What you need to know
- After the success of Baldur's Gate 3, many have been wondering if there's a renaissance for "CRPG"-style isometric RPGs on the horizon.
- One of the greatest modernized CRPGs is Pillars of Eternity, previously crowd-funded by Obsidian with development led by Josh Sawyer.
- In an interaction on Twitter (also known as X), Sawyer joked that he's waiting for a call from Microsoft to make Pillars of Eternity 3 with a $120 million dollar budget.
- This is one joke we desperately need to come true.
Baldur's Gate 3's monumental popularity has somewhat upended the very idea of what types of games can still find success in 2023. In a world where service games rammed with microtransactions are being canceled and wound down left right and center, Baldur's Gate 3 cut through this summer with a hyper-traditional isometric-style RPG, albeit with AAA production values, acting, writing, and visuals.
It's rare that we see games that follow CRPG traditions of yesteryear with modern flair, but Microsoft and Xbox do have a range of franchises in-house that fit the bill. InXile's Wasteland 3 series follows these conventions to some degree, but it's Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity franchise that perhaps most closely follows Baldur's Gate 3's DNA.
Pillars of Eternity is a criminally overlooked RPG series that served as a modernized successor to the likes of Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, crowdfunded on Kickstarter previously. The game is a personal favorite and remains one of the best PC games of all time. It's available on Xbox Game Pass, as well as Steam and other platforms. The original from 2015 follows the exploits of the "Watcher," played by yourself. Endowed unexpectedly with powers to peer into the very essence of individuals, living or recently dead. The player winds up in all sorts of intrigue, entangled with cults and political upheaval on the quest to figure out and unravel their condition. The writing is witty, mature, and carries that familiar Obsidian dark humor, wrapped in a deep combat system and modernized, but traditional isometric RPG visuals.
Pillars of Eternity II notoriously didn't sell well, however, despite being a great game. The traditional CRPG format of the game was blamed for the sales by Obsidian themselves in previous comments and may be why the next game set in the Eora universe is a more modern, first-person RPG that riffs on The Elder Scrolls — Avowed. However, Baldur's Gate 3 may have offered a blueprint by which Pillars of Eternity 3 could find success.
In an interaction on Twitter (also known as X), Josh Sawyer of Pentiment, Fallout: New Vegas, and Pillars fame replied to comments about Baldur's Gate 3. @felipepepe above mused the possibility that Baldur's Gate 3 could see games like Pillars of Eternity or Pathfinder see boosted budgets, with Baldur's Gate 3 serving as a potential gateway for a new generation of traditional computer RPG fans. Sawyer replied, "Waiting for Xbox to call and tell me they want Pillars 3 with a $120M budget. Any day now, I’m sure."
While clearly in jest, it's tantalizing as a Pillars fan, and a CRPG fan in general, to imagine what a big-budget Pillars of Eternity game might look like. We are getting Avowed, which looks tremendous, but it won't scratch the itch for those who are seeking Baldur's Gate-like experiences, particularly following the latest game's success.
It's ultimately on Xbox to decide, since they set the budgets for Obsidian. Although, Xbox lead Phil Spencer and other execs have professed that they like to give their studios a lot of freedom. Would they fund a Baldur's Gate 3 budget-level sequel to games like Wasteland or Pillars of Eternity? I'd surely love to see Microsoft put its money where its mouth is on that one.
What do you think? Also, if you haven't played Pillars of Eternity, go play it right now.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!