Pillars of Eternity is unlike other RPGs. It doesn’t focus primarily on combat grinding to gain experience. Instead, Obsidian Entertainment removed any experience you might gain from combat completely. This means questing and exploration are the primary method of gaining experience, and therefore renders combat a part of the game you can ignore, should you choose to do so.
Just getting started in Pillars of Eternity, and not sure how to start out in Dyrwood? Don’t worry, we have you covered with our complete guide on character creation, classes, and primary attributes.
On the other hand, if you've yet to pick the game up and aren't sure if the price tag is worth it, our in-depth Pillars of Eternity review might help you make up your mind.
Similar to a standard RPG, characters will begin at level 1 and build up from there. The biggest difference in the way Pillars of Eternity works, however, is the fact that each class and character type advances under the same conditions. This makes it easier to keep up with how much experience points you’ll need to gain in order to level up your party members without having to calculate different amounts for different classes.
As stated above, each character and class advances at the same rate, and since combat doesn’t play a factor in experience gain, many times your characters will level up at the same time. When this happens you’ll be greeted with a shiny golden “+” in the upper left-hand corner of your party member’s portraits. Clicking this icon will open up the leveling area, which will allow you to assign new skills, abilities, spells, and talents. We put together a graph below to showcase how much experience you’ll need to hit each level, and what Defense and Accuracy bonuses your characters will receive upon hitting that level.
|Level||XP Required||Defense and Accuracy Bonuses|
Spells and Levels
Magical users like druids, wizards, and priests gain levels and new spell unlocks as they level up. Just like other classes they level up based on the chart we outlined above. Instead of simply leveling up and unlocking new abilities, they unlock new spells on various levels.
Altogether there are five different levels of spells. As magic users level up they will unlock varying amounts of these spells depending on the level which they hit. As they continue to level up they will have spells that transform and work differently. For example, many spells that magic users have were based on a ‘per rest’ system, meaning they have a limited use of that spell after each resting period (camping, sleeping in the Inn, etc.). As they level, however, some of these spells will change and turn into per encounter uses, meaning that after every fight concludes they will instantly recharge and be able to use them again. To help you better understand the progression of spells as you level up, see below.
Talents are the character-wide abilities that allow heroes to have new capabilities or improve the ones that he or she may already have. Unlike Abilities, these upgrades aren’t class-specific, and instead are class-neutral, allowing players to incorporate these to better diversify their character’s role.
These upgrades allow players to further enhance and specialize their characters with passive abilities that offer upgrades, like increased movement speed, more quick item slots, and even better combat skills with certain weapons. Typically, players will unlock their first talent at level three, and then continue to unlock new talents every even level. These additions to your characters can also be gained through interaction with NPCs and completing quests. Although many Talents are passive, some are active abilities that require the player to choose via the party menu (which you can bring up by clicking on any party member’s portrait).
Unlike Talents, Abilities are class-based specializations that allow new capability for a certain class of character. These special additions are geared towards your character’s class role, and work in both Active and Passive areas of your character’s actions. However, there is also a third type of Ability, which is called a Modal Ability. This new type allows players to turn them on and off, allowing you to choose when and where you should and shouldn’t use them. Some of these are specific and exclusive to others, however, so sometimes you may only be able to have one active at a time.
Every one of your characters starts with two abilities, and every class starts with active abilities that will regenerate after combat. Note that spell sets are only counted as one active Ability for magic users, and non-magic classes will begin with one Passive Ability they cannot change, and one Active Ability they can select from a list. They will gain Abilities at every odd level as you advance your character’s progression.