I’ve been an arduous supporter of RPGs that are based on the Dungeons & Dragons rules since the days of the Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate. Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity was an ambitious project that tried to appeal to fans a larger audience not just to those addicted to cRPGs.

I did like Pillars of Eternity, but felt that it fell short of expectations, which is why I was a bit reluctant when I saw Obsidian kicked off a fundraising campaign for a sequel. Dubbed Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, the game introduces a new concept that mixes elements from Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and FTL: Faster Than Light: naval warfare.

You’re the captain of your own ship roaming the waters of the Deadfire Archipelago in search of better equipment, crew and, why not, more powerful ships. Pillars of Eternity II allows players to explore the map and take on other ships whenever they feel they’re ready for the challenge.

Seafaring got me hooked

A ship without a crew is just a large piece of wood floating in the wind, so the first thing you’ll need to be aware of is making your crew members happy and secure all the provisions needed for a long voyage. Keep in mind that crew members come equipped with certain sets of talents, which they will level up as you fight other ships and discover new lands and treasures.

Ship management panel

Ship management panel

Combat is pretty straightforward, but very strategical. Unlike the hand-to-hand combat that uses the same RTwP (real-time with pause) system in the original Pillars of Eternity, ship combat in Deadfire is turn-based until you board an enemy ship.

The more experience you have, the more actions per turn you’ll get so that you can outmaneuver the enemy captain. If you encounter captains more experienced than you, you’ll have to outsmart them to prevail.

Streamlined party makes things easier to manage

But that’s just a small part of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, so let’s take a look at the improvements Obsidian have implemented. First off, they made Deadfire simpler and more enjoyable by reducing the number of members you can have in your party from six to five.

For those of you who’ve played Pillars of Eternity and have been annoyed by the game’s targeting system, I have some good news. Deadfire comes with a retargeting ability that allows players to change the target of a spell after has has already begun begin casted. This option comes in handy since combat in Deadfire is RTwP and enemies tend to move all the time and change their positions.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Inventory

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – Inventory

The party AI has been enhanced as well, so you’ll be able to set up your wizard’s spells and when to use them. Each member of your party can be fine tuned to have his/her abilities triggered in certain situations, which will definitely improve their chances of survival.

The six main attributes in Deadfire are Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Perception, Intellect and Resolve. Each of them are used in certain situations and directly affect a character’s skills and abilities. The game has been specifically built to not punish players for not boosting certain attributes, so that’s quite a relief.

Furthermore, there are now three types of talents: passive, active and modal. You’ll be able to use a new ability each time you level up (one passive and one active). Don’t worry if some of your party members’ abilities overlap because they will be added up whenever there’s an ability check.

Leveling up and ability tree

And now let’s get more deeper into the D&D stuff that’s underneath Deadfire – experience and leveling. One thing that I’ve notices while playing the beta build is that Deadfire rewards you the same amount of experience whether you solve a quest using your sweet tongue or your sharp axe. No matter how you decide to approach a challenge, you’ll eventually be rewarded with the necessary experience if you’re successful in your endeavor.

Simpler ability tree

Simpler ability tree

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire comes with a brand new Ability Tree that makes it easier for players to choose a path to develop their characters. You can also see all the abilities you’ll be able to take so you can plan ahead. Yes, there are sub-class abilities that you can take if you want a multi-class character.

Animancy makes a comeback in Deadfire, so be prepared to some weird stuff with soul energy and souls in general. There’s a new ability called Metaphysics that can help your character better understand certain aspects of animancy, as well as achieve extraordinary feats that use the souls as the main source of energy.

Play like a quirky pirate or an experienced sailor

Graphics-wise, Deadfire is a step up from the previous game. Obsidian implemented loads of improvements to the visuals, but the most obvious are those made to the character models.

You’ll now be able to choose from a huge variety of looks for your character, which have been rendered in state-of-the-art detail and better lighting. And yes, you can make your character look like a pirate if you want or an experienced sailor.

New character models

New character models

Although the beta build Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is supposed to constitute only about 1% of what the game has to offer, I’ve been able to experience quite a lot of the improved features Obsidian has implemented.

The seafaring aspect, the streamlined ability tree, as well as the robust party AI system are among the most important changes in Deadfire. The sequel to Pillars of Eternity shapes up to be a monster of a RPG, so if you did not have it on your radar please do check it out next month.

Obsidian Entertainment’s Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will be released on PC on April 3, so get ready to roll the dice.