Tyranny Developer Diary #5: Combat Details

Obsidian Entertainment game director Brian Heins has penned another developer diary for Tyranny, this time focused on combat. A lot of the mechanical details seem pretty close to Pillars of Eternity, though there are some notable differences. I'm going to highlight a few, specifically concerning the way health and KOs are handled and difficulty levels:

Tyranny handles hit points differently than Pillars did. Instead of the combination of Health and Endurance, we have a single Health bar to focus on. As attacks deal damage, your character’s Health is reduced. When it reaches 0, a character falls unconscious (or dies, depending on game options). Characters can be revived using special abilities or consumables, or they will regain consciousness at the end of combat and begin regenerating Health.

We’ve also added the Wound system. When your character falls unconscious, they will gain a Wound – more than one on the hardest difficulty settings. On harder difficulties, you’ll also gain a Wound when a character reaches low health. When a character is Wounded, their max health is reduced and all of their skills suffer a small penalty. Wounds can stack and will remain on a character until they rest.


Tyranny will ship with four difficulty settings for the game: Story Mode, Normal, Hard, and Path of the Damned. Each of these difficulty settings will affect how challenging combat is with Story Mode being for players who mainly want to experience the story and reactivity of the game. If you watched any of the videos from E3, this is the difficulty setting you saw.

As difficulty increases, we focus more on the AI and tactics of enemies rather than just adding more enemies to each encounter. On harder difficulties enemies will choose targets more effectively as well as use their abilities more frequently and strategically. We also replace some weaker units with more challenging ones at higher difficulties.

The full post offers a plethora of other small and large ways in which the game differs from Pillars of Eternity in terms of combat. With the presence of cooldowns instead of per rest and per encounter abilities, no friendly fire and instant consumables, Tyranny sounds like a more action-y take on the Real Time with Pause ruleset Obsidian designed for its crowdfunded title, with little to no focus on attrition in its design. I can't say I'm personally a fan of the decision, but we'll see how it works out in the full game and how it meshes with the rest of the game design.