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Pillars of Eternity 2 praise/criticism/gameplay and story analysis thread [SPOILERS ALLOWED]

BalladBallad Member Posts: 197
edited June 2018 in Off-Topic
EDIT: I started this discussion without realising that the Project Eternity megathread also covers PoE2 related things. However, seeing that the existing thread is strictly no spoilers, I decided to rebrand this thread as a [SPOILERS ALLOWED] discussion of the game to avoid overlap. So fire away, fellow Principi!

Original post:

I started playing PoE2 a week ago and I'm completely sucked in. It is as if the rest of the world has faded into obscurity. I find myself playing every chance I get, and when I'm not, it is all I can think about. I simply can't think remember the time I've been so excited about a new CRPG. Seriously, this game is that good.

PoE2 has definitely caught me off guard. I usually find modern games, even the critically acclaimed ones, to be lacking in comparison to the Infinity Engine classics. In one of my past threads, I bitched about how no game except Baldur's Gate seems to do it for me anymore. On top of that, I didn't really enjoy the first Pillars of Eternity all that much. I found it heavy, clunky and lacking in that ephemeral hard-to-trace something that separates a good game from a truly great one. As such, when PoE2 was announced, I was completely indifferent. I didn't back it and wasn't looking forward to playing it. I definitely didn't expect it to blow me away. Rarely have I been so glad to be proven wrong.

It seems like Obsidian really did their homework, because everything that annoyed me about the first installment seems to be either improved, changed or removed in the second. The double health bar, annoying stacking rules, unnecessarily verbose gold plated NPCs that added nothing to the story - all gone. The story companions, which I found dull and hard to relate to in the first game are much more fleshed out here. They banter, joke and involve themselves in conversations much more readily than in the first game. There are even romances now, which I honestly didn't expect. Overall, there seems to be a lot more humour around, in and out of conversations. Whereas PoE1 felt at times grim and overly serious, PoE2 is much more easygoing and lighthearted.

The colonial setting is a perfect change from the cookie-cutter medieval countryside of PoE1. The world of Deadfire reminds me of the Monkey Island games more than anything in the fantasy CRPG canon, and I mean this in a good way. I appreciate that Obsidian went for something fresh and quirky rather than clinging to more conventional, epic-writ-large high fantasy tropes. The ship is also a vast improvement over the original stronghold. Investing in upgrades and hirelings actually makes sense now. In fact, it is vital for getting ahead in the game, just as it should be.

The new multiclass system. Where do I even begin? It's brilliant, so much more intuitive and streamlined, yet so much more varied and complex than anything the first game had to offer. I've tried several multiclass builds and combos and they all seem to have their place, even the more unorthodox ones. And there's kits, too! Obsidian has really outdone themselves here. I'm currently playing a Herald (Troubadour/Shieldbearer) and it's exactly as fun as I'd imagine a D&D bard/paladin type of character to be, both rp and gameplay wise. I also appreciate that you get to multiclass story companions, too.

The combat, too, seems significantly improved from the first game. I'm playing on PotD with the latest difficulty patch [1.1 beta] and so far, the game has successfully kept me on my toes. Encounters are more varied and often require you to come up with creative solutions and strategies to handle. There's just something so satisfying about aiming your pistol at a barrel of gunpowder and have it demolish the enemy backline in a big bwoosh. I dig how spells and abilities are replenished after each battle, as this encourages a more all-out playstyle over carebear tactics. Also I like that there seem to be less filler encounters in dungeons, meaning the battles you fight are fewer but more challenging.

Excuse my rambling. The point I'm trying to make is that this game delivers. Do yourself a favour and give it a try, even if you, like me, didn't particularly enjoy the first game. In closing, I want to say that for the first time in a long, long while, I'm playing a game that doesn't make me wish I was playing BG instead. And this means a lot coming out of a grizzled BG-veteran's mouth.

Post edited by Ballad on
JuliusBorisovThacoBellkanisathaOrlonKronsteenronaldo
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Comments

  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511
    PoE2 is awesome, but does it need another thread when there is a perfectly decent one a couple of lines down?

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460
    @Fardragon The other one is explicitly spoiler free and more a discussion of its announcement. This could be a more spoilery discussion of our time with it.

    I agree with the OP, its a lot of fun and mechanically, is pretty much better in every way. Everything I found tedious in the original is gone. I can't speak for the full story or companions however. Currently some companions trigger all their dialogue too quickly, and I have abandoned my current run to try a different character concept. I'm waiting for the big bug patch to restart.

    kanisathaOrlonKronsteenJuliusBorisov
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 695
    I've hardly had any time for gaming since the fall, so I've only dipped my toes in the water, so to speak, but so far (first outpost) it seems great. I hated first one but with POE 2 I can't wait to dive in again. Like @ThacoBell, I'm probably going to wait for the next patch before I do so.

    The only thing that bugs me is, having not completed POE 1, I really don't understand my personal history choices at the start of the game, and the references to those choices in dialogue is going right over my head. I thought about actually finishing POE 1 just so I'd understand, but I can't be bothered.

  • BalladBallad Member Posts: 197
    ThacoBell said:

    @Fardragon The other one is explicitly spoiler free and more a discussion of its announcement. This could be a more spoilery discussion of our time with it.

    Apologies. I didn't realise all discussion of the game was consigned to that one thread. I have now edited the topic of this thread to make this a Spoilers allowed alternative.

    JuliusBorisov
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,112
    Pillars of Eternity has REALLY dense lore. I mean, they spared no expense in creating a totally original world and RPG system. I can understand why people can't get into the first game, even though it is actually very good. It's an introduction to a very complex world, and if you don't pay attention to what you're reading, you will be hopelessly lost.

    ThacoBellOrlonKronsteen
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460
    @OrlonKronsteen Don't feel bad. I beat Pillars 1 three times and I still didn't remember what all the choices were reffering to in the created histories. I had to look up who certain npcs were.

    OrlonKronsteen
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,112
    Since this is a spoiler thread, and it isn't all that easy to follow, the Pillars universe in the first game centers on the nature of souls, a myriad of gods, and the practice of animancy. Souls continue on and find new vessels after a host dies. The gods themselves are not actually gods, but simply giant constructs being fueled by souls. The main antagonist of the story is one of the only people who actually knows this, and is manipulating the general belief in gods to control the populace of the realm, or at least what they believe reality is. One of the main plot points is that children are being born as soulless husks, and most believe it is a divine curse, when it is in fact being manipulated by the leader of the Leaden King to make sure people CONTINUE believing and fearing these "gods" until one of them can consolidate enough power to maybe actually become one. But the central point is that none of these gods are divine in origin.

    ThacoBellOrlonKronsteen
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460
    I will add that a "god's curse" is still technically applicable. It was Woedica's scheme to begin with.

    jjstraka34OrlonKronsteen
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,399
    @jjstraka34 , I never liked PoE1 enough to play to the end - I always got bogged down in the endless keep and that first large city, and lost interest.

    Given all the lore you describe, where do clerics get their powers in the PoE setting? And mages and ciphers, for that matter? Is there something in the end of Durance's story that says anything about that? What if the main character is a cleric of Eothas? (I was playing that, once.)

  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,112
    edited June 2018

    @jjstraka34 , I never liked PoE1 enough to play to the end - I always got bogged down in the endless keep and that first large city, and lost interest.

    Given all the lore you describe, where do clerics get their powers in the PoE setting? And mages and ciphers, for that matter? Is there something in the end of Durance's story that says anything about that? What if the main character is a cleric of Eothas? (I was playing that, once.)

    I'm just sitting down to replay it (as I'm going to wait for all the DLC to tackle the second game). In the case of Durance I believe he turns against his goddess when he learns the truth. As for magic, it seems to be mostly a matter of intense study rather than innate magical talent, hence the need for grimoires. I know that keeping to the favored actions of your alignment are crucial in amplifying the powers of Paladins and Clerics, but I am also at a loss to explain where the powers come from. But it seems that they stem from the strength of the faith of the individual, regardless of how wrong or misplaced it is. It's an Inner Fire (to quote a WoW Priest spell).

    The companion quests in Pillars are fairly involved. Their epilogues are different based on how you finish some of their quests, but also based on whether you even choose to finish them. For instance, if you don't convince Durance his goddess was a fraud conspiring with the other false one, he simply commits suicide by burning himself on a pyre after being met with silence despite his zealotry.

