UPDATE 16TH NOVEMBER: Something really was afoot - the backer beta for Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire has launched!
It's not feature-complete and there are a "number of things" Obsidian is not quite ready to show yet but will be rolled out over time, said design director Josh Sawyer in an accompanying video. "There's at least one really big feature that's very complicated and we need to put some more time into before players take a look at it," he added, "but it's a very cool feature."
In the closed beta you'll poke around a Deadfire archipelago village called Tikawara, and the island surrounding it. You won't be playing with final-game companions because they're still in development, still being cast and their voice lines recorded, and Obsidian doesn't want to spoil any of their stories. Plus, Obsidian isn't doing the closed beta to get feedback on them so much as feedback on the core mechanics and interfaces in the game.
To take part in the closed backer beta you need to be a backer of the game, obviously, and to have pledged at the appropriate tier. Pillars of Eternity 2 pledging has reopened for a limited time in light of this, and you can add closed beta access for $20 to existing pledges as well.
Instructions on how to install and access the Pillars of Eternity 2 closed beta can be found on the game's official forum.
ORIGINAL STORY 15TH NOVEMBER: There's been some movement in the Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire world, prompting a collective scratching of the heads about what developer Obsidian may be gearing up for.
The movement is a new Steam Store listing and with it a new gameplay montage trailer showing various clips we've both seen and not seen before. And it all looks bloomin marvellous, from the much fancier spells to the piratical showdowns aboard the decks of ships.
Bear in mind, Pillars 2 represents the first time Obsidian has rolled straight onto development of a sequel to its own game, not someone else's. It means Obsidian has hit the ground running with Pillars 2, with an engine and world all already in place. The developers have been able to do so much more this time around, and with a considerable team of around 40 people (that's how many were working on it when I visited Obsidian recently).
In short, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire could be something very special indeed.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is due for release some time in 2018. Perhaps the Steam Store listing signals an imminent backer beta? We'll keep our eyes peeled.