Pillars of Eternity 2 doesn’t pull it’s punches. Even from the get go, the battles can be tough and the menus vast and full of options, leading to first time players easily becoming swamped with information. For this reason, we’ve distilled things down, and are offering you the best tips and strategies to get you started in the game. Keep in mind these are all working under the assumption you are playing on Normal, and while the information on this page will work on any difficulty, they’ve been tailored for a normal experience.
EditMechanics Is Very Good Early On
Mechanics is one of several skills in the game, but it’s important because it allows you to pick locks and disarm traps. However, by default, you don’t get a character that has access to this skill until several hours into the game (after leaving Port Maje region). This means that, for some time, you won’t be able to easily disarm any traps, or open any locked chests. You can of course come back for them, but that’s just added hassle that can be easily avoided. To easily fix this lack of mechanics, simply have your primary character have mechanics as one of his main skills. The simplest way to do this is to have his background give him the Mechanics skill, then when he levels up you can put a few more points into it. Level 4 is a decent spot to have it for the opening hours of the game, as there’s nothing in the Port Maje region you won’t be able to open at that point.
EditSlow Down Combat
Combat in Pillars of Eternity takes place in turns, but those turns are always happening, there is no pause between actions. While this makes combat flow nicely, it does cause things to become chaotic when battling several enemies and dealing with your party of 5. For this reason, we highly suggest you get in the habbit of pausing combat. Ideally, you should be doing this once ever second or two. This will allow you to take in the situation, asses the outcome of previous attacks and alter who is attacking what, or what spells should be getting prepared.
Remember that in PoE 2, action speed and how long things take is heavily influenced by Recovery Time, a stat that rises and falls depending on class and gear. This means that every class and character will act at different speeds, so a heavy amount of management is necessary if you want to maximize what everyone is doing!
EditRushing In Results in a Swift Death
Nothing is more important in PoE than positioning. A fight that should be of relative ease for your party can quickly turn to disaster if you rush into it and find your characters to be wildly out of position. Before you even approach a fight, consider how your party walks as a group. Is the Tank at the front? Are the mages a safe distance behind? If not, you should customize it by clicking the formation button at the bottom of the screen. It’s important that the right characters are in the right position, or else you will find your mages to be dead before the first round of combat even begins, and your tank is now trying to solo 10 enemies with no help!
So how should your party look? Well naturally, your Tank should be at the front. In a normal playthrough, this is likely to be Eder. He should then be flanked closely by any other melee characters you use, like Monks, Paladins or other Fighters. A few positions back should be your mid-range characters, like a Cipher, Ranger or Druid. Then as far back as possible should be your mages and any other character who never has a reason to get into melee combat. With this layout, you ensure that each time battle begins, the head of the party draws the most attention, ensuring your weaker backline is safe to sling spells and deal damage.
EditMoney is More Important than Ever Before
To say money is important in a videogame might seem silly. It’s true in nearly any game with currency that the more you have, the better off you will be. PoE 2 takes this to another level though. After the opening area, you gain access to a ship. To run this ship, you need to spend resources. You probably have guessed by now, but those resources cost money. The more sailing around you do, the more you will have to spend. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to never exhaust your funds. Always have a few thousand sitting around so that you can fix up your ship after a battle, or hire some crew should a disaster strike. Resources can be bought from major cities, Port Maje being the first, and are tracked on screen via the many icons in the naval menus. Food, Water and Crew are the biggest costs, while other things such as your supply of cannonballs and repair planks will also add up over time.
EditA Healthy Meal Goes a Long Way
Food might seem like a simple thing, but it can make or break a party. As you start to collect all these various meals, you’ll start to notice they grant various effects. While some may not seem useful at first, different combinations can be quite useful. Feeding your tank food that negates incoming damage will make him last longer, while your mages would do well from food that bolsters their Intellect score. The power lies in the fact that each person can have their own food, allowing you to tailor your parties food consumption to specific things. The only downside to this, is that food doesn’t last forever and that you can only eat food while resting (in the field, not in town).