    ThacoBellBelgarathMTH
  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,822
    i'm not really a fan of this new trend of modern crpgs having walls of descriptive text. it was used in planescape due to limitations and you could easily skim it. same with hordes of the under dark. now every rpg seems to want pointless text describing very minor things that just drag on conversations.

  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511
    edited June 2018

    @jjstraka34 , I never liked PoE1 enough to play to the end - I always got bogged down in the endless keep and that first large city, and lost interest.

    Given all the lore you describe, where do clerics get their powers in the PoE setting? And mages and ciphers, for that matter? Is there something in the end of Durance's story that says anything about that? What if the main character is a cleric of Eothas? (I was playing that, once.)

    It's actually stated in the POE manual that cleric spells are powered by their own faith, they don't get their spells from the gods. This is why there is a talent that cancels any penalties they would get for ignoring their deity's moral code.

    ThacoBellBelgarathMTH
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,112
    You have to give credit to Obsidian for the actual mechanics and rules of the RPG system they built for the game. It isn't just 3rd Edition D&D with a coat of paint. Many of the feats themselves are steeped in lore tidbits.

    kanisathaThacoBell
  • BalladBallad Member Posts: 197
    edited June 2018

    Pillars of Eternity has REALLY dense lore. I mean, they spared no expense in creating a totally original world and RPG system. I can understand why people can't get into the first game, even though it is actually very good. It's an introduction to a very complex world, and if you don't pay attention to what you're reading, you will be hopelessly lost.

    There are several ways of narrating lore in a fantasy setting. Most writers, it seems, feel the need to constantly reference it for the sake of plausibility and continuity. However, at times, less is more. It can be just as, if not more, effective to merely hint at explainations or leave questions unanswered.

    I think the three major works of J.R.R. Tolkien make a good example of this. They are all based on the same lore, but they all approach and reference it in a completely different way.

    I really like The Hobbit, because despite being 'an introduction to a very complex world', the lore is completely hidden within the narrative. We experience the world mostly through the eyes of Bilbo. Though there is a universal narrator that occasionally hints at a larger whole, nothing is ever explained in full, merely hinted at. It is a tremendously effective way of storytelling, because it gives the reader a sense of depth and complexity without killing the flow of the story with heavy tangents of lore. Subsequently, it piques our curiosity, making us want to know more.

    The Silmarillion, on the other hand, is all about lore and nothing but. The stories and characters are only there to punctuate the lore universe, to glue bigger and smaller bits of the big picture together. There is a sense of emotional distance and inevitability and it reads more like a history textbook than a fantasy story.

    The LotR books are a mixture of the two. The main focus is on the story, but occasionally the narration breaks off for several pages to explain the history of a specific location or the mythos behind a particular event. Very little in the world is left open for the reader to wonder about. Even when there is something that the characters do not understand, the narrator makes sure that the reader gets the long and short of it.

    The LotR approach seems to have become the golden standard in subsequent works of fantasy, crpgs included. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I sometimes wonder if writers, especially devs of new intellectual properties, are a bit too anxious to give off everything at once, fearing that any open ends might be treated as weak writing or plot holes by the community. Maybe the first PoE would've been easier to digest if it didn't push the lore so hard but chose to leave it in the cracks instead. But I digress.

    OrlonKronsteenThacoBellBelgarathMTH
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460
    @Ballad I think there is a place for each of those styles. In the case of PoE1, I feel it was a good move to go lore heavy. The mechanics of the world and firmly set in place and creates a VERY solid foundation to build upon. The Hobbit was only edited an added to the Middle Earth legendarium later, and in some places it shows. By starting wiht the denser foundation, Obsidian now have more room to follow a LothR esque middle ground, or even the Hobbit's mathod of hinting at greater things. Actually because we have the foundation, some really fun and reasonable speculation can come out of the Hobbit method for future Pillars games.

    Ballad
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,112
    Nothing in any game anywhere is as impenetrable as the frickin' Simarillion. That book is such a load of pretentious junk, and it will make you hate Elves to a significant degree if you don't stop yourself after the first 100 pages.

