Pillars of Eternity was one of the higher quality CRPG’s of 2015. It won numerous awards including Global Game Awards’ Best RPG award; and provided a large amount of content worth over 50 hours of gameplay in a single playthrough. Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 1 is the first half of the White March expansion to Pillars of Eternity (the second half released on February 16th,2016) adding a large amount of content to the main game.
Before we get too deep in the meat of the expansion, there are a few additions that you should know about. The first addition is the raising of the level cap from 12 to 14 (Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2 is said to expand the level cap even further). Next we have the newly introduced Respec option which allows you to rebuild your characters in order to test out the flexibility of Pillars of Eternity’s stat system. This is combined with the next addition “multi-classing” which allows all classes to take on abilities from some of the other classes, enabling builds from multiple classes into a single character.
A large addition to Pillars of Eternity (aside from the new areas to explore, new companions, and story content) is the addition of enhanced enemy AI and Party AI customization. Now you can customize how your party members work together in combat, utilizing “AI Scripts” that allow you to decide which characters you want to control yourself, while letting the others carry out their assigned duties. The enhanced enemy AI makes all the enemies in game smarter than ever, causing the game’s difficulty to be a bit higher as spellcasters will use their spells to devastate your party in more intelligent ways, while other enemies may decide to group up, or be more strategic in their patterns.
The Party AI scripts are not complex, and while they do allow you to have a little more freedom to set each character into a pre-defined role (with class specific scripts available,) they are not detailed enough to allow you to micro-manage their scripts completely. This means that with some characters, even with AI scripts enabled you may still need to control them part of the time if you want your party to survive. These scripts are not meant for the game to do the work for you, only to make your job as the player somewhat easier.
Also added to Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 1 is the concept of “Soulbound” weapons. Soulbound weapons are bound to the character that equips them and grow stronger if you meet requirements that are given in order to make the weapon’s stats and abilities grow. Severing the bond will undo all the upgrades garnered by having the weapon equipped, yet some weapons cannot be unbound until all of the requirements have been met.
The story content of PoE The White March Part 1 is not accessible until you have access to your stronghold at Caed Nua. At some point after that (I already had Caed Nua in my playthrough so it gave it to me right away) the Steward will receive a letter, and will tell you that someone named Renengild has asked for your help in infiltrating Durgan’s Battery, a dwarven fortress surrounded with myths and mystery that is rumored to have dwarven spirits roaming its halls.
Outside of The White March, a quest becomes available to seek out Cragholdt and assist the archmage Concelhaut who is being besieged by mercenaries and bandits sent to eliminate him under the banner of the “Torn Bannermen”. However, this quest is outside of the story content for PoE The White March and is meant just to add extra content to the game itself. It should also be noted that this quest is for level 14 characters, and will be difficult even at that level. Those of you who are intent on completing the entire game will have your work cut out for you if you decide to attempt to handle the Siege of Cragholdt quest.
Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 1 is very similar to the main game, mainly in the way you are asked to approach things. It keeps with the lore, but as many others have said it maintains a very “Icewind Dale” feel that fans of Baldur’s Gate and the Forgotten Realms are sure to find very enjoyable.
The pacing in Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 1 is similar to the main game, the new setting and the side-quests provide a lot of interesting content and the new characters added (for example Zahua, an eccentric monk found in Stalwart, the Hub of The White March) provide interesting and colorful conversation and lore.
There have been complaints about the DLC being too similar to Pillars of Eternity but I feel like that is the entire point. If it wasn’t similar to Pillars of Eternity, then it wouldn’t make a good DLC as the spirit of the main game is still largely present while it adds new and exciting concepts to keep you interested.
The White March Part 1 has a few bugs here and there; characters getting stuck in a few places, the occasional graphical or sound glitch. The worst of these bugs is a bug in which the confirmation and decline buttons do not show up when overwriting saves or confirming store purchases. You can easily offset this by simply clicking in the area where you know they are supposed to be, but it is a frustrating graphical glitch that can cause a bit of annoyance.
You can’t really go wrong picking up this expansion as it adds quite a large amount of content to an already expansive game. Without spoiling the plot of the DLC I can honestly tell you that while it doesn’t provide story content that is better than the original plot of Pillars of Eternity; it isn’t set after the story, so you can easily just look at it as a side adventure in the Pillars of Eternity campaign.
Obsidian Entertainment did a great job with this DLC, as The White March Part 1 is enough content to keep the player interested, without throwing too much in their path. The addition of the optional difficulty boost for higher leveled players (similar to the Path of the Damned difficulty level) is perfect for more hardcore players who like the extra challenge; while casual players can still enjoy all The White March Part 1 has to offer without feeling the urge to pull their hair out.
- Multi Classing and Respec options
- An entirely new zone with main and Side quests
- Two new characters to add to your roster
- Enhanced enemy AI and an added difficulty option for more hardcore players
- Party AI is still somewhat buggy
- Graphical glitches and inconsistent audio