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.
I'll practice and everything.February 3, 2021
"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.
pic.twitter.com/V03thHRR1yMarch 3, 2021
On March 22, the deed was confirmed, and yesterday—April 13—the commemoration was completed, leaving only the serenade remaining.
it is accomplished pic.twitter.com/DgdtuwtJm0April 13, 2021
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.