Pillars of Eternity II Xbox One review: Is this RPG worth buying?

It's a rather large game.

Pillars 2

Pillars 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Pillars of Eternity that came out in 2015. The game picks up right where the other left off it seems. Your fortress of Caed Nua has been destroyed by the god Eothas, and hundreds are dead. It's up to you to discover what his plans are and avenge those who have fallen.

Pillars of Eternity II has been available on PC for a while now, but it's finally on Xbox One as an ultimate edition. While the game features an amazing story, strong gameplay, deep role-playing mechanics, and plenty of choices, the console port isn't as great as it could be.

Pillars of Eternity II accessibility and controls

Pillars of Eternity II is much more accessible than its predecessor. The first game featured a lot of timed events and you were always worried about making your way back to Caed Nua to fend off an invasion. This time around, you're free to explore the countless islands on your ship and on foot. The map is absolutely massive, and it'll take you dozens of hours to complete the game.

Since Pillars of Eternity II is class-based when it comes to character customization, there's a lot of replayability because you can choose different dialogue options depending on the skills you've invested in. This may lead to radically different outcomes to certain conflicts, maybe even ones that don't involve bloodshed. You'll also be able to discover more secrets.

Pillars of Eternity II on Xbox One allows you to directly control your character and party because they move with your left thumbstick. The controls are excellent in my opinion, and the only issue I came across was occasionally selecting the incorrect tab from the radial menu. However, turning down the sensitivity seems to be a great solution to this problem. I didn't miss a keyboard at all.

Pillars of Eternity II performance and visuals

Pillars 2

Pillars 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Pillars of Eternity II doesn't feature any Xbox One X enhancements. The resolution appears to be 1080p and the textures are quite blurry at times. The performance is also patchy depending on the area you're in and seems to be locked to 30 frames per second (FPS). It's odd that Obsidian Entertainment – an Xbox Game Studios team – and their partners at Grip Digital, didn't put in more effort to improve it for Microsoft's latest console. Let's hope that just like A Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep, the game receives an Xbox One X patch after launch.

Pillars of Eternity II is a complex game mechanically, but its visuals are definitely not that. It's unclear why this game couldn't hit a consistent 60 FPS on Xbox One X. In my opinion, the issue appears to be a lack of optimization rather than a technical limitation of the console. There are also lengthy loading screens whenever you enter a new area that detract from immersion. I installed Pillars of Eternity II on an external solid-state drive and the loading screens were still unbearable. You run into one even when you're exploring the same building! I can't imagine how slow it is on the base Xbox One's built-in hard drive or an external hard drive.

It's a shame that Pillars of Eternity II isn't a great port. The game itself is amazing, quite possibly one of the best I've ever played, but if you have a powerful gaming PC, just get it on that. For one, the loading times are dramatically shorter, and you can increase the resolution further. In general, it's just a much superior experience.

Pillars of Eternity II final thoughts

Pillars 2

Pillars 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Overall, Pillars of Eternity II is a good game on Xbox One, but it could've looked and run better. If you haven't played the title on PC, then be sure to pick it up on console because it's worth it for the story alone in my opinion. Plus, it comes with all the expansions. Who knew taking down a god could be so much fun?

I just wish Pillars of Eternity II was optimized for the Xbox One. The foundations are strong, but it needs a little more polish in the performance and visual department. With that said, it's such an excellent game that I can't help but recommend it despite its flaws. I also can't wait to see where the story takes us next in the inevitable Pillars of Eternity III.

The game was reviewed on Xbox One X with a code provided by the publisher.

Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.