Turn-based mode

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A summary of turn-based combat in game

Turn-based mode is an alternate mode of combat in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. It reworks the games existing combat mechanics to function in a turn-based style of play (like that of Divinity: Original Sin, for example) instead of one that is real-time as the game is more traditionally known. This changes the approach and pacing of combat to be more slow, tactical, and deliberate, drastically affecting how the game is played. It aims to provide players with the choice of an alternate combat style for those who may prefer it.

The turn-based mode slows everything down. It's a very, very tactical mode of play. It highlights some abilities and debuffs and things like that, that aren't necessarily as highlighted in the real-time with pause combat system. And it's really a lot of fun.
~ A quote from Josh Sawyer in the announcement video

Once starting a new game, the player is free to pick between the traditional "Real-Time with Pause Mode", and the new "Turn-Based Mode". As it changes the game fundamentally, players cannot freely swap between the two modes during gameplay (without using the console).

History[edit | edit source]

The mode was temporarily made available to players in late December 2018 [1], though it was revealed that this was unintentional, and it was removed in a hotfix some hours later.

On the 24th of January 2019, Obsidian released a beta version of the game mode for players to test and give feedback on until the end of February, presumably the release date. It was rumored that the addition of this combat mode was to coincide with the release of the console versions of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, in order to make the combat more accessible – given Pillars of Eternity's combat has traditionally favored the use of keyboard and mouse.

A beta of the mode was introduced in patch 4.1, which allowed players to give feedback and report bugs with the new system before its full release.

As of patch 5.0 (released on the 8th of May, 2019), turn-based mode is no longer considered to be "in beta". The patch added a variety of fixes and changes as a result of feedback from testers.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Instead of all characters being free to take actions simultaneously, turn-based combat restricts the focus to one character at a time. Combat is taken in turn, with all combatants taking one turn each round. The combatants are queued based on their Recovery Time - now called "Initiative". Lower Initiative means acting earlier in the round, higher means acting later. Characters can only act (i.e. move, attack, and cast spells and abilities) during their turns. Once a character has taken their turn, the next character in the queue gets to move, and so on.

While the update doesn't change a lot of the actual health and damage mechanics of the game, it does change the effect of durations and over-time effects, converting them to last a number of rounds. This includes the regular tick, pulse and over-time effects, but also spell cast times and reloading. Generally, one round is equivalent to six seconds in real time, though some exceptions have been made for balance reasons.

The following is the comparison shown to the player starting a new game:

Real-Time with Pause Mode Turn-Based Mode
  • Characters can all act simultaneously.
  • Pause is available to give more time for difficult decisions.
  • Recovery Time mechanic dictates how frequently characters can perform actions.
  • Durations of effects count down in real-time.
  • Party Member AI is available to help automate character actions.
  • Re-Targeting option is available to change the target location of a spell or ability after it has begun.
  • Character can only act on their turns.
  • Recovery time becomes "Initiative" — Lower Initiative means acting earlier in a round.
  • Reload Time modifies "Initiative" and these weapons will reload between turns.
  • Spells with longer cast times will complete their cast at a later point in turn order.
  • Dual Wield auto-attacks are now Full-Attacks and no longer affect Recovery Time.
  • Durations are converted to last number of "rounds".
  • Effects that tick, pulse or occur over time have had their potency scaled to match a per-round value.
  • Magran's Challenge adds a time limit to turns instead of limiting pausing.
  • Party Member AI and Re-targeting are disabled.

The Delay Turn button moves a character to the end of the turn order in a round of combat. It can only be used if the character has not moved nor used their action point for that turn.

Glossary[edit | edit source]

New terms
  • Standard action: Standard actions are the most common type of action. A Standard action uses the character's action point for the turn and happens right away.
  • Cast action: a Cast action uses the character's action point. The character will immediately begin casting the ability. They will finish casting the ability later in the same round.
  • Free action: a Free action does not use a character's action point. A character can perform any number of Free actions on their turn in addition to a Standard or Cast action.
  • Initiative: Initiative is used to determine who will act first in the turn order. Characters with lower Initiative values will act before other characters and will complete spell casts faster.
Modified terms
  • Action Speed: Characters with higher Action Speed will complete Cast Actions earlier and will have lower Initiative.

Game mechanics changes[edit | edit source]

In addition to the differences summarized above, several other mechanics have been altered for balance purposes.

  • Dexterity: A Dexterity score above or below 10 gives ±4% Stride in addition to its normal effects. This is intended to make up for the reduced importance of Action Speed.
  • Dual Wielding: Dual wielded weapons deal -35% damage. This is intended to balance the fact that all attacks use both weapons.
  • Damage-over-time and heal-over-time: These abilities tick once when initially used, then tick again on the turn of the character who used the ability. The damage or healing numbers are adjusted to treat one turn as approximately equal to 6 seconds in real time.
  • Afflictions: Tier 2 and 3 Perception Afflictions give +50% Initiative in addition to their normal effects:
    • Disoriented: Perception Affliction. Disoriented characters have -5 Perception, are considered Flanked, and have +50% Initiative after their actions.
    • Blinded: Perception Affliction. Blinded characters suffer -5 Perception, are considered Flanked, +50% Initiative, -10 Accuracy, and the distance of all ranged attacks is halved. Blinded characters cannot use or be affected by Gaze attacks.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

  • The internal identifier for the turn-based mode DLC is LAXH. It is also known as "Tactical mode".
  • You can enable or disable turn-based mode on the fly (and without creating a new game), using the console command SetTacticalMode.
  • To change the tactical mode press the tilde key to open the console menu and enter "SetTacticalMode RoundBased" for turn-based combat and "SetTacticalMode Disabled" for real-time.
  • This patch also added the console commands ToggleTacticalEventDebug, ToggleAutoPassTurns, ToggleUnlimitedMovement, and ToggleUnlimitedActions

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Trailer[edit | edit source]

Josh Sawyer introducing the beta for Turn-Based Mode

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit source]