Tyranny news from Obsidian game director Brian Heins

Over the past week Brian Heins the game director of Tyranny participated in a few interviews. We reduced the content and dissected the Tyranny news into specific categories with quotations from Brian Heins. For the full interviews, check out Gameranx and Gamewatcher. For the meaty facts, read below.


  • Tyranny will feature the same tactical combat Pillars of Eternity had – real time with pause.
  • Unlike POE, Tyranny will implement a skills-based system rather than a class-based system.
  • Although and similar to a class-based system, “players who decide to change their skill focus late in the game will have a harder time”.
  • More traditionally, this is accessed by leveling up your character to which you “gain new attribute points that you can spend, and new talents that you can use to customize your character and what their abilities are. So basically as you play through the game doing the actions you really like and really enjoy, your character gets better at those things”. Similar to Skyrim.
  • A skills-based system will allow you to “be a fighter who tosses fireballs in your enemy’s faceIf you want to be an archer who snipes from the shadows, you can develop your bow and stealth skills”. This extends to companions too.


  • Maximum of 4 characters (including yourself) in your party.
  • Companions are designed “with a certain role in mind, that way their abilities are tailored towards a certain experience”. You can, however, “play them in different ways and make different decisions as they’re leveling up that will give them a different style that suits you and your character more”.
  • Unlocking ‘companion combos’, like Death From Above, will trigger an ability between the player and a companion for more powerful and synchronised attacks. Death From Above, for example, is “a late-game ability where the player channeled energy and punched it down into the ground. This launched their companion into the air, where they fired arrows down at their target, bypassing any defenses from a shield”.

Circle of Tyranny

Morality and Consequence:

  • You don’t necessarily have to be evil, but.. “It’s not possible to complete the entire game as a pacifist… …You start the game with blood on your hands, and people will judge you based on the decisions you’ve made”.
  • And yes, if you make certain choices, your companions can abandon you“.
  • Thankfully, the player will be presented with multiple options and choices during the story and quests to navigate role-playing a character.
  • Contesting the climate and acting as a conspirator for good is possible. However Brian warned that, “it’s not always going to be the easiest path to take because you’re surrounded by awful people who want awful things, so they’re definitely going to try and lead you astray and make things easier for you to take the difficult path“.

Relationship with factions:

  • Building rapport with certain factions will unlock different abilities and is assumed to negate other abilities with rival factions.
  • This is further explained by, “making a faction hate you will give you one reward and making them love you will get a very different reward as far as what abilities your character gains and how those develop over time“.

Game length, mod support and release date:

  • A single play-through is estimated at 20-25 hours.
  • This drastically shorter than Pillars of Eternity, but “we’re much more focused on reacting to the player’s choices so that as you come back and make different choices on a different play through, you’ll see different quests, different events that take place in the areas, and really see how the world changes based on your decisions“.
  • Currently there is no support for modding and probably won’t be. This is due to Obsidian using specific software animation that requires licenses.
  • Obsidian hopes to release DLC or expansions for Tyranny and are negotiating that prospect with publisher Paradox.
  • The release date is still sometime in 2016.

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