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The RPG Files: 28 Tips for Pillars of Eternity

By Christopher Coke on March 27, 2015 | Columns | Comments

28 Tips for Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity can be a daunting game. If you’ve never played an Infinity Engine title before, there can be a lot to learn! From combat and exploration, to just plain leveling up your character, things probably don’t work exactly how you would expect them to. We’re here to help! We’ve compiled a list of tips straighten out the learning curve and get you right into the game. Read on to hit the ground running!

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1. Click Their Feet

This one seems too easy, but selecting a character or NPC can feel finicky for newcomers since clicking on the head or body doesn’t work. This is especially tricky when enemies are dead and misclicking moves your entire party on top of the spot you actually needed to click. To get around this, try clicking the enemy’s feet. It works every time.

2. Read Everything

Pillars of Eternity revels in its writing. This is the first game in years to tell you how a character is acting rather than show you with animations. It’s great! Take your time, read through every conversation and book. Invest in the world and its setting. Pillars is a much better game when you take the time to smell the roses.

3. No Really, Read Everything

But for your own welfare, make sure to read the less fun stuff too. Right from character creation, Pillars throws the book at you with stats and sub-stats. It’s worth your time to understand what each of these do and how all of the systems interact. It’s easy to be unprepared if you’re not sure how each of the game’s stats and your party’s spells work.

4. Explore Off the Beaten Path

Unlike most RPGs, you don’t earn experience from killing monsters. Here, all of your progress will come from completing quests and exploring the world and its inhabitants. There are lots of side quests – and many of them are really good! – so take the time to find them.

Along with that, try avoiding combat from time to time. The game’s conversation system is excellent and ties in with the stats you’ve given your character. It’s possible to make your way through many tense situations without needing to battle, and it can be even more thrilling that if you just fought.

5. Don’t Get Hung Up on Quests

That said, this game has more quests than you can shake a stick at. Don’t give up quickly, but if you’re really struggling, it’s okay to move on. Along with that, it’s perfectly okay to take a break from the campaign too. In fact, it’s the only way you’ll get to max level before you finish.

6. Consider Making a Wizard

My first character was a fighter. After picking up my first companion, who happens to be a wizard, I was shocked at how much more powerful he was. Wizards start the game with a good assortment of spells at the expense of being a glass cannon. Since you won’t have to wait long to build a party, consider trying a Wizard for the early game.

7. Make a Hireling for Your First Dungeon (But Spring for a Good One)

But you might be wondering, “why bother making a wizard if your first companion checks that box!” That’s where hirelings come in. The first inn allows you to make your very own hireling with the game’s character creation system. If you’re a wizard, consider making a tank. If you’re anything else, try to go with something that complements you. Just don’t buy the level one hireling. They’re almost useless since they’re so weak.

8. When You Have a Party, Ditch the Hirelings

But, after you’re done with that and have enough story companions to make your way, ditch the guy you made at the pub. Obsidian has done an excellent job of making their companions interesting characters you want to adventure with. You can also spark up conversations with these guys from time to time, making them altogether more interesting than your own silent creation.

9. Remember to Scout!

Scouting, that is, sneaking through dungeons is an important part of keeping your party alive. Entering into scouting mode allows you to sneak up on enemies and gives you the chance to highlight traps before you trigger them.

10. Pause Often, Customize Auto-Pauses

Pillars of Eternity isn’t an easy game, and even with the difficulty on its lowest setting, you’re probably going to die more than once. There is no party AI in Pillars, so it’s up to you to control all of your characters. When you have a full group, there are a lot of balls to juggle. Thankfully, pressing the space bar allows your to pause and issue orders. There’s a wealth of options to control automatic pausing in the options menu, too.

11. Strategize and Try New Tactics

Pillars is based on dice rolls but it isn’t what you’d call unfair. If a battle isn’t going your way, it’s time to pause and re-assess. This is a game that encourages you to take things slow and think it out. If one tactic doesn’t work, reload and try another.

12. Reconsider When You’re Using Abilities

Like classic tabletop RPGs, most of your abilities have a limited number of uses per encounter. Many buffs are also limited in seconds. Think carefully about what you want to use, when, and on what enemy. Don’t worry, though; by your next fight, most abilities will have their uses reset.

13. Save Often, Load Often

I’m going to let our editor, Bill Murphy, field this one:

Bill says: "Save early, save often. Press F5 like your life depends on it, because well... it does. You characters can die permanently in Pillars of Eternity. And depending on what difficulty level you've selected you can even have the game DELETE your save file upon death meaning you have to start over. Pillars isn't exactly Bloodborne, but you will run into touch monsters and fights and you will die. So unless you like losing a lot of progress, be sure to use the F5 quicksave and full-save often.

14. Stock Up on Camping Supplies

Pillars isn’t a game to rush through and nowhere is that more clear than the dungeons. Following up on Bill’s “save often” tip, make sure you bring lots of camping supplies whenever you leave the safety of a town.  If you’ve cleared a room, you can sleep in it, which completely refills your HP. Early on, but really all throughout, you’re going to find yourself facing some tough odds. Sleep it off and wake up to keep fighting in few hours.

If you run out of supplies, don’t worry about leaving the dungeon to go get more or rest at an inn. Monsters don’t respawn the same way as other games and the area should stay cleared out until you return.

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