Pillars of Eternity

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Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity.jpg
Developer(s) Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher(s) Paradox Interactive
Director(s) Josh Sawyer
Producer(s) Brandon Adler
Designer(s) Josh Sawyer
Bobby Null
Eric Fenstermaker
Programmer(s) Adam Brennecke
Artist(s) Rob Nesler
Writer(s) Eric Fenstermaker
Carrie Patel
Olivia Veras
Composer(s) Justin E. Bell
Engine Unity
Platform(s)
Release
  • Windows, OS X, Linux
  • March 26, 2015
  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • August 29, 2017
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Pillars of Eternity is a role-playing video game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Paradox Interactive. It was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux on March 26, 2015. The game is a spiritual successor to the Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series, along with Planescape: Torment . Obsidian started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for it in September 2012. The campaign raised over US$4 million, which was the highest funded video game at the time. The game uses the Unity engine.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Obsidian Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer based in Irvine, California. It was founded in June 2003, shortly before the closure of Black Isle Studios, by ex-Black Isle employees Feargus Urquhart, Chris Avellone, Chris Parker, Darren Monahan, and Chris Jones.

Paradox Interactive Swedish video game publisher

Paradox Interactive AB is a Swedish video game publisher based in Stockholm. The company is best known for releasing historical strategy video games. Paradox Interactive publishes its own games, both developed by their division, Paradox Development Studio, and those of other developers.

Contents

The game takes place in the fantasy world of Eora, mainly inside the nation of Dyrwood. The infants in the Dyrwood are plagued by a recent phenomenon in which they become "hollowborn" upon birth, meaning they are born with no soul. During the beginning of the game, the protagonist experiences an awakening of power due to a disastrous supernatural event, discovering they are a "Watcher": a person who can see past lives and interact with souls. The objective of the game is to find out what caused their awakening and how to solve the hollowborn problem.

Fantasy genre of literature, film, television and other artforms

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often without any locations, events, or people referencing the real world. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama. From the twentieth century it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels and video games.

Pillars of Eternity received critical acclaim upon its release; many critics praised the game for its world and immersive writing, along with the strategic combat, and also said that it is a worthy successor to the games it was inspired by. The game also won various awards and accolades, including best RPG of 2015. A two-part expansion pack, The White March was released in August 2015 and February 2016, respectively. A sequel, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire , was released in May 2018.

An expansion pack, expansion set, supplement, or simply expansion is an addition to an existing role-playing game, tabletop game, video game or collectible card game. These add-ons usually add new game areas, weapons, objects, characters, or an extended storyline to an already-released game. While board game expansions are typically designed by the original creator, video game developers sometimes contract out development of the expansion pack to a third-party company, it may choose to develop the expansion itself, or it may do both. Board games and tabletop RPGs may have been marketing expansions since the 1970s, and video games have been releasing expansion packs since the 1980s, early examples being the Dragon Slayer games Xanadu Scenario II and Sorcerian. Other terms for the concept are module and, in certain games' marketing, adventure.

<i>Pillars of Eternity: The White March</i>

Pillars of Eternity: The White March is a two-part expansion pack for the 2015 role-playing video game Pillars of Eternity, developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Paradox Interactive. The first part was released on August 25, 2015, while the second was released on February 16, 2016.

<i>Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire</i>

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a role-playing video game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Versus Evil. It is the sequel to the 2015's Pillars of Eternity, and was released for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS in May 2018, and will be released for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in 2019. The game was announced with the launch of a crowdfunding campaign on Fig in January 2017, where the game reached its funding goal within a day.

Gameplay

An example of dialogue in the game, depicting the interface. Pillars of Eternity Master Odema Dialogue.jpg
An example of dialogue in the game, depicting the interface.

Pillars of Eternity is a role-playing game that features a party-based real-time-with-pause tactical gameplay, fixed isometric user interface for the game-world with two-dimensional pre-rendered backdrops, [1] [2] in a similar vein as its spiritual predecessors Baldur's Gate , Icewind Dale series and Planescape: Torment . [3] As the player's characters explore an area map, it is unveiled. There is a fog of war effect on areas the player has already explored and has moved away from. [4] The character classes and game mechanics are similar to Dungeons & Dragons , [5] but are a proprietary system created for the game. [6]

Party (role-playing games) group of characters adventuring together in a role-playing game

A party is a group of characters adventuring together in a role-playing game. In tabletop role-playing, a party is composed of a group of players, occasionally with the addition of non-player character allies controlled by those players or by the gamemaster. In computer games, the relationship between the party and the players varies considerably. Online role-playing games or MMORPG parties are often, in the above sense, of the same constituency as tabletop parties, except that the allies are always controlled to a lesser or greater extent by the computer AI. In single-player computer games, the player generally controls all party members to a varying degree.

