Axe of the Blood God Finally Reviews Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire

PODCAST | Kat is joined by guest Doc Burford to talk about Obsidian's RPG, detective RPGs, and more.

Article by Kat Bailey, .

Axe of the Blood God is our weekly RPG podcast hosted by Kat Bailey and Nadia Oxford. You can find the previous episodes here.

Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is a very interesting RPG that has slipped through the cracks a bit. Nevertheless, we're here to review Obsidian's opus and explain why it's a PC RPG you should definitely be playing [download link here]

I'm joined this week by Doc Burford, who reviewed Deadfire for us and has tons of opinions on... well, pretty much everything. He explains why it works right off the bat, the balance of the battle system, and how it compares to the original game.

But that's not all! Doc has been playing a sweet noir RPG called Disc Elysium, and he explains why it's now one of his most anticipated RPGs ever. And we discuss why it's so hard to make detective mechanics work in RPGs. All that and more in the latest episode of Axe of the Blood God!

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Show Description

Doc Burford returns to review Pillars of Eternity 2 with Kat. How does the sequel to Obsidian's cult favorite isometric RPG stack up to the original? Find out in this spoiler-free discussion! Plus, Kat and Doc wax poetic over Dragon Age: Origins, preview Disco Elysium, and ponder how to make detective RPGs work.

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at Check it out!

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Comments 13

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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #1 The-Challenger 5 months ago
    Listening to a character's inner thoughts/monologue had to be one of my favorite parts of Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain.

    I played the shit out of DAO. Too bad none of the sequels were able to capture my attention like the first one did. Fun series overall.
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  • Avatar for Drachmalius #2 Drachmalius 5 months ago
    Great to hear from Doc, he's been a great twitter follow this year (and I was glad to hear his surgery was a success). I think I share a lot of the preferences for RPGs that he talked about here, interpersonal relationships matter more to me than plot beats and such. Still haven't played Divinity: OS2 or finished Pillars 1 but those just shot up to the top of my backlog list.

    I kinda fell off Pillars 1 because it was my first CRPG and it was really wordy, but I'm becoming more willing to play games like that nowadays.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #3 riderkicker 5 months ago
    As a fan of Detective visual novels, including the upcoming Jake Hunter; and Point and Click Adventures, I'm surprised that there aren't enough investigative RPGs. Sure in RPGs you have to investigate a world, and solve problems (sometimes crimes), but never something that feels like you're a private eye or police snoop. The closest I ever played is definitely the Arkham series, only ruining by making sure I have to get my butt kicked if I don't button mash strategically. Indie developers, I hope you listened to today's pod!
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  • Avatar for Talraen #4 Talraen 5 months ago
    I don't think Doc's hot take about JRPGs not being RPGs is all that hot. I mean I don't think it's clear what "RPG" even means anymore, but I've long believed that JRPGs and western RPGs are distinct genres. It's entirely possible for a western developer to make what I'd call a "JRPG" (I haven't played it yet, but I get the impression this is the case with Cosmic Star Heroine) or vice-versa. We may need a shift in terminology, but "these are not the same genre" (or at least subgenre) is a good place to start.
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  • Avatar for SIGGYZtar #5 SIGGYZtar 5 months ago
    @Talraen I thought Doc meant something like Tabletop when he means RPGs. Yeah, in certain ways most video games are role-playing games. We're bound by a certain set of rules, we deal with other players (human or AI), and we're constantly struggling against a RNG. Real time or turn based, we're all trying to get to the end of a campaign.

    JRPGs are different, and they are one of many Children of Dungeons and Dragons.
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #6 The-Challenger 5 months ago
    That's a pretty standard take on the rpg scene. There are thousands of posts littered across hundreds of forums "discussing" this, uh...topic.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #7 SatelliteOfLove 5 months ago
    I really really had to put down PoE1.

    Worldbuilding is not the issue here for the Suikoden/Trails/Witcher fan writing this it was what Doc touched upon: the endless chewy expositional dialogue.

    Etrian Odyssey is a WRPG
    Mass Effect is a JRPG
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #8 donkeyintheforest 5 months ago
    I'd say JRPGs are def RPGs, but are usually not "role-playing games." RPG has come to mean a game that has mechanics that have grown from the D&D model (and derivatives), usually (but not always) with RNG+modifiers and experience based leveling that affects those modifiers. Role-playing means a player can have their character(s) make choices that affect the story/perception of character(s) by NPCs and/or other PCs.

    That's why you can have something like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare making waves when it introduced RPG elements; it did not mean role-playing/choice was introduced, it meant there was leveling/stat increases. This seems to be the widely accepted definition.

    Basically it comes down to taxonomy, and since there are no widespread 100% agreed upon terms, ambiguity is going to rear its head every once in a while.


    Fun podcast! I am really looking forward to playing Pillars 2 when I get some free time I can dedicate! I kinda bounced off the first one since it was similar to D&D rules but just different enough to frustrate me. This time I'll be going in as if it's something totally new and seeing how that works out. It looks so gorgeous too!!
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #9 donkeyintheforest 5 months ago
    p.s. - DISCO ELYSIUM sounds rad
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #10 NiceGuyNeon 5 months ago
    In a timely manner, I finally played Pillars of Eternity and finished it on Memorial Day weekend. Pillars is brilliant. I typically fit most of my gaming from like 10 or 11pm to midnight if I have work to do. I stayed up until 4am like every night to keep playing it.

    There's a lot of lore but you don't need to read it, what you do read helps to flesh out the world and it's very well-realized from the gods to the races to the politics, there's nothing that feels out of place in the game. Pillars isn't a perfect game, but if I had to make a claim, Pillars of Eternity might just be Obsidian's best game and I look forward to playing Deadfire sometime soon.

    I'm also glad we're talking Dragon Age: Origins here because I feel like people are pretty dismissive of Origins, but I still think it's one of the finest RPGs you can play today. The sequels tried some interesting things, especially Dragon Age 2, but the series as a whole has been kind of weird to keep track of because of how different each game is. I'm actually planning on giving Inquisition a second chance this summer because I stopped playing it like 15 hours in back in 2014.
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  • Avatar for phoenecia #11 phoenecia 5 months ago
    Doc briefly mentions that he thinks that Half-Life 2 and Rage's endings are the same. I think the difference is context. In Rage you're sort of just going through all these shooting galleries and the ending just sort of happens out of nowhere. In Half-Life 2, as soon as you see the Citadel at the start of the game, you know how the game will end. I'd say the ending is actually 3 hours long, and starts once you return to City 17 near the end of the game.
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  • Avatar for jayzii #12 jayzii 3 months ago
    Lol, at his "hot" take.

    Aside from being dusty and old (I remember PC people saying the same thing about FFVII back in the day) it was basically "JRPGs aren't WRPGs". Cool. We should really come up with a new name to distinguish them or something...
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  • Avatar for jayzii #13 jayzii 3 months ago
    Hot takes usually rely on ignoring context.
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