Pillars of Eternity Overview – An Obsidian Entertainment Game

The CRPG is one of the oldest gaming genres around. Made famous by games such as Baldur’s Gate and Torment, the top-down perspective RPG has always been one of the more popular game types among RPG gamers.

Hardcore gamers, in particular, have always been particularly partial to CRPGs, and in the past few years, a resurgence of the genre has come, and that storm has been led by games such as Pillars of Eternity.

Pillars of Eternity is by Obsidian Entertainment, who are generally known as some of the godfathers of the CRPG genre, with Fallout 2 being one of the original best games ever in that genre. It’s a unique throwback to the games of old that ran of the famous Infinity Engine.

Despite its massive success, Pillars of Eternity started as a Kickstarter campaign and was solely crowd-funded. The love for the idea was so intense that the Kickstarter reached its fund goal in just a day.

Over the next few years, work would begin on the game, and it was finally released on March 26th of 2015 for the PC and in the years that followed, the PS4 and Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

It was immediately one of the best-reviewed RPGs in ages and single-handedly returned the CRPG into the limelight, and games like Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Pathfinder: Kingmaker appeared soon after to carry the torch.

Not only does Pillars of Eternity return you to another gaming age, but it competes with those greats of old on so many levels. The combat is fast and exciting and the story being told is incredibly original.

The game’s real meat comes with the choices you can make throughout the game and different things you can learn based on what you say. There are many alternate paths to take, companions to interact with, and terrifying foes to fight. Let’s explore why this game is so special.

The Story

pillars of eternity dyrwood

An RPG is only as good as its story, and thankfully, Pillars of Eternity has a fascinating tale to tell that feels different from any other RPG. You begin the game as a foreigner who arrives in the strange Dyrwood.

From there, your caravan is destroyed by a massive storm, killing everyone except you. On your last legs and trying to survive the night, you rest in a nearby cafe, and there you witness a mysterious cult performing a ritual on an ancient machine that rips souls out of living beings.

As the main character, you are exposed to the machine, and because of your interaction with the energy there, you become a Watcher, someone able to read souls and access memories from your past lives.

You become cursed with visions of being in other worlds and unable to sleep or live a normal life; you seek out the cult that did this to you in an effort to reverse the cult and discover the meaning of their ritual.

It’s a wild ride that takes you to some incredible locales, and you also meet some very interesting characters along the way. In addition to all of that, you’ll fight some monstrous enemies, make choices that have long last consequences, and discover the ones who control the world from the shadows while eventually confronting the gods themselves.

It’s one of the more singular RPG stories out there, and the slow drip method it’s delivered to you keeps you intrigued and glued to the screen the whole way through.

In addition to the main storyline, which will take up the majority of your time, you’ve also got side quests to take on. These can either be short or lengthy depending on which ones you choose to engage with, and they often have some great rewards in-store as well as some challenging fights.

There are roughly 30 in total, and some of them can only be completed at certain points in the story, so if you come across a quest that you find interesting, don’t hesitate to complete it as it may be unavailable shortly down the line.

Faction quests are available as well, and these are typically a bit more involved than the side quests are. There are three main factions that you can take on questlines for, and each has its own requirements for undertaking quests. The factions are The Dozens, The Knight of The Crucible, and house Doemenel.

Each faction quest is pretty lengthy and has an intriguing story tied to it. They also have some fun fights in store and some great rewards, so definitely check these out if you’re looking for more content to explore.

Finally, you have Companion quests. These are done by talking to your Companions and eventually inquiring about a quest they may need your help on. Each scripted Companion in the game has its own quest to undertake, so these can take quite a while to finish as you will have many Companions throughout your journey.

The Gameplay

Pillars of Eternity

You control the main character and their group throughout the world, and you need to click around the environment in order to move your party, just as you once did many years ago. Exploration is a massive part of the game, and you will find hours’ worth of interesting maps to explore and dungeons to fight through.

Creating Your Character

At the start of the game, you will create your main character from a variety of different options and stats. Choosing carefully here is very important as you can only do this once, and many of the options you have available will impact big parts of the game, not only in combat but beyond that as well.

The first thing you need to choose is sex, which isn’t that important, but immediately after, you need to choose race and subrace, and that’s where you need to start paying attention. You have tons of options here to choose from. Your race is very important, and you have a choice of six races to choose from.

Each race has a unique bonus and penalty you’ll have to manage. Your subrace has no effect on the attributes but rather your passive abilities. This will also affect how NPCs treat you throughout the game as well.