    DrHappyAngry
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,112
    ThacoBell said:

    @Ballad I think there is a place for each of those styles. In the case of PoE1, I feel it was a good move to go lore heavy. The mechanics of the world and firmly set in place and creates a VERY solid foundation to build upon. The Hobbit was only edited an added to the Middle Earth legendarium later, and in some places it shows. By starting wiht the denser foundation, Obsidian now have more room to follow a LothR esque middle ground, or even the Hobbit's mathod of hinting at greater things. Actually because we have the foundation, some really fun and reasonable speculation can come out of the Hobbit method for future Pillars games.

    They have already published a table-top card game (which I may order simply because it comes with instructions for a solitaire mode), and Deadfire (at least the Deluxe Edition) comes with a tabletop RPG supplement, which is going to be updated in the future.

    ThacoBell
  • DrHappyAngryDrHappyAngry Member Posts: 1,172

    Nothing in any game anywhere is as impenetrable as the frickin' Simarillion. That book is such a load of pretentious junk, and it will make you hate Elves to a significant degree if you don't stop yourself after the first 100 pages.

    I had to laugh at this, I remember trying to read it in high school and was like "what the hell, this is like reading the bible!?"

    So, like I said in the other thread, I didn't much care for the first PoE, but the second one seems improved in about every way. I've actually managed to finish 3 playthroughs.

    First run was a Swashbuckler (Fighter/Rogue) and I sided with the Principi.

    Second was an Assassin/Cipher. That was probably the most fun, really high risk high reward fighting style. Did the Principi again but sided with Furrante and the slavers this time.

    Third time an Orlan Wizard/Druid. Just a stupid amount of spells, and with the druid shape shifts, you can even melee it up when out of spells or against an enemy they're not working on. Fun, but the Wizard spells probably didn't add that much to the druid. I sided with the Huana, and was definitely surprised how nasty things got with them.

    When I get the urge to play it again, I think I want to get cozy with the Vailians next time. I never really did that much that they liked in any of the runs.

  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511
    The lore that was presented in PoE1 beings to make more sense once you have played both games and can contextualise it.

    Baldur's Gate has similar issues with it's lore books if the player as no prior knowledge of Forgotten Realms.

    ThacoBellmegamike15kanisatha
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460
    I actually really like the Silmarillion. There is a lot of REALLY COOL things that happen in there, on a scale that really isn't seen in the rest of Tolkien's writing. You just have to adjust to how dense it is to get to the tasty nougat core.

    BalladFardragon
  • BalladBallad Member Posts: 197
    ThacoBell said:

    I actually really like the Silmarillion. There is a lot of REALLY COOL things that happen in there, on a scale that really isn't seen in the rest of Tolkien's writing. You just have to adjust to how dense it is to get to the tasty nougat core.

    Yes, I have to agree. The Silmarillion definitely gets better on repeated readings. I recently re-read most of Tolkien's bibliography, starting with the Hobbit and ending with the The Children of Húrin, which is an expanded version of the Turin story from the Silmarillion. I really appreciated the deep delve into the history and metaphysics of Middle Earth and beyond but at the same time could totally understand why some people find it off-putting. The writing is dense and self-aggrandizing and the matrix of tribes, lineages and names can be overwhelming for a first-time reader. Once you have a basic grasp of it, The Silmarillion and its appendices become a very rewarding experience.
    ThacoBell said:

    @Ballad I think there is a place for each of those styles. In the case of PoE1, I feel it was a good move to go lore heavy. The mechanics of the world and firmly set in place and creates a VERY solid foundation to build upon.

    Again, I think you're right. In my case, me not enjoying PoE1 was a clear case of expectations vs. reality. I was eager to dive into a fantasy adventure and didn't want to sift through masses of unfamiliar lore for the story to make sense. One of the great things about Deadfire is how it puts you right in the action, letting you come back to the lore after you've had your fill of buccaneering.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460
    Is it disigenuous to like a post that agrees with a previous post of mine? Ah, screw it, people aren't using the upvotes like they used to anyway. I am simply correcting a deficiency ;)

    OrlonKronsteen
  • Rik_KirtaniyaRik_Kirtaniya Member Posts: 1,483
    Just started playing Pillars 2 today, and so far it's been a wonderful experience. I haven't played Pillars 1 yet (though I plan to play it soon), so I've yet to accustom myself with the mechanics and lore nicely. That being said, the gameplay is quite easy to grasp for a newbie, and I liked it a lot. I can't say any more, for I still have much to explore. Very excited about it! :smiley:

    Just a question to others, has anyone faced any lag with the opening cinematic? (It freezes sometimes with me, though from what I've seen in the trailer video, it's not that graphic intensive.) Maybe it's just my PC, but I'd like to be sure. :)

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460
    I haven't personally experienced that, though I DO get annoyingly long load times.