User interface means by which a user interacts with and controls a machine

The user interface (UI), in the industrial design field of human–computer interaction, is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. The goal of this interaction is to allow effective operation and control of the machine from the human end, whilst the machine simultaneously feeds back information that aids the operators' decision-making process. Examples of this broad concept of user interfaces include the interactive aspects of computer operating systems, hand tools, heavy machinery operator controls, and process controls. The design considerations applicable when creating user interfaces are related to or involve such disciplines as ergonomics and psychology.

<i>Baldurs Gate</i> (series) franchise of role-playing video games

Baldur's Gate is a series of role-playing video games set in the Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting. The game has spawned two series, known as the Bhaalspawn Saga and the Dark Alliance, both taking place mostly within the Western Heartlands, but the Bhaalspawn Saga extends to Amn and Tethyr. The Dark Alliance series was released for consoles and was critically and commercially successful. The Bhaalspawn Saga was critically acclaimed for using pausable realtime gameplay, which is credited with revitalizing the computer role-playing game (CRPG) genre.

The game does not reward experience points for killing enemies, only for completing quests and discovering new areas. This means that non-violent approaches such as stealth are just as rewarding. [7]

The game starts with a character creation screen where the player can choose items for their playable character, such as their physical appearance, race and creed. [8] The player can choose to play as one of eleven classes: fighter, barbarian, paladin, ranger, wizard, druid, monk, priest, rogue, chanter and cipher. [9] Each of them make the gameplay different; for example, the cipher can use the soul of an enemy in order to attack them, [9] and druids can shapeshift into a beast and cast spells. [10] The protagonist's class can also influence the number of available dialogue options. [11] The player may adventure with up to five other characters out of a total of eight that they can pick up on their travels. [12] [13] These are fleshed out characters with unique personalities and appearances. [13] Additionally, the protagonist can hire party members which the player creates in local taverns, but at a monetary cost. [14]

Creed Statement of belief

A creed is a statement of the shared beliefs of a religious community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets.

The game has optional side quests that do not advance the main plot, which feature fleshed out supporting characters and multiple outcomes. [8] According to a writer for Digital Spy, most of these are not "fetch quests". [8] During the game, the protagonist can build up a reputation depending on their actions. [15] Non-playable characters will react differently to him or her depending on this, and it can also affect the outcome of certain events in the game. [16] The game features a scouting mode in which the party can sneak, which allows the player to avoid being seen by enemies. During scouting, the party can spot hidden items and traps, which the player can disarm and use against enemies. [17]

Damage from enemies to the player's characters affect an endurance and health pool. While endurance regenerates after combat, health can only be restored by resting. The party can either set up camp, or rest in an inn. [18] If a character in the party has their endurance drained, they are knocked out until the end of combat. If a companion has their health reduced to zero they die permanently. [18]

The player can choose from five skills to overcome situations: Stealth, Athletics, Lore, Mechanics and Survival. [19] As the player fights more creatures, more information is added to their bestiary. This helps the player collect information about how to attack them effectively. [18] Early in the game, the protagonist will take over a stronghold, which acts as the party's fortress. This can be upgraded. [20]

Story

Setting

The story takes place in the world of Eora, in a region placed in the southern hemisphere called the Eastern Reach, [21] an area roughly the size of Spain. [22] The Eastern Reach contains several nations, including the Free Palatinate of Dyrwood, [23] a former colony of the mighty Aedyr Empire that won its independence through a revolutionary war; [24] the Vailian Republics, a confederation of sovereign city-states; [25] and the Penitential Regency of Readceras, a quasi-theocratic state ruled by priests of the god Eothas. [25]

Technologically and socially, most of the civilizations in Eora are in what roughly corresponds to the early stages of the Renaissance. [15] Firearms are still a relatively new invention and are quite cumbersome to use; as a result, their use is not widespread. They have, however, proven quite effective against magic users. [15]