Once you’ve taken care of your race, you need to decide on what class you’re going to be in. You have a variety of options here, and each one leads to a completely different style of play, so make sure you’re happy with your choices before moving on.

Class determines a variety of things, such as the abilities a character will gain over the course of the game as well as what kind of weapons they will specialize in as well. Here is what we have to choose from and what each class will offer.


The barbarians are well equipped to provide both melee offense and strong personal defense. They are the essential fighter class in the game, and for those who like strictly melee combat and nothing else, they will want to go this route.


pillars of eternity chanter

Chanters have the knowledge to create chants during the battle that cause a variety of effects. This can include buffing your own party or debuffing your enemies as well.

They are more of a support class, but when used properly, they can be devastating in battle. This is one of the tougher classes to make your main one as your impact on the battle is less direct and will require far more party management instead.


Ciphers are one of the more interesting classes in Pillars of Eternity, and they can use their spiritual energy to manipulate people. They are offensive telepaths that can use manifested weapons up close or attack from afar with a variety of powerful abilities.

The key to success as a Cipher is by building your Focus meter through normal attacks, so you can unleash a massive one.


Druids are a different kind of magic user that can take on the form of mythical creatures during battle. They are incredibly powerful and can use a variety of magic attacks that cause status effects and are dangerous combatants up close when in their beast mode.

Each beast they morph into carries special abilities with it, and when used properly, the Druid becomes a devastating force in battle.


Fighters are the jack of all trades when it comes to melee combat. They can use a ton of different melee weapons and are best used as frontline attackers when it comes to structuring your party. They aren’t the most varied combatants, but they’re wildly effective when used the right way.


Monks are a unique class that uses an enemy’s aggression to their advantage. They can convert oncoming attacks into energy that then powers their own attacks and weapons. While they are melee fighters, Monks can use a variety of group attacks as well and are very versatile when it comes to different forms of combat.


pillars of eternity Paladin

Paladins are the Holy Knights of Pillars of Eternity, and their role is to support allies in battle while being formidable melee combatants as well.

Paladins are basically a combination of Fighter and Cipher classes and are a bit easier to use than both of them. You won’t be dealing out a ton of damage with Paladins, but your party as a whole will be all the more dangerous if you choose to be one.


Priests are incredibly powerful magic users that rely on buffing the party as well as dealing out huge amounts of damage with their wide range of area-of-effect attacks. They are both a support class and offensive class and learning the balance of when to help your teammates vs. when to strike your opponents is key to mastering them.


Rangers are ranged attackers that can do decent damage from far away while also providing distractions for the enemies using various abilities that their Animal Companions have in store.


Rogues are super quick and stealthy and tend to be the best class to take if you want to go the sneaky route in Pillars of Eternity. When used as the stealth warrior they are, Rogues can cause the most damage of any class in the game, but the tradeoff is having less protection than other classes.


Wizards are the most powerful magic-user class in Pillars of Eternity, and while they are mostly useless in melee combat, from afar, Wizards can cast devastating spells that they learn through Grimoires, and they are among the most valuable teammates a player can have.

The World

The World Eora
Image from Pillarsofeternity Fandom Wiki

The world of Pillars of Eternity is that of Eora. It’s a massive land that has multiple continents and islands for you to explore. The main portion of Pillars of Eternity takes place in the Eastern Reach.

Aesthetically, Pillars of Eternity is a somewhat normal-seeming fantasy setting with a few interesting features that set it apart from your run-of-the-mill Elves and magic type of setting.

The most unique of which is The Wheel, which is a phenomenon that takes the souls of the dead and recycles them back into the world in a never-ending cycle according to the wills of the gods.

In addition to this strange phenomenon, there are also two moons that hang above Eora at all times. There are also other strange happenings throughout the land, such as Biamhac, which conjures up spirit winds that rip the souls away from the bodies of the living in cursed ruins.


Combat in Pillars of Eternity takes place in a top-down perspective, just as the main game does. When you approach an enemy, or an enemy approaches you, they have a small radius around them that signals when a fight is about to begin, and as soon as an enemy enters that radius, it’s time to fight.

The combat takes place in real-time, with automated attacks happening as you ready up various spells for you and your party to use.

During combat, you have a lot to manage, including attacking, reloading, firing, one-use abilities, item management, and more. All of this is constantly happening, so going into combat with a plan is incredibly important as things can get chaotic fast.

Combat success involves more than just your quick reflexes; there are also tons of different things happening both behind the scenes and in terms of your stats that affect things.

