Should weaker enemies scale up to match your level as you get stronger? This has been the single most important question in the lives of RPG players for decades. It’s something PC owners of a certain persuasion will still cite as a deal-breaker over The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. And, well: that RPG Codex tagline didn’t come from nowhere.
For Pillars of Eternity’s first expansion, Obsidian have approached the problem in a way they hope will please everyone. They’ve outsourced the design decision to you, the player.
The White March: Part 1 isn’t necessarily an endgame experience – it’ll open up to players after they take the stronghold of Caed Nua, approximately a third of the way through the Pillars campaign. It’ll then remain open for the rest of the game – which means Obsidian can’t know what level players will be when they tackle its Icewind Dale-influenced environments.
“When you enter the expansion it checks your level,” Obsidian’s Josh Sawyer told PC Gamer news-diviner Phil Savage. “If you’re above 9th or 10th, it says, ‘Hey dude, you’re really high level, do you want us to scale the content for you?’ You can say no, because a lot of our players we find do not like dynamic scaling. They’d rather have the option to say no.”
But if you do say yes, all of the expansion’s critical quests and some of its diversions will be beefed up to present a challenge to you, o mighty warrior. It’s a toss-up between making the player feel powerful, and ensuring they feel threatened.
“We also have the special high-level stuff like Crägholdt Bluffs,” pointed out Sawyer. “It’s specifically for players who come in at high level, who just want to take on the gnarliest stuff.”
In my experience Pillars was fairly, ah, gnarly to begin with – even after a lifetime of repeated Infinity Engine playthroughs. How did you find it for difficulty?