At the beginning of December, I set for myself a goal to stop pussyfooting around and finish Pillars of Eternity — a title I had been slowly progressing through all year — by the end of the month. And on the evening of Christmas I realized I was actually pretty close to the end of the game, so in one three-hour session, I fought valiantly to the resolution.
And so it was done.
The problem with going through modern single-player RPGs is the sheer time commitment that each takes. That was terrific back before I got into MMOs and family and had a lot of spare time to fill up. These days, a 60, 100, or 200-hour game is a daunting prospect compared to a breezy two-hour adventure title. But it’s still something I want to do, even if these completions come at the rate of one per year, because I enjoy the mechanics, world, and story. Plus, they’re perfect to add gaming variety alongside MMOs so that I get a bit of the best of both worlds.
In any case, lets talk Pillars. This was Obsidian’s 2015 RPG that sought to bring back the style of Baldur’s Gate-era games with a more modern update. It takes place in a new fantasy world in which babies are being born without souls and the main character is imbued with the power of a “Watcher” who can investigate souls to see the past.
I’ll admit that, while serviceable, the main plot was not as compelling as the shorter side stories and the companions’ tales. I suppose this is true of most RPGs, as bigger storylines tend to lose us after a while and we enjoy the full resolution of a short story instead. What if there was a single-player RPG where everything was a side story, just a whole bunch of them? I’d be down with that.
Probably my highest praise for Pillars is that the game mechanics are really well done. There’s a bit of choose-your-own-adventure segments from time to time, understandable stats, and a very flexible character system that lets you mold and roleplay your team as you see fit. By the end my main character was a lightning-fast twin-rapier fighter who was surprisingly tough even though she only wore light armor.
I was torn on using preset companions for a party (which wasn’t mandated, as you can create a full customizable team). But the fact that each of them had personalities, was voiced, and had developing stories won the day. Plus they talked amongst each other and even bickered and joked. I liked that.
What I liked even more was the fact that in the back third of the game, it mostly took place in elvish territory. And the game let me get up in each of the clans’ faces and often wiped them out without any dire consequences. I’m not here to bring peace to the elves, but the blade.
It’s such a good feeling to have the game done and know where it went. Of course, now that presents a huge quandry — what now for my single-player RPG time? As I see it, there are three strong options:
- Buy and play through the Pillars of Eternity expansion
- Skip ahead and start Pillars of Eternity 2 (and its DLC) for that “fresh start” feel
- Or change things up with a different title sitting in my library (Wasteland 2, The Witcher 3, and Divinity Original Sin 2)
Kind of wish I could do all of them simultaneously! That’s a good problem to have.