Pillars of Eternity E3 Previews and Video Interview

We have rounded up a few more previews and one more video interview for Obsidian Entertainment's E3 showing of Pillars of Eternity, the company's Kickstarter-funded RPG which harkens back to the late-90s/early 2000s Infinity Engine titles from BioWare and Black Isle.


Just about every preview I've written from E3 has the word "painterly" associated with the art style, which probably says something about current trends in the industry. Thankfully, PoE stands out with a very dramatic high fantasy style. You feel the high concept book covers for dramatic Dungeons and Dragons campaigns or books flowing through the environment and characters, allowing the game to transcend the more derivative style found in many other fantasy games. Color explodes on the screen, further elevating PoE from the pack.

Combat takes place in real time from an isometric perspective with the ability to pause and plan out attacks with your six person party. We got to see some pretty devastating area of effect spells, but nothing that truly broke the mold of various other vintage RPGs or the latest effort from BioWare. One thing younger gamers will have to get used to is the fact your party's health doesn't return at the end of combat. You're required to rest at an inn or use supplies in order to recuperate, adding a layer of depth that's been severely lacking in many modern games. Maybe your party can only make it through one more scenario, or perhaps you pushed the party a bit further than you should have. It adds a level of risk and reward that more and more indie developers are toying around with these days, and I gladly welcome its addition. Dungeons will, apparently, have puzzles and multiple points of interaction, but our demo driver quickly passed through these sections without giving them much attention.

Gaming Nexus:

I was especially curious to see the game's progress since it was originally funded on Kickstarter. The game showed great promise in the E3 presentation that included the game's beginning section. While the narrative begins simple enough from traveling along with a caravan, it quickly develops into a full-fledged adventure. The presentation also included a preview of tactical combat that is titled the engagement system. Players will need to plan through combat instead of just rushing into frays.


Like its inspirations, Pillars of Eternity is built upon huge areas, detailed stories and let's be honest here lots of reading. But it's high-quality reading and arguably among the best written interactive fiction you're likely to find in any PC RPG. Obsidian has a well-earned reputation for excellence in this genre, and Pillars of Eternity is building upon their extensive experience in a medium they have long mastered.

So as you might expect, Pillars of Eternity will feature the same deep, expansive story and turn-based RPG combat (using the spacebar to pause the action and issue orders) of its ancestors. Conversations with NPCs (non-player characters) present numerous options for diplomacy, intimidation, etc. depending on your character's skills. In addition, your choices and interaction with party members are important, and some of them may leave your company if you tick them off enough.


Executive Producer and Programmer Adam Brennecke, gave us the scoop and guided us through a live demonstration of the game. Pillars of Eternity is a fantasy RPG in the tradition of Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, developed using an engine that was inspired by the original Infinity Engine which made the aforementioned titles such a hit. This particular game engine possesses some of the details which pays homage to that engine, like the pulsing selection circles. The pulsing selection circles, people! I don't know, I was pretty excited about those selection circles. And like all tactical real-time RPGs, it gives players the opportunity to pause and shift tactics in mid-combat.

PoE-RPG03The great thing about the UI design of this game is that the control panel is mostly at the bottom of the window, allowing you to take in the art design and action. Because, I swear, the early Infinity Engine games suffered with being so close to the characters that I could not fully appreciate the game. Don't get me wrong, I still loved it overall, it's a preference that was later corrected in later versions like Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale 2. Anyway, vast improvements design-wise compared to the Infinity Engine, and this one allows for full 3D. The UI can be customized to your taste, so don't feel like you're stuck!

Finally, the folks at GameReactor talked with project director Josh Sawyer: