Pillars of Eternity came out a few years ago and was met with critical aclaim as a hardcore D&D like RPG, then developer Obsidian Entertainment announced the game for consoles. Which was amazing at the time as the game has alot of menus, buttons and all the things you usually find in an extensive pc game. Yet master programmers as they are they managed to make this a great port and now in 2019 it is time for us Nintendo fans to get our hands on this amazing RPG.
Pillars of Eternity started years ago as a small Kickstarter project, but thanks to thousands of donations, it grew into one of the best RPGs ever seen, with an average of close to 90 on Metacritic. The game, played from an isometric perspective, was seen as the ultimate ode to RPG classics such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. As a developer, you cannot get a better compliment.
Now, a few years after the first version, the game has been re-released, under the name Pillars of Eternity Complete Edition. As the name suggests, this is the most complete version available, including all patches and the two parts of the acclaimed ‘The White March’ extension. And – of course – the interface is completely adapted for control with the controller and playing on a television or handheld mode.
Paradox Arctic and Obisdian Entertainment, the studios responsible for the port, has done wonders with the transition to the joy cons. Somehow they managed to put the many buttons and keys in the PC version in just a few buttons on the controllers of the Nintendo Switch.
For example, by simply holding down the left trigger, you get a wheel with tabs such as the questlog, the level system and the inventory. If you hold the right trigger, you get pretty much all the options that have to do with fighting, such as special powers, determining the formation of your team and turning the computer on or off.
In fact, every button on the controller has one or more functions. Selecting the characters is done through the bumpers. If you hold one of those buttons longer, you can select the entire group in one go. This eliminates the lack of a mouse in one fell swoop.
Equally handy is that the game automatically highlights objects and characters when you move your cursor around them, so you can easily get in touch with them. That’s useful, because in the atmospheric world of Pillars, with all its hidden secrets and mysterious twists, you don’t want to miss out on anything. Whether you are wandering in a swampy swamp or in a deserted ghost town with your soldiers and wizards: every house, cave or dungeon must and will be searched.
For that reason it is a shame that the console version of Pillars of Eternity is technically far from perfect. Especially during the battles, when there is a lot to see on the screen, the frame rate sometimes collapses. In the case of Pillars, fortunately, that doesn’t really matter, because with Y you can pause the battles temporarily to position your fighters and give them commands.
No, the frame rate issues are not so much of a problem. The terribly long loading times are. In the prologue it is not that bad, but as the story progresses and the save file gets heavier, loading screens pop up even for the simplest of operations.
Are you going into a house? That can easily take up to half a minute. And that is certainly the case with a game like Pillars, where you already have to be patient because of the many dialogues and texts, which is very bad. Yet luckily patches can still solve this issue for the most part.
Apart from those waiting times, Pillars of Eternity also remains an rpg on console. Everything that makes the PC version so exceptionally good is done once again. Freedom of choice acquires a new dimension here: you literally have control over everything. Teammates can be adjusted down to the smallest detail, from race, descent, class appearance to special skills. You can control events entirely according to your own preferences, by making decisions that have far-reaching influence in the story.
For the players who are familiar with Baldur’s Gate, Pillars of Eternity is a feast of recognition. This is not only because of the isometric perspective, but also because of the difficulty. The game is far from easy and even at the lowest setting the fights are very tough. Fortunately, there is a special difficulty setting where you indicate that you follow Pillars mainly for the story and the experience to make things easier on you.
And even then, Pillars is not the easiest game. You have to put a lot of time and energy into it if you want to get the most out of the experience. That means: read a lot, calmly let events happen to you and enjoy the various environments and characters. That means that Pillars is not for everyone, but invest in it and you can easily play one of the best RPGs of the eShop.
For an rpg that is so profound and complex, it is amazing how intuitive the control on the controller works. Is the PC version better? Yes, but that’s not the point here. The most important thing is that through a few good coding champions, this more than fantastic rpg can now be experienced on the go for the first time.
Pillars of Eternity remains a great experience and joins the ranks among the best RPG’s for the Nintendo Switch.