In 2019, Obsidian added a “final God Challenge” to its then year-old RPG Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire called The Ultimate, which made the game much more difficult to complete—so difficult, in fact, that the studio promised to engrave the names of the first 12 people to complete it on a plaque hanging in its offices. As is often the case, players began knocking off the virtually impossible challenge in short order, and by early 2021, 11 of the 12 slots on the plaque were filled.
All 11 players on the plaque completed the challenge using one or both of the Priest of Skaen or Blood Mage subclasses, each of which offered a powerful survival advantage within the challenging strictures of The Ultimate. So in 2011, design director Josh Sawyer upped the ante: He promised to dedicate a performance of Dolly Parton's great I Will Always Love You to the person to claim the final spot, if they did it without using either of those subclasses.
Once again, dedicated players exceeded expectations, and it took just a month for someone to claim mission accomplished: Sawyer issued the challenge on February 2, and on March 2 a submission was made. Confirmation that the task had in fact been achieved arrived a few weeks later.
And now, finally, we have the promised performance.
“This tribute is in honor of Riccardo “Pale Shelter” Novello being the twelfth person to complete Deadfire's The Ultimate challenge, and for doing so with the unprecedented multi-class build of Troubadour Chanter/Psion Cipher,” the YouTube listing states. “Thank you to our Deadfire community. You all are the best community we could have asked for.”
I don't know why it took this long to record and share the video, but damn, it's not bad, is it? It's not quite up to the Queen of Country herself, but it's far from a flaming train wreck. Sawyer acquits himself admirably, and he absolutely rocks those thick golden tresses, too.
It turns out that this isn't actually Josh Sawyer's first crack at crooning: He also has multiple performance credits on the Fallout: New Vegas soundtrack. “It wasn't my first choice to sing songs for use in New Vegas,” he explained in 2019. “We just had an emergency situation where the resolution of Talent Pool [a Fallout: New Vegas quest] needed songs and we had very few options. I expected very few people to ever hear them.
“Because Talent Pool is kind of a long quest and you have to return to the tops at a specific time of day after finishing the quest to hear the songs, most people didn't know they existed. That changed when Bethesda made Talent Pool the ultimate edition trailer music. And then at some point put all of the songs on Spotify.”
I think it's pretty good, too.