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PCGamesN explain how Josh Sawyer sold them on Pillars of Eternity's combat
Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 27 February 2015, 01:20:45Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity
Accounts of Josh Sawyer's recent European Pillars of Eternity publicity tour are continuing to be posted across the Web. If the previous one was mainly about story, then this new article at PCGamesN is all about the combat. The author was somewhat apprehensive of the game's combat before, which is why he named the article "How Josh Sawyer sold me on Pillars of Eternity's combat". Much of the information in it will be familiar to dedicated Pillars-watchers, but this part near the beginning has some interesting details about a couple of the game's areas. I quote:
To start off the combat demo, the party actually avoids conflict. Sneaking through a gothic fortress lousy with priests and paladins, they come across a stash of robes. All dressed up in burlap, they’re able to get further into the complex without putting swords through anyone. Finding a disguise doesn’t guarantee success, though. The party is questioned by a priest, but manages to keep up the pretense thanks to their skills, which translate into conversation skills as well as combat ones.
Eventually, the good luck ends, and the party is spotted by a guard who doesn’t fall for their disguise. A brawl ensues. This is probably the fourth time in two days that the chap driving the demo has been in this fight, but it’s still clearly a tough one. It’s a maze of corridors and rooms with a veritable army of holy warriors, and the party’s stamina is whittled away. The situation could have been avoided, though.
“You can actually bluff your way through the whole level,” says Sawyer. “You don’t have to fight anyone.” But that requires characters with skills that can overcome an interrogation from several different guards, all who will ask different questions with different skill requirements.
The party is whisked away from the fortress to a gargantuan, cavernous dungeon, Endless Paths of Od Nua. “During the Kickstarter phase, we had this challenge,” says Sawyer. “‘Hey everybody, how big can we make this big, crazy mega-dungeon?’ That was kind of a mistake, because the answer was 15 levels.”
Endless Paths’ levels vary in size and the type of monsters found in them, but they are all big, and spreading throughout them are the limbs of a massive statue. As well as being an increasingly tough combat challenge, it’s all wrapped up in this story of the dungeon’s history.
“So as you go through the dungeon you’ll see different parts of him [the statue],” explains Sawyer. “You’ll see his hands, his head, his feet and everything, and learning the story of how that statue came to exist there and what it’s doing in there is a big part of unlocking the mystery of Endless Paths.”
As soon as the party starts its journey through level eight of Endless Paths, they almost step right on a trap. In Pillars of Eternity, stealth mode doubles as a searching for traps mode, and when they are disabled, they can also be recovered and then used against the buggers that put them there in the first place.
Even with spells going off in all directions - many of which should be familiar to D&D or Baldur’s Gate players - Pillars of Eternity’s combat isn’t much fun to watch. It’s all a bit messy and chaotic if you don’t know what’s going on, if you’re not there, giving the orders to the party yourself. But once you understand the rules and character’s abilities, things start to become a lot easier to read.
Knowing that all types of plate armour are weak against electricity, for example, makes it easy to understand why your knight is having so much trouble now that a mage has bathed the battlefield in a spiderweb of electricity.
Pacifist runs, nice. Though I must say, it's an unusual choice to begin an article about how you were sold on a game's combat by describing how you avoided it.