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Columns of Eternity II: The first 50 hours

Columns of Eternity II is aptly named. Fifty hours later, I feel like I've just started.

The pirate sequel to Obsidian's Fantasy RPG 2015 (which itself was a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate ) does not have the World's Greatest Map ever or anything, but the islands teem with small ones and great adventures. Last week, I lost myself in the game, got involved in countless factions, entertained all sorts of colorful NPCs, and desperately tried to win the heart of a giant woman by feeding sharks to her bird.

Besides, I think that technically I wanted to hunt a fun galactus eager to devour every soul he finds en route to an apocalyptic ending, but he can wait. I have pirates to deal with. Here are some thoughts on the pirate things I've already done (I'll discuss some parts of the story, but nothing that would make a bigger plot spoiler.)

  • I love the attitude. The Deadfire Archipelago is a lovingly designed, impressively vibrant space that blends inviting tropical scenes with stubborn politics, a growling sense of humor and occasional dose of psychedelic surrealism. Some Highlights:
  • 1) I sought revenge against a pirate who left me for dead by infiltrating his cave, throwing a drunken racer at a party to pull him out and then exploding his harpsichord as he sat down to what to play ended up being his own funeral.
  • 2) I stole the cure for an epidemic plague from a crooked dealer by agreeing to kill a rival of his, and then let that rival – who happened to be a man with a body and a spider's face – read monstrosity – dive into my mind and reveal the whole story. It turned out that the terrible monster from the worlds also valued my honesty and, as a sign of solidarity, told me how to steal the remedy.
  • 3) I suggested to a dead friend of the other merchant that I was not grateful after saving his ass from organized criminals. That felt good. My party members cheered all the time and grinned in agreement.
  • The Companions are a big step away from the first game. Companions in the first Pillar of Eternity had some good moments, but were not quite as sophisticated as some players hoped. POE II allows you to make friends with seven companions, each of whom is tied to the reputation system of the game. They like and like different factions and have different attitudes – and of course you, their captain. They respond to your decisions and chats as you wander through the major port cities, but not so much that it gets annoying. These conversations develop their relationships, which can lead to fascinating friendships, burgeoning romances and even bitter rivalries.

    For example, Priest Xoti is a devout follower of Gaun, an aspect of the giant god that your party is just trying to stop. Eder is a fighter and an old friend of your main character from the first game, in which you basically learned that the gods are idiots (and also former people). They have, let's say, different views on religion that have become more complicated in my game because it looks like Xoti in Eder has a crush on him, so much so that Eder told me in confidence. Strong writing and frequent events make POE II 's Party members alive, and I am very attached to them.

  • Sailing on the high seas is usually cool. As someone who sometimes tests the waters of conversation by suggesting that the version of Sid Meier's Pirates (2004) is the greatest game ever made, I really get the idea to spread out seas and boats. The oceans of POE II are fun, and the need to set up and feed a crew gives PC Fantasy RPG exploration a fresh feel. That is, POE II relies heavily on interactive fiction passages to carry everything from finding old battlefields to items and even other ships, so your mileage can vary. Ship-to-ship combat, in particular, initially feels unintelligent and ineffective. Even now, I prefer to rush into other ships and switch to more traditional RPG battles against their crews.
  • The game expects you to be familiar with the first Pillars of Eternity it can stand alone when you're ready to read something. Guilty Recording Time: I have never completed the first Pillar of Eternity . I put in 30 or so hours, but I came POE II foggy like a ghost-infested sea when it came to what actually happened in the previous game. It did not help that the sequel immediately set me on fire with questions about the kind of decisions my main character made in the first game. The first party member I met also treated me as if we had plundered the treasure of death together and got away thick as thieves. I spent an hour reading wikis to catch up. This was probably an overkill in hindsight, because POE II has its own wiki-like system that moves important dialogues about key people in the context of people, places, stories, and everything below can The sun. It can be a little bit too much sometimes, especially because it's hard to say what's really important and what's just for taste. On the other hand, many of the best quests and stories of POE II do not rely so much on what came before, and if you need a primer, well, it's (mostly) involved.
  • It keeps you talking in pirate simulations, to an annoying degree. See above.
  • The inventory system feels like a throwback to 1998. Who still remembers the good old days, when inventories were voluminous nightmare piles that needed constant, obsessive editing? That's a trick question, you know, because if you said yes, you're currently trapped at the bottom of a mine made up of old issues of Mad you could not stand for a new season of Interviewed Hoarders with your ever-decreasing air hole. What to say: Pillars of Eternity II does not have a large inventory system.
  • Fight is alright. POE II 's combat system once again recalls the RPGs of the Infinity Engine. It's real time, but you can pause the action if you want to send commands to one of your group members. You can also create custom AI scripts that your group members can follow. Or, for example, you can tell a group member that if an adversary wants to cast a particular type of language, they will immediately be dealt with. I recommend entering the system as soon as possible, because it can be very satisfying if your party works like a well-oiled machine, and because your party members regularly make amazingly stupid decisions if you do not.

    In a broader sense, there are plenty of fun unlocking skills and interesting opponents to fight, but I would be lying if I said that I did not spend several real-life hours imagining what it would be like If This Game Would Have Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an ingenious, much more versatile combat system. You can now throw stones at me, Baldur's Gate Fans

  • Money solves a few too many problems. That's a strange thing that struck me particularly in my time with POE II especially given the Divinity: Original Sin 2 which gives players an incredible level of choice, has been one of my favorite games of all time lately. The election is another way in which POE II lags behind Divinity with many quests that offer only a few possible solutions that often depend heavily on whether certain conversation statistics are appropriate or not
  • If you do not speak well, many quests will simply make you pay people. And I understand it: These people are pirates and they want money. But sometimes it feels a bit too easy. Any shabby ship's captain will explain his intricate and intriguing reasons for being an asshole for you anyway, and then you'll say, "Oh, huh. Well, here are 2,000 copper, which is basically not for me, because I have many I guess we're done here. "
  • There are lots of factions, and it's really hard to decide who to make friends with and who to annoy good style). I mean, that's an obsidian game after all.
  • It's flawed, but mostly in a way that briefly interrupts the immersion slowdown, occasional graphical bugs, and the slippery dialogue, rather than interrupting the game. I mean, that's an obsidian game.

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