Today, Pillars of Eternity II developer Obsidian said that, nine months after its release, Pillars II is getting a turn-based combat mode as part of a free update on Januay 24. Previously, the fantasy RPG’s default mode of combat was real-time, but with the option for players to pause and issue commands to their party members, à la classic Infinity Engine RPGs like Baldur’s Gate.
This optional new mode, according to game director Josh Sawyer, changes things up pretty significantly. “The turn-based mode slows everything down,” he said in a developer update video published on Shacknews. “It’s a very, very tactical mode of play. It highlights some abilities and debuffs and things like that, that aren’t necessarily as highlighted in the real-time with pause combat system. And it’s really a lot of fun.”
When I reviewed Pillars of Eternity II last year, I came away impressed, but found it “too chaotic to be fully satisfying” and a bit easy on regular difficulty. My praise was als odiluted by the fact that I was still pretty fresh off playing PC-RPG-for-the-ages Divinity: Original Sin 2. I wondered what Pillars II might be like if it embraced a more ambitious approach to combat.Now, I’m excited to go back and play turn-based on a higher difficulty—to really chew on some of my mid-fight decisions instead of just gritting my teeth while arrows fly (and occasionally yelling at my party members for being numbskulls whose graveyard worth of tombstones all read “refused to stick to the dang plan”).
However, I’m also wary of an overhaul like this being retrofitted onto a game made up of encounters that were specifically tuned for an entirely different system. Fortunately, Obsidian is launching this mode as a beta and seems committed to taking player feedback and getting it right.