|Is this the spiritual sequel to Baldur's Gate that I've been waiting for all these years?|
|The introduction: You are travelling with a caravan to a new settlement when you get stuck in a mountain pass.|
|Class: A large selection, with some familiar and some new. I pick Paladin. Usually a warrior type, but with a bit of magic and a sense of self-righteousness.|
|Subclass: You have to pick an order, I went for a "good" one. I had thought there might be a choice of God to follow, but I guess not.|
|Your basic statistics: Here at least some guidance, the game highlighting which stats are most useful for your chosen class.|
|Culture: Again, this is a bit opaque. I don't know much about the world yet but I have to pick which culture I associate with. I chose Aedyr, an old slightly crumbling empire.|
|Background: A little vague boost here to your character, here I gain +1 to Stealth and Survival skills for being a "Drifter", which seemed appropriate for someone tagging along with a caravan to a new settlement.|
Pillars of Eternity is trying to tread that fine line, in giving the player a wealth of options, whilst also trying to guide the player with as much information as they can. While I appreciate this information, it can still feel quite daunting. The game seeks to guide with the basic character statistics (strength, intelligence, etc.), and will recommend which ones are most important for the class you have chosen. For every other choice, there is a lot of text explaining the possibilities, but such things are a touch opaque when I know so little about the world. What effect will +1 survival have on my playthrough? Or +1 Lore?
|Here is my completed character: Level 1 Paladin, Morgana. Until I decide to restart with someone entirely different.|
What would be a missed opportunity is to allow for a vast array of starting choices, but have them proceed to have minimal impact on the game as you progress. If your starting choices have minimal impact, it is perhaps best to begin with a blank slate and fill in the character through encounters and dialogue during the opening area of the game. On the other hand, if your myriad choices will have definite impact on a playthrough, then it is imperative that the consequences are felt as soon as possible, so that if a player decides they've made a terrible choice the restart is less painful.
For what it's worth, I truly hope that the first choices that Pillars gives are ones that will shape the rest of the game, because if the game is truly great I will want to play it multiple times. As it happens, I've already played it four times (sort of), because I can't decide what sort of character I want to play as. Do I want to be an honest paladin, a bitter druid, a mysterious spellcaster, or something else? I'm always tempted to pick the noble paladin as a first-time playthrough of most cRPGs if only because it's what I'm used to from various Ultima games (in which the player is literally the paragon of virtue, the hero who gets called whenever there's a threat to Britannia).
So far I've only played through the opening section, which contains a brief tutorial (which will be mostly unnecessary to anyone who has played Baldur's Gate or a similar infinity engine game), and consists of a few fights and some snippets of dialogue to introduce you to this strange new world. Hopefully this week I will delve into the game and discover how much my choice of character will affect how I approach the encounters and quests that the game throws at me.
|And so my adventure begins, accompanied by a reluctant hunter and a blue piglet.|