EditPets To The Rescue
There’s a sneaky sort of upgrade you can get for your entire party, without even realizing it. Have you noticed the many cats and other small animals walking around? Well some of them, when you click them, will hop right into your inventory. That’s right, many pets that you encounter can be picked up, then equipped to various characters. While a pet is equipped, it grants a passive effect either to that character or the whole party. Most of them are quite weak, but a few animals have more unique, stronger passives that will greatly increase the strength of your party.
EditA Boat Crew Is Vital
Once you unlock the boat, you will get several prompts, but none of them truly stress how important your crew is to the success of your vessel. Having the proper crew, with the proper skills is essential to your success, particularly on the higher difficulties. Your boat has several specific slots, which can be seen in the naval menu. These slots, like deckhand, cook and cannoneer, can only be filled by characters with those skills. For this reason, it’s vital that you take the time to familiarize yourself with your crew and who can do what. As a good rule of thumb, you should have enough crew to fill the entire ship, and at least one extra Deckhand and Cannoner in the Resting Crew area. While expensive, this ensures your ship will never be lacking for people during combat.
EditA Happy Crew is A Drunk Crew
Another key part of your crew is the morale they have. This is represented by a purple face icon in the naval menu. Morale is important for several reasons, and if left unattended, it can result in a mutiny which will spell disaster for your ship. Morale affects two things. First, the higher it is, the more likely you are to get an experience bonus for your crew during ship combat. This will rank them up faster, making your ship stronger. The other primary function is determining how happy your crew is. The happier they are, the better they do their job. If morale gets low, they perform worse and, if it hits the single digit territory, they can mutiny and leave you with no crew.
Morale is influenced by several things, such as working conditions and amount of combat they are in, but the most constant source of Morale is food. While it might be cheap to feed them Hardtac and Water, this causes their morale to steadily go down. A happy sailor is one who is drinking grog and eating fruits every day. This keeps morale constantly rising, although at the cost of your own coin. Striking a happy balance is important, but it’s crucial to keep track of.
EditNaval Combat Tips
It’s already received two sections, but the importance of naval combat cannot be stressed enough. It’s a major part of the game, and is simply unavoidable, so it’s worth learning the ins and outs early.
Instead of talking about one specific thing, we’re going to rapid fire several quick tips under this section!
- Naval battles are rated on the same system as normal ones. The more skulls, the harder it will be.
- Even an easy battle can be hard if the enemies are in a bigger ship. Remember, you start in a sloop, but there are 5 tiers of vessels. Galleons, even with a weaker crew, have 4 cannons per side, making them much harder to deal with. Ignore them early on, stick to small ships only!
- When combat begins, you are given 3 options. We suggest never using “Close to boarding range”. This will cause you to take a predetermined amount of damage before boarding begins. Instead, begin normal combat, then just spam “1” until you manually get in range. You’re far less likely to take damage this way.
- Boarding a ship can be more dangerous than fighting it. Remember that when you board, it’s your party + crew versus the enemy party + crew. This can cause issues when boarding bigger ships, where they have 10 or more people.
- There are three types of cannonballs, each with unique effects. Cannonballs deal direct damage to the ship. Chainshot has a high chance to damage sails and Grapeshot has a high chance to damage the enemy crew.
- While dealing direct damage may seem like the easiest route, the other options are usually superior. Damaging the sails makes it so faster vessels can’t flee, while damaging the crew makes it so the enemy ship can’t fix itself, or even fire its cannons. Crippling the enemy in this way makes it a lot easier to deal with bigger ships.
- Damaging the crew before boarding is a great way to level the odds. Before you go to board, fire a few rounds of Grapeshot at the enemy. You might get lucky and hurt some, or even outright kill a few.
- Using “Halt” makes you a sitting duck, but it also vastly increases the accuracy of your cannons.
- Using “Jibe” makes your ship do a 180. Use this during offensive rounds. Fire your starboard cannons, then use Jibe, then fire your port cannons.