A Guide to Choosing Your Class in Pillars of Eternity

When you first boot up Pillars of Eternity, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options at the character creation screen. I know because I was there just a week ago.

During the past several days I have been neck deep in this special cRPG adventure (which we gave a stellar 4.5/5 stars in our review). I've learned a lot along the way, especially when it comes to classes. If I could go back and do it all again I would do things differently, namely on how I structured my main character. To prevent you from feeling the same way, I've put together a guide that will not only introduce you to each class and give you an idea of what they're about, but how well they perform as your main character. (For six general tips for the game, check out Jeb Haught's guide.)

It's worth noting that in Pillars of Eternity you will run with a team of six characters. Your main character's class choice doesn't have any huge consequences other than the fact that you must use the character in your party. So the goal when choosing a main character class is to select something reliable and without major weaknesses. Ultimately, you can trade out your other teammates for better options, whether they be one of the eight pre-made companions or a custom one you can purchase at an Inn.

Let's get started!


Barbarian

Brutes. Madmen. Berserkers. Though city-dwelling people often use the term "barbarian" with a dose of disrespect, these rural warriors are respected by their communities for their ferocity and fearsome presence on the battlefield. Barbarians have a special, almost religious role in some cultures, but in many places, the undisciplined, fearless style of the barbarian is simply how warriors conduct themselves.

Primary Role: Melee DPS

Pros:

  • Consistent DPS
  • Can take some hits

Cons:

  • Vulnerable when focused
  • Poor mobility

Companion Options: Custom only.

My Personal Rating: 4/5. An outstanding choice if you want to be a melee DPS.

Choose This Class If: You enjoy being in the thick of battle, but don't want to tank with your main character. This class is able to stay in the thick of things provided it has backup, providing a reliable means of damage that doesn't rely on positioning or per rest ability usage.

Chanter

In every culture across Eora, there are chanters. Many historians consider chanters to be the most ancient workers of magic, their hallowed phrases stirring the collective memory of wayward souls around them, compelling them to generate magical effects in a kind of "reenactment." In some societies, chanters form organized groups of storytellers and researchers, but in most parts of the world they are just a time-honored part of local folk traditions.

Primary Role: Support

Pros:

  • Enhances team
  • Fun chant mechanic

Cons:

  • Low damage throughput
  • Lack of feedback

Companion Options: Kana Rua.

My Personal Rating: 3/5. A great option, but you may end up wishing you were contributing more to battle with your main character.

Choose This Class If: You enjoy sitting behind the front line buffing teammates. Although your impact may not be directly felt, it will be a major component of the team's success.

Cipher

A recent discovery in the Eastern Reach, ciphers were once called "brîshalgwin" ("mind hunters") by the Glanfathans. Ciphers have the ability to directly contact and manipulate another person's soul and psyche, using an ally's or enemy's essence as the focus for their magic. Though most ciphers are still found in the Eastern Reach, practitioners of the techniques have spread throughout the known world. They are gaining acceptance over time, but are generally distrusted, especially by the uneducated.

Primary Role: Debuffer

Pros:

  • Weakens enemies
  • Magic class without per rest cast dependency

Cons:

  • Mild AoE capability
  • Requires micromanagement

Companion Options: Grieving Mother.

My Personal Rating: 5/5. This class complements your team of companions extremely well, and has no major weaknesses.

Choose This Class If: You enjoy debuffing enemies before and during battle, making it easier for your team to charge in and win.

Druid

Animists at heart, druids tap into the spiritual power that flows through the simple living things of Eora: plants, animals, and sometimes even living stone. While not necessarily religious, druids do have a reverence for the natural world and a keen interest in understanding its mysteries. In most cultures, druids are understood as a sort of primal magician, but among the Glanfathans, Naasitaqi, and many rural cultures, they may have high positions of influence and authority.

Primary Role: Ranged DPS/Support

Pros:

  • Best AoE damage in the game
  • Extremely versatile

Cons:

  • Per rest dependency
  • Difficult to play well

Companion Options: Hiravias.

My Personal Rating: 5/5. A powerful class that can wear many hats (literally and figuratively).

Choose This Class If: The Druid has been argued to be the most potent class in the game. It can dish heavy AoE damage, debuff enemies, and even support comrades. If pressured, it can shapeshift into one of several forms to deal melee damage and take hits.

Fighter

Fighters form the front line of disciplined armies across the Eastern Reach. Though they are most commonly found in cultures with an organized martial structure, fighters can also be encountered as wandering mercenaries, bodyguards, and other types of sell-swords. The common element that unifies fighters is their heavy focus on endurance and melee defense.

Primary Role: Tank

Pros:

  • Best tank in the game
  • Regenerates Endurance in battle

Cons:

  • Low damage throughput
  • Requires careful positioning to protect teammates

Companion Options: Eder.

My Personal Rating: 4/5. This is an excellent choice. That said, Eder is probably the coolest character in the game, so you may want to hold off just to avoid a Fighter redundancy.

Choose This Class If: The Fighter best functions as the main tank of the party. It can acquire the attention of multiple enemies and take a beating, allowing teammates to reduce them to ash.

