Pillars of Eternity

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  • Cipher is a popular main character choice as they have the most unique dialogue choices and the Cipher companion is both relatively unpopular and comes in late. All classes are viable though, even on Path of the Damned.
  • You can hire a couple of generic party members in Gilded Vale to help fill out your party until you've picked up the official party members, and later use them to garrison your stronghold and run errands for you there.
  • The temple of Eothas dungeon in Gilded Vale is also much easier to tackle after you've picked up either some generic henchmen or the Priest and Chanter companions found in the nearby areas of Magran's Fork and Caed Nua, respectively.
  • The more monsters of a certain type you defeat, the more information you'll have about their strengths and weaknesses. Check the Bestiary section of the Cyclopedia for their detailed information.
  • Scouting Mode (alt by default) acts both as stealth mode and search mode for detecting traps and hidden objects. Object detection (alongside lockpicking and trap handling) is based solely on a character's Mechanics skill, so having one character focus heavily on it is recommended.
  • Don't neglect crafting and enchanting, they require neither separate crafting stations or abilities and can be done from very early on. Even a simple accuracy or damage enchant helps a lot, and Unique items can be improved too provided you don't try to apply an enchantment type already present on them.

Combat advice

  • You can assign hotkeys to abilities by pressing the key in question while hovering over the ability. This is handy with frequently used abilities such as Fighters' Knock Down.
  • Especially on higher difficulties, Pillars is largely a game of finding enemies' weak points and focusing on them. For example an enemy with high Deflection but low Will is better dealt with Will-targeting attacks than physical ones. Weaknesses can (and should) also be created; For example the Priest spell "Divine Mark" targets Will and lowers the target's Deflection, making it easier for your physical attackers to deal with the aforementioned type of enemy.
  • Crowd control is king in combat. Using all your available tools to keep your enemies prone, stunned, paralyzed, charmed, stunned or otherwise incapable of acting (or acting for you) is the most reliable path to victory.
  • Higher Intellect increases the coverage of your area spells but not the part which can hit allies (red AoE), making it purely beneficial.
  • Some fights that start right after a scene won't let you get into a proper formation beforehand. It can be a good idea to put your tank into the party leader position (click and hold down on their portrait) and from there sort your characters from toughest to squishiest to avoid having your backliners ending up at the front.
  • Don't break engagement unless absolutely necessary. Your cursor will turn red if you try to move a character who's engaged in melee; breaking it without using an ability to avoid the disengage attack can lead to the character taking heavy damage.

Class-specific advice

  • Ciphers leech focus based on damage dealt, so a cipher with a slow but powerful weapon will get fewer attacks but generate more focus per attack.
  • The Cipher talent 'Greater Focus' ("The Cipher has +10 maximum Focus") is far better than it sounds as it also provides +10 to their base Focus, enabling the use of higher level abilities earlier in each fight. Picking it up as soon as possible is highly recommended.
  • A Spiritshifted Druid is considered unarmed and using both hands (claws) to attack, meaning their attacks benefit from both the 'Weapon Focus: Peasant' and 'Two Weapon Style' talents.
  • For fresh Chanters, 'Reny Daret's Ghost' is probably a more reliable Incantation than the Skeleton summon due to the fragile nature of the latter. The duration is quite a bit shorter though, so keep that in mind. Both are best used for summoning them behind enemy lines for the purposes of flanking or being a bother to ranged threats.