Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 1
E3 2015 Impressions
Stephen Meyerink Stephen Meyerink

PC, Mac, Linux

Obsidian Entertainment

Obsidian Entertainment

Traditional RPG



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I love Icewind Dale!
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Why would anyone even bother with whatever this is?
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"The White March will see your party of do-gooders journeying north of the Dyrwood as they seek their fortunes in Durgen's Battery, an abandoned dwarven fortress."

Continuing in the footsteps of its spiritual ancestors, Pillars of Eternity is receiving an expansion pack (in two parts) in the coming months. Much as Tales of the Sword Coast did for Baldur's Gate, The White March will not only offer a whole new region to explore, but will also tighten up and add to existing gameplay systems, making the original game even better as well. I met up with some of the talented folks at Obsidian during E3 2015 and got a meaty demonstration of the upcoming expansion to one of my most beloved games this year, and I left wanting it even more than I already did.

Coming in two parts, The White March will see your party of do-gooders journeying north of the Dyrwood as they seek their fortunes in Durgen's Battery, an abandoned dwarven fortress. The Battery and its surrounding environs aren't a single area — you'll journey to an entirely new world map with its own frosty fields, icy caves, the dwarven dungeon itself, and a big city to boot. The areas I saw were full of the usual sparkles and shimmers and icy breaths one might expect from such frigid places, and importantly, made for a nice break from the verdure of the Dyrwood.

While these new stomping grounds will open up as soon as you lay claim to the abandoned stronhold Caed Nua, the developers recommend waiting to dive in until you've at least hit level 7. If you're capped at 12, fear not: The White March has a whole new set of spells and skills to accompany its new level cap, 14. Further, if you still find yourself maxing out too soon, the new region has completely optional level scaling, so those crazies like me seeking continued challenges have more choices.

Alongside all the new leveling choices, the expansion also has a bunch of other additions: two new companions (a rogue construct and a monk), the ablity to send individual characters into stealth mode, further tweaked UI and interface, soulbound weapons with their own experience meters and unique abilities depending on which character you assign them to, a selection of new monsters, party AI controls, and the ability to earn cross-class talents when leveling up. All of these additions can be taken back into the main campaign, and (at least to a veteran of the game like me) sound like they'll inject a ton of replayability into even those classes one has already experienced. Player feedback has lead to the team including even more scripted role-playing sequences, and these new ones feature even greater variability based on your ablities. If your mage has a particular spell, for example, you might be able to use it to blast rocks out of the way or to shield from falling debris. It's all very nebulous so far, but given how enjoying these sequences were in the vanilla game, a more detailed and numerous iteration in the expansion sounds good to me.

The White March Part 1 and Part 2 are looking to be similar in length to Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast, though the developers aren't sure where they'll end up just yet. No price or release dates have been announced, but it seems like the package should be an easy sell for fans of the original Pillars of Eternity.

© 2015 Obsidian Entertainment. All rights reserved.