It isn’t super uncommon for games to be supported and patched by developers many months after launch. However, it is less common for a whole new optional combat system to be patched in, let alone nine months after release. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire developer Obsidian is releasing a patch this week to include an optional turn-based mode for Pillars of Eternity II’s combat. It changes how the game plays in a fairly fundamental way, so to try it out, you will have to start a new game in turn-based mode.
In an interview with Shacknews, game director Josh Sawyer stated that “The turn-based mode slows everything down… 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.”
The default version of Pillars of Eternity II and its predecessor use a form of “real-time with pause” combat, popularised by the old Infinity Engine RPGs on the PC, such as Baldur’s Gate. Players manually control all of their party members and issue commands, and can pause the action at any time to make tactical decisions. However, this form of gameplay can still be quite chaotic, and a much slower turn-based approach might help encourage more tactical decision-making. It would also make it more in line with rival crowdfunded RPG Divinity: Original Sin II.
There are some dangers associated with adding such a gameplay overhaul to a game that wasn’t designed with it in mind. It is possible that slowing down the combat that much could unbalance the game’s intended difficulty curve. The developers are aware of this, and are launching the mode in beta, taking player feedback into account as they work on perfecting the turn-based mode.
The turn-based mode for Pillars of Eternity II is set to be patched in January 24. This mode could be a great opportunity to dive back into Deadfire and re-experience the combat in a new way. Alternatively, if you have found the game hard to get into due to the chaotic “real-time with pause” gameplay, a slower, more tactical mode of play might be a more engaging way to play the game.
Nonetheless, it is pretty cool to see a great game continue to receive major updates like this one. Hopefully, it functions well and gives players a whole new way to engage with Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire.
Pillars of Eternity II is available on PC, with a PS4, Xbox One and Switch port planned for 2019.