Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is Obsidian’s Digital D&D Dream

Obsidian recently released Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on PC to high praise. The game is comprised of an island chain with a huge city, volcanoes, pirates and desolate sandbars. Playing in a isometric view like a traditional dungeon-crawling RPG, players will also have access to ships to help get around Deadfire’s open world. A lot of community feedback went into Pillars of Eternity II and we recently sat down with Adam Brennecke, Executive Producer and Lead Programmer, to talk about what helped make the new game succeed.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a continuation of the Infinity Engine games. This game is truly for hardcore players as the team looks to recreate tabletop games such as Dungeons & Dragons in a digital format. You control a party of five characters from eleven different classes with tons of customizations. The god Eothas has returned and taken over a giant statue. “This is a traditional Obsidian game,” said Brennecke. “So you can expect a detailed story, really good characters, we have all that. It’s a really big experience and a mix of dungeon crawling and choice of consequence through dialogue. It reacts to the way you’re playing it. It’s a really long game. You can get up to 50-75 hours in one playthrough. You not only hunt down Eothas, there are tons of island and dungeons to visit.”

It is worth noting that the art behind the game is beautiful and unique. Brennecke is really confident about the visuals in Pillars of Eternity II. “It is a very unusual style,” said. “It is a 2D game with 3D characters on top of the 2D space. I would say Deadfire is one of the best looking games on the market right now. It’s really gorgeous looking. Everything is handcrafted by our art team. So we have 200 different environments in the game. It’s all hand crafted. Nothing’s tiled or copy-and-pasted so it looks really really good. We also have a pretty advanced lighting system. We have really good material rendering that brings the game to life while dungeons will be pitch black.”

With having heavy customization, the classes play the beginning part of building your character. Having so many choices for a game that wants to mimic Dungeons & Dragons is a must. Most games that are set up like this are limited to 4-5. We asked Brennecke about the classes. “We have eleven different classes but also have multi-classing. We have the traditional fighter, rogue and wizard. There are hybrid classes like Barbarian and Druid so if you want to do a bit of spellcasting. We also have two unique classes, which is the Cypher. It uses soul-power to control people’s minds through psychic ability. We also have our Chanter which is our bard character. Instead of playing instruments, they sing. It’s a pretty cool mechanic where you can make your own songs. Depending on the song you make, you get different status effects and ability you can cast. With multi-classing, you can get a combination of any of the eleven classes. You can play a Battlemage or Swashbuckler. The game is very tactically-focused.”

Brennecke mentioned that if you were a fan of Torment or the Baldur’s Gate series that Pillars of Eternity would be right up your alley. But carrying over the confidence which is clearly backed by the high praise that Deadfire has received, he goes in deeper on this aspect. “It is one of the best of these series. This is the best version of one of those games. We used our expertise. We’ve been making these types of games for a long time. A lot of people from Obsidian have experience with those other games. We’ve learned so much from the first game. We have a crazy crafting system in the game with unique items and soulbound items that level up themselves.”

The community wanted a variety of difficulty and a new patch came out after launch to address this. The need to increase the difficulty was there. “We have a difficulty we added called Storytime,” Brennecke said. “We call it Dad Mode if you just want to play the story. The farthest is known as Path of the Damned. It’s the super hardcore difficulty and we actually add more monsters per encounter. We tweak the tuning of the game and it’s a lot more in the favor of the game. Some people said Path of the Damned wasn’t hard enough so we’ve went back to make it even harder.”

In terms of post launch content, Brennecke said there will be a good amount. This will also include free content. “We’re kind of hitting on a lot of different fronts. We’ve released a lot of free DLC. We had some extra time so we added more beard and hairstyles and an additional companion to recruit. We also have something new coming called Ship Crew. So you have a crew of people on your ship and a free DLC will allow for more crew members and ship upgrades. This will come out in a couple of weeks. We also do have premium DLC’s with the first one coming in July called The Beast of Winter. We are going to be announcing more about it in the next couple of weeks, as well. We have a season pass pack people can purchase now and have plans for three premium DLC’s that are big in content. We worked on Fallout New Vegas in the past and it’s pretty similar to the size of that game. We are constantly updating the game with new features and we did this with the original Pillars. Tuning, balancing, and features to play with. We want to keep improving it to make it the best game possible. It’s already a great game.”

You can check out our review of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire here. Games that continue to get support will have the most devoted fans and this franchise seems to fit that bill. The team is extremely high on the product they have released, as was our review. The game is strongly community driven and there is plenty of stuff for any type of player. The goal was to make players feel like they were playing D&D at home with friends and they’ve succeeded.