"...if Pillars is your jam, you will enjoy what's in store here."
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Beast of Winter is a love letter to fans of the series. Contrary to the previous game's DLC, this first of three expansions grows the world by investigating the lore: past and present. Without getting into too many spoilers, what's contained in Beast of Winter is one part explanation, one part Watcher business, and one part combat.
As has been the formula with the series, our protagonists discover a new territory in the Deadfire that holds a town surrounded by ice. Within that town are fascinating denizens engaged in a struggle. When one saunters about the town, some townsfolk are pure flavor, while others offer wares or quests. Nothing new here. With a couple side quests in tow, the Watcher and friends go off in search of the primary objective. What they find surpassed my expectations, and what initially appeared lackluster and inconsequential became a refreshing supplement to the series.
Buyers should be most interested in the story, dialogue, and light puzzle solving, because combat is ho-hum at best. Most of the encounters are rinse and repeat affairs, which is one of Pillars' weak points, and enemy types are repetitive. By the time this eight-hour affair is over, players will be fully sated on combat, if not irritated by its repetition. Depending on how one carries on, a couple of the fights may maintain interest and require strategizing, but — at least for this reviewer — old tactics remain supreme.
This review is hard to write because what's most engrossing about the DLC is the specific kinds of stories included, which I don't want to spoil for anyone. But rest assured that if Pillars is your jam, you will enjoy what's in store here. For those who have enjoyed the series thus far but aren't too into the lore, I'm not sure this is a required buy, and certainly not at the full price of $10. Can fans wait? Sure, this is certainly nothing worth salivating over, but I'm glad I got to experience it. Now, if only I could filter items that increase arcana, sleight of hand, history, diplomacy...
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.