Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Ultimate Edition

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Ultimate Edition Game Poster Image
Definitive sequel is rich with content, depth, and choice.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The focus of the game's story is a mystery, which pits the players against a looming evil in a battle to recover their souls. The "good versus evil" theme carries through the main story, but there are multiple choices players can make that can twist the plot and give much more flexibility in their characters' moral path.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players are given a lot of control of their characters' moral compass through multiple in-game plot choices. Players are always technically the hero of their story, but what type of hero (or anti-hero) they wind up being is fleshed out over time by choice and consequence.

Ease of Play

Gameplay's deep and complex, requiring a lot of micromanagement of characters, inventories, etc. There are a lot of party customization options as well. All of this can be overwhelming to newcomers or more casual RPG (role-playing game) fans. Players can expect to invest a lot of time and planning into the base game, and the additional expansion content extends that gameplay even more.

Violence

The game features some fairly explicit depictions of violence, both in combat and cutscenes. There's no shortage of blood and gore throughout, including scenes of dismemberment. Although the smaller scale generally cuts back on some of the more graphic content, players can adjust the game's camera to move closer to the action.

Sex

Some nudity, both male and female, appears occasionally. The dialogue features multiple lines of sexually suggestive dialogue, including a few lines that imply and reference acts of incest.

Language

Some strong profanity, including "f--k," appears in the dialogue.

Consumerism

This "Ultimate Edition" of the game not only serves as the sequel's debut on gaming consoles, but also brings with it all of the DLC (downloadable content) and expansion content previously available as separate purchases on the computer version.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are references to both drinking and being drunk in the game.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Ultimate Edition is a fantasy role-playing game available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows-based PCs. This Ultimate Edition is an expanded version of the 2018 release, bringing the game to consoles for the first time along with all previous released DLC (downloadable content) and expansion material from the original computer version. Players are given a lot of control over the moral path of their characters through branching plot decisions. The game has strong scenes of violence, including large splashes of blood, dismemberment, and other gore. There's some nudity in the game, showing bare breasts and male genitalia. There's also frequent use of strong profanity, as well as some sexually suggestive lines, in the dialogue.

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What's it about?

PILLARS OF ETERNITY II: DEADFIRE ULTIMATE EDITION brings the 2018 role-playing hit to consoles, complete with all of the game's previously released updates and expansions. The game picks up immediately after the events of the first Pillars of Eternity. After witnessing the rebirth of a long-dead god and barely escaping with your life, it falls to you, as the Watcher of Caed, to discover the cause of Eothas' resurrection and reason behind his swath of destruction. Joined in your quest by a party of unique and diverse companions, you and your crew must set sail through the isles of the Deadfire Archipelago, uncovering a secret that threatens to wipe out gods and mortals alike. You'll then continue your story in the game's three includes expansion packs, taking to the arenas and battling for your lives in the crucible of Kazuwari in Seeker, Slayer, Survivor. Afterwards, you'll travel to the snowy far reaches of Deadfire to challenge an ancient dragon in Beast of Winter. And finally, you'll set sail to the mysterious Black Isle in search of a lost archmage and explore a hidden dungeon built into the very flesh of a sleeping god in The Forgotten Sanctum. Follow your own path and choose to either be the hero of Eora … or the harbinger of its destruction.

Is it any good?

The first two games in this series were instant classics with their role-playing mechanics and deep story, and fully explored the world of Eora across land and sea. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Ultimate Edition manages to take things even further, bringing the adventure to consoles for the first time, along with a number of gameplay improvements made since the game originally released on PC. For example, players now have the choice between the real-time combat the game initially launched with, or a turn-based system that gives players as much time as they need to come up with a solid strategy. This edition also features even more story content, adding all three of the game's expansion packs, previously only available as separate DLC (downloadable content) purchases. Each of these expansions add new elements to the experience, from arena combat in a coliseum-like crucible to a dragon hunt in a wintry new realm and even a secret sanctuary built into the body of a dormant god. This ensures plenty of extra story in a game that was already bursting at the seams with plot and gameplay.

Just a bit of forewarning, Pillars of Eternity II isn't for the faint of heart. Aside from some of its more mature content not being suitable for young gamers, the game requires a lot of personal investment. It takes patience and practice to learn how best to micromanage your party's various skills and abilities. Also, there are constant branches in the game's story, giving players choices that may come back to haunt them much further down the road. Still, for fans willing to put in the time and effort, the reward is a fantasy adventure. And thanks to the addition of the all previously released expansion content, as well as the game's overall replay value, the player's cruise through the oceans of Deadfire has plenty of wind behind its sails to keep the journey from ever running aground.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about morality in gaming. What are some of the ways that some games offer players the choice to be good or bad, a hero or an antihero? What are some of benefits to giving gamers the opportunity to play to direction of a different moral compass?

  • What are some of the ways that media such as games, movies, and television present mature content to audiences? How can sex, violence, and other such content affect younger audiences, and what are some ways to talk to kids about such content?

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