Monk

Monks belong to a variety of fighting orders that have sprung up in Ixamitl and the Eastern Reach over the past few centuries. While many monastic orders can trace their teachings to the Enduring Founder, Tletac, individual orders vary greatly in their focus, morality, and ethics. Common folk respect the incredible discipline of monks but see them as an odd, unpredictable bunch who may not be entirely sane. Even mercenaries and other adventurers aren't sure what to make of them.

Primary Role: Melee DPS

Pros:

  • Fun skills
  • Great control

Cons:

  • Needs to be hit to function well
  • Is outclassed in every major category

Companion Options: Custom only.

My Personal Rating: 2/5. The monk isn't a great class, and doesn't fit any necessary role.

Choose This Class If: You enjoy charging into battle and controlling the battlefield from within.

Paladin

Paladins are martial zealots, devoted to a god, a ruler, or even a way of life. They can be found in any culture where a fanatical group of like-minded individuals have formed a warrior society dedicated to advancing their cause. Among those aligned to their worldview, paladins are viewed with respect and admiration, if a bit of fear. Many paladins hold leadership positions in armies and mercenary companies, but in the heat of battle their fanaticism often overrules the chain of command—and common sense.

Primary Role: Melee Support/Off-Tank

Pros:

  • Enhances teammates with buffs and heals
  • High survivability

Cons:

  • Can't tank as well as Fighter
  • Less damage throughput than other options

Companion Options: Pallegina.

My Personal Rating: 3/5. The Paladin is unique in that it has a predisposition to certain personality types, potentially making dialog exchanges more interesting. It's also a nice component of any frontline.

Choose This Class If: You want to support teammates, but from melee range. You also enjoy committing to a certain demeanor when speaking to NPCs.

Priest

Priests are devotees of Eora's deities and practitioners of religious magic. While all priests dedicate themselves to specific gods, priests' power is actually derived from their personal beliefs. In contrast to most paladins, priests tend to focus on philosophy, teaching, and the relationship of religious organizations with common folk. The reception of priests in any given part of the world depends largely on how their god is revered – or reviled – by the people who live there.

Primary Role: Healer/Support

Pros:

  • Essential component to a team
  • Keeps teammates alive

Cons:

  • Low damage
  • Requires high micromanagement

Companion Options: Durance.

My Personal Rating: 3/5. You need a Priest on your team, and if you don't like Durance, then you either need your main or a custom character to be one.

Choose This Class If: You prefer to keep teammates alive rather than slaughter enemies.

Ranger

Rangers are warriors of the woodlands and masters of the hunt. Always partnered with soul-bonded animal companions, they can be found in wild spaces all over the world. As their lifestyles often tend toward independence and isolation, it is rare for rangers to become an integral part of a large fighting force, though they are often employed as scouts and guides.

Primary Role: Ranged DPS/Pet Class

Pros:

  • Great control
  • Sustained DPS

Cons:

  • Outclassed in damage throughput
  • Many condition-oriented skills

Companion Options: Sagani.

My Personal Rating: 1/5. The Ranger is considered the most underpowered class in the game. You really don't want to be stuck with your main character as one unless you feel that you must.

Choose This Class If: You desire having a pet so much that you don't mind using the worst class in the game.

Rogue

Rogues are vicious killers, feared for the brutality of their attacks. They can be found as often in dark back alleys as the heart of battlefield skirmishes. Though unpredictable and undisciplined, rogues are commonly used as shock troops or as part of a surprise assault, their withering attacks breaking enemy ranks and morale. Rogues tend to congregate in larger numbers in cities where they can be steadily employed as mercenaries or hired muscle.

Primary Role: Melee DPS

Pros:

  • Best damage in game
  • Strong disabling options

Cons:

  • Requires careful positioning
  • Stealth mechanic is poor

Companion Options: Custom only.

My Personal Rating: 2/5. The Rogue is held back by the game's poor stealth mechanics. It has outstanding damage, but you'll spend most of your time trying to keep the Rogue out of harm's way which makes it a less reliable option than the Barbarian.

Choose This Class If: You enjoy investing time positioning yourself carefully for huge damage.

Wizard

The masters of academic magic, wizards are students of arcane traditions that stretch back beyond the boundaries of recorded history. Wizards are a highly organized group, often forming academies or guilds devoted to research and development in magical studies, and tend to favor environments where inquiry, experimentation, debate, and the dissemination of knowledge are encouraged. Many accomplished wizards eventually become known for their eccentricity, their egos, and their unquenchable interest in all things arcane and occult.

Primary Role: Ranged DPS

Pros:

  • High AoE damage
  • Good control

Cons:

  • Extremely per rest cast-dependent
  • Fragile

Companion Options: Aloth.

My Personal Rating: 2/5. The Wizard is capable of great damage when positioned well and recently rested. Its abilities not on per cast are underwhelming, making it a sub-par class in most battles.

Choose This Class If: You love magic and are willing to deal with being underpowered in most fights in order to bring heat in the ones that matter the most.