Beasts of Winter is the first major DLC for the insanely good Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. The DLC was released on August 2 alongside a slew of other goodies in the form of Patch 2.0 and the Deck of Many Things, both of which were free. The DLC is of modest size, adding another 5+ hours of gameplay that includes a main questline and a few side quests. There is also a new companion, a priest named Vatnir, who you recruit relatively early in the DLC’s story.
The Beasts of Winter triggers a message to the Watcher, inviting them to visit the southernmost reach of the Deadfire Archipeligo where the Harbingers ask for assistance in fulfilling an ominous request. I was hanging out in Neketaka when I received it, and it was quite a trek to make it down to Harbinger’s Watch, home of Vatnir and main location for the Beasts of Winter DLC. From here, you’ll uncover the struggle between the god of death Rymrgand and a frosty ice dragon that threatens to cover the Deadfire in ice (ie, “Dead-en the fire” – you see what I did there).
Beasts of Winter caters more towards the endgame and higher level characters. I showed up with a mix of level 13/14 characters and realized I needed another level or two to feel more comfortable taking on the enemies and challenges. Everything takes place on Harbinger’s Watch, where you will be taking your party through a multi-level dungeon that plays through different realms of PoE, most notably The White Void, a location that hearkens back to the first Pillars game. This allowed for a deeper dive into a dark but humorous narrative that I really enjoyed.
The game lends itself to traversing the Archipeligo, so investing time with your party in one place was a welcome experience. There are some really cool scenes and puzzles that play out in the Beasts of Winter. This becomes extremely apparent in the first 30 minutes of the DLC when you have to take on the ice dragon the Harbingers’ have deemed the Messenger.
Vatnir as a companion was interesting, but I quickly swapped him back out for my core members. His Priest set up isn’t very supportive, so you’ll still need a healer in your party should you decide to take him along. I did enjoy his narrative in the story, but found that others had more compelling things to say about the story than Vatnir (and likely a good reason why is revealed right after that dragon fight).
So there has to be something that I didn’t like apart from grinding a couple hours in order to get back to the DLC and play it with reasonable challenge? Rymrgand can get on your nerves. While it is fitting for the god of death, my investment in my character and his personality lends itself to not enjoying the interactions as much as others might. I do think that Rymrgand is wonderfully written, but if I had to find a drawback, this would be it for me (ie, a so bad but good NPC).
All in all, this is a worthwhile DLC to the PoE II story. If you haven’t completed the main questline (like myself) and are still searching for things to do, this is highly recommended as a lengthy diversion. The lore and story alone are worth your time, but getting to traipse through some interesting locations and cool puzzles are icing on the cake.