Attack Roll

Attack Roll is the behind-the-scenes system that tracks a character’s attempt to deal damage. This is governed by multiple outcomes, including Critical Hit, Hit, Miss, or Graze.

Each outcome is based on the character’s accuracy and the target’s defense. Because of this system, you might find your attacks are missing or hitting weakly from time to time, and that’s when you need to focus on upgrading your accuracy.


Pillars of Eternity

Accuracy determines your ability to hit with any attack in the game, including melee attacks, ranged weapons, and spells. You can upgrade this stat by using various items or modifying them through your class abilities.


Defense is another huge stat in the game, and it determines what you can protect against when it comes to taking on enemies. Unlike most games, defense here is broken up into multiple categories and needs to be taken into account far more than usual. The four kinds of defenses are Deflection, Reflex, Fortitude, and Will.

These stats all get improved by a character’s base defense, but things like armor, spells, abilities, and talents can all greatly affect these stats as well. Certain attacks might hit you straight on, but others could only graze you, and when that starts happening consistently, that’s when you know your defense stat is legitimate.


Damage has a variety of effects in Pillars of Eternity. While it obviously will hurt your and your target’s health, it can also affect Endurance as well. When this happens, the health and endurance bars lose an identical amount. You also have to worry about multiple damage types during the game too.

Damage reduction is what a piece of equipment that you’re wearing does to an ongoing attack. You can see just how much damage equipment will save you from, and this is a great and in-depth way to determine what kind of armor you should be wearing.

No matter how powerful your armor is, though, the minimum damage of 20% will also get through on a direct hit, so you can’t be invincible from everything.

Interrupts/ Concentration

Interrupts/ Concentration are another factors to worry about in combat while playing Pillars of Eternity. These happen when your3 character or an enemy is hit while performing an action like casting a spell or readying a normal attack.

When this happens, a behind-the-scenes system called a Concentration Roll will happen, and if it fails, you’re going to be knocked out of your attack temporarily. The small period of time after this will leave your character or an enemy unable to take any action.

How long this happens is determined by the interrupt stat of the weapon or spell. When the time runs out where a character has been interrupted, they may try the attack or try to cast the spell once again.

Concentration, on the other hand, can stop Interrupt stats from mattering altogether. Usually, if the concentration stat is strong enough, that Interrupt stat won’t matter, and they will be able to take any number of hits during the action and still pull it off flawlessly.


Pillars of Eternity

Vitality is the sum of your Endurance as well as your Health bars. Each one serves a different purpose, and losing either can mean very bad things for you and your party. Endurance is basically your resistance towards short-term injury and being able to survive brutal attacks.

It’s also when you can turn the battle in your favor, so maintaining high Endurance during combat is pretty crucial for success. Your health, on the other hand, determines how well you and your party can handle long-term injuries that linger outside of battle.

These can be cured when you rest, but sometimes in long dungeons, you won’t have that option, and that’s when you’ll have to decide on venturing forth or returning to safety.

This is vital because, in Pillars of Eternity, Death can be final. That’s right, your party members can die permanently, and once that happens, you’re either going to have to reload a save or carry on without them. Characters will be maimed before death, and that means they can handle being dropped down to zero Endurance and Health.

This incurs a ton of negative penalties on them, and it’s highly advisable to cure them at this point because if you don’t, they will die and be gone from the game forever.

When you or your characters are hurt badly, the only way to heal them back to normal is by resting.

Status Effects

Status Effects are another massive thing to look out for in Pillars of Eternity as there is a large amount of them, and each one can be just as debilitating as a heavy damage attack.

While a lot of status effects are plenty debilitating, others are actually quite helpful, and both of these can be either gained or afflicted through resting, abilities, spells, or just over time. The list of afflictions is large, and each one has completely different effects on both you and your enemies. Here are a few to look out for.


This status makes it very difficult to hit your enemies in combat and vice versa, so it can either be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on what side of it you’re on. Various spells and weapons can cause this status.


Pillars of Eternity

You definitely don’t want to be hit with this status, as it will cause your character to be completely unable to make a move. Not only that, but it opens them up to sneak attacks, and if facing a tough enough enemy, this can spell certain death for them.


This affliction lowers the movement speed and reflexes of a character or enemy, and it’s generally a good idea to take advantage of it when your enemy can’t move and focus your attacks there.

When it happens to you, you’re going to need to either cast a spell to cure it or make sure you are diverting the enemy’s attention away from that character so that they can heal. Many spells and abilities can cause this status, and it’s one of the most common in the game.

There are many more afflictions in the game, and some are completely devastating, so whenever you encounter a new enemy, do your best to be prepared for anything they can throw at you.


Injuries are also part of Pillars of Eternity’s punishing combat system, and they are just as important as the afflictions we just discussed. Injuries are acquired in a few different ways, and that makes them unique.

They are one of the only statuses that can be caused by scripted sequences in the game, and when those happen, you can either avoid them by reloading a save or rest after it to fix your predicament. Injuries can also be gained during combat if a character is knocked into a state of unconsciousness while fighting.

After combat ends, you will be able to see your injuries in your party and see who can continue on and who will need rest. Injuries cause a variety of different penalties that persist on a character until they can rest.

The injuries that can happen are largely random, so there’s no telling if a blow from an enemy will be an easy one to fix or a devastating one. Such is the nature of combat, I suppose. Here are a few you might come across.

Wrenched Knee

Pillars of Eternity Wrenched Knee

By the sounds of it, you can imagine this one will make it pretty hard to move, and you’d be very right in that assessment. This is one of the lesser injuries out there, and you’re usually lucky to get away with just a Wrenched Knee after most encounters.

Swollen Eye

This can happen from walking on Broken Stairs, and it causes your perception to be lowered and will only happen to a party member with the lowest athletics score. It’s a good reason to keep that score up.

Severe Wound

A severe wound is an injury that calls for immediate rest as it will cut your healing received in half and generally cut your character’s effectiveness in half as well.

Death States

Death States are the final thing to know when it comes to combat in Pillars of Eternity, and they are the most important part of everything. There are three stages to be aware of here and knowing when each one is going to come is not only important for winning combat encounters but keeping your party members alive as well.


This is the first and probably best status that can happen to a downed character during combat. This status happens when a character loses all their Endurance during a fight. Once the character’s Endurance is gone, they will no longer be able to move or take any actions at all.

They also cannot get their Endurance healed at this point in time, and the only way to bring them back mid-fight is by using abilities to do so. After a fight, however, they will regain consciousness and slowly recover their Endurance as well.

When Unconscious, characters and enemies are susceptible to sneak attacks from Rogues, which can do a devastating amount of damage.


pillars of eternity

When a character runs out of both Health and Endurance during a fight, they will be completely knocked out, and when the fight ends, they will awaken but be Maimed and just a few hits away from death.

In a Maimed state, characters can still be effective in battle and take all the normal actions they usually do, but taking any damage that reduces them to zero means they’ll be out of the fight and required to rest, or else they will face death.


If your character is either reduced to zero during a fight and is either Maimed or you have the permadeath option turned on, that character will die.

Once this happens, there is no way to bring that character back, and they will be permanently removed from the game. Whether you have permadeath turned on or not, when a character dies during a fight, they will be removed permanently.

Additional Content

Pillars of Eternity has hours of content awaiting you, and most of it is of the rather difficult variety, but if you manage to find yourself looking for more to do, you’ll be happy to know that you can find just that.


Tasks are basically mini side quests that you can take on at any time, and although they are shorter, they still give out some pretty decent rewards for your efforts.


Pillars of Eternity - Laenric bounty (White March DLC)

Bounties are also available. These are hunts for powerful criminals that will net you some awesome rewards but offer incredibly tough fights in the process. You can find these by speaking to Warden Fyrgen, and they have varying levels of difficulty.


DLC is also available in Pillars of Eternity, and The White March Parts I and II give you tons of new locations to explore and quests to take on as well. They also give you a brand new storyline to follow that leads to some incredible rewards and challenging fights.


Question: Is Pillars of Eternity a Multiplayer Game?

Answer: Pillars of Eternity is strictly a single-player game. You can control multiple people, but there is no co-op or online functionality.

Question: How Long is Pillars of Eternity?

Answer: Depending on whether or not you’re completing all the side quests and optional content, you can find yourself spending about 36 or so hours with Pillars of Eternity, with a few more hours tacked on with the DLC and up to 100 hours if you complete every quest in the game.

Question: Is Pillars of Eternity a Hard Game?

Answer: Pillars of Eternity can be incredibly difficult if you are not preparing for fights properly and getting into battles that are far beyond your level. Even on the easiest mode, you can get killed quickly by powerful enemies, so make sure you go into tough fights well prepared in both your party’s stats and equipment.


Pillars of Eternity is one of the most interesting RPGs I have played in years.

The unique story mixed with the memorable characters and outstanding combat system have introduced me to a world that feels different from any game I’ve played, and the strong writing, amazing RPG elements, and interesting story will keep you engaged for hours and will undoubtedly will have you wanting to play the slightly superior sequel, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire.

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