Pillars of Eternity on Switch is one of the system’s best ports

As we recently found out, not every game that comes to Switch ends up turning out for the best.

Mutant Year Zero. RiME. WWE 2K18. In fairness to RiME, Greybox and TequilaWorks worked damn hard to turn that around and turn it around they did.

Pillars of Eternity, on the other hand, is one of the best ports I’ve seen on Switch to date. Whether you’re in handheld or docked, the game runs – for the most part – smooth as butter, and looks pretty awesome while it’s doing it.

What an addition this is. Considering how full and busy the game is, and that the Complete Edition includes both White March DLCs, there’s hours of content here, but Switch is definitely more than up to the task.

PoE is one of the best RPGs on the market, immediately thrusting you into the complex and expansive world of Eora with world-class storytelling and compelling characterization.

Arriving in Dyrwood, your custom created character is an outsider who’s popped up near a caravan looking for shelter. But after running a few simple errands, things quickly become extremely complicated.

Dyrwood is afflicted by a curse and because of that, strange events begin to happen involving cultists and abominable creatures. By witnessing some of these events, the player begins to get a taste of the supernatural.

As the story progresses, so the player’s role as The Watcher becomes more clear. Soon you’ll learn that The Watcher is attuned to souls and can read them, inheriting their stories and reliving past memories.

From a narrative point of view, you can already see how this gives you a unique perspective into the game and the wider world, exploring other dimensions that most RPGs don’t dare to tread. The storytelling here is as rich as you’ll ever see in any game.

The Watcher will be able to recruit allies throughout his or her journey, learning more about their backstories and gaining more trust and support from those who walk alongside them. Overtime, you can structure your party based on preferred allies and classes, with the game giving you options of paladins, rogues, and priests.

Pillars plays out like a real-time RPG, but the game will pause itself before battle. This gives you time to choose who to attack, when to attack them, but also how to divide up your teammates, choosing how to situate them on the battlefield.

In that sense, this is very much like a Baldur’s Gate or Dungeons & Dragons, games which PoE is considered a direct descendent from.

One of the most surprising things I found with PoE on Switch, though, is how intuitive and easy-going it all feels to control. Normally, these types of games can be quite daunting for newcomers, but Obsidian have taken great strides to ease you in.

True, there’s no touch screen support present here, which is a bit of a shame, but there’s more than enough buttons mapped at your disposal to have full control over the action that it never seems like you’re missing out or things have been simplified.

Actually, PoE works masterfully, between the inventory menus, battle screens, and talent trees. Let alone the dialogue scenes, and that translation carries between both docked and un-docked modes.

Obsidian have absolutely got the balance of performance right here. And never is that more evident than with the game’s conversational sequences. As you well know, one of the big problems with RPGs on Switch is that you sometimes have to scrunch your eyes up to see the text. An issue for the likes of Final Fantasy X and Dragon’s Dogma, for example.

With Pillars of Eternity, the boxes take up the appropriate amount of size on the screen, the font is clear, everything is nicely spaced. In fact, you might even say it’s too big at times, but with Switch’s previous reputation with RPGs, it’s cool. I’ll take it.

It’s not always perfect, of course. The PC version is still far superior in terms of texture quality, frame rate, and the amount of mods that are available to you, officially or otherwise.

But no one can say that this Switch port isn’t a herculean, phenomenal job from Obsidian. They understand the benefits of the hardware, the strengths and the limitations, and have cut the right corners to get it running just right.

Occasional graphical glitches force their way through, with corrupted text, screen dragging, and frame rate lagging, but on Switch, you could not ask for a better rendition of this fantastic game.

It’s an absolutely essential recommendation for any RPG buff looking for something different on Switch and proves that the hardware is capable of running the most unexpected games in the most effective way.


Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is out now on Nintendo Switch

Review code kindly provided by PR Agency

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,