A factor of great conflict all over Eora is the recent scientific discovery that souls are not mere metaphysical abstractions, but quantifiable, measurable objects that can be transferred, stored, or molded. Souls are the basis of magic, as accessing their power is what allows certain people to use it. Souls leave the body upon death, and go through a largely unknown process before reincarnating into a newborn body. [25] Every soul does, however, have embedded memories from their previous lives, and through certain processes a person's soul can be "Awakened," meaning they gain awareness of these past lives. [25] There are also people in the world who have the supernatural ability to perceive people's souls, which allows them to access past memories, among other things; these individuals are called "Watchers." Though the study of souls, called animancy, [15] is still a young field of science, the implications for society at large has been vast, led to rapid advances in technology, and caused several rifts and clashes in the different religious communities, which has marked the era as a time of great turmoil. [15]

Characters

The player character can be male or female and one of six available races, and the game typically refers to him or her as "The Watcher." Over the course of the adventure, the player can recruit up to eight secondary characters as companions. Available companions include: Edér, a fighter and worshiper of one of the game's gods, Eothas; [7] [26] Aloth, a wizard and child of parents who served nobility; [7] [27] Durance, a disillusioned priest and follower of Magran, a goddess of war and fire; [7] [28] [29] Sagani, a ranger who is on a quest to search for an elder from her village; [7] [30] Grieving Mother, a strange cipher who can not normally be fully seen by other people, and has a personal connection to the hollowborn problem; [7] [31] [32] Pallegina, a paladin who works for the Vailian Republics; [33] [34] Kana Rua, a chanter who was sent by his people to recover a book of sacred text; [35] [36] and Hiravias, a druid who has been banished from his tribe. [37]

Plot

The player is a foreigner who arrives in the Dyrwood. [38] Their caravan is hit by a mysterious storm that kills everyone but them. [7] [39] Taking refuge in a cave, the player character witnesses some cultists perform a ritual on a machine that can strip souls from their bodies. [40] Exposed to these energies, the player character becomes a Watcher, a person able to read souls. [7] The player character also becomes Awakened, able to access memories of their past lives. [7] [41] This curses the Watcher with waking visions and an inability to sleep. In time, the Watcher will go insane from this, so they must track down the cultists and reverse the curse. [7]

Dyrwood is cursed by the Hollowborn Plague: children are being born without souls, leaving them totally unresponsive, in a way similar to a permanent vegetative state. [42] Many people blame animancers, the scientists who study and manipulate souls. [7] Investigating the curse, the Watcher discovers that the Hollowborns' souls have in fact been stolen by a cult known as the Leaden Key, led by a priest named Thaos, and that Thaos is framing animancers for the Plague. [43] [44] [45] This eventually leads to a riot in the capital city where animancers are lynched and their college is destroyed. [46]

The Watcher and their companions pursue Thaos to the city of Twin Elms, where they finally learn the truth behind Thaos' actions. The gods of Eora are in fact synthetic beings created by an ancient civilization known as the Engwithians. [47] [48] The Engwithians were master animancers, and through their science they discovered that the world of Eora had no real gods. This created an existential crisis for the Engwithians. The world of Eora was plagued by religious conflicts, and the Engwithians had hoped to end these by discovering the true pantheon. Furthermore, most societies used gods to validate their moral systems, and the Engwithians feared that if others discovered that there were no real gods, this would cause amoral behavior to spread. So the Engiwithians decided to create some artificial gods by fusing their souls into magical constructs. These constructs then presented themselves to the mortals of Eora as the true gods of the Universe. The people of Eora were thus united in worship of a common pantheon, ending centuries of religious conflict and promoting the spread of civilization. Thaos is an Engwithian animancer who has survived the centuries by transferring his soul from one body to the next. His eternal mission is to ensure that nobody discovers the truth about the Engwithians' artificial gods, otherwise people might question their legitimacy. [49] Part of this involves suppressing the science of animancy, because animancers might discover the truth through their science, just as the Engwithians did. Thaos stole the souls of the Hollowborn to empower the goddess Woedica, who hates animancy and would see it destroyed. [50] Though the other gods have an interest in protecting their secret, they do not want Woedica to dominate them, and so they help the Watcher breach the defenses of Thaos' lair. [50]

The Watcher slays Thaos in his lair. [50] The ending varies depending on the Watcher's choices in the game. [51]

Development

Pillars of Eternity concept art published during the Kickstarter campaign. Project Eternity Temple Entrance.jpg
Pillars of Eternity concept art published during the Kickstarter campaign.

