Released on PC in 2018, the highly acclaimed Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire has made its way to consoles. But does the Pirate RPG still hold water as one of the best role-playing games out there, or does this generation’s lack of solid-state drives create load times that ruin the immersion needed to fully enjoy the game? The answer to both those questions is a resounding YES.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire picks up almost immediately after the original. You reprise your role as the Watcher, someone who can see and communicate with spirits stuck in this world who have yet to cross over. At the end of the first game, our protagonist (whom you get to name) decides to basically retire from adventuring choosing to settle down in the fortress known as Caed Nua. The opening of Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire starts with, and allow me to oversimplify here, your fortress being destroyed as a god that was buried under Caed Nua wakes up. This god then proceeds to steal the souls of most of your people as well as a piece of your own before rampaging through the Deadfire Archipelago.
Anyone who has played Dungeons and Dragons knows that there are a few things that must be done. First, you must build your character; their appearance, stats, and (arguably) backstory must all be fleshed out before the game can begin. Pillars of Eternity 2 has the same requirements. Before you are able to set out to retrieve the piece of your soul that was stolen, players are guided through a rigorous character creation module where you must “remember” your appearance, stats, and backstory (which has the option to be generic or surprisingly deep).
Speaking of D&D, the voice acting in this game is some of the best I have ever heard. Matt Mercer, Sam Riegel, Ashley Johnson, Liam O’Brien, and Laura Bailey are just a few of the big names that will pleasure your earholes. Practically every character with even the most minute of importance is fully voiced, whether it’s the guy that just getting his career started as a …. bail bondsman? What do you call a person who hires bounty hunters? My point is, I lost myself more times than I can count simply because I was walking by and overheard two people arguing. Afterward I would walk over and speak to one of them and it turned into an entire questline that had me parading all through the area to resolve a matter that had nothing to do anything.
Neketaka, the largest city in the game, is peppered with various side quests, multiple people of varying reputations have bounties that can be taken; it even has the tried and true ‘warring families’ trope. There are dozens of these kinds of side quests littered throughout the game. When you are not actually having conversations about the oppression of the working class with random street urchins, you will find yourself consumed with the perfectly paced music. Composed by Justin E. Bell and performed by The Budapest Art Orchestra, the nearly two-and-a-half-hour soundtrack sets the perfect pace for every situation our hero finds himself in, ranging from epic unavoidable battles to preventing boss fights through dialog choices.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire on PC has some of the finest isometric environments in any cRPG, but the port to consoles seems to miss the mark in more ways than one. While outdoors, and in the daylight, the environmental details are a sight to behold, but once the lights get turned down things become a bit harder to see. I eventually found myself using the cursor option to scour every inch of rooms in order to make sure I didn’t miss a loot-filled container hidden in the dark.
Complaints about lighting aside, it would be incredibly easy to lose yourself in the world of Deadfire, that is if it weren’t for the incessant load times. Whether walking into a single bedroom, an entire port city, or just getting on or off your ship, load times last anywhere from sixty seconds, up to as long at five minutes. At one point during my playthrough, I encountered five separate loading screens within a span of fifteen minutes. That may not seem like a lot on paper but trust me on this one, as a matter of fact, don’t take my word for it. Google “timer 60 seconds” and just sit there while you wait. Done that? Good. Now imagine that every five or ten minutes while playing. Many times, my enthusiasm for the current quest I was on died during these loading screens, and the immersion was ruined.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Review – Verdict
While the frequency and duration of loading time in Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is painful at best, the superb writing, extraordinary voice acting, and immersive soundtrack makes this one that should not be missed. There is a reason Pillars of Eternity 2 was nominated for over a half-dozen awards in 2018, and any cRPG fan worth their weight in salt owes it to themselves to add masterpiece to their collection.
[Editor’s Note:] Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire was reviewed on the Xbox One platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes