Pillars of Eternity released a week ago and received strong reviews online with a Metascore of 91%, handily slaying Dragon Age: Inquisition, which stands at a respectable 85%.
I just now purchased PoE, and I’m looking forward to playing it tonight. Obsidian released the first patch for PoE, 1.03 on Steam this morning.
The game is built on the Baldur’s Gate isometric Infinity Engine. The writing is supposedly brilliant. A reviewer on Steam said the writing team of Chris Avellone, Josh Sawyer, Feargus Urquhart et. al. should win a Pulitzer Prize.
I watched Cohh stream PoE for a few hours last weekend. I was impressed by PoE, even if the game looks a little too familiar at times.
PoE uses a text/voice combo to convey the story, setting, and characters. Since the arrival of full voice-overs (ESO and SWTOR), I’ve really been a defender of text. I hope game history will show that a combo like PoE is better than full voice-overs.
PoE uses a writing style that includes a lot more action and emotes in the text than ‘normal’, which is very interesting. I personally use a lot of action tags (or beats), in my fiction.
Action conveyed through text may also offer a cheap substitute for facial animations in a game where you can’t see the faces well.
I remember facial animations being a part of marketing for Fallout 2, a game made way back in 1998 by the same developers as PoE, when Avellone and Urquhart were helming Black Isle Studios.
PoE is going on the cheap, replacing the animated faces with text descriptions (and probably an animator with a writer, which doesn’t happen often enough). PoE was kickstarted for 4 million. I wonder how that budget compares to Fallout 2.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
If you like PoE or this genre, don’t forget that Torment: Tides of Numenera is also scheduled to release this year, and it’s also a Chris Avellone (and others) writing production.
Torment is supposed to be “primarily story-driven, giving greater emphasis on interaction with the world and characters, with combat and item accumulation taking a secondary role.”
Tides also has an award-winning erotica writer on its staff, while PoE offers no scripted, evolving character romances. For me, this is a strike against PoE, and this issue literally pulled my paw back from the buy button at one point last weekend.
It’s fantastic to see this classic genre making a comeback. I’m worried that PoE has lots of strategic combat. Wave after wave of enemies were the reason I quit playing Wasteland 2 and Baldur’s Gate Enhanced, and also the reason I didn’t buy Diablo 3 on a 50% off sale last weekend.
Thankfully PoE offers an “easy” mode. So, we’ll see.
Escapist dropped an article this week on eight amazing isometric RPGs. I’ve played them all except Divinity. Torment should be on the list instead of Icewind Dale, in my opinion.
Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain
So what made me buy PoE today? Hearthstone’s Blackrock Mountain released yesterday.
I logged in ready to play what I’d paid for, but only one wing released. Why would I want to play just 20% of an 8-hour (or whatever) expansion, once per week, for the next month and a half?
I asked in the forums why Blizzard is releasing Blackrock strung out in little weekly pieces like a TV serial, and my legitimate question was insulted and buried in immature negativity.
Blizzard also put a new daily quest in Hearthstone this week – a quest that makes you watch a friend win a game to complete your quest. This quest isn’t a special one-timer.
It’s implemented on purpose to fill up one of your three slots – annoying you, hindering your questing, re-appearing if you reroll it, and most importantly – getting you to invite your friends.
Blizzard is also sweetening their expansion by advertising a “free” card back, while calling the card back a “limited edition” in their advertising. New card backs come out all the time. They have no real value.
I borrowed some ‘friends’ off of the forums, but this whole scene just feels really manipulative suddenly. Hearthstone is Free-To-Play, but I’ve been paying. For some reason I expected more class from Blizzard.
Elder Scrolls: Online
So I’m done with Hearthstone. I’ve just downloaded 14GB of Pillars of Eternity, and I’m also back playing Elder Scrolls Online.
I was happy to see a revamped starting sequence in Elder Scrolls that helps you establish a friend in Lyris and connect with real emotion. It’s working much better. The story is still a little opaque, but hardly more so than Rift, and it’s more personal.
In this week of headline news about Indiana’s new laws allowing religious discrimination against LGBTQ people, I’m also pleased to support Elder Scrolls because Zenimax/Bethesda supports the LGBT community. So happy gaming, whatever you’re playing.
More Reading on Pillars of Eternity: