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Obsidian Shares a Ton of Information on Tyranny on Eve of Isometric RPG’s Release


Developer Obsidian Entertainment has today shared a ton of new information about its latest role-playing game, Tyranny, which launches tomorrow on PC.

To help promote the title – which builds on the engine and gameplay of the studio’s previous title, Pillars of Eternity – Obsidian took to Reddit to host an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) session earlier, where it fielded a wide range of fan questions about Tyranny and the studio’s previous, and upcoming, work.

The highlights of the Q&A session follow:

Q: In terms of game design, what were the biggest challenges when developing Tyranny?

Brian Heins (Game Director): The biggest challenge has been our level of choice & reactivity in the game. We’ve mentioned before that there are 4 major quest paths through the game, which give you very different quests, NPCs you interact with, storylines, etc. Weaving all of those paths together through the various areas of the game has been a challenge.

It’s taken a lot of dedicated work from our design, narrative, and QA teams to have this all come together in a way that we’re proud of. It’s been a lot of work, and I hope that everyone enjoys seeing the different stories as much as we’ve enjoyed creating them.

Q: What’s your favourite part of creating an ‘old school’ RPG like Pillars of Eternity or Tyranny?

Brian Heins: I didn’t work on Pillars, so I can’t speak to that experience. One of the best parts of making Tyranny for me was the fact that I got to create an experience like Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale. I loved playing those games. I failed midterms because of those games. I love that I get to hopefully inspire the same joy and failure in others!

Feargus Urquhart (CEO): Brian and the other guys should also answer, but for me there is some freedom from the huge expectations of a AAA console game like Fallout and Mass Effect. I totally want us to be making those games, but they are also one of the scariest roller coasters to get on. Because of the freedom, it feels like we can experiment a bit more in the games, and also come up with things like the Scripted Interaction in Pillars (the “choose your own adventures” with the line drawings) that probably wouldn’t be received well in bigger budget games.

Q: Combat in Pillars of Eternity boiled down to a simple (MMO-like) formula: stick your tanks in front to draw aggro, (de)buff/CC with magic classes, and do damage with your DPS hiding behind the tanks. There were a couple of attempts to subvert this cookie-cutter approach (the teleporting wraiths and those mushrooms), but in general you could sail through PotD with it. Whether you were fighting wolves, oozes, cultists, or ogres it was the same thing over and over again.

Have you done anything in Tyranny to make different encounters require unique tactical approaches?

Brian Heins: We’ve definitely tried to design our encounters such that different tactics are required for different situations. This plays out in different ways. For example, some combats are laid out such that you can’t rely on having your damage mitigaters on a ‘front line’ – enemies can flank you and attack the rear. Some enemies will disengage from your tanks (taking a disengagement hit) to go after squishier characters. Some enemies will use types of damage that your main tank is weak against, but some of your other characters might have better resistance to, so in some cases it’s actually better to use them instead.

Ultimately it will depend on how you specialize your Companions and your character. Damage mitigation will always be an effective strategy, you’ll just need to be flexible in the types of damage you are mitigating and be able to react to enemies utilizing their own tactics against you.

Q: With the loss of Chris Avellone, do you still have confidence that Obsidian will still be one of the top writers in the RPG genre?

Mikey Dowling (Dialogue Supervisor): Absolutely! We love Avellone and will miss his narrative touch, but we have a host of writers who have been working on our games for some time now that are all incredibly talented.

Q: I know there’s been a large emphasis on reactivity in Tyranny. Without giving too much away, how much variance can we expect within the Disfavored/Scarlet Chorus/Rebels paths in the game? How much does siding with one or the other ‘lock you in’?

Brian Heins: Each of the major quest paths through the game is a completely different set of quests. You’ll travel to many of the same areas (with some unique locations), but the things you’re doing there will be different based on the story path you’re following. So – a lot of variance.

As for being ‘locked in’ – if you ultimately decide you don’t want to work with the Disfavored, Chorus, or Rebels, you can always choose to betray your alliance and move forward as a truly independent agent. That’s its own unique story path, as well.

Q: What aspect of Tyranny are you proudest of?

Feargus Urquhart: Personally, I really like the art style, and the concept that we talked about years ago with the conquest of character creation works great. That original concept was where we asked the question, “What if you didn’t just create the starting point of your character, but the starting point of the world as well?”

Brian Heins: I agree with what Feargus said, and want to add the magic system. It’s an idea I’ve had in my head for a while, and being able to see it come together in the game has been great. Watching the reactions of streamers and press as they’ve been exposed to the system has been fantastic.

Also, this may sound sappy, but I’m incredibly proud of all of the hard work that the developers have put into this game. The game has shaped up into something far more than I initially imagined it would be, and it’s due to the team’s effort and creativity.

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