Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a CRPG that released earlier in 2018, which was reviewed by another individual on this site. This review is particularly for its DLC, Beast of Winter, which released recently. Beast of Winter offers several new locations, a new sidekick, new lore to discover, additional loot, and more combat encounters. So for those who enjoyed Pillars of Eternity II, is Beast of Winter worth your hard-earned dollars, or should this beast of burden be put out to pasture? Let’s find out.
Beast of Winter begins with you receiving a letter which gives you access to a new location called Harbinger’s Watch. It’s probably best to hold off from entering this location and beginning the quest line until around level 14-16 (though I am unsure of viability of lower level groups because I entered this area at level 15). Upon entering this location, you’ll meet a cult leader named Vatnir, who immediately calls you the Duskspeaker and recants a colorful retelling of the events of the first Pillars of Eternity.
Vatnir offers a feast for your party, but the earth trembles and the cultists all run outside claiming the Messenger has arrived. Several of the cultists are promptly dispatched by a zombified dragon that they literally beg to kill them (cults are weird and there’s no Kool Aid in this world, apparently). Events spiral out from there over a few quests, and there’s really not more information that can be given without spoiling 50%+ of the DLCs actual story content.
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The dialogue is equal parts interesting and hilarious, as there’s constant dark humor on display in this DLC (to cite an early, low-spoiler example, one of the cultists runs out the door shouting, “Last one out has to live!” The dialogue is superb). Lore is aplenty, as well, as you will be given lots of information in dialogue exchanges regarding the god Rymrgand, the Pale Elves, etc., as you roleplay through the quests of Beast of Winter. Which, if you enjoyed Pillars of Eternity I enough to delve into the lore you would have been deeply missing information on the Pale Elves, and the good news is that Beast of Winter comes through in that regard. You will also be able to see big events alluded to prior in Pillars of Eternity like, without spoiling too much, the explosion of the Godhammer.
Combat encounters in Beast of Winter largely play out the same as the main game, so there isn’t much reason to touch on that when there’s already a review that goes in detail on that, but there are a variety of little puzzles you can solve as you go through the dungeons, but they’re pretty straightforward in execution so there shouldn’t really be any issue in completing them. One dungeon area in particular involves checking different times on an exploding bridge, and you need to search each area for fragments of a soul and reunite them together, things like that. Nothing like Icewind Dale- the puzzles are fairly easy to understand in Beast of Winter.
The new environments in Beast of Winter are absolutely beautiful. The village of Harbinger’s Watch looks great, but the iceberg full of interdimensional portals is just absurdly good looking. The additional follower character you get, Vatnir, though he seems a little light on dialogue, and as far as character performance goes, he gains access to Acid and Ice spells through his special subclass which is… okay. I guess. He’s a sidekick, and not exactly a full companion, which it may be unreasonable to ask that they record a whole bunch of additional dialogue for a character introduced in a $10 expansion.
Overall, the expansion should run you about 5 hours of play time. For those who enjoyed Pillars of Eternity II, Beast of Winter is a lot more of the same, plus it has some absolutely gorgeous locales. The enemy variety could be a little higher, as there seemed to be some copy/paste when it came to combat encounters in different areas of Beast of Winter. There’s a sizable amount of lore to discover, so if you enjoy the lore of the Pillars of Eternity games then Beast of Winter offers a lot more of what you love. For those who didn’t find Pillars of Eternity II worthwhile, Beast of Winter won’t do much to change your thought process. For $10, though, if you even remotely enjoyed Deadfire, you’ll probably enjoy Beast of Winter as well.