Yes, you! Have you played Pillars of Eternity? No? Well go and do that. Yes? Well why are you not still playing it?
Oh, you’ve finished it; run out of things to do, I see. Have you played The White March, it’s first expansion? No? Well stop reading this and go do so. Silly boy.
Oh, you’re back! Great! Enjoy that? Good. Well you don’t need to read my silly little review now do you, since you’ve already experienced the Baldur’s Gate-esque brilliance of the game. Oh, I still need to write it anyway?
As I sit here writing, I’m not playing Pillars, and that in itself is a travesty. But I’m not here to talk about that, since we all already know it’s an absolutely wonderful game, which you should have already played by now. What I am here to talk about is The White March (Part 1), the first expansion to the aforementioned.
If you haven’t already heard of Pillars, in short, it’s the first brand new IP from Obsidian Entertainment; the celebrated developers of KotOR2, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout New Vegas and South Park: The stick of truth. It’s a spiritual successor to the old DnD franchises of yore; Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, and other similar party-based, real-time-with-pause isometric RPG’s. Set in the fantasy world of Eora, you choose from a variety of different races, classes and backgrounds and travel through the world as a “Watcher,” who can see souls and past lives, attempting to solve the mystery of your awakening and of the “Hollowborn Problem.” Originally Kickstarter’d in 2012, Pillars essentially saved the studio from closure, having sold over 500,000 copies since release.
So, you’ve finally got a place to call home, a fortress. You have a band of merry followers (and Durance,) and are slowly starting to unravel the mystery of what happened to you, when a letter arrives asking you for help in an isolated fishing village. When you arrive, after a particularly difficult fight with some ogres, you learn about a local, sealed fortress called Durgan’s Battery, which houses a mighty, legendary forge which makes steel the likes of which hasn’t been seen for decades. If you activate it, the village will be saved. If you don’t, well, take a guess.
That’s as far as I’m going to go in terms of story, as I wouldn’t want to spoil what little of it there is. It’s standard fantasy fare; save a village, do a dungeon, properly save a village, and there isn’t much narrative content here beyond that. The White March is more concerned with what is arguably the meat of the whole game; Combat. As you venture through the ancient fortress you’ll encounter a variety of much more difficult enemies than those found in the base game, which make for some interesting and varied fights unlike that you’ve seen before. There are also some side-quests, but again, the story of them is mostly underwhelming.
Luckily, you also make new friends. The expansion introduces two new playable companions.
The first, Zahua, is an absolute powerhouse of a Human Monk. The term “glass cannon” was built for his fists, as he has some pretty impressive stats (17 might, oooooooh…) and the will to use them. Unfortunately, he has plenty of character flaws, like partaking in religious self-flagellation, but he’s a stand-up fella.
The second, the Devil of Caroc, (dun dun DUUUUUUN!) is, well, different? I won’t spoil WHAT she is, except that she’s the only rogue you can add to the party without creating one, which is a good reason to hunt her down. I like her, basically.
Both can be valuable additions to any party, providing voiced, storied characters for these roles instead of the voiceless mercenaries you can create.
One of the biggest differences you’ll notice in The White March is that you’ll be marching through a lot of snow; Funny that. The landspace and locations are all wonderfully designed and fitting with the expansion’s theme, with beautiful hand-drawn background art and music at the same level of quality as the base game.
The White March: Part One is a great expansion, just not one that lives up to the original game. It’s mostly more of the same Pillars goodness nestled up in a different skin, but without the gripping story and interesting side quests. Regardless, it’s a good chunk of extra content for an already jam-packed game.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.