"I would expect many PC veterans to scoff at the idea of using an analog stick to target a paladin's powers, but the option is there for those who want it, and it will probably open up Pillars of Eternity to a wider audience."
Part of my great shame working for this awesome website is never completing Pillars of Eternity. I've had numerous colleagues and friends recommend the game to me, but I had a pretty bad experience the first time I really went at it. Things were going fairly well at first, but then I ran into a particularly angry boar who ended up killing my party and leaving me emasculated and distraught. Thankfully, Obsidian is looking to give me another chance to experience their amazing adventure with the complete edition of Pillars of Eternity, out on August 29th for Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
I didn't know what publisher Paradox Interactive would bring me to see when we set up our E3 2017 appointment, but I kept wondering if they would ever bring their classic take on the CRPG to consoles. It turns out they've been working hard with Obsidian to outfit a unique control scheme that still makes you feel in control of the various combat and contextual situations while also giving you the chance to lean back on a couch and crack open a tasty beverage at the same time.
Things felt incredibly smooth and intuitive after just a few minutes of play. I could easily move the camera around with the right analog stick while zooming in and out with the d-pad on the provided Xbox One controller. Guiding my party with the left analog stick allowed for some precision movement that could occasionally prove troublesome with a mouse and keyboard, while the addition of a "speed up" and "slow down" speed outside of combat allowed me to move more quickly to my desired objective. Best of all, Obsidian included a manual option to select objects in the world and a magic highlight button to let you know what you can and cannot interact with. Overall, it's a very well-crafted system that seems to sit next to the best translations to console for this type of game (Divinity: Original Sin) while avoiding the mistakes of others (Wasteland 2).
Of course, combat has to play well too, right? Thankfully, I can happily report that the pause-and-play approach to the Complete Edition's combat works quite well on the controller. You can easily cycle through the party or select them all at the same time, and the right trigger brings up a wheel of abilities to cycle through in order to lay waste to the party's foes. Selecting enemies and party members alike was a snap, thanks to the aforementioned cursor and highlighting setup, and I quickly found myself confident playing a game that can sometimes get a little intense in terms of all of the action on screen. Pausing with the X button gave me a chance to catch my breath, and overall, I might actually think about playing through the whole game with a controller if given the chance.
Unfortunately, Obsidian doesn't have any current plans to bring the console controls to the PC version, but that doesn't mean they've entirely ruled it out. Indeed, I would expect many PC veterans to scoff at the idea of using an analog stick to target a paladin's powers, but the option is there for those who want it, and it will probably open up Pillars of Eternity to a wider audience. With both expansions available on the console version at launch, this is shaping up to be one enticing package for those who may have missed out on it way back when. Yeah, I'm a little nervous that I'll die again thanks to that nasty boar, but maybe now's the time to give Obsidian's classic a try and find out what all the fuss is about.