Despite the competition, The Forgotten Sanctum has to be my most anticipated piece of DLC this year.
While Beast of Winter is a well-balanced opening piece of content and Seeker, Slayer, Survivor offers steeper combat-based challenges, The Forgotten Sanctum really pushes the narrative of Pillars of Eternity II forward.
Just not quite as effectively as I had hoped.
Eye on the Prize
In this concluding DLC, Deadfire is disturbed by a powerful tremor which precedes a dragon rider dramatically landing on the deck of The Watcher’s ship. Swooping in with purpose, the stranger tells The Watcher that a new dungeon has opened up on The Black Isles and he needs help.
This sanctuary apparently contains a hidden secret, locked away purposefully, and it appears the Circle of Archmages are somehow involved in its re-opening.
It’s up to The Watcher to figure out what’s going on, who to side with, and where everything leads. A standard day at the office, then.
That’s the immediate shift in this DLC compared to the others. Your choices matter and they will influence the overall outcome. How and why ventures into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say, you can have a different experience from someone else playing at the same time.
This is a story that features a varied, strong cast of characters with their own motivations and aspirations. You have to decide who’s worth trusting and who isn’t, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
It’s also tougher than it looks. You’ll need to be at least Level 18 to unlock the content, and once you venture into the dungeon, the action really does come thick and fast. To the point where the story is forced to move between minor to major boss battles in order to progress through the primary beats.
This does disrupt the flow of the narrative quite often and regularly leads to a bit of aimlessness as you try to get around and find a way forward, often moving from one room to the next uncertain of your next move. That’s because Forgotten Sanctum is pretty open-ended with multiple quests to keep track of at any one time.
Compared to Beast of Winter, there’s a lot more to do in an order that suits you, so the content certainly feels a lot less linear.
But it’s not quite as combat heavy as Seeker, Slayer, Survivor even though you’re often butting heads with mobs and terrifying structures that can burn the clothes off your back. The fights don’t necessarily feel more epic in scale, but they do seem to serve more of a purpose.
The Forgotten Sanctum is a DLC that meets both of its predecessors in the middle, then, and often feels like a bit of a hodge-podge, conflicted and unsettled about the approach it takes to reach the end-game.
Fortunately, that same end-game leaves multiple, interesting questions open for the future of Pillars of Eternity, and speaks to Obsidian’s future ambitions for the series. It’s just a shame the road to get there is quite often disrupted and unsure of itself.
+ Strong cast of characters to interact with
+ Good bosses to contend against
+ Writing is still at a very high standard
+ Some very nice gear and equipment to collect
– Unsettled and conflicted gameplay leads to occasionally unwelcome and frustrating disruption
– Can be a tough challenge, even on lower difficulty settings
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – The Forgotten Sanctum
7.5 out of 10
Tested on PC
Code received by publisher