Pillars of Eternity – The White March Part I: Review

  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://eternity.obsidian.net/
  • Game code provided by PR

Depending on how you played Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part I, you’ll either be super psyched for it or find it a little out of place. It’s very good; but it does mean that if you’ve finished the main game you have to backtrack to an earlier point, which feels a little jarring as everything wrapped up so neatly before. But that’s the only complaint here– so yeah, it’s good.

It’s a little difficult to really pick out what makes The White March Part I so good because it arrives at the same time as a bunch of enhancements to the core game, including advanced AI (most notably for your party members), the ability to retrain any of your characters, individual stealth, and range indicators.

Everything in the update improves on what was already there, with perhaps the only argument being that the ability to retrain a character from scratch cheapens the game for lack of any commitment to the choices you’ve made during levelling. In reality you don’t have use it at all, though we did – only on the main character, and for a talent we would have picked originally, had it not only just been made available through this expansion. It’s a great tool for anyone who made a mistake or wants to try out something new, so “if you don’t like it, don’t use it” is the best advice we can muster.

The White March on the other hand has somewhere in the region of ten hours of “stuff to do” (content is a hideous word) – depending on how much you actually want to do there. It also contains “soulbound weapons”, two new companions (a rogue and a monk), a raised level cap, multi-class talents, and new areas to explore and quest in, with the option to scale the difficulty higher if you’ve branched off from the endgame for something challenging.

More levels means more skills, and more spells for those high levels, but it has also introduced multi-class skills which are tailored to each of the different classes. Some are passives – like the endurance regeneration we picked up for our tanky monk -while others may be activated skills such as charming an opponent. Each new skill is tied to a specific class who cannot then take that skill themselves. It’s not really multi-classing in the traditional sense, but gives you a little extra to play around with.

The premise of Part I is that Stalwart, a struggling village in the snowy mountains of the White March, is seeking help to revitalise the town. They intend for adventurers to come and reopen Durgan’s Keep, rekindle the fires behind the renowned White Forge that resides within, and allow them to make Durgan’s Steel – some of the finest steel around. Of course there is also the issue of the Ogres attacking the town, and the fact that the previous owners of the Keep not only closed their doors but no one knows exactly what happened to them.

The quests and story are fairly easy to complete en mass due to the limited number thereof. It can seem a little sparse on the dialogue but it does adopt a “show, don’t tell” approach for the main questline which is nice, allowing you to come to your own conclusions as to what exactly happened in Durgan’s Keep.

The best bit about this being part one is that it’s not a cliffhanger. In fact it wraps everything up quite neatly, despite foreshadowing a great threat, which no doubt will be revealed in the second part. It also leaves the companion roster missing only a barbarian; so we’re calling that as a character that joins you in part two.

It’s got a fairly hefty assortment of things to occupy your time and while it does seem to keep it all localised to the new areas, it’s something that adds to the core game nicely. It’s challenging, spins a good yarn, and has enough interesting loot to bring back, that it feels like it would fit itself in best around the midpoint of the game as it is intended to. If you are thinking of returning back to Pillars from a long hiatus, then, while it is nice to return back to it for this, we can’t help but think that it may in some ways be better to wait for Part II before taking this journey. Either way, it’s entertaining and an expansion well worth its price of entry, which has us eagerly awaiting more.

critical score 8

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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