Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part I Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Paradox Interactive
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2015-08-25
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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As you would guess, you can also find lots of new equipment in the DLC.  The most notable thing here is that Obsidian added five soulbound weapons.  These weapons have to be bound to a particular character, but they can become more powerful as you complete tasks for them.  The tasks mostly require the bound characters to kill things, and this leads to some tedious micromanagement during battles -- to make sure that the right characters get the kills -- but otherwise the soulbound weapons are fun, and they're nicely powerful for the mid-level parties the DLC was designed for.

Because the DLC adds new quests to complete and creatures to kill, Obsidian raised the level cap from 12 to 14, which means they also added a bunch of new talents, spells, and abilities.  So now all characters can select a sneak attack talent (which allows them to deal 15% extra damage when they have the right sort of advantage over their opponent), rogues can learn to Sap (which stuns their opponent), Wizards can cast Concelhaut's Crushing Doom (which causes a hammer to beat on their foes), and more.  The additions are effective, and they give you new ways to build characters, which is always good.

Difficulty and Extras

The main questline for The White Match Part I was designed for mid-level parties.  I happened to have a save from early in Act II when one of my parties was level 6, and they were able to make it through all of the encounters except for an optional dragon fight.  But that party struggled mightily at times, so you'd probably be better off starting the White March quests around level 8.

However, if you don't want to go back to an old save, then you can also play a high level version of the White March quests.  For this version, the enemies are tougher but the rewards are the same.  This might not sound like a lot of fun, but I tried it with a level 12 party, and it worked out pretty well.  Most of the battles were reasonably easy, but the dragon fight still caused some problems.

Along with the White March part of the DLC, there is also an optional quest starting at the Cragholdt Bluffs.  This part of the DLC doesn't have much in the way of a story, but it contains several tough fights designed for high level parties only.  I played through it twice.  My level 14 post White March party didn't have any trouble, but a level 12 pre White March party couldn't beat the boss fight at the end.

So The White March Part I should work for you whether you're new to the game and you're playing through it for the first time, or if you've already beaten it once and you're looking for a new challenge.  And since my level 6 party ended up level 10 after completing the White March quests, I'm guessing Part II will be high level only, complete with more tough fights to come.

Patches

Along with the DLC, Obsidian has also been releasing patches.  These patches have fixed many of the bugs and things people didn't like about the game.  For example, you can now have individual characters sneak.  You can also have characters use AI (including setting how aggressive they are and what kinds of abilities and spells they use), and it's easy to turn it on or off.  The interface is clearer in battles, showing what characters are doing and what the range is for their spells and attacks.  A lot of the spell descriptions got overhauled, making it clearer what they do.  Your stronghold got improved, making it more worthwhile to build it up.  You're allowed to re-spec your characters for a minor cost.  And the loading times got reduced.  Obsidian claims they went down by like 20% but I can only report they dropped from being "mind-bogglingly long" to "extremely long."  The loading screen times are still my least favorite part of the game, but at least they're showing improvement.

Conclusion

Overall, The White March Part I is a nice addition to Pillars of Eternity.  The writing is solid, the quests are interesting, and there are numerous additions to try out and explore.  Basically, it gives you lots of new things to do and new ways to do them, which is about all you can ask from a DLC.  So it's easy for me to recommend The White March Part I to anybody who enjoyed Pillars of Eternity.  Hopefully Part II turns out as well.