Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 1 E3 Hands-off Impressions

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Pillars of Eternity has secured for itself a number of critical accolades upon its release (including mine!) and with a robust high fantasy universe, it’s easy to see why it earned so acclaim. A new expansion developed by Obsidian Entertainment is being released by Paradox Interactive very soon to give players more time to explore the mysteries of Eora. I was able to witness a hands-off demonstration and note a number of features down:

-Combat gameplay largely remains the same with the player able to control each of the characters individually. Combat unfolding in real time with the option to pause.

-New customisable companion AI has been added to ensure that players don’t need to engage in constant micro-management with their party during the melee. I should note that there were a number of hiccups during the presentation with some of the AI companions standing by and doing nothing in the middle of battle but I’m sure this will be fixed by the time the expansion is released. This change will also be applied to the base game so the expansion is not necessary to access this feature.

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-Players will now have the option of scouting with a single character rather than telling the entire party, including the chainmail wearing tank, to begin sneaking. This opens up new tactical opportunities.

-Two new companions will be included in the expansion including a mechanical ‘construct’ and a drug addicted monk. They will each bring their own flavour to the action and the narrative.

-More customisability will be available for players with familiar characters with the option to now cross-class. So wizards can finally take chanter talents to become even more useful in combat.

-The level cap will be raised by 2 from 12 to 14 so you’ll have more wiggle room to play around with these new level-up options.

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-The UI will also received a bit of an overhaul and this will also be applied to the base game in a patch.

-The expansion will feature more scripted events which will in turn be more dynamic with various factors in the party composition effecting the outcome. In the demo, the party were climbing down into a pit when a heavily armoured party member slips, falls, and takes the rest of the group with him down into the depths.

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This only the first part of a two part expansion and with content being about equivalent to Baldur’s Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast (around 20 hours). When exactly the expansion is coming out has not yet been announced but I can quote that the devs said it “comes out soon”.

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