Few games have enraptured me in my daily life the way Pillars of Eternity has. I’ve put nearly 200 hours into this game, DLC included, and could easily devote 200 more. When I’m not playing Pillars, I’m thinking about the rich history of Eora, the varied personalities of my lifelike companions, and the novel quests and tasks in which I find myself entangled. After completing the core game, I experienced an odd sensation of satisfaction and yearning. The writers expertly tied all necessary knots while leaving mysteries justifiably absent explanation; yet, I continued to want more. Thankfully, The White March Parts I and II were just a few clicks away.
For those on the fence about these DLC — and shame on you for that — I won’t mince words: these are must-plays. Few developers have offered such full DLC, with CD Projekt Red being the only crew that immediately come to mind. Each part will take tens of hours to complete, while simultaneously offering the same quality content experienced in the core game. Some slight nuances stand apart in the DLC, such as wilderness areas chock-full of MacGuffins, which can make these huge, open locales feel claustrophobic. Nevertheless, this complaint is barely a quibble, as each landscape feels like a veritable playground. The new characters feel like afterthoughts, as their stories have little development considering the length of the DLC compared to the allies accrued during the core game. Are they enjoyable to talk to? Sure, but they’re hardly the chief draw, especially with regard to their roles in combat. Most players will likely opt to maintain their team at Pillars’ end.
The primary hook of the DLC is, of course, the plot. Although the story plays out somewhat predictably, the way in which it’s told, which readers of my reviews likely know by now, demands much stronger consideration. The dialogue, pacing of the clues to an old civilization’s demise, and ecosystem of the Dyrwood’s further reaches ignites the imagination. Obsidian’s trailers and descriptions of the game highlight other additions, such as new abilities, increased level caps, and other interface perks, but this is about the quest.
Your decisions and reputation earned in the core game continue to matter, oftentimes offering increased variability in options. Questionable scenarios pop up, bucking the expectation that RPGs cater to the magnanimous. In addition to the central narrative, which fleshes out Eora and its history even more, bonus bosses and quests lie in wait for those seeking a challenge. Though these difficult encounters can feel like uninspired number increases in stats, the context in which the battles are fought truly sells the challenge. You get so caught up in the trials of everyday folk and noble pursuits to end plagues that you can easily forget that powerful wizards might lie beneath the surface, seeking ultimate power. Or dragons. There are always dragons.
The decision’s simple: people who completed Pillars of Eternity likely loved it enough to devote about a hundred hours into the journey, which means White March is an intuitive next step. I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying White March, unless a hundred hours of Obsidian’s brilliant work just perfectly scratched that CRPG itch and no more is desired. Make no mistake, The White March is everything one would hope for in a Pillars DLC. I only wish it lasted as long as the core game.