Josh Sawyer has to sing 'I Will Always Love You' to a Pillars of Eternity 2 player

Josh Sawyer
(Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

In 2019, one year after the release of the old-school fantasy RPG Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, developer Obsidian confronted players with a new, incredibly difficult challenge called The Ultimate. Added to the game in the 5.0.0 update, it sets the game to maximum difficulty, enables all God Challenges, forces solo mode, and in case that’s not enough, allows just one save slot, which is automatically deleted if the party (which is to say, you, because you're playing in solo mode) wipes.

It seemed virtually impossible to complete, which is why the studio also added a unique reward for doing so: The first 12 players to complete the challenge would have their names engraved on a plaque that will hang forever in Obsidian's office. Naturally, "impossible" proved drastically overstated, and 11 of the 12 spots on the plague were filled by early 2021.

On February 2, Obsidian design director Josh Sawyer upped the ante, promising that if the person to claim the final spot on the plaque did so without using the Priest of Skaen or Blood Mage subclasses, he would record a cover of Dolly Parton's classic I Will Always Love You dedicated to them. He even promised to practice.

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"Priests can cast Withdraw on Vela, the child you have to protect. Priests of Skaen have an invisibility power. Blood Mages can regenerate their casting resources," he tweeted, explaining the class restriction. Every other person to take a spot on the plaque used at least one of those subclasses to complete the challenge, and Sawyer clearly wanted to see if it could be done without either.

It didn't take long: Just a month later, on March 2, Riccardo Novello claimed the final spot, using a Psion-Troubadour build. Sawyer seemed genuinely excited, although naturally the results had to be verified.

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On March 22, the deed was confirmed, and yesterday—April 13—the commemoration was completed, leaving only the serenade remaining.

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It's not known whether Sawyer has delivered his opus to Novello yet or if he's waiting to make it a truly special occasion. Whatever the case, I hope it’s not a one-time-only deal like Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, because some members of the Pillars of Eternity subreddit really seem to be looking forward to it

You can see the full Psion-Troubadour Ultimate run in this 80-part YouTube playlist—the first video is embedded below.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.