Pillars of Eternity was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Paradox Interactive. [52] The game uses a game engine developed in Unity specifically for Pillars of Eternity. [53] [54] The game was directed by Josh Sawyer. [55] There were multiple competing pitches for Pillars of Eternity's storyline within the studio, and the one worked on by Eric Fenstermaker and George Ziets ultimately won, after which Fenstermaker, who previously worked as a writer on the company's Fallout: New Vegas , was designated the game's lead narrative designer. [56] [57] Also involved in production were Adam Brennecke, Chris Avellone and Tim Cain. [58] [59] The audio director of Pillars of Eternity was Justin Bell, who also composed the game's score. [60] Bell stated he was inspired by the music of Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale when composing the game's music. [61]

On September 10, 2012, Obsidian's webpage began teasing about a brand new game (entitled "Project X"), it initially was a number 4 encircled by an Ouroboros. [62] The next day it was revealed to be a countdown. [63] On September 14, 2012, the Kickstarter campaign went live revealing further details of the project. [64] It completed its 1.1 million dollars objective in just over 24 hours, and the first set of "stretch goals" were announced. [65] Pillars of Eternity surpassed the $1.6 million mark five days after the fund-raising began. [66] It was announced an OS X version of the game would be provided together with a DRM-free option through GOG.com. [66] A Linux version was announced on September 21, 2012. [67] It passed the $2 million mark on September 26, 2012. [68] On October 8, 2012, it was announced that Wasteland 2 would be offered to backers who pledged US$165 (and above). [69] In the last day of the campaign, Pillars of Eternity surpassed Double Fine Adventure as Kickstarter's most-funded videogame at the time. [70]

Feargus Urquhart, Obsidian's CEO, explained why they chose to use a crowd funding model for Pillars of Eternity instead of the traditional developer and publisher arrangement: "What Kickstarter does is let us make a game that is absolutely reminiscent of those great games, since trying to get that funded through a traditional publisher would be next to impossible." [71] In an interview, Josh Sawyer said that being free of the limitations of a publisher would enable them to "delve into more mature subject matter[...] slavery, hostile prejudice (racial, cultural, spiritual, sexual), drug use and trade, and so on will all help flesh out the story". [72] Obsidian was said to be inspired by InXile Entertainment's success of using Kickstarter to fund Wasteland 2. [73] Chris Avellone said during the project's announcement that if the campaign were to succeed, Pillars of Eternity would become a franchise. He also ruled out a possible console port of the game, saying, "Those [console] limitations affect RPG mechanics and content more than players may realize (especially for players who've never played a PC RPG and realize what's been lost over the years), and often doesn't add to the RPG experience." [58] Nevertheless, the game was successfully ported to consoles later. Additionally, he has pledged to write a novella set in the game world. [74]

On October 16, 2012, Pillars of Eternity's Kickstarter funding campaign concluded with a total of $3,986,929, becoming the most highly funded video game on the Kickstarter platform at the time. Together with further funds collected via PayPal, its budget rose to $4,163,208. [75] In December 2013, Obsidian announced that the official title for the game would be Pillars of Eternity, dropping the working title Project Eternity. [76] [77] They also launched a poll asking backers whether or not they would support further fundraising. [77]

In March 2014, it was announced that Paradox Interactive would publish the game. It was stated that Paradox's role would be taking care of marketing and distribution of the game, while Obsidian would still retain the rights to the intellectual property. [78] On March 11, 2015, a preview video of the documentary series titled Road to Eternity, was released. It has been revealed that the money Obsidian Entertainment raised for the game through its Kickstarter campaign saved it from closure, as it had been suffering from financial problems following its cancellation of a game for "next-generational consoles" in 2012. [79] [80]

Release

On March 17, 2015, Obsidian confirmed that Pillars of Eternity went gold, indicating it was being prepared for production and release. [81] The game was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux on March 26, 2015. [82] Several editions of the game were released, including a Champion Edition which has a campaign almanac, a map of the game, the soundtrack of the game, wallpapers, and ringtones; and a Royal Edition which includes the Champion Edition items along with a strategy guide, concept art, and a novella which was written by Chris Avellone. [83] [84] PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game were released on August 29, 2017, with the title Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition. Ported by Paradox Arctic, it contains the updated game and both parts of the expansion pack. [85]

Expansion pack

A two-part expansion, Pillars of Eternity: The White March, was announced by Obsidian at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015. [86] [87] Part I was released on August 25, 2015, [88] and Part II was released on February 16, 2016. [89] It extended the game, raised the level cap, and added new party members and abilities. [87] Part I and II currently hold a score of 76% and 79% on Metacritic respectively, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [90] [91]

Sequel

A sequel to Pillars of Eternity was confirmed by Obsidian in May 2016 along with possible plans to crowdfund the game. [92] The campaign was launched on Fig on January 26, 2017, where it was officially announced as Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire . It was released on May 8, 2018 for Windows, macOS, and Linux. [93] [94]

