Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2 review
Pillars of Eternity has been highly praised by critics, as well as fans of the CRPG genre that became popular due to games such as Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment. The first part of its “The White March” expansion received mixed reviews though I found it to be a great continuation of the game’s content, world and story. Now that the second part, titled The White March Part 2 has released, the adventures in the land of Eora are slowly drawing to a close (at least until Obsidian Entertainment begins work on an as of yet teased but currently unannounced sequel.) PoE The White March Part 2 expands and concludes the storyline elements presented in PoE The White March Part 1, and sheds light on more lore surrounding the Gods of Eora (Deities such as Galawain and Magran who were referenced in quests and occasionally were included as plot elements in the main storyline). The White March Part 2 satisfyingly ties together the storyline that the developers had created in the first half of the DLC while leaving enough mysteries open to allow for interesting quests and plot elements in the possible previously mentioned sequel.
The first thing that should be mentioned about PoE The White March Part 2 is the raising of the level cap from 14 to a maximum level of 16. This means that if you have both parts of PoE The White March expansion, The Watcher and his companions can be raised from level 12 to the level 16 cap over the course of the various side quests and main quest chains. Also, a new mode has been added in The Pillars of Eternity: White March Part 2 called “Story Mode” which allows those of you who simply want to enjoy the story of Pillars of Eternity to progress through combat more quickly and easily, that way you can enjoy the story in Pillars of Eternity without frustration (without defeating the purpose of playing the game of course).
Injuries can now be gained upon a character running out of Endurance, these “knockout injuries” are status effects that can negatively affect your party and their stats, but are healed upon resting at a campfire or inn. Knockout Injuries are also optional, so if you do not want to deal with them, then you are fully able to turn them off in the options menu. Knockout Injuries have simply been added as another layer of challenge for players who enjoy a more difficult experience. The User Interface for the Character bar and Stat panels has been streamlined, allowing you to more easily see a breakdown of character stats while also receiving better visual feedback on what your fighters are doing in battle.
The Athletics and Survival skills have been enhanced beyond their original uses; now the Athletics skill opens up a new ability called Second Wind while Survival unlocks resting bonuses that previously could only be acquired at an inn or in your stronghold. The resting bonuses increase in variety and strength as you put more points into Survival while the strength of Second Wind is affected by the number of points in Athletics. For every point in Athletics, the amount of Endurance healed goes up, for instance, someone with 8 ranks of Athletics heals for 60 endurance points, while 10 ranks bump that number to 70 endurance.
This adding of resting bonuses at higher ranks of Survival makes characters such as Sagani the Ranger more valuable in your party, as she starts with a relatively high survival stat when she joins your party. However with the retraining system introduced in The White March Part 1, the option of training another character in survival is highly possible.
PoE The White March Part 2 also introduces the character Maneha the Barbarian, the last party member to join the Watcher on his quest. Maneha’s recruitment provides one character of every class at your disposal to join your party, enabling endless party management options for you to experiment with and enjoy. Maneha can be found in Stalwart after The White March Part 1 has been completed, and she is a partially awakened Barbarian, who is struggling with memories of a past life, and hopes to be rid of them through a mythical Abbey said to be used by the faithful of Ondra.
Spellcasting classes in Pillars of Eternity now have something called spell mastery; as you level your characters, you can select spells that your character has learned and use this spell mastery to cast them once per battle for free, without worrying about spell uses and needing to rest later. This can only be done once mastery points have been unlocked.
The last of the major Pillars of Eternity changes involving the existing systems (and the last bit of new content aside from the story content of the DLC itself) is the overhaul of the Stronghold. You will eventually pursue a quest that leads to a battle over Caed Nua itself though the stronghold has received a few changes to it in order to add a richer story and give special rewards to your band of adventurers. Another addition to the stronghold is an overhaul of the adventuring system; Now you can send your companions on adventures like you could originally, however now the rewards are higher with unique items that can only be obtained through these quests.
Additionally, you will be able to actively defend your keep against foes, or pay copper for others to defend it for you. This is helpful for if you need a bit of extra experience to get you to that next level or simply to get a little more loot to sell for copper.
As for the story content of PoE The White March Part 2; after the first part is completed, you will need to rest in Caed Nua or any non-White March area, before you will be given a quest to return to Stalwart. While you will not have the pleasure of seeing a new town or hub area in The White March Part 2, there are new side quests to enjoy and a continuation of the White March storyline that expands on Eora’s lore in a few interesting ways. Without providing any spoilers, I can tell you that the storyline and quest chains are all incredibly interesting, setting things up nicely for even more adventuring in a possible sequel.
PoE The White March Part 2 contains a storyline full of spiritual questions such as the value of memories and sacrifice for a greater good. While you could likely complete the story content of PoE The White March Part 2 in 12-18 hours of solid play; the average player is likely going to spend at least 20 hours in it, possibly more. I greatly recommend the conclusion to PoE The White March expansion, as the quest chains it provides are more than enough to keep things interesting.
While PoE The White March Part 2 doesn’t add as much in terms of overall content as PoE The White March Part 1, I would caution you to consider them halves of one very worthwhile whole. Pillars of Eternity is one of my all time favorite RPG’s, and the experience is not at all complete without The White March. There are still issues in the party AI and an uneven difficulty at times in terms of a number of enemies attacking you, but The White March Part 2 is worth it. I enjoyed every minute playing Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2.
- Fantastic Storyline
- Raised Level Cap
- A Story Mode for casual players
- Uneven Difficulty spikes in a few places