Pillars of Eternity
Honoring and refreshing the Infinity Engine legacy.
It’s like the Infinity Engine hasn’t aged a day. If you were around 15 years ago, when legendary Infinity Engine games such as Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment were redefining the computer RPG, Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity is probably exactly what you see in your mind’s eye. In reality, those old prerendered backgrounds are now plasticky and microscopic on high-res monitors.
Pillars of Eternity is how you remember those games looking: moodily lit, each isometric scene packed with evocative tiny details. And from the short demo I saw at E3, Obsidian has done exactly what its 73,986 Kickstarter backers wanted: create a 1999 RPG with a 2014 graphical shine.
Obsidian showed off an introductory area of Pillars of Eternity, which opens with your character traveling through the Eastern Reach with a ragtag caravan. A few minutes in and the caravan is attacked, people die, and you lead a couple of survivors through some nearby ruins. The short presentation assumed some baseline knowledge of past Infinity Engine RPGs. Obsidian didn’t spend time explaining the basics of isometric RPGs or digging into stats or classes, or even showing off dialogue. Instead, they focused on what’s new.
There are 11 classes in the game, but Obsidian focused on wizards. “In the old
If I were to choose ‘cruel’ and was a jerk to everyone, that’ll change how others react to me
Infinity Engine games, once you’d spent all of your spells, your wizard was kind of useless,” said Brandon Adler, lead producer. “We wanted to avoid that, so one of the things we’re doing is [giving wizards] rods and wands that they can shoot projectiles out of.” Wizards will start with a blast ability that will do AoE damage around the enemies they hit, which Adler said will be good for mopping up mobs.
Obsidian also touched on the disposition system, which works similarly to alignment in Baldur’s Gate or Planescape. “You’ll see diplomatic, honest, passionate,” said Adler. “Depending on how you respond in various conversations, it’ll track that throughout the game, and people will respond to you differently based on that. If I were to choose ‘cruel’ and was a jerk to everyone, that’ll get out to the public at large, and that’ll change how people react to me. A priest may not want to deal with me; but somebody in the village I’m dealing with will go, ‘I don’t want to mess with that guy, give him whatever he wants.’”
According to project lead Josh Sawyer, it’s also possible for your companions to die or abandon you based on your decisions, and it’s possible (although extremely difficult) to fight through the entire game solo. No one at Obsidian has tried yet.
Pillars of Eternity is now feature-locked and heading for beta, where systems will be tweaked, art will be polished and bugs will be squashed. Backers will gain access to the beta build in the next few months.
The background scenes look amazing,
but we want to see the dragons. Setting up camp with your companions, you get to admire your surroundings. The world’s hopefully going to be less empty on release.