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E3 2015: Exploring the snowy tundra of Pillars of Eternity: The White March

Ogres are infesting the white north and now that the Pillars of Eternity players have earned a reputation for heroism, it's up to them to deal with these monsters. That's the premise of the upcoming White March expansion, which Shacknews got to look at during E3 2015.

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Obsidian Entertainment made a lot of fans very happy with last week's big PC Gaming Show announcement that Pillars of Eternity would soon receive its first expansion, called The White March. The expansion is set to introduce some new set pieces and landscapes to the Infinity Engine-inspired RPG, but it'll also introduce some new pieces for the base game. To learn more, Shacknews visited with Obsidian during a closed-door meeting at E3 2015.

As the name implies, The White March will take players into new snowy territory, inspired by the 2000 classic Icewind Dale. The white north contains a snow-filled region that's overrun by ogres. The ogres are largely terrorizing the people of the region and with the player having garnered a reputation as a problem-solver over the course of the base game's quest, the denizens of the north have decided to ask for help. That means it's up to the player to stop these ogres by any means necessary, whether it be peacefully or violently. Of course, with a cave called Durgan's Battery holding an ample amount of loot, it's definitely time to explore.

As Obsidian reps demonstrated the Durgan's Battery area, they had the opportunity to show off some of the improvements set to debut in The White March. First and foremost, those clamoring for more sophisticated AI scripts will get their wish. Companions can now be given specific AI scripts, including ones that will have them act aggressively, as support, and more. The expansion will also introduce the concept of individual stealth, which allows individual party members to practice stealth to either scout areas ahead or practice during combat to help get the drop on foes. These talents will come in handy with the expansion's two new companions: The Devil of Caroc and Zahua the Monk. The Devil of Caroc can use a shield to protect herself while using ranged attacks, while the drug-addled Zahua can summon spirit monks to fight at his side.

As one might imagine, ogres fight aggressively. They'll fill the caves and try to use numbers to their advantage. They'll also use brute strength, as one instance saw ogres ripping cannons off of the cave walls to aid them. Discretion will often be the better part of valor, which is where the scouting ability will come in handy. There are also several non-combat additions to cave exploration, including new scripted interactions that add additional choices based on races, available spells and abilities, and more.

Eventually, the Obsidian reps visited with the Ogre Matron Beregan. The main goal is to use diplomacy to get her to call off the ogres, which would make Durgan's Battery a little easier to explore. If that falls through, the option is always there to fight.

The White North will also introduce soulbound weapons for the first time. These weapons can combine different classic skills, such as one that combines Barbarian and Paladin skills. These are powerful weapons, with St. Ydwen's Redeemer cited as an example of a weapon that grows stronger over time. Soulbound weapons found in the expansion can then be taken into the base game.

This is just the beginning, as this is only slated to be Part I of The White North. However, there will be plenty for existing Pillars of Eternity players, including an increased level cap from 12 to 14. Cross-class talents will also encourage exploration with skill and talent layouts. Players can begin digging through the wide array of new content when The White North: Part I releases soon on PC.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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