Obsidian Entertainment talks exploring an open world and improving upon their last game
In Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, the sequel to the original Pillars from 2015, Obsidian Entertainment has returned to the world of Eora to show off a new side of the lands of encompassing the Dyrwood. With more of a focus on adventure and freedom of movement in this isometric role-playing game, Pillars II is looking to be far more ambitious than its predecessor. During a session with the game on the E3 show floor, we talked with some developers from Obsidian Entertainment about their plans for the follow up to one of bigger surprises from the studio in recent years.
Set sometime after the original game, Deadfire pits The Watcher--the player character from the last adventure--against some tough odds in a new region of the world of Eora. When the god of light Eothas awakens, it destroys The Watcher's stronghold--the main player base in the original game--leaving the main character for dead. After recovering, and reuniting with the party, they set out on a massive ship to sail the high seas towards the Deadfire archipelago in search of the God of Light, and find out what its plans are for the rest of the world.
As the first sequel they've made for their own series, Obsidian Entertainment was committed to making it one that was worthy of the last game, while focusing on the strong foundations of the original. In our talk, executive producer Adam Brennecke from Obsidian spoke about the challenges of making a sequel, and how the follow up will improve on what they built in the first game.
"It's a pretty big deal for us," said Adam Brennecke. "We usually do sequels for other developers games, so it's refreshing to work on a sequel to our own thing. We learned a lot from the first game, all the stuff learned we implemented here in Deadfire. We rewrote a lot of the systems from the ground up, and just looking at the game you can see we improved it visually. [...] The technology has been improved hands down from the last game, it's so much better and we're using state of the art technology."
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In keeping with the original's focus on storytelling and role-playing, Deadfire will continue on with The Watcher's story, and also marks the first time that Obsidian is developing a save import system, which will carry over all decisions, faction choices, and companion set-ups. However, if you're interested in just jumping into Deadfire--or wanting to start fresh--the game will allow players to essentially make decisions on what happened in the last adventure, essentially filling out the story on the quick so you'll be able to jump into the new adventure.
While many of the same systems and mechanics are returning, the one thing that Obsidian wanted to add in for the next title was more freedom in how you explore the space. With your new ship, which also doubles as your base of operations, the Watcher and their crew will be able to move freely around the seas, either following the main story, or checking out every opportunity they could find elsewhere. This level of freedom in exploration was important for the developers, and they even used past experiences on games like Fallout to help design the world traversal gameplay.
"With the open world, we'r using a lot of our experience from working on Fallout: New Vegas," said Brennecke. "In Pillars I, we realized that it wasn't one of our strengths, specifically the factions, so we have four factions you can ally with or betray, so you either go it alone or team up with others. That's a big part of the narrative story for Pillars II."
One aspect of the game I enjoyed seeing was that there's a stronger focus on the freedom in letting players explore the space at their leisure. Not many isometric RPG titles let players do their own thing and explore, and it's quite refreshing to see Obsidian's next title focusing on the same strong level of storytelling from the original, while throwing in a strong open world aspect, complete with a crew of sailors to manage. Pillars of Eternity has a strong world backdrop, and seeing this way to present it should make for an even more engaging time.
For more info on Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, and all other things E3 2017, keep up with our E3 2017 hub page as new content rolls out.