Reception

Reception
Aggregate scores
AggregatorScore
GameRankings (PC) 89% [95]
(PS4) 86% [96]
(XBO) 85% [97]
Metacritic (PC) 89/100 [98]
(XBO) 86/100 [99]
(PS4) 85/100 [100]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid 8.5/10 [21]
Game Informer 9.25/10 [101]
Game Revolution Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [14]
IGN 9/10 [102]
PC Gamer (US) 92/100 [7]
The Escapist Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [5]

Pillars of Eternity was met with positive reviews upon its release; it is currently listed on Metacritic with a score of 89/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews" according to the site. [98] The Escapist wrote that while it caters to a nostalgic fan base, it is an "excellent" role-playing game on its own merit, and also said that it is the best isometric role-playing game to come out "in years". [5] PC Gamer said that Obsidian made their best game thus far with Pillars of Eternity, and also wrote that it is a worthy successor to the games it was inspired by. [7] IGN praised the game, saying that it is a representation of what is good about old school role-playing games. [102] Digital Spy lauded Pillars of Eternity, writing that it is a "masterclass in role-playing game development." [8]

Game Revolution said that Pillars of Eternity's combat is "deep and engaging"; [14] similarly, Metro wrote that the combat is "highly complex". [2] GameSpot said that the combat is the game's best component, and also gave praise to the battle music. [32] Gameplanet praised the game for its strategic combat and level-based progression. [103] Game Informer noted the combat's customizability in the game, including the ability to change the difficulty and set options for auto-pausing. [101] However, the review criticized the pathfinding in the game. [101]

Pillars of Eternity's graphics and artwork were well received. Gameplanet called the art design in the game "excellent". [103] Game Informer said that the game's maps are "thoughtfully crafted", and that the detail on the characters and their equipment is "incredible". [101] Metro noted the game's higher resolution than older isometric games such as Baldur's Gate, saying that it benefits its "gorgeous" artwork. [2] The review also praised the game's lighting and particle effects. [2] The Escapist said that the spell effects in the game are "quite visually impressive" and that the character models are an improvement from traditional isometric games; however, the reviewer said that the backgrounds are not as impressive as "some of the more picturesque older titles". [5] IGN criticized the game's art style, calling it "dated". [102] Gameplanet found the game's voice acting to be "excellent" and free of over-acting. [103] Game Informer echoed this statement, and also wrote that the game's sound and music is "delicate and beautiful". [101]

GameSpot called Pillars of Eternity's writing "lovely". [32] Particular praise was given by the reviewer to the character of the Grieving Mother, whose personal story he said was intriguing and "mysterious". [32] PC Gamer also praised the writing, saying that it is "rich" and "evocative". [7] Destructoid praised the plot and the world's reactivity to the player, writing, "the main plot is packed with twists and surprises with staggering ramifications for a world players will feel they have become part of." [21] An IGN reviewer found characters in the game, both major and minor, to have well-developed characterization, but found it annoying that only some characters have voice acting. [102] Eurogamer criticized the game for lack of humor compared with Baldur's Gate and Morte from Planescape: Torment, called the quests as "fairly stock" and the characters "forgettable". [104]

Sales

In October 2015, Obsidian and Paradox confirmed that more than 500,000 copies were sold. [105] As of February 2016, the game had sold over 700,000 copies. [106]

Awards

List of awards and nominations
AwardCategoryResultRef.
Global Game AwardsGame of the YearNominated [107]
Best PC ExclusiveNominated
Best RPGWon
Best Original GameNominated
The Game Awards 2015 Best Role Playing GameNominated [108]
PC Gamer Spirit of the PC AwardWon [109]
Rock, Paper, Shotgun Best RPGWon [110]
IGN Game of the YearNominated [111]
PC Game of the YearNominated [112]
Best RPGNominated [113]
Writers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Achievement in Videogame WritingNominated [114]

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Undertale is a role-playing video game created by American indie developer Toby Fox. Players control a child who has fallen into the Underground, a large, secluded region under the surface of the Earth, separated by a magic barrier. The player meets various monsters during a quest to return to the surface, mainly through the combat system; the player navigates through mini-bullet hell attacks by the opponent, and can opt to pacify or subdue monsters in order to spare them instead of murdering them. These choices affect the game, with the dialogue, characters, and story changing based on outcomes.

<i>Tyranny</i> (video game) 2016 video game

Tyranny is a role-playing video game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Paradox Interactive. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux on November 10, 2016.

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