that pillar had better be reliable, steady, functional.

Those are all words that can be used to describe Pillars Of Eternity, a run-of-the-mill game that once carried a significant weight of its own. When Pillars of Eternity was kickstarted in 2014, it bore the weight of history on its shoulders, as backers expected it to herald a new age of PC role-playing games, just like the golden era of the 1990s. While Pillars of Eternity did open that door, the game itself transpired to be a somewhat safe version of the classics that inspired it.

Pillars of Eternity has now been released on consoles, in ‘complete’ form, meaning it has all the add-ons and is patched to perfection. While PC gamers have many such RPGs to choose from, console gamers have no such history.

For that reason, Pillars of Eternity is well worth a look for console players who love high fantasy worlds and thoughtful, explorative gameplay.

The classic PC RPGs of the ‘90s were themselves inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and tabletop gameplay. This means you split your time in Pillars of Eternity between exploring a lore-filled world, chatting with superbly-written characters and managing a small party of adventures in somewhat tedious battles.

The tedium of the battles is, of course, somewhat subjective. By and large, you simply manage your party’s various abilities (like a mage’s fireball or a warrior’s berserker attack) and equipment so that they overcome other, similarly small parties in combat. This is about strategy, not action.

Battles will be very familiar to gamers who played the original Knights of the Old Republic or Dragon Age. The difference here is that the world of Pillars of Eternity is somewhat stricter, meaning victory usually comes down to your party’s level versus the enemy’s level, rather than any fabulous party management on the part of the player. Pillars of Eternity will reward diligent, studious players and punish those who rush into battle without preparation, but the game doesn’t manage linearity or satisfaction well and the battles can leave you feeling cold.

Your own experience with Pillars of Eternity will depend very much on what you expect from it. If old-school party management battles are what you want, then this is a very solid offering with few competitors on consoles. On the other hand, the world itself, while exceptionally built and full of lore and great writing, is a little too bland for this writer’s liking. For something a little more weird and wonderful, try Torment: Tides of Numenera, a similar game that focuses more on surreal plot and characters than battles.

Pillars of Eternity is a welcome addition to the console family and a must-buy for fans of The Wasteland 2 and Divine Divinity. Just don’t go in expecting the foundations of PC RPGs to change – this pillar is holding them up.

PRIME PLAY

Netflix might be the pillar of online streaming, but Amazon Prime Video is laying down the building blocks for a challenge. Amazon just announced that the video streaming service is now available on PlayStation consoles in Ireland.

This means gamers can access shows like The Man in the High Castle, American Gods and the new The Tick reboot directly on their PS3 or PS4. There’s an introductory price of E2.99 for the remainder of 2017, with a seven-day trial available to test the waters.

BUNGIE JUMPS

Bungie laid some perfect groundwork for an online shooter in the original Destiny, and the sequel looks to have built nicely on those foundations. While Destiny 2 was only released this week, the developer has already started to think about what’s coming down the line.

On September 13th we will receive the game’s first raid, called Leviathan, with Trials of the Nine coming two days later.

The gear dealer Xur will also return on September 15. There will also be weekly Nightfall strikes and Flashpoint locations coming, while week four will see the launch of ‘Guided Games’, aimed at helping solo players find a team for raids. The first faction rally also begins that week. The first game was knocked from pillar to post for its lack of content, but the sequel is already looking far more solid.


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