Seeker, Slayer, Survivor takes a more direct approach to combat in Pillars of Eternity 2 by putting players right in the heart of the arena.
Following on from last months’ Beast of Winter, this time players will go up against all manner of creatures and characters in a bid to become the true Champion of the Hunt.
But as is usual with The Watcher, not all is at it seems.
I seek a slayer that has survived
I enjoyed Beast of Winter as a rounded, narrative experience, appreciating many of the story beats and path of progression. But my main complaints were that the content felt quite insular and it ended rather quickly.
That’s something Obsidian have clearly taken into consideration with Seeker, Slayer, Survivor. Not only does the content encourage you to venture beyond the island of the Crucible, but there are plenty of optional things for you to do, whether you do them during or after the main adventure.
To be clear, SSS isn’t just a series of battles in an arena for you to earn loot and coins. There’s an intricate, pretty solid story holding it all together. And I might even prefer it to BoW.
It all starts in the quarters of your ship when the steward comes in to tell you about some mysterious cargo. But it’s not just mysterious, it’s also gross as inside you’ll find an animated head who tells you to visit the island of Kazuwari.
The spirit of the head begins to converse with you since you’re the only Watcher and can see it. The essence claims you’re the only hope for restoring balance on the fractured island by fighting in the Crucible and currying favour with the Faces of the Hunt.
Oh, did I mention that the Faces of the Hunt are a combined statue of a spider, pig, and sabretooth, representing the three facets of Galawain? A statue, by the way, which comes to life and talks? No wonder the denizens worship it.
Your objective in the DLC is to choose your allegiance to either the Seeker, the Slayer, or the Survivor, with each one offering different challenges. It’s down to you to impress them, listening carefully to what they have to say in order to best the opposition in front of you.
And that’s something unique to SSS, you will find yourself in all-new scenarios which will require you to think tactically about your approach. You can’t just swing a sword around and hope for the best. You’ll need to target individual enemies, pick out the weakest members of the group, or the most dangerous.
You can also use the environment to your advantage, claim the high ground, or use an explosive barrel to create a burning effect. But the structure of the encounter is different dependent on the deity you choose to appease. You might have to fight through waves of enemies or take out a high value target.
Whatever your approach, Seeker, Slayer, Survivor encourages replays so you can master your strategy and finish in the quickest time. So not only does it deliver a very lore-heavy, focused tale, but it also has the gameplay to back it up.
Sure, we got dragons in the last expansion, but this is some pretty enchanted stuff. And you have to listen to the imposing grey structure boom out taunts and tongue twisters before each fight, whether you’re slicing skittering spiders or splattering globs of ooze.
Before you dive into the content proper, you’re going to need to be Level 16, and have already completed the Magran’s Teeth section of the base game in order to unlock it. Your opponents are tough and bad news and will show you absolutely no mercy. So make sure you’re prepared.
Kazuwari is on the western side of the map, but it’s still well within reach of various other ports scattered all around. Which is convenient because SSS is full of optional objectives.
The arena is structured in a way that you only need to beat a handful of fights – known as Rites of Passage – in order to finish the story. However, you’re informed of various optional artifacts, spread throughout Deadfire, which can be claimed then brought back to the basin to exchange for battle.
And most of the artifacts can only be found by solving riddles and clues you receive from the proprietor. I won’t spoil any Artifact locations in this review, nor tell you what they give you, but there’s a fair few of them and they really do range in quality and difficulty.
There are even some new quality of life features Obsidian have added since Beast of Winter to continue bolstering and improving the PoE 2 experience, such as an Ability Tree Preview, which lets you view your progress outside the level up screen, Steam Workshop Mod Support, improved in-game combat sounds, character abilities and much more.
There’s even new Magran’s Fires Challenges to add to the overall content.
However, in my pre-release build, I did encounter some delays in cut-scene transition, slightly muffled audio, and a few problems with glitching. There was also some bad lag during battles, occassionally freezing the entire screen which meant I couldn’t interact with anything for a few seconds. This became quite frustrating.
All that said, I really enjoyed Seeker, Slayer, Survivor, much more than I expected to. Obsidian have offered a fresh perspective on PoE 2 combat, which has proved divisive within its community. They’ve opened up the wider Deadfire map, adding new content to familiar areas for optional reward, all while giving us – overall – a good piece of content that adds to the game in interesting ways.
If Beast of Winter was good and this is better, I’m very excited to see what The Forgotten Sanctum offers later this year.
+ A fresh and exciting take on the game’s combat
+ Surprisingly deep and interesting story
+ Lots of optional quests to tackle, opening up the wider map
+ Replays encouraged for challenge and competition
– Combat lag locked up the game a few times
– A few issues with cut-scene transitions
– Muffled audio noticeable compared to other sound
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Seeker, Slayer, Survivor
8 out of 10
Tested on PC