Pillars of Eternity: What Makes This a Genius Game?

Two of the editors over at RPGWatch have editorialized about the design elements of Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity that they feel help it stand out as a "genius game". An excerpt from each person's viewpoint:

As with a Baldur's Gate game, you will also get all the unique weapons, armor and trinkets with special bonuses applied to them, tons of magic spells to sling and experiment with, lovingly designed classes with unique talents and much, much more. The magic system alone can lead to so many fun, fascinating, and, more importantly, viable gameplay choices. You can literally explore this vast playground of mayhem to find exactly the style of combat you would like to pursue, and they really do give you a ton of options to play with here, so you'll be able to express your utmost creativity.

For example, you can build any sort of hybrid character you would like, by outfitting them with unique gear, such as weapons that vary in speed, to shields that add protection at the cost of accuracy. There are so many unique options here that you can easily find an interesting, endlessly creative way to express your inner RPG nerd. The only downside to this playground bonanza of experimentation and endless fun is the fact that there are only 8 companions to find in the entire game. Considering you can only travel with 5 at a time, that doesn't leave a lot of room for really unique experimentation in your party building. Still, the 8 characters present in the game are well-developed and fun to travel with, and you will find yourself interested in at least one of their personal stories, if not all of them.


No one person was responsible for Pillars or the artistic achievement it became. But Obsidian did seem to have a singular vision, and that vision seems to have been realized. A melancholy game, but not a bleak one. Pillars is rich in color, its tones soft and muted, conveying a world steeped in age and sadness. You don't get to enter this land and leave unchanged. It brings you in, speaks to you alone, tells you of its struggles, and enlists you in its battles. Immersive storytelling and a masterpiece of mood setting make you a resident. And if you leave, you're not the same person you were when you entered.

Of course, who could be surprised? Obsidian has had a history of this kind of immersive storytelling. I'll never forget the first time I saw night fall in Fallout: New Vegas or Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I cared a lot about a lot of things. Where I'd sleep, how I'd make it through, where I'd go in the morning, whether I'd ever have a permanent place to crash. In F:NV in particular, I cared about the people, their problems. I found myself unsettled by some of its figures and its history and making decisions wasn't always easy. They've brought that to the table again here, this time in beautiful isometric fantasy.