Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part II Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Paradox Interactive
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2016-02-16
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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Because of the new content, Obsidian once again raised the level cap, this time from 14 to 16.  But even so, the low-level party I sent into the DLCs reached the level cap during Part II, and so if I were to continue on with them, they'd have to play all of Act III in the main campaign while capped, which is less fun than otherwise.  So Obsidian really should try to balance the quest experience better, to prevent this sort of thing from happening.  But in better news, Obsidian added new abilities and spells for high-level characters to play with, so there are more things for you to try out when you're playing the game.

Finally, the new content isn't just restricted to the DLC quests and locations.  The new companions can share banter with the original companions, and they can comment on some of the events from the main campaign as well.  Even the new equipment can play a role outside the DLCs.  For example, in one quest in Part II you can acquire a round diving helmet, and then in Act II you can use it while swimming in a stream instead of having to pass a Constitution check.  So the DLCs give you a reason to try out the entire campaign again.

Patches

Along with The White March Part II DLC, Obsidian has also released some free patches with new content.  These patches have made a lot of changes.  For example, the Athletics and Survival skills received an upgrade, so the former now gives you the Second Wind ability, which you can use to heal in combat, and the latter gives you some bonuses to choose from when camping out in the wild.  Getting knocked out in combat now means you take an injury (with some sort of associated debuff), which can only be healed by resting.  And there is a new "Story Time" difficulty, so you can play the game without worrying about tough fights.

But probably the best changes from the patches revolve around Caed Nua, which is your fortress in the game.  The patches released around The White March Part I improved the camping bonuses at Caed Nua, which made it more useful to repair and build up.  Now the latest patches have improved how Caed Nua fits into the campaign.  The fortress was sort of uninvolved and unconnected previously, but now there's a new questline where a noble family challenges your right to control the fortress, which helps to tie it in.  You also get interesting petitioners showing up every so often, and your choices with them can improve or reduce your prestige.  And finally, instead of just sending your unused companions on "major" or "minor" adventures (so they can earn some experience and keep up with you), the adventures now have names and storylines and fixed, unique  rewards, which make them more interesting.

Conclusion

Overall, Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part II is a competent DLC worth purchasing.  It adds a lot of new things for you to see and do in the game, and it is generally well made.  But for me, the set-up from Part I was way more interesting than the payoff in Part II, and combined with some of the balance issues, the DLC was less enjoyable than it might have been otherwise.

But Obsidian is nothing if not a tinkerer.  They've been adjusting and re-adjusting the power of spells and abilities since the game came out (to the point where you might need some new strategies if you haven't played it in a while), so they shouldn't have any trouble managing experience gains and upping the challenge factor of a few boss fights.  So if you enjoyed Pillars of Eternity, there isn't any reason not to try out its two DLCs.