Obsidian break down Pillars of Eternity’s frontline: the warrior and the barbarian

Like the Infinity Engine games, Pillars of Eternity employs a real-time-with-pause combat system.

Obsidian’s plan for their frontline classes sounds a lot like their goal for Pillars of Eternity as a whole: they want to capture the spirit of their ‘90s Infinity Engine predecessors, but introduce some new and far-reaching elements for players to tinker with.

Yesterday they introduced two of Eternity’s primary tanks: the warrior and the barbarian. In Baldur’s Gate, these were the least complex – and arguably least interesting – classes to play with. But project director Josh Sawyer reckons their particulars are unusual enough for us to get tactically wrapped up in.

There’s no getting around the fact that fighters are Eternity’s simplest class: designed to be low-maintenance, reliable and long-lived where your mage is going to be anything but.

They’ll passively recover stamina over time, and at higher levels can recover stamina immediately after being wounded – allowing them to turn the tide with knock-down attacks.

They differ most from their Infinity Engine counterparts in weapon specialistion. Categories are much broader than they were in Black Isle’s finest – the Knight specialisation, for instance, covers battle axes, swords, morning stars, crossbows and war bows. Most pertinently, each category contains at least one ranged weapon – so you’ll never be left with a party member twiddling their thumbs when fighting an enemy on a ledge.

Barbarians are their “wild, unconventional” counterparts – high-maintenance shock troops who “burn brightly and expire brilliantly”.

Their attacks are relatively inaccurate, but tend to hit every enemy in a small radius. Their high health and stamina is offset by a low deflection stat, which sees them take more hits than the warrior – especially when in Frenzy mode.

Frenzy is the ultimate min-max ability – boosting health and stamina to dramatic levels, but reducing deflection even further. In a cute touch, Obsidian have decided that the barbarian’s health and stamina meters remain obscured for the duration of their bloodlust.

“It’s not uncommon for barbarians to suddenly drop unconscious – or dead – when their frenzies come to an end,” says Sawyer. “Many of the barbarians’ higher-level powers shine when they are surrounded by a throng of enemies, outnumbered and often badly-wounded.”

Both classes, alongside the monk, share the responsibility of holding the line – “no matter what tries to break through”. That sound tactically meaty enough to you?

Obsidian and Paradox will be releasing Pillars of Eternity later this year.