Free Looting

This is for gamers.

Pillars of Eternity is going to be free all next week, on Epic Games Store [rockpaper]


That’s set against when Cyberpunk 2077 is due to come out, which is sure to be a massive download-jam of overloaded servers and failed connections – why not download something small (12gb) compared to Cyberpunk‘s estimated 70gb?

I’m 3/4 of the way through Pillars of Eternity and I love it. Partly because of my own quirks; I don’t like games that measure the speed of my twitch response, because it’s not what it used to be – and I like to think and ponder and exercise strategic and tactical skills not just dodging against robots that follow predictable patterns. That said, the opposition AI in Pillars of Eternity is not very good – like most games, the opposition just comes straight at you and your tactical challenge is reduced to practicing your fire control and crowd control, channeling them into kill-zones with mages standing by to manifest fireballs and other area of effect spells. Like Dragon Age and Baldur’ Gate you can pause the action and strategize, or pan around and enjoy the effects and the action before letting the clock run as the events resolve.

I’d rate Pillars of Eternity a solid ‘8’ on a 10-scale but I can’t think of a classic-style RPG that I’d rate higher.

Jeff, the hitman, not in Control

Meanwhile, since I’m talking about gaming, Anna and I just wrapped up the main story-line of Control. Wow, was that a heck of a cool experience. It’s a shooter, and (as usual) the hostile AI is not very good, but the maps, concept, art, design, play, and ephemera are mind-blowingly clever and beautiful in a sort of bureaucracy-as-fine-art filtered through the eyes of Jean-Pierre Melville’s downbeat sets in Le Samourai. Everything is gray, clean but old, and subtly ironic. But it’s the “irony” of a British pub wise-ass who mistakes industrial for hip. I’ve noticed that there aren’t a lot of reviews about the game, because I think it’s hard to describe the game without dropping a few spoilers, and I’m reluctant to do that, too. But let’s just say that if you want to explore a bureaucratic shooter nightmare that looks like it takes place in the NSA’s OPS2 building at Ft Meade, Control is your game. There are many moments of brilliant weirdness, such as a demonic timepiece that has begun to reproduce itself infinitely, resulting in a wing of an office building full of heaps of clocks. Or a room where someone who was trying to figure out something wound up filling several offices floor and ceilings with post-it notes. We finished the game, or so I thought, then it picked right back up again and started charging off in a whole different direction with a new plot-line. What is the game? What is the point? It’s confusing in a very good way.

As a fan of spatial design, I’m head over heels with the aesthetics of The Bureau Of Control. It’s tempting to post a few screenshots but I think it’s unfair to impinge on anyone’s sense of wonder. If you want a weird time, give Control a shot.


  1. Ketil Tveiten says

    I found Pillars of Eternity to be ok, but I got stuck when a quest got bugged and I couldn’t progress. It’s definitely worth a play, but it’s not quite of the caliber of Dragon Age: Origins or Baldur’s Gate 2, IMO. Obsidian Entertainment tends to make somewhat overengineered games lacking in mechanical focus, and PoE is no exception. I found there’s a bit too many variables and numbers to properly min-max things the way I like, and I feel like the game would benefit from cutting out half of the character roster and focusing om making the interesting ones even more interesting. It’s a bit all over the place, to me.

    That said, it’s definitely good and worth playing. Similar games worth checking out are Divinity: Original Sin 2 (also the first D:OS is good, but not *as* good), and if you liked Planescape: Torment back in the day, you’ll probably like Torment: Tides of Numenera as well.

  2. says

    I am not going to play Cyberpunk 2077 at all, because, at my rate, I will not be finished with DOS2 until next winter or later. Witcher 3 lasted me two years.
    Plus, Cyberpunk 2077 does not look like a game that I would enjoy. I have a visceral dislike of even mild body modifications like tattoos and piercings, so it is a safe assumption that this game would make me more than a little uncomfortable. Plus I do not like shooters too much. because I am terribly bad at them. My reaction time sucks, I can only play games that allow me to slow down and ponder my next move, and games that I can stop and pause at any time.
    I remember being greatly irritated with the game Risen. I have enjoyed the whole game and I loved it – right until I came to the last boss. Which was so terribly done that to this day I think the developers just got lazy and/or under deadline pressure. I did not beat that last boss, I ragequit and never played the game again.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    On the strength of this and the mention of SCP in the first para of the wiki I just did something I do about once a year… Paid money for a video game. Control. Sounds like my kind of thing…

  4. says

    @sonofrojblake: there is a DEC pdp-11/44 in the game but it doesn’t work. That was frustrating: there are good PDP-11 emulators out there and I suppose I could toggle in a V7 kernel in a few days… just sayin’

  5. says

    @Crip Dyke:
    I believe Pillars of Eternity 2 and Divinity: Original Sin are available for Mac. POE2 has a lot of references to POE1 so I’d recommend looking at Divinity. I’ve played it on PC and it’s really good.

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