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The RPG Files: Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition Review (PS4 Version)

By Joseph Bradford on September 18, 2017 | Columns | Comments

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition Review (PS4 Version)

One of the very first games I owned growing up was Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn. It opened my eyes to a whole new way games could tell stories. It was a game that reminded me of the Dungeons and Dragons sessions my friends and I would have in the tiny garages of the houses we grew up in on Nellis Air Force Base. Pillars of Eternity, releasing 15 years later on PC really brought back a lot of memories growing up on PC Role-playing games. The presentation, the music, and the epic story – it all brought me back to loading up Baldur’s Gate 2 for the first time. Additionally, the controls felt almost identical – a complicated mix of toolbars, precise mouse movements and hotkeys making it perfectly suited for the PC. If you would have told me, however, that Pillars of Eternity (or any game like it) would make its way to a console, I would have bet you money it would not work. At all.

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Boy am I glad to be completely and utterly wrong.

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition launched on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One earlier this month to great fanfare. The isometric RPG made by Obsidian Entertainment (of the original Fallout fame) and published by Paradox Interactive, the biggest question going into the game was not whether or not it would be a great game – critics and fans alike have agreed that Pillars of Eternity was already stellar on PC. The biggest question stemmed from how well the interface and controls would translate to a gamepad and television screen.

Paradox Arctic, the studio who handled the console port, have done an amazing job making the complexities of Pillars feel comfortable on the gamepad. Once you get used to the controls they really do feel second nature. Pull the R2 to bring up combat specific skills for your selected character, L2 pulls up quest log, inventory, leveling menus and more. The L1 and R1 bumpers lets you easily swap between characters and combat, which is the most complex in terms of controls in games like this, is actually very easy to control. You still need to work through layers of menus to pull up a dizzying array of skills in some instances, but a simple press of square or X lets you pause combat or attack a target. It’s elegant, and once you get the hang of the system it makes lounging back on your couch and enjoying the fabulous tale Obsidian have weaved a joy.

The story follows the player, known as The Watcher, who we learn can see the past lives of the denizens of the world around you. Along the way you’ll meet up with characters such as the Elf Wizard Aloth, or the incredibly strange priest by the name of Durance. The hand-drawn art style pops on the big screen, really, and while the game is still mostly text-based, we don’t have any Witcher 3-esque text issues with Pillars of Eternity. Some of the more important parts are also beautifully voice-acted, but if you’re sitting a normal distance from your TV the text-conversations don’t detract from the experience. The story for Pillars of Eternity and its exapansion, which are part of the Complete Edition on console, haven’t changed and really hold up well. Check out our original review and expansion review to see what we thought of them on PC.

While playing, there haven’t been too many issues to report other than the loading times. Early on I encountered crashes while loading some of the earlier areas such as Gilded Vale or Caed Nua. As I progressed through the game, though, loading times increased the farther along I got. Console loading times were already longer than my PC version (thanks in-part to my hybrid-HDD/SSD drive on my PC), but waiting full minutes to load the PS4 version sometimes is absurd. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen every time, and it does seem to alleviated some, but it’s worth noting.

Pillars of Eternity is also still the same punishingly difficult game as it was on PC, which is great to see. It really does force the player to pause combat and think about each action, giving you some of the most satisfying combat experiences any RPG can offer on the platform. Decide you just want to rush headlong into battle and forgo this step? You’re going to lose then – and easily even on the middling difficulties. If you want to simply enjoy the story and make the combat less demanding, Pillars also supports that, however. It’s up to the player on how they want to play, and having player choice is never a bad thing.

Conclusion

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition really loses nothing coming over to console. It’s a marvel how Paradox Arctic was able to port the complex controls of the PC version, which hopefully can serve as the model for other isometric RPGs to shed their PC exclusive wings and find a home on console as well. The story holds up, even after a few years from the initial release, and the visual direction is still just as stunning as ever. Combat is difficult, as it should be, but Paradox has included a mode which allows players to simply enjoy the story without worrying too much about each individual combat encounter. While I personally wouldn’t play this mode, it’s a nice addition for those who just want to relax and enjoy a good game. Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is hampered, however, by some pretty long loading times, especially as you get later into the game. It’s not game breaking, but it’s worth noting and I hope that Paradox is working towards easing this as time passes. If you’re looking for a great RPG and passed on Pillars of Eternity the first time, or simply a console player who never really had the chance to play it, Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is well worth your time.


Score: 9/10


Pros

  • Great story
  • Marvelous port, especially the complexities of the controls
  • Visuals look striking on console, even from a distance

Cons

  • Can be intimidating to new players
  • Long loading times a turn off later in the game.