Pillars of Eternity has been available for a little while, and there’s still a burning question running through every player’s mind. Does it really matter which faction I choose in Defiance Bay? The short answer is no. The long answer, however, is that it does matter to an extent, and we’re about to tell you why.
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Once you reach Defiance Bay in Act II of Pillars of Eternity, things change dramatically. Not only is the main plot about to thicken, but the amount of side quests you can complete and fulfill will almost triple. It’s important to understand that completing these quests before finishing Act II is very important, especially if you’re looking to gain the most experience from this point in the game. However, accepting any of the following three quests will lock you into that faction and prevent you from joining the others.
Quest: The Bronze Beneath the Lake – Aligned Faction: the Dozens
Quest: The Changing of the Guard – Aligned Faction: Doemenel family
Quest: Winds of Steel – Aligned Faction: the Crucible Knights
With this in mind, you can move forward through the side quests featured in Act II. Now that you understand this, it’s time to talk about why you’re here. Does it really matter what faction you choose? Of course it does! This is a role-playing game, which means you’ll want the faction of your choice to line up with the thinking and style of your character. This isn’t a solid enough reason to create a guide, so we’re going to dig a bit deeper.
This mob-like family offers a more neutral route to get into the Animancy Hearings at Ducal Palace. Completing their first quest, A Two Story Job, will unlock the Doemenel family mansion, as well as allow you to trade with their special merchant. Sadly, the merchants don’t differ much between each faction. The biggest difference you’ll find between this faction and the other two is the reward you’ll receive upon completion of their final quest. After completing the quest, The Changing of the Guard, you’ll receive the standard invitation to the Animancy Hearings at Ducal Palace, as well as some extra money, or a special sword called Misery’s End. If neither of these matter to you, you can also opt for some of Gedmar Doemenel’s men to move into Caed Nua and help keep the peace.
This is the town mercenaries, and everything within them screams hate for animancy and anyone who practices it. Completing their first quest, Rogue Knight, will unlock the Hall of Expedition as well as the special merchant of the Dozens. As we stated above, the merchants don’t differ much from other factions, however the final reward for the Dozens’ quest line will. Completing the Bronze Beneath the Lake quest will net you the standard invitation to the Animancy Hearings, as well as the Cladhaliath Spear. (Or Cloudsplitter if you enhance the weapon. Not sure how to enhance it? Check out our full side quest guide for Act II to find out). You won’t receive any Copper for joining this faction, and the Dozens also won’t offer to send any troops to help secure your keep.
The white hats of Defiance Bay, the Crucible Knights, are all about giving animancy a chance to prove its worth. Completing their first quest, Built to Last, will open up the Crucible Keep for exploration, as well as allow you to purchase weapons and armor from their special merchant. Just bear in mind, as we’ve repeated many times already, that faction merchants don’t differ much from each other. If you want to make the most of this, simply complete the first quest of each faction without accepting the second quests, and then check out their wares before making your final decision. If you choose this group as your faction, however, completion of the quest Winds of Steel will reward you with an invitation to the hearings at Ducal Palace, as well as your choice of extra coin or Crucible Plate Armor and the one-handed sword, Shame and Glory.
What does it all mean?
As we stated at the start of this guide, your faction choice really doesn’t mean a whole lot in how the Animancy Hearings play out. Rather, this determines the epilogue at the end of the game. Other than that, your decision to join one faction over another is completely up to how well you think your character’s personality/wants fit into that faction, and what reward you’re looking to get out of things. It did sadden us that the faction choice didn’t mean as much as we hoped, but in the end, Pillars of Eternity is still a solid return to how RPG games used to play.
Want to quickly level up your party? We’ll show you how in our complete guide to leveling up fast in Pillars of Eternity. Trying to complete all the side quests? Get a head start with our full guide to every side quest in Act I.