[PoE] Pillars of Eternity
The confluence of several bloggers singing the praises of Pillars of Eternity, my love for the Baldur’s Gate games, and the fact that it was payday ….. yep, I bought PoE. I went into it blind — didn’t read up on it or how the controls worked, the classes, races, etc. Just wanted to figure it out as I went. And I’ve kinda been on a binge. According to Steam I’ve got 32 hours under my belt since I 1st began playing on Friday night. Considering that I’ve slept twice, made meals for the family, played with my daughter, watched some tv with the wife, and also replaced the kitchen faucet that had broken (which included a trip to the store), well… that includes quite a bit of AFK time. But, I’ve got a full party plus an additional member at my stronghold, and we’re all level 8 now, so I’ve been proceeding just fine.
I like how the difficulty is scaled — which is to say, that it isn’t. If you see a mob, it will always be the same level as any other mob of the same name. So that Xaurip (kobold analog) might be a decent fight at level 1 but at level 3 it’s a cakewalk. Or that level 6 mob might be a tough fight for your full party at level 3, but come back at level 5 and you don’t even bother to use spells, just weapon it down. It’s also kinda fun to be stomping over all the mobs in a map, then go into a cave or dungeon and find out that…. oh yeah, it’s a LOT harder in here…..
Anyway, it’s a similar ruleset to D&D, but there are enough differences that I kinda wish I hadn’t necessarily gone in blind. Here are a few of the things I’ve figured out:
The Health vs Endurance dichotomy is stated in the game, but seems like it’s not terribly well explained. Essentially you have a decently sized Health pool, and then a smaller Endurance pool. In any given fight, your Endurance is what matters and would be what most games would call “Hit Points.” If Endurance drops to zero, the character drops and is out of the fight until it’s over, but (assuming your side wins) after the fight the Endurance automatically fills up again. Damage taken is simultaneously applied to the Health pool as well. Dropping to 0 Endurance is simply a “KO” but typically a character’s Health pool is 2x – 6x larger than their Endurance, so you can actually go through several fights, even sustaining multiple KO’s before needing to rest. Resting is the only way to restore Health. All the healing spells restore Endurance, not Health. And once your Health gets low enough, your Endurance drops too, so that’s something to keep an eye on.
- Everyone’s a tank. Sort of. Everyone can use any armor without restriction, regardless of class, so there’s really no reason that I can see to not wear the heaviest armor possible. The “penalty” is slightly slower health regen out of combat after battle. Or so it says. From what I can tell it’s quite rapid no matter what and I don’t see any difference between heavily armored and light-armored. So … go as heavy as you can as fast as you can.
- Everyone can also use any weapon. Nothing says that the Wizard can’t be on the front line in plate armor with a 2H sword. Sure he’s got fewer endurance points and could be prone to interrupt, so you probably want him in the back with a wand, but he *could* do melee if you wanted. Still and all, only the Ranger really seems to be fully range focused. The other class’s spells and abilities are often melee or close-range. Or rays that will do friendly fire if you’re behind your own people so you might as well be up in melee anyway. Plus if everyone’s grouped up then your buffs from the chanter, cipher, and/or priest will get everyone too. Of course if the mobs are tossing AE’s then there’s a problem….
- Fast mode is your friend. You always travel in stealth mode and that slows you down a bit, but putting the game into fast mode (default D key) just makes you move faster. None of the maps are especially big, but when you’re making multiple runs back and forth across a big city, it helps to go faster. And in a dungeon it makes the delve go quicker too, so why not? You can set combat to automatically go into slow mode to keep it from being too frenetic, so… for me, anyway — fast to move, slow to fight.
- The Might attribute at character creation affects all damage and healing done, whether it be magical or physical, so *every* class needs as much Might as possible, even if the game doesn’t put a nifty star next to it. High Constitution is also good to have more HP, but considering at level 8 my monk with his “very high” class-based health and a 15 CON has 169 HP, and my wizard with his “very low” class-based health and a 12 CON has 129 HP, so the spread’s really not that big. The other attributes mostly seem concerned with defensive bonuses, so they’re definitely important, but overall it seems that Might > all others, regardless of class.
Classes seem to go along these lines:
- Fighter — High health, regens endurance in combat naturally.
- Barbarian — High health, does AE melee damage on any hit
- Paladin — Uses auras to buff himself and the group
- Monk — Unarmed fighter. As he’s hit he uses the power from the wound to power special attacks. Unarmed damage increases every 3 levels, so at level 1 might want to use a weapon, but after 4, unarmed is the way to go.
- Wizard — Primarily damage spells. Friendly fire is possible with many, so wizards need to pay attention to what they’re doing.
- Druid — Primarily an offensive spellcaster, though with more buffs for the group than a wizard. When shapeshifted is pretty impressive at melee too.
- Chanter — Automatically chants when in battle. Chants last 6 seconds (4 duration, plus 2 seconds of lingering effect after the next phrase begins) and have various offense or defense bonuses depending on which phrases you include in your chants. A chanter that hangs back with the ranged folk might chant the marksman rate of fire chant, where one that’s on the front lines might chant enemy defuffs and melee defense for the group. Also has spells (primarily utility) that are powered by the phrases of the chants, so they can only be cast every 8-12 seconds, usually.
- Cipher — Has a bit of direct damage, but is primarily a debuffer. Powers its spells with “focus” which it builds up as it attacks mobs with weapon attacks.
- Priest — Spells are mostly buffs and heals. A few attack spells here and there.
- Rogue — Stabbity death! Gets lots of damage from the Sneak Attack mechanic, and pretty much if it’s focused on someone else, you get the sneaks!
- Ranger — Has a companion to be a tank pet for you, though it can fold in a hurry vs more than 1 mob. Class skills buffs the pet or increase your damage, but at level 8 I’ve still got the same 2 skills on my bar as I did at level 3 when she joined the party, so not a complex class at all. Stand in the back and shoot…..
So anyway… not mentioning the story since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but overall it’s a big thumbs up from me.