Pillars of Eternity Successor Tyranny Lets You Craft and Wield Custom Spells

Designing destruction.

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Now Playing: Tyranny - Announcement Trailer

Thanks to an early demo at this year's E3, we already knew about isometric RPG Tyranny's intriguing narrative hook: rather than saving the world from some unequivocally evil antagonist as you typically might in a high-fantasy adventure, Tyranny has you enforcing the rule of a ruthless dictator who's already won. (According to game director Brian Heins, you can choose to rebel against evil, though "personally [he] finds the evil option is much more fun.")

During a more recent demo, however, we learned Tyranny offers an equally novel gameplay mechanic: an impressively granular spell creation system that allows you craft everything from basic fireballs to multifaceted support spells that buff and heal your party. While that could theoretically get pretty complex, the modular system actually seems relatively straightforward in practice.

As you progress through Tyranny's dungeons and overworld, you'll discover sigils that serve as the building blocks of every spell. The most crucial of these are the "core sigils," which define the type of magic used in any given spell, whether it be fire, frost, healing, or something else entirely. Once you select a school of magic, you can choose how the spell expresses itself--a fire spell, for example, could be cast as a cone with a short range but a broad area of effect, or you could create a touch spell that lets you incinerate foes by laying your hands on them.

Right-clicking enemies displays their stats and elemental weaknesses, which can be crucial when selecting effective spells.
Right-clicking enemies displays their stats and elemental weaknesses, which can be crucial when selecting effective spells.

With the core sigil and expression selected, you can then apply "accent sigils" to enhance or modify the spell's effect. Many of these provide basic, expected improvements like better range, added intensity, or longer duration. But others can actually add additional effects, allowing you to create a frost spell that both damages and slows your enemies, for example. The number of accent sigils you can add is limited only by the number of sigils you possess, but there is a catch.

Every spell has a "lore requirement." The more complex and powerful the spell, the higher the lore requirement. And if a spell's lore requirement exceeds your characters' lore levels, they won't be able to cast that spell. Thankfully, you can fine-tune a spell's lore requirement by adjusting the power of the associated accent sigils. Instead of cranking your intensity sigil all the way to 11, for example, you could set it to slightly lower power to ensure your party members can actually cast the spell.

Once you're done adding and adjusting accents, you can even name your magical creation. Want to drop a "Spirit Bomb" on some goblins? Go nuts. You can also assign completed spells to multiple characters, so if you want a party of four mock Super Saiyans, you can make that happen. "We wanted to have enough detail that you could really tweak and play with the spells as much as you wanted to," said Heins.

Tyranny's UI clearly communicates the exact numerical impact of each accent sigil added when you're building a spell.
Tyranny's UI clearly communicates the exact numerical impact of each accent sigil added when you're building a spell.

Finally, it's worth noting that Tyranny won't just cater to magic-users. According to Heins, fighters, rangers, rogues, and others will also find nuance and reward within Tyranny's mechanics thanks to weapons and abilities specifically designed to enhance warrior tactics. "There are ton of different abilities for you to choose from as you level up your character," said Heins. "Magic basically sits on top of that."

"We're not a class-based game, we're skill-based," Heins continued. "So you can make whatever hybrid character you want. If you decide, like, 'I started the game thinking I was going to be this dedicated sword-and-shield warrior, but you know, this magic stuff is fun,' you can start adding that to your character and really grow from there."

Regardless of how you choose to play, you can expect real-time-with-pause tactical combat similar to the system found in developer Obsidian's earlier RPG Pillars of Eternity, which allowed players to pause the action, assign commands to party members, then unpause and let the dominos fall. The overall structure is similar as well, with classic dungeons to explore, artifacts to collect, and bosses to battle. There's still plenty more to learn, though, so check back before Tyranny launches later this year.

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Avatar image for xantufrog

Great! Too few games have this as a feature. In it's simple state, it was one of the very fun parts in Morrowind, and going way back it was pretty much the ONLY fun part of Betrayal at Antara (really cool elemental creation system but... the game itself was so bad)

Avatar image for deactivated-5a3920d6b9003

Good enhancement. One of the worst flaws of Pillars was the magic system.

Avatar image for wreckrob

gonna have that overly complicated rng system where everything gets stacked against you making many of the games systems useless couldnt stand pillars for that

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

@wreckrob: "overly complicated rng system"

lol what. Welcome to RPGs.

Avatar image for wreckrob

@Thanatos2k: I've played rpgs ive beaten baldurs gate 1 and 2 icewind dale 1 and 2. the problem i have with pillars is, it has so many stacking systems that they pile on top of each other. you can have only so many interacting number systems before the game is broken and that game IS broken

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

@wreckrob: The vast majority of players were able to figure it out just fine...

Avatar image for wreckrob

@Thanatos2k: cool i guess? i think it plays like crap and that the older baldurs games were better because their rng mechanics didn't work against the game itself

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

@wreckrob: Yeah Baldur's Gate definitely had no RNG. Definitely not any chance to hit or anything.

Avatar image for wreckrob

@Thanatos2k:what? i said they did have rng but it didnt break the game because, there werent a bunch of systems that did the same thing. that canceled eachother out. thats what pillars did since they dont have the standard hit, crit, cast, def ,dodge, system. they have a bunch of shit that ends up meaningless.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

@wreckrob: I'm not sure you realize how vague and nonsensical your argument is.

Avatar image for Pelezinho777

Please put katanas in this one, Obsidian.

Avatar image for mdinger

After PoE, can't wait to play the bejesus out of this one. Tides of Numenera and Original Sin 2 coming out this year - good times and high adventure inbound!

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

Obsidian knows what they're doing.

Avatar image for Gomtor

@Thanatos2k: Their games are not flawless, but it always has that something special that I cannot really put my finger on. Bottom line, I LOVE their games.

Avatar image for Barighm

It's stuff like this that makes me wish Bethesda would allow Obsidian another crack at a Fallout or ES game.

Avatar image for Mogan

@Barighm: For sure. Fallout New Vegas is still the best Fallout game, and I'd love to play another one.

Avatar image for triplebullet

@Barighm: I wish Bethesda Softworks and Obsidian would work together.