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Divinity: Original Sin II Game preview

Game preview 26 August 2015, 15:00

author: Luc

Divinity: Original Sin 2 hands-on – Sequel to One of The Best RPGs in Years

Larian Studios is back on Kickstarter with a sequel to one of the best RPGs of 2014.

This article was written prior to the game's release.

This text was based on the PC version.

DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN 2:

  • Another installment of isometric RPG series;
  • Darker and more mature than the previous game;
  • Deeper plot, based on affiliation of our character;
  • At least four playable races;
  • Four players co-op;
  • A lot of competitive questing;
  • Kickstarter Campaign is supposed to help make the game even bigger, not to fund it from a scratch;
  • Release in 2017 or later.

Few years ago, it seemed that isometric graphics is pretty much dead in RPG games. Nearly every single successful game had first- or third-person perspective, and the classic view, loved by many experienced players, was slowly fading away. Thanks to Kickstarter, though, the paths of RPGs split. Torment: Tides of Numenera and Pillars of Eternity have raised incredible amounts of money, but Divinity: Original Sin also managed to gather impressive support. Another installment of this slightly humoristic series got donations worth almost a million dollars! It was more than enough to create the game, which basically surprised everyone. Not many would have bet on Larian, but in the end, they created one of the best games of the year! As of now, Belgian studio is working on the sequel, turning to crowdfunding scene once again. This time, goals of the campaign are slightly different though, and I happened to have opportunity to check the progress that Larian is making so far. You can check even more detailed information in a separate article. The link is right below.

Serious humor

The story of Original Sin 2 is happening many years after the plot of the previous game. Chronologically, the game is set between Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity. Our main character (only one, not two!) is not a Source Hunter – instead, we are playing as a Sourcer himself, so it’s a completely different side of the coin this time. The Hero (or the heroine) was caught by the Divine Order and right before the so-called „purgation” manages to escape from the prison. After stealing the boat, he’s crushing near the Island where he was raised. Seems like a lucky coincidence? Not so much, especially when it turns out that the Order will show up there soon. Our goal seems to be pretty straightforward – we have to run away from the city as soon as possible.

Similar to the previous installment in the series, Original Sin 2 will be quite a hardcore game – no quest marks, no hints, etc. Developers acknowledged a fact that some quests were too frustrating for players, so instead of lowering the bar, they decided to place mission objects in more visible spaces. But still – we will have to figure out everything by ourselves.

Even though the origin stories are going to be fixed, important details will vary depending on our choices during character creation. In Original Sin 2, we will be choosing between at least four races: humans, elves, dwarves and… lizards. It is possible that the developers will add even more playable factions, but they didn’t want to share any more information. Even if it happens to be “only” four races, it still should give much better results than previously. Same goes for depth of the world and all its characters – the team of writers has been greatly expanded for Original Sin 2 and it allowed Larian to create much bigger lore. The most interesting part - the whole story will be much darker and serious. Judging by all the artworks hanging on the walls in Larian’s office, it really seems that next Divinity will be the most mature game in the series. Fortunately, everything that happened before will be respected and the plot is supposed to be as cohesive as possible.

Feeling the world

Story is not the only thing that will be continued here. Also the game mechanics are going to be quite similar. Everyone who have spent at least some time with the previous game will instantly know what to do. It doesn’t mean that there is no innovation at all though! Changes are also present, but they are more evolutionary than revolutionary. First thing that you notice when starting a new game is a fact that every single character is receiving different reactions from the world – depending on our race or class, we hear different dialogues or even get different quests. Those missions are very often incredibly competitive – this means that one character may have to kill someone, while the other teammate has to do everything to prevent it.

To understand it better – here’s the example from the game itself. Right after waking up on the island, our team learns that there was a murder of the city’s mayor. Investigation is