- Title: Pillars of Eternity
- Release Date:
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Some things I consider helpful when trying to find into the game quickly. Not a walkthrough, not an attempt at covering everything.
About the rules
Although this is a party-based CRPG inspired by classics such as Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 and Icewind Dale 1 & 2, it is based on a different set of rules. For example, there are fundamental differences such as four defenses, attribute overloading, the limited casting of spells outside combat, no restriction of spell casting in heavy armor, no encumbrance system, no “aggro” system to draw the attention of foes towards one of your characters, long-lasting bonuses from food and resting.
That will likely affect your strategies and tactics. I strongly recommend willingness to adapt to the new rules and the inner workings of this game. That will make it possible to squeeze the most entertainment out of this game.
The game comes with a PDF manual, which isn’t exhausting and is just 38 pages long. At least skim over it. No need to read all of it.
As the rule of thumb, the lower the difficulty mode, the more freedom you can enjoy with regard to character/party building choices.
There are many, many ways how to play the game. With very low risk of messing up a playthrough so much, that it cannot be completed successfully anymore.
The first reason is that the player characters can be retrained at every tavern/inn for a bit of gold. Even the story companions can be retrained, albeit in a more limited way since their attributes cannot be changed.
A second reason is that the game features a story companion of every class. Eight companions in the base game, the remaining three in the integrated expansion – The White March (DLC). Additionally, players can hire so-called “adventurers” at every tavern/inn for a bit of gold and create custom companions that way. Removed party members remain available as spare companions and can be replaced freely in every tavern/inn and at the stronghold.
A third reason is that the entire game can be completed with less than six party members. With or without story companions. With or without custom companions. Depending on prior knowledge of the game even with a single character. At highest difficulty. And basically, that means that a larger team will be more versatile, more capable, and more fun than trying to survive with a single character.
A fourth reason is that the game features a multitude of bonus options, such as food, drugs, potions, enchanted equipment, a variety of specialized bonuses from resting. The higher the difficulty, the more likely you want to benefit from one or more bonus options in preparation for tasks ahead. But still, nothing of it is truly mandatory. Bonuses can be very helpful but are not strictly required.
Spend the most time on the character creation screen. Read all the popup details shown there – but don’t overdo the planning stage. I suggest going through the character creation process screens till the end, carefully reviewing the options, then refining your choices.
Avoid so-called “build guides”. There are no truly “overpowered builds” that can breeze through the game. And what a level 16 character can do with the best equipment and support from a priest doesn’t matter much since you start at level 1. Sure, on the easier difficulty modes a single quick monk can wreak havoc in most battles, but better build a capable team – the game is more enjoyable then.
Make plausible choices with regard to the attributes based on reviewing which other values they govern. The game is extremely balanced, so stomach decisions work well.
Say, you want a character to focus on offense rather than defense, feel free to decrease attributes that result in lower defenses – but keep in mind that dumping attributes can increase the risk and may require companions to save the show.
Setting no attribute lower than 8 is a rather safe choice as has been found in various discussions.
In case of doubt about which class to choose (and after skimming over the PDF manual), fighters aren’t boring but versatile and helpful. The story companion fighter can fill different roles, too, so two fighters in a party are no issue at all and can be a powerful choice. Also, the offense can be the better defense in this game. Only trying to survive an onslaught with overly defensive cowards that hide behind a large shield in heavy armor can be rather painful and require much higher effort.
As a comment on the Rogue class in this game, they are not thieves, but mercenary style ruffians who focus on high damage and dirty fighting techniques.
In the base game, there is a story companion for each class except Barbarian, Monk, Rogue – companions from that class are available in the expansion. Without spoiling anything, the first companions to encounter after the game’s prologue are a Wizard, a Fighter, a Priest, and a Chanter. Somewhat later a Ranger, a Druid, a Paladin, and a Cipher. The expansion becomes available around level 4-5, but most players start traveling forth and back between expansion areas and the base game no sooner than at level 6-8. When exactly depends on the chosen difficulty mode.
So, regardless of which class you choose, you will meet a companion of each class. And you will be able to create custom companions, too, although those will start at one level lower than your main player character.
Skills are class-neutral in this game. Anyone can learn any skill. A specific class may result in a minor +1 or +2 bonus on the skill, but equipment and your character’s “Background” may also give a skill bonus.
With regard to the Mechanics skill that is used to find traps, find hidden things in general, and disarm traps, too, probably the most important choice is to make one character your party mechanic. This means to have one character spend all skill points on Mechanics. Depending on available bonus options through the game, it can be possible to waste a few skill points, but being able to safely spot and disarm traps will be very helpful.
