Review: Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition

Remember the good ole days, when you would gather around at a table with your friends and play some D&D, thinking how this would make for a great video game. Well the dream is a reality. Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition brings that classic experience to life. It was previously released on PC but is now available on Nintendo Switch. This review is based solely on the Nintendo Switch Edition. Let’s see if this classic PC title holds up on this new piece of portable technology.

30 Second Review

+ In Depth Character Creator

+ Isometric Party Gameplay

+ Dialogue

– Bugs and Crashes

– Beware of Buying for Handheld Play

Blast From The Past

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is an exciting addition to the Nintendo Switch library. Bringing an entire RPG PC game to this device is inspiring. A lot of time and effort went into this game from it’s days as a kickstarter campaign till now. If you ever played Baulder’s Gate or Icewind Dale, then you know what to expect from Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition as far as style and gameplay goes. If you haven’t, then let me bring you up to speed. This is a top down isometric game, from view point it’s kind of like Diablo 3. However, you are controlling multiple party members as they walk, talk, fight, and more.

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition has an amazingly detailed character creator. I spent a full hour tweaking every nuance of my character to my hearts content to get ready for surviving in this world. I enjoyed going through all the customizable options and reading all the fluff text. You can choose your sex, race, subrace, class, attributes, culture, voice, and more. You can also choose your portrait and customize your primary and secondary colors as well as your skin tone and hair. Creating my character was quite fun, and for the first three hours of my playthrough, was the most enjoyable part of the experience. Let me tell you, some of the choices and encounters you’ll face in this game will be made or broken in what choices you opted for in the character creator; it’s that detailed, so choose wisely and be prepared to live with your decisions.

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition has dialogue choices and options galore. Even random npc’s that in other games would say something just to say it have actual meaning and are tied to the overall story. The game has multiple endings, and quest lines have multiple outcomes. The level of thought and heart that was put into this is impressive. In this department, the game goes well above and beyond normal standards.

The combat in Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is fun if you have the patience to learn the pause mechanic. Are you going to make your mage offensive or defensive with his spells? Is the warrior going to run in face first and meet the enemy head on? Do you heal now or save it for someone else or just later in general. Thankfully, the ability to pause combat gives you time to strategize, but those of you who like action combat, it may drive you a little bonkers. Be sure to save frequently, because nothing hurts worse than replaying a half hour of battles or more just because you died at an inconvenient place.

Each character in Pillars of Eternity has limited bag space, but you also have access to a community chest that you can dump items into. A couple of times it was kind of a pain to withdraw something from the chest after I had placed it into it, as that part of the ui seems a little clunky, but after awhile you’ll get the hang of it. Items can be bought and sold, and there will be a lot to choose from and a lot to loot. Be prepared to just get overwhelmed and leave some items behind on bodies because you just can’t take the time to deal with it.

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition includes all of the DLC that was created for PC at no additional charge for the Nintendo Switch. Now that’s customer service I can get behind.

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition has a great epic sweeping soundtrack. I could download the music separately and just listen to it all day. I would compare it to Octopath Traveler. It’s not quite as good as Octopath, but it’s pretty darn close.

Oh My Crashes With Handheld

All of the issues I’m about to talk about were all encountered while playing in handheld. I even docked the switch and replayed a few segments to see if I could recreate any of the problems, and for some reason I didn’t have any problems and couldn’t recreate the bugs while playing in docked mode.

I’ve experienced bugs, crashes, and control issues within Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition. One crash happened multiple times; I don’t want to give any spoilers, but save before your first major fight, because there is going to be some dialogue, a fight, some text based cut screens, and then trying to load into the second map, boom crash. I saved at the encampment before I started everything, so I easily lost 30 to 45 minutes the first time I experienced a crash.

One of the bugs I noticed early on was the lockpicks: anytime you move a lockpick from a store to your inventory, the icon changes, it looks like a lockpick when you’re going to buy them, but then it becomes a piece of armor, or in another case I bought a rod and it duplicated the rod, so when I looked in my inventory, it looked like I had two rods, but one was actually a lockpick. I even moved the lockpicks from the purchase inventory back to the store, and back to purchase, and the icon would change every time.

Another annoying bug I’ve run into in Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is my text window of recent activities will magically convert into the japanese language. I’ve noticed this happen when looting boxes. Luckily, going to the menu and pausing the game briefly will correct this error, but it’s super annoying.

If Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition crashes multiple times, physically reset your switch to clear the cache by manually powering it on and off. This fixed some of my issues.

So Much For Being Portable

I love to play games in handheld mode on the Switch. Usually when I’m writing a review, I talk about handheld mode a lot sooner, but I have some complaints with handheld that can’t be overlooked. As far as the gameplay on the screen goes, it was fine, and the character creator was fine. I was so excited about playing Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition that I did my timed battery test in handheld first. Usually I play a game for a while then test the battery, but battery life at full settings is 2.5 to 3 hours. Which is about the battery life I get while playing Splatoon 2 or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but those games are far more graphical and power consuming. Plus they use wifi. So I’m surprised that Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is so draining.

My other complaint in handheld is that the joycon controls don’t work properly. To scroll through the characters, you have to use the L or R button. Basically, you cycle among them this way. In handheld, the joycons don’t respond to L and R. My joycons play other games with no issues, so it is not a problem with them. The best i could do playing Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is hold down on the L, use the left stick to aim towards another character, and then press the R to select all characters when that becomes an option. So while playing in handheld, I’m not playing with a character selected individually but am running around with the whole party selected. Playing the game in docked mode does fix this issue for my joycons and Pro Controller.

Normally in handheld mode, regardless of what game I’m playing, I can play at 50 percent sound: not to loud that everyone has to listen to it, but just loud enough that I can get full enjoyment. Not with Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition. The game has some voice acting scattered throughout the text dialogues, and you’ll never hear it at 50 percent with the voice up from options. I had to turn the volume to 100 percent and then the orchestral music was overbearing. I did a lot of playing with sound in the options menu, and no matter how I did it, the Nintendo Switch’s volume level had to remain at 100 percent.

To The eShop

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is available on the Nintendo eShop for $49.99. Be sure to prepare your micro SD card; it’s going to take a hit at 15.8 GB to download the game.

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