Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire isn’t a new game to review in 2020. The game originally launched two years ago, but the console editions have only recently arrived. The console versions feature all the post-launch additions and expansions too. After Larian Studios’ Divinity: Original Sin 2, Deadfire is another great chance for console players to get their hands on a fully open-world narrative-driven isometric RPG that leads you to the feeling that you’re reading a well-written book while following your own story. This is our Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire PS4 review.
Playing Deadfire after having the chance to go through the last year’s The Outer Worlds, led me to the conclusion how close both of the games are in the base RPG structure, and how inspiring Pillars of Eternity should be for other RPG makers thanks to its flawless narration and unbelievably detailed gameplay elements.
Nowadays, the industry leans towards open-world environments in games rather than trapping players between invisible walls. But making a free-to-explore world doesn’t mean drawing an expansive map and leaving the player there to survive. It’s important how much freedom you have in an open-world game to do what you desire. I don’t want to say every game should be a Grand Theft Auto, but considering the genre’s borders, it becomes a challenging struggle for the developer to grant the player an amount of freedom that makes him feel he’s making his own history without noticing the gameplay fences surrounding him.
Like any game that has been made so far, Deadfire features a finite world with dozens of missions that have to be done by the player, and some inevitable battles that have to take place. Deadfire’s wild card is the fact that it doesn’t boast the main storyline over your adventure. In other words, the way you decide to explore the world, hunt treasures, and strengthen your crew could be more intriguing than what developers have planned, thanks to Obsidian’s brilliantly crafted quests in the game.
In Deadfire’s vast world filled with numerous islands, landing on each one of them will make you encounter with a new challenge, whether it’s dealing with dragons and high-profile gods to beat Eothas, the main antagonist of the game, or fleeing from deadly pirates to keep resources and survive. In a world that you choose your own way, you should always get ready for your own death. As the captain of The Defiant ship, you are tasked by Gods to avoid Eothas from reaching the luminous Adra and stop him from taking over the souls of the dead. But you could’ve drowned in a storm in the sea before making your first successful sailing in the world of Deadfire and end your adventure with any meaningful achievement. After all, this is the cost you have to pay if you want freedom in games.
As I mentioned before, following the story in Deadfire is much like reading a book. All the dialogues between you and other characters in the game have been detailed with beautifully written descriptions of the character’s moves, gestures, and feelings, which is a clever way of injecting details into an isometric view in which you can’t spot the people’s body language. The amount of narration and dialogue in Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire could easily make a great fantasy book.
What helps the narration most after the well-written descriptions, is the fantastic art design of the game along with the stunning voice acting of the characters and narrator. Thanks to Obsidian’s impressive graphic design, every place in the game implies a different living feeling to the player and creates an eerie atmosphere, reminding you of the deadly dangers that could be hidden in every corner. Besides, the sound design of the game plays a key role in drawing the player deeper into the world of the Deadfire.
Having said that, when it comes to the technical side of the graphics, certain annoying weaknesses cannot be ignored. First of all, there are too many loading screens in the game which is the most annoying part of the game. Transitioning from each place to the other will cost you a nearly 40-sec loading screen, which is disappointing when you keep going down and down in a dungeon. In addition to this, you should consider the occasional frame rate drops to zero when you enter a new area for a few seconds, which could be an issue for some of the inpatient players.
Speaking of the gameplay, Deadfire suggests two different styles of combat before starting your journey. The first one is the series’ way of battling which relies on pausing the game, putting the actions in order, and then resuming the battle. On the other hand, there is a turn-based mode that could be a good fit for those who are not familiar with Pillars’ combat structure. I prefer Deadfire’s real-time combat design because of its easy control over time and characters, though in some battles with more enemies, the turn-based style would benefit you more.
Based on the class and division you choose for your character, there are many many skills and abilities to unlock and improve in your progression menu. While some of the skills are combat-exclusive, there are other sorts of abilities that would help you to win the diplomatic battles in dialogue and save a heavy engagement for your side. Also, there is a third kind of skills that will aid you in your explorations. Things like picking a lock, surviving the storm, and sneaking around enemy armies. While you have full control over your assets, skills, and weapons, you can customize your crew’s gear and abilities. The more you earn XP, the more you will get upgrade points in the game. Sailing in the ocean and discovering new areas is one of the easiest ways to earn XP while killing giants is the most dangerous way.
Summing up my review on Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, I should say this is a must-to-play game for RPG fans and a sweet option for newcomers and something rare and wonderful for console players. Deadfire is a game for patient players, those who listen to dialogues and who want to drown in the narration of the story. Those who value strategy and think twice before making a move. And the game will reward your patience in the best way you could’ve imagined.