Companions in Pillars of Eternity 2: What We Know & What We Want
A crowdfunding success story that really kicked a recent wave of retro gaming into high gear, Pillars Of Eternity brought Obsidian from the brink of collapse (back) to the forefront of the RPG genre.
Because of its success, it was a foregone conclusion a sequel would arrive. And despite Obsidian's track record for primarily developing follow-ups to other franchise's games (KOTOR 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights 2), this is somehow the first time the developer has made a true, full sequel to one of its own titles.
Sadly, we've still got a bit of a wait ahead of us, with the planned release currently set for Q1 2018, and considering how often crowd funded games get delayed, it's likely we'll actually be waiting longer than that. Although to be fair, Obsidian totally delivered on the very quick turn around with the genre-bending Tyranny last year. So who knows ...
Now officially titled Deadfire, this impending Pillars sequel has some big shoes to fill. There's no question there was a huge jump in content and quality from Baldur's Gate to Baldur's Gate 2, and since Pillars was specifically designed to be a spiritual successor to that style of game, fans are expecting something along the same lines as we return to Eora sometime next year.
Changes To The Pillars of Eternity Formula
It's not just new companions coming with Deadfire: there are major changes on the horizon that will affect how and where you interact with those companions. A veritable storm of new additions are coming to Pillars Of Eternity 2, from a shift in location and background environments to tweaks large and small in the rule set.
It seems like a foregone conclusion that the atheism versus faith trope from the first game will continue here, but there are lots of exciting twists along the way to look forward to based on the scant info released alongside the Fig crowdfunding campaign.
While the previous game had a wide range of available classes, the class system in Deadfire is getting overhauled and significantly extended with multi-classing, by both mixing and matching classes like fighter and wizard and by taking specialty sub-classes.
As would be expected with any sequel in an RPG series, the developers are raising the level cap. Unlike with the aforementioned Baldur's Gate 2, however, your party will be curiously starting back over at Level 1 this time around, which is a change that is apparently built into the story somehow.
Pivoting from solely overland travel, one major change in the formula will be the addition of ships, which your party will use and presumably, at some point, acquire for themselves.
The Dyrwood wasn't exactly known for its high number of naval vessels or waterways, which means we're moving to a completely different location this time, shifting focus to a chain of volcanic islands called the Deadfire Archipelago. If you didn't love the basic medieval European feel to the previous game, this island hopping will be a welcome change.
One element is returning from the first PoE in an overhauled version: the controversial stronghold with its restricted and somewhat broken mechanics. Obsidian has promised a new take on strongholds this time around with a different focus to improve on complaints from the previous game.
Listening to fans and making changes based on feedback is always a welcome sight, and that also seems to be the case on another front as Obsidian is aware of complaints from gamers about the state of romances in modern RPGs.
This time around we're getting “relationships” rather than “romances,” and there's an important distinction there. The differences seem to mean we're getting something like the loyalty/fear system from Tyranny, but in greater detail and with less “do what I say or die” implied, along with more of a focus on platonic relationships over romantic ones.
What's more, relationships will develop based on doing things other characters like or dislike, with inter-party conflict developing as companion A might not like what you did to make companion B happy. Most intriguing is that these changes are supposed to simmer and grow over time, so you won't always know the immediate impact based on the first dialog option available.
As with any part-based RPG, what players most want to know about right now is what the companion spread will look like, and who will return from the previous game to continue their storyline in this new iteration of the series.
Returning Pillars Companions
It's now been confirmed there will be a Mass Effect type situation where the game reads your original Pillars of Eternity save to determine what choices you made and where former companions are today. Those choices include characters like Edér being dead, which could lead to some major changes to the story, as it seems he's more of the main character this time around.
Considering how the game was originally teased with Edér's grain of straw and his voice clearly narrating the trailers, it's obvious he will be a companion -- and it appears the story is based on the resolution of what really happened to his seemingly dead god, Eothas.
That deity -- once thought destroyed after taking the human form of Saint Waidwen -- has now returned and destroyed that keep you spent so long restoring. We know Edér to be a kind hearted and gentle character who isn't fond of religious zealots, but there's a big question mark as to whether any of that will change after Eothas returns and is apparently quite upset with his faithful.
Hopefully, we'll finally get a resolution to Fragments Of A Shattered Faith questline, in which Edér was left in the dark about whether his brother remained loyal or was a traitor.
Returning companion Edér
Besides Durance and Grieving Mother, Aloth was one of the best characters from Pillars Of Eternity, having a split personality due to the presence of another soul in his body -- one that could cause serious problems.
Whether Aloth is friend or foe seems likely to change based on your choices in the past, with Aloth potentially destroying the nefarious group known as the Leaden Key or even taking control of it after the final battle with Thaos. Will he still be the leader of that group, or will the game assume you went the other route and Aloth is still on your side? Just as importantly, how has the situation with his twin souls progressed?
Returning companion Aloth
This paladin of the avian godlike race was caught up in the struggle between duty and honor, and considering her interest in animancy and willingness to buck the status quo, it seems like she'll have a fairly big role in the story of Pillars 2. We'll also seemingly learn more about what happened to Eothas and what the Engwithans did with all those advanced soul machines in the far past.
Pallegina's order is also involved in colonizing parts of the Deadfire Archipelago, so how you ended her relationship quest will probably change how she is viewed by the locals in Pillars 2.
Returning companion Pallegina
Those three are the only confirmed returning characters at this point, although others are expected to appear, of course, possibly as NPCs or even antagonists.
Kana would clearly have an interest in exploring the area's history and Durance will almost certainly want to either finish the job he started with the Godhammer Bomb, or possibly even try to undo his previous actions and work against the Watcher.
New Pillars of Eternity Companions
Aside from the three confirmed returning party members, three entirely new companions have been revealed at this early stage that all bring a unique flavor from the Deadfire Archipelago.
This bird-taming aumaua ranger is apparently related to Kana, further strengthening the notion that he will appear (or at least be referenced) at some point. Her bird animal companion, named Ishiza, will also reportedly play a big role in the game. And since we know part of Edér's relationship scheme will include preferring people who are nice to animals, it seems likely these two characters will interact in various ways.
New companion Maia
This sickle-wielding priestess was added when the game hit a stretch goal in the Fig campaign and is likely to bring about big changes to the nature of the story if you keep Edér around. She fled the Dyrwood area during the war with Saint Waidwen and apparently worships Eothas in a very different manner than Edér did...
New companion Xoti
An orlan pirate, multi-classing in barbarian and cipher, Serafen will bring the swashbuckling high seas adventure aspect of Deadfire front and center. He kind of looks like a blue mogwai, or a Furby who got into a pirate's stash, but hopefully, he's not the comic relief.
New companion Serafen
Companions We Want To See in Deadfire
It's a good bet there will be more companions than what's been announced at this point, especially as the crowdfunding campaign comes to an end and the original game had 8 companions rather than 6. Regardless of whether that's all we get or if more arrive, there are some specific personality types that would be welcome additions to the Pillars sequel.
Most notably, someone who lets you go down a dark road and prompts you to have more conflict with the rest of the party would be a great addition. Taking it even further, it wouldn't be unwelcome to bring back a sociopathic character who will happily gut you. I'm thinking of a fantasy version of HK-47, only with Pillars' new relationship system.
Durance and Grieving Mother served the roles of the most bizarre and intriguing characters in the previous game, strongly bringing to mind the oddball companions from Planescape: Torment. Obsidian would do well to include another character of that nature that no one will even expect or see coming.
Who are you most looking forward to returning with Pillars Of Eternity II: Deadfire, and what kind of new party members would you like to see when the game arrives in 2018?