Pillars of Eternity Devs New Game, Tyranny, Asks "What If Evil Won?"
Following the the trail of success from Pillars of Eternity, Obsidian continues to refine its RPG formula.
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Obsidian knows a thing or two about player choice and empowerment. The veteran RPG studio is excited about the decisions its fans will face in Tyranny, the developer's follow up to its acclaimed RPG, Pillars of Eternity. But Tyranny isn't a sequel, it's a whole new world and story, posing a "what-if" scenario where evil has won.
As another Obsidian isometric RPG, the developer wisely repurposed the Pillars engine for Tyranny while also implementing some changes to the combat. There’s no friendly fire this time and party sizes are maxed out at four, rather than six. More importantly, your main character can now enact combo spells with your AI-controlled comrades.
In true Obsidian fashion, you’re given a wealth of options and decisions to plan and carve your party’s destiny. It starts with your allegiance at the start of Tyranny, whether that’s with the rebels seeking to take back the kingdom, the Scarlet Chorus, a group that works for the conquering overlord Kyros, or The Disfavored, another evil faction looking to make a name for themselves in this volatile land.
Yes, evil has won, but it wasn’t a victory so absolute that it doesn’t have its insurgents as well as infighting among the victorious factions. Depending on your initial choices, one of the earlier missions can place you in the middle of a petty quarrel between the Scarlet Chorus and The Disfavored, who are both tasked with assaulting a rebel stronghold. Kyros’ solution to move this mission along is to conjure a ticking clock spell that would end the world if the fortress was not captured. It sounds drastic but Kyros didn’t conquer this kingdom by wasting time.
This rebel fortress’ immediate challenge concerns an entrance reinforced by mage spells. Rather than trying to blow down the doors with Kyros’ own mages, the game steers you to find a backdoor, by way of a scalable wall. Expect many of these non-combat field interactions, some of which will require specific skill levels.
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The arsenal of a player-controlled mage is well-stocked with damage-dealing spells of varying areas of effect. Frequent use of these spells and even simpler actions like melee attacks will result in even better abilities, which is key in a game where character progression is based on repeated use of skills rather than upgrading a class. Equally lethal are the spells that do not deal direct damage such as an illusion spell that makes your unfortunate target feel like she’s falling. There’s also the incantation that can confuse lesser enemies to retreat even before a fight begins in earnest, thereby thinning the opposing numbers for an easier battle.
In between skirmishes is a lore-rich story filled with classic Obsidian conversational decision trees. The variety of the factions alone imply a world steeped in gray areas and nuanced moral ambiguity. It wouldn’t be surprising if Tyranny’s end game didn’t result in the total annihilation of the rebels, though it's just as difficult to see the freedom fighters restore the kingdom to their idea of peace.
With so many tenuous relationships and conflicting interests, don’t expect that every faction will be happy with the key decisions you make. While Obsidian has ensured that your choices will be informed ones, there will be many consequences you cannot foresee. For instance, killing key opposition figures in the interest of advancing your cause might make a lot of sense, but don’t be surprised if, unknown to you, family members from those you execute will forget your actions.
Tyranny is due out later this year for PC.