    Rik_Kirtaniya
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,112
    ThacoBell said:

    I haven't personally experienced that, though I DO get annoyingly long load times.

    I would highly recommend putting either game on your SSD drive (if you have one). If not, they have absurd load times.

    OrlonKronsteen
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460

    ThacoBell said:

    I haven't personally experienced that, though I DO get annoyingly long load times.

    I would highly recommend putting either game on your SSD drive (if you have one). If not, they have absurd load times.
    Nope, don't have one.

  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 695
    So, just dropping back in here to see if anyone is still playing - and/or enjoying - POE 2? I finally finished a game (Holy Slayer). It took me over a month and a half. I'm now in the midst of my second game (Kind Wayfarer). I'm amazed to see on the forums that people seem to be finishing play-throughs in a few days. Granted I've had minimal gaming time, but still I'm amazed at these fast runs.

    I'm still enjoying it immensely. For awhile there I even wondered if I'd ever want to play the BG games after such a step up in overall quality, but I'm actually hankering to play them again, if only for one or two final runs.

    Some observations: one, the difficulty. I've heard people complain that the game is too easy. I've been playing on the classic setting, without level scaling, and overall it has been rather easy. That said, when you take on an area that it above your level it can be really tough. I also made the mistake of going to the final battle in my first game at level 16. I was unable to beat it after a dozen reloads or so and finally turned the difficulty down just to finish the story. So while the game was easy overall, I wouldn't attempt the endgame without reaching level 20. Maybe I'm just not good enough at POE yet, but I'm pretty sure I threw everything AND the kitchen sink at that final encounter...

    I like the story - though I am getting tired of the epic scope thrust on the main character in some RPGs. It would be nice to play as an average Joe, rather than being the son of a god, or a watcher fighting for the fate of the gods... One thing about the story that's getting on my nerves, though is the divisive factions. I really enjoyed it at first, but I'm getting tired of being pulled around and of the feeling that I have to play ball with all of them. Maybe I don't have to play ball with all of them, but in my limited experience it feels like I do and I'm afraid to make choices that will permanently close roads to vital experience, quests and items. I love the companions in POE 2, but again I now find myself getting sick of the factionalization (is that even a word?). I'm tired of juggling around trying to keep everyone happy. It's realistic, perhaps, but getting tedious.

    I'd love to hear how others are enjoying the game!

    Oh, and does anyone else here find that Eothas reminds them of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen? I Googled this and found there are at least a couple others out there that see a similarity.

    ThacoBellFardragon
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,460
    @OrlonKronsteen Note that in almost all cases, the people who complain about the game being "too easy" are playing on a difficulty that something like, only 10% of players complete. So all the complaints you see are likely LITERALLY every player who thinks its too easy. Something like .5 to 1% of the playerbase.

    Personally, I was playing through, but every patch is changing so many things that I'm waiting for the patches to finish. So I canplay my character as I make them through to the end.

    OrlonKronsteen
  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511
    Well, I turned the difficulty up one notch, which is almost unheard of for me, I almost always play on "core rules" or equivalent. I was level 20 at the end though, there was far too much to do to get there any sooner.

    OrlonKronsteen
  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 7,112
    I'm waiting til the game is "finished" as it were, which means two more DLCs. The White March proved that there isn't really much point in not waiting til the game is complete. For Pillars 2, they have already released about 5 free content packs, as well as as Scavenger Hunt on the official website that adds even more items. And there are two more expansions to go this year. By the end of all this, the Pillars saga is going to be an epic journey that can easily rival Baldur's Gate in sheer number of hours you can dedicate to it.

    kanisathaOrlonKronsteenThacoBell
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