During my visit to a booth tucked away in the far corners of the E3 show floor to check out the demo for Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, I got a bonus surprise in the form of a second, unexpected game announcement. The original Pillars of Eternity is making a comeback, this time for next-gen consoles, with the port being handled by Paradox Interactive. Though its existence was kept secret until now, I was able to get some hands-on time with the new console version.
Pillars of Eternity Complete Edition will feature the base game, optimized for console gameplay, as well as all previously-released pieces of DLC. The combat system has been streamlined to be as intuitive as possible. When enemies appear, the game pauses to allow the player to issue commands to all party members before initiating combat. This is done via the newly-implemented radial menu, and character movement assigned to the controller thumbsticks.
Playing through the first chain of quests, I got a first-hand look at the choice system and how it impacts the narrative. After going through a rather simple fetch quest, my heroes — part of a caravan of travelers — return to camp to find it overrun by bandits, the travelers brutally slain. All except one, a rogue who is being held at swordpoint. Through some quick thinking, I was able to save him from the bandits and turn the tables on them with a vengeance. However, while still celebrating my third party member, a silent fog creeps into the camp vestiges, spreading slowly towards the party. Following the rogue's advice, they turn and run from it; the rogue, however, soon falls behind, and is struck by some dark power, immediately killing him. Had I been quicker to help him catch up, I could have saved him this second time as well. The very real threat of death to permanent characters is a constant companion to players willing to embark on this quest.
Exploring the choices and consequences in this acclaimed RPG will be a big draw for anyone who hasn't played Pillars of Eternity previously. Also of note are the storybook scenes that tell the narrative in stylish panels that look as if they're inked by hand. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners can look forward to getting their hands on the game on August 29, 2017.