Well-heeled Kickstarter backers get an early glimpse of Obsidian Entertainment's RPG
If you ponied up the money necessary for the Pillars of Eternity Collector's Edition, then Obsidian Entertainment has great news for you!
Available now, through Steam, these select few can download the "Backer Beta" for the Windows platform. Worry not, Mac and Linux users -- project lead Josh Sawyer assures us that they are working hard to ensure that those versions should be available within the next few weeks. Also, for those concerned about linking the Backer Beta to the final product, you needn't worry: the Backer Beta is considered a separate product and will not tie you to Steam or Windows.
There are no NDAs for those participating. So, If you would like to share images, videos, or to write about it; you are free to do so.
The Backer Beta will be the same build that was shown recently at the gamescon convention in Cologne, Germany. In it, you will have access to the village of Dyrford, its surrounding wilderness and dungeon environments. You'll start by rolling a first-level character, but will be provided enough experience to advance to level five. While very few Talents are available in the beta, you should be able to get an idea of the core functionality of all eleven classes.
In addition to the character you will roll, you'll also be provided with a list of four intentionally generic characters as party members (Fighter, Rogue, Priest, and Wizard). Your party will be equipped with Fine quality items, although somewhat underequipped in terms of overall gear and each character will be set at level five.
The quests available in the Backer Beta have an artificially-inflated amount of experience points associated with them to ensure you can advance to level eight, that is, assuming you do everything that is offered. This is to give you a sense of how characters will change as you advance from level to level.
Other features available in the beta include crafting and enchanting and the ability to hire adventurers.
Lastly, nothing in the Backer Beta has a direct connection to the critical path/main story of Pillars of Eternity. Obsidian has intentionally excluded any spoiler content so that backers can play through the beta worry-free. None of the quests are connected to the critical path and none of the pre-made companions are going to appear in the final game.
For more details about the backer beta and instructions on how to activate yours, you can find them here on the Project Eternity Kickstarter page.