Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2 Game Poster Image
Disjointed role-playing game expansion has uneven gameplay.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Asks deep philosophical questions regarding educational value of history, but players' choices determine moral angle of events.

Positive Role Models & Representations

New companion is an affable, seemingly moral character, but as a warrior, her past is defined by atrocities. 

Ease of Play

Players of base game will be comfortable with play, but this add-on content features some highly challenging quests. 

Violence

Players can sometimes avoid violence, but armed combat is near constant. Characters shown being injured, knocked down, even blown to pieces, but small visual scale minimizes impact of violence. 

Sex

One town contains a brothel; occasional references to sexuality. Nothing sexual ever actually shown. 

Language

"S--t," "damn" infrequently. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters visit pubs where people are drinking, drunk. Player characters drink alcohol, potions, eat plants to gain positive effects, often undergo a "crash" when those effects wear off. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2 is a downloadable role-playing game featuring constant battle, some sexual references (it contains a brothel, but no sex is depicted), a few words of profanity, and images of bodies being hanged, being dismembered, or exploding. Characters are very small on-screen, which minimizes the impcat of the violence to some degree. The text-heavy story requires good reading skills, and gameplay requires the ability to absorb a complex party system. Characters are shown in pubs and may drink alcohol and potions as well as eat plants to obtain various effects. 

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What's it about?

THE WHITE MARCH PART 2 is an expansion to fantasy role-playing game Pillars of Eternity. This downloadable add-on continues to follow events in a hostile, snowy region whose sole resource is a legendary dwarven forge. Though players preserved the area during the first White March expansion, here they face a new threat: destruction by a frightening mechanical army. Fortunately, players have a few new tricks up their collective sleeves, including a new Spell Mastery system, new resting bonuses, new weapons, and even a new companion. Better yet, a gentle new Storytime Mode makes it easier than ever for novice players to stay alive and experience the adventure.

Is it any good?

This is a decent expansion but, sadly, not as good as its predecessor. It adds a new companion, new quests, and some nice conveniences but trips itself up by spinning a muddled yarn whose threads go off in all directions. The good is what you notice first. Spell Mastery allows classes expanded access to their core abilities, and new rest bonuses give you things such as better healing and damage reduction. New side quests let you revisit familiar locations and explore new ones and introduce you to a new barbarian companion along the way. But her appearance signals the start of the not-so-good parts of the game. The barbarian just isn't all that interesting gameplay-wise, especially if you already have a barbarian in your party, and her backstory is unremarkable. Her quest represents an unnecessary side step off the main narrative path, and, as such, it's like a lot of what you do in this expansion.

The overall story is oddly disjointed, made of interesting pieces that just don't add up to a cohesive whole. Perhaps emblematic of this disconnection is the way the expansion fits into the main game -- or doesn't. If you've finished the main game's quests, you have to load a special pre-ending save file provided by Obsidian Entertainment or start over completely. It's totally possible to delete this save file, and once you do, you have no choice but to restart. Fortunately, the new super-easy Storytime Mode can help you execute a replay at warp speed; that's really good news, since despite being a bit all over the place, this current chapter is worth experiencing -- but mainly if you're a fan of the original game or first White March installment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of history. Is it good to remember the people and events that came before us?

  • Discuss how memory shapes us. Can painful memories have positive effects?

  • Think about a bad memory. If you could magically forget that memory, would you?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Price: $14.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid (This is an add-on product. Players must have the base game, Pillars of Eternity, installed in order to play.)
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
  • Release date: February 16, 2016
  • Genre: Role-Playing
  • Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence

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