For anyone other than the party mechanic, feel free to invest in other skills. Survival is a very good choice because it will grant nice resting bonuses. Lore is good for conversation as well as casting spells from scrolls.
Basics and the Prologue
With your newly created character ready to dive into the story, the first area and the first dungeon belong to the tutorial prologue portion of the game. The real game chapter called “Act 1” starts when leaving the first dungeon.
Within the game’s settings, consider turning on auto-pause for “Enemy Spotted” (so you can more safely decide whether to approach before combat may start), “Hidden Object Found” (since it will trigger for traps, too), “Combat Start” (so you can give your characters commands immediately) and “Combat Auto-Slow” (which enables slow mode during combat automatically).
While exploring a new area, activate stealth-based sneaking even if you haven’t invested any skill points into Stealth skill. The so-called “scouting mode” improves how early you spot hidden things. Finding hidden traps and things depends on Mechanics skill and is enhanced while sneaking.
Since sneaking around results in slower movement, feel free to turn on fast movement mode. The combination becomes very effective and convenient.
The game does not implement any encumbrance system. You can pick up anything you find. While a character’s inventory is limited, the weight of items doesn’t matter. And the party stash is unlimited.
Combat AI behavior
Since the game implements only very limited AI behavior options, I only recommend turning off AI. There is a blue gear wheel icon for each character as well as a global party AI icon. However, if you want to look into relying on AI behavior, review the customization options on the character record.
Carefully pay attention to the small icons next to your character’s small portrait. Negative status effects can cause devastating penalties, which can become a major problem for even the most capable warrior.
The AoE (Area of Effect) of abilities and spells can affect both your party and enemies or only your party or only your enemies. How exactly depends on the ability/spell. The AoE indicator’s red area affects allies and enemies (at the risk of causing a friendly fire), whereas a yellow area affects only enemies. Or if it’s a “Friendly AoE” ability, the yellow area affects allies only.
As to develop a feeling for ranges in the game, the size of the green circle around each of your characters is 0.5 meters radius.
During combat, green and red arrows between your characters and enemies show who is engaged with whom. In such a situation, trying to move away will break the engagement and grant an attacker disengagement attacks. Beware! But since attackers may also try to break free, hurting them with disengagement attacks can be interesting. For that, you better make sure your frontline warriors hit reliably.
Some classes can gain multiple engagement slots as well as abilities that improve disengagement attacks. The number of engagement slots decides how many attackers your character can handle without receiving penalties (aka Flanked affliction).
Unlike some other CRPGs, here a flanker doesn’t need to move into the back of an enemy to contribute to a Flanked status effect. Positioning your companion anywhere within the 180 degrees opposite of another engaged companion is sufficient.
After the prologue
You don’t need to complete an entire area before leaving for the next area. You may return later, such as to look around some more or take up with dangerous beasts you’ve avoided earlier. Role-play it. Consider what your current team can do. You don’t need to enter a dungeon as soon as you discover it.
Eventually, throughout the first chapter of the game, you will notice that the game doesn’t implement an open world, but confines you to a few areas. More areas will unlock depending on story progression. Older areas remain available.
Explore with priority. Talk to named NPCs, possibly more than once as to see whether they will offer more. Gather companions. Then return to dungeons and quest destinations.
Beware the Kickstarter NPCs!
Only one of the game’s loading screens warns about them.
No sooner than within the first village of the game you will encounter NPCs with a slightly golden/yellowish nameplate and often strange/odd names. More of them can be found in other areas of the base game, but not in the expansion areas.
Those NPCs have been contributed by supporters of the game’s Kickstarter platform-based crowdfunding campaign. They don’t contribute anything to the story and can be avoided, but if you establish “soul contact” with them, that only displays short stories that can be immersion-breaking and confuse many new players. So, beware!
Also, avoid reading tombstone carvings and similar messages that are more obviously related to kickstarter supporters.
Consumables & Crafting
Look into using food, drugs, potions, scrolls, crafting, and enchantments of items as early as possible. Hoarding consumables isn’t helpful.
Weapon quality enchantments cannot be removed, but can only be upgraded. The earlier you experiment with it, the better.
As mentioned in the section on character creation, when creating custom companions in a tavern/inn, initially they will be at least one level lower than your main player character, which can hurt their performance (due to level-based bonuses) compared with story companions. The sooner you hire adventurers, after a few levels up, their experience gap will be negligible.
That's everything we are sharing today for this Pillars of Eternity guide. This guide was originally created and written by D'amarr from Darshiva. In case we fail to update this guide, you can find the latest update by following this link.