The previous DLC, Beast of Winter, while not delivering anything groundbreaking for the franchise, expanded the lore of the game world in an interesting new setting and had some unique puzzles for you to solve. We gave it an 8/10 in our review which makes it a tough act to follow as far as DLC's go.
The second DLC was advertised as putting more of an emphasis on combat and that had me a bit worried that it would be lacking in other areas. Luckily, that's not the case as Seeker, Slayer, Survivor, raises the bar in all aspects with a bigger emphasis on combat against a diverse cast of difficult enemies on top of an interesting, lore expanding story.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire -- Seeker, Slayer, Survivor is available for purchase on Steam.
Seeker, Slayer, Survivor will automatically begin if you are level 16 and have finished the volcanic segment of the main game -- Margan's Teeth. While there was a good chance you breezed through Beast of Winter if you played through the entirety of the base game, in SSS, that will probably not be the case here since the combat and challenges set before you are less straightforward and have a bit more nuance to them than anything seen previously in the base game.
Starting out, you'll get notified that your steward wishes to speak to you regarding a mysterious crate that's aboard your ship. Upon closer inspection, the crate contains a severed head and its spirit, Muatu is relieved that it's in the possession of a watcher who can actually see it. The spirit will direct you to an island in a sort of spiritual turmoil named Kazuwari. Where Beast of Winter had you dealing with Rymrgand, Kazuwari is the domain of the God of the hunt -- Galawain (or rather one of his aspects) as well as his worshippers, entangling the watcher with yet another god in this new adventure.
Galawain is just as charming as Rymrgand was, showcasing how detached, cold and otherworldly the gods of this world are once more. In accordance with that, his aspect -- the faces of the hunt appreciate only the struggle for survival segment of the hunt, making Kazuwari a harsh place filled with hardened combatants and wildlife that live this mantra each and every day.
While the arena is a big aspect of the DLC, it's not the sole focus as each time you finish an arena challenge, a new tidbit of the story is told through interesting conversations. Galawain and his survival of the fitest aspect is actually a great way to tie the new combat focus into the story. Besides that, the aforementioned Muatu will become your new unique follower and the existing companions can get very chatty in regards to the new adventure.
Overall, I found the premise much more intriguing than the one in the previous DLC and those "choose your own adventure" segments were both more interesting and thrilling due to the increased difficulty.
SSS is structured both story-wise and from a gameplay perspective to be more open and integrated into the entirety of Deadfire instead of being mostly self-contained like Beast of Winter. When you get to the island, at its core, you'll find the Crucible which is an arena of sorts where you'll face some tough opponents in order to speak to their object of worship. This object is a statue of the mentioned aspect of Galawain and its composed out of faces of a stelgaer, a spider and a boar.
After a trial of proving, you can then align yourself with any of the faces and follow a path of either seeker, slayer or survivor. These are somewhat self-explanatory. Aligning with seeker will have you getting creative when fighting enemies, slayer will pit you against one powerful enemy and survivor will have you fighting multiple waves of weaker enemies.
Some of the challenges will be locked behind missions that will have you finding artifacts both on the new island and other islands across the archipelago. Their location is not laid bare but you'll be given enough hints to approximate their location. While these quests do pad out the length of the DLC a bit, they also pit you against interesting enemies and the rewards are worth the effort most of the time. The arena challenges themselves will also pit you against all sorts of creatures, but also, after a few of those, you'll go against a rival human team also vying for the favor of the faces.
No matter your enemy, the difficulty will ensure that each combat encounter feels much more tactical and you'll probably never let any of your characters do their attacking without your input.
Besides characters skills, you'll have to pay much more attention to proper positioning, the environment and use every dirty trick you learned through the game in order to overcome some of the challenges. It's set up in a way that there's no relaxing when it comes to combat. You'll defeat a particularly tough opponent and nonchalantly approach the next one thinking it will be a breeze only to get your party wiped out. This can be somewhat mitigated by switching to a lower difficulty if you prefer to focus on the narrative segments.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
While this DLC remains much the same in terms of overall audio-visual quality in comparison to the previous DLC and the base game, it does feature some new, imaginative enemies and interesting locations to spice things up. Some of the locations on the new island, in particular, are highly thematic and visually interesting. The DLC permeates with a jungle tribal aesthetic that further drives home both the hunt and survival of the fittest aspects of Galawain.
While the game generally ran smooth, there were a couple of frame-rate dips during more crowded battles, especially if I went all out with effect-heavy spells and abilities. The game would occasionally freeze when transitioning from exploration to combat or vice versa, as well. Nothing game-breaking but still noticeable. The voice-acting is as good as ever, once again helped by the high quality of writing across the board.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire -- Seeker, Slayer, Survivor offers a new adventure that will last you anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, depending on your proficiency with the game and the difficulty setting. While the focus has largely been put on more interesting and difficult combat encounters, the DLC doesn't neglect to tell an intriguing, lore expanding story as well. While it doesn't feature a massive amount of content, it similarly to Beast of Winter, brings a tonal shift and just enough new elements to keep things fresh. It's not essential to the Deadfire experience but is a worthwhile addition nonetheless.
|+ Challenging combat||-- Minor technical difficulties|
|+ Intriguing story and characters||-- Could be too difficult for some|
|+ Base game integration|