Obsidian Entertainment has another big expansion on the horizon for their crowd-funded computer RPG, Pillars of Eternity. The game's second expansion pack is called The White March – Part 2 and it will be released at the end of January in 2016, next year.
Blues rolled out the basics on the news from the Paradox Interactive press release, where they explained that the second part of The White March is being written by Recoletta's Carrie Patel who also worked on Pillars of Eternity, along with Eric Fenstermaker, the lead writer on the original release of Pillars of Eternity and the co-writer for Obsidian's South Park: The Stick of Truth RPG.
The expansion features a new “Story Time” mode, and all new gameplay features including a brand new barbarian companion named Meneha, and a raised level cap for the game from 12 to 14. With the increase in levels Obsidian has added new spells and abilities, along with additional talents for all 11 character classes. But circling back to the companions for a bit... Meneha joins two other companions on the quest from the first part of The White March, enabling players to acquire a total of three new companions, all of whom can be used in the base game as well.
The expansion also focuses on brand new environments that have been inspired by Obsidian's other classic computer RPG, Icewind Dale. This includes brand new areas to explore, enemies to encounter and a new quest hub with various side-missions and dungeons being thrown into the mix.
Another neat addition to the expansion is the party AI scripts that allow players to customize how their party members behave in battle and control their patterns and behavior that best suits individual play-styles.
Speaking of AI, the enemy AI have also seen an upgrade, allowing monsters to react and engage in combat with a more strategic flair, especially when it comes to spell casters who will now use a variety of new attacks to keep players on their toes throughout combat. I think in a lot of games this has always been a major drawback – the lack of a challenging AI who really forces the player to dive deep into their arsenal of tricks and strategically overcome the odds. There were a few segments in the old Baldur's Gate games that required some measure of real skill and tactics but it was a rarity throughout the play experience.
Additionally, The White March allows players to respec at any inn or tavern. This allows players to completely revamp their character to suit whatever needs they feel is necessary in the journey ahead. Respeccing a character is usually standard fare for most RPGs since it's easy to play through the game in one way and find out that later on that archetype doesn't work so well, so a respec is in order to face off against a certain kind of enemy or get through a specific area.
The base game of Pillars of Eternity is available right now. The game was successfully Kickstarted by 75,000 backers and has sold more than 600,000 since release. You can look for the conclusion of The White March in January of 2016.