Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition on PlayStation 4 is, with no doubt in my mind, the best console port of a classic-style isometric RPG that has been seen in years. Brilliant use of the controller in place of a keyboard and mouse tie in together with the gorgeous effects, compelling storylines, incredible performance and challenging though oh-so-rewarding combat to deliver a masterpiece to the millions of console owners the world over. Originally released on PC in March 2015 after an incredibly successful Kickstarter the year prior, Pillars of Eternity final makes its triumphant entrance on consoles and it is glorious.
I had thought that Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition on Xbox One did will with the controller (and it did!) but the absolute geniuses at Paradox Arcitc somehow made using a gamepad BETTER. Holding in the L2 button brings up a basic actions such as opening the character sheet, starting combat, opening the quest log, opening the inventory, or other mundane tasks. Holding in the R2 button will bring up your abilities and quick access toolbars (for potions, scrolls, etc. that you have set to your Belt). Pressing Square pauses the game so you can plan out your tactical movements or queue up each character’s action and pressing Triangle toggles the cursor on or off (this is exceptionally helpful).
The one real issue that I had with the controller is when you have multiple lootable / interactable objects near one another. There is a solid 102% chance that you will not be able to target the correct one (treasure chests next to lootable book cases or doorways go unopened by me simply because attempting to do so will literally send me into a rage so there are plenty of objects near others that I just give up on). Though Pillars on PlayStation 4 is excellent, there are a few bugs that really irk me, especially since they have been around since 2015, namely the “Stuck in Combat” bug.
What will happen is you will get in combat, smite your foes, then you will stay in combat; this means you cannot travel to new zones, you cannot rest, you cannot loot. You are effectively stuck and must reload. This regularly happens if you have a Ranger (or two or three) in your party, since it is almost always the pets that get stuck, though it can be core / plot-based party members that get stuck. It really really sucks when you have to reload areas to the last auto-save (which only happens, it seems, when you load into a zone) or, if you are lucky, to your last, more current manual save. After 7 “stuck in combat” issues, I started saving regularly…
Which takes forever, since the loading screens are abysmal, especially for how often you are backtracking through short screens. One particular quest line, to simply deliver an item took 12 loading screens … and each location was literally right next to one another. Figure at 2-4 minutes per loading screen on a standard PlayStation 4 and a you are looking at a quest line that takes the better part of an hour where it should have taken far, far less. To add insult to injury, Pillars of Eternity is so true to the cRPGs from the 90’s that retracing your steps will be a regular (frequent even) occurrence…
I think this is a good segue into something else … Pillars of Eternity is a time sink. For not only the bonkers loading screens, but also for the sheer size of the world. Not only is it actually massive, but there is so much lore in it; from dozens upon dozens of books and NPC character events that represent a portion of the 77,000+ Kickstarter backers, to a smorgasbord of side, secondary, and main quests. There is a solid 70 hours’ worth of gameplay here in the Complete Edition on PlayStation 4 and that is 70 hours of well-spent time. Granted the overwhelming majority of it will be reading, but there are a great many fascinating stories in Pillars. That is not to discount the voice acting, which is amazing, there is just so much text to read.
Minus a few technical issues, Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition, were it not a port, would easily make Game of the Year. As it stands, Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is the best classic isometric RPG on console to date. With a massive storyline, engaging combat, classically expansive character development, and more lore than one would know what to do with, Pillars of Eternity is shaping up to be this generations’ Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn.Score: 9.5 / 10