Top Critic Average
The fact is, The White March Part One is good fodder for those coming in fresh and a fine addition for those looking to replay, but isn't compelling enough on its own for you to come back to Pillars of Eternity if you've already finished the game.
There's a good couple of days' play here, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with any of it. Those fearing it would just stop unfinished need not worry, as while it teases more to come, the story is self-contained. The issue is, it's just so unremarkable.
The White March - Part 1 is a great first expansion for Pillars of Eternity fans that have been in need of new content. A lengthy main quest, varied side tasks, and an enthralling narrative combine to make a worthwhile expansion for veteran players. The White March is best recommended for those players with a high-leveled party of adventurers ready to embark on a challenging quest to enter the Dwarven forge of Durgan's Battery.
Getting back into the world of Pillars of Eternity was soothing, like a comfortable pair of slippers that you'd almost forgotten about. Sure, it didn't give me the same unexpected euphoria that the core game slapped me with but as a few evening's entertainment, it was a very welcome addition to the lore and gave me a chance to lark around in a world which, despite its reliance on walls of text and creepy obsession with souls, I'd fallen in love with.
Truth be told, I enjoyed my time with The White March - Part One. It was a great reason to jump back in, and while it's not as grand as some of the RPG expansions we've had for other games in this genre (see Baldur's Gate: Throne of Bhaal), it was still a good experience, and one that works almost seamlessly into a new player's playthrough of the main game.
Fortunately, a couple of interesting new faces to add to your party, some great loot, and a few truly brutal combat challenges are enough to make The White March Part One worth your while. It's not essential, and not close to the best that Obsidian is capable of, but it's another perfectly enjoyable few hours of looting and adventuring.
The White March is an expansion of gorgeous new landscapes, new companions, and new challenges. It should push players out of their combat comfort zones, and is a fine excuse for some familiar PoE questing, but doesn't yet feel essential.
The White March Part I provides some incentive to return to the Dyrwood in the form of a higher level cap, and the delightfully brutal combat, but few of the other new features leave a lasting impression. Despite an avalanche of possibilities provided by the wintry setting and the two ostensibly unique companions, the first half of The White March never feels like more than a side quest that was never implemented. There's still plenty on offer here for players who enjoy Pillars' combat above all else, but it's an expansion best suited to new players rather than veterans.
I did finally find a helm for Eder down in Durgan's Battery, piecing it together over a multi-part quest until all its stats were in order. Seemed to fit him. But he barely got a chance to wear it before the game ended and the narrator began teasing White March—Part 2. I hope it's still there when I get back.
It's easy to sell the first installment of The White March short when comparing it to the main game, because it just feels like more of the same. While that isn't a deal breaker, as the adventures here would have fit almost seamlessly into Pillars of Eternity proper, this first expansion is a little too predictable and a little too rough around the edges.
If, for some reason, the 50-100 hours of content in Pillars of Eternity were not enough for some people, The White March Part I will fulfil their needs. However, "expansion" seems like too generous a word for what it is. "Expansion" implies branching out into new territory; all this DLC does is cycle back for another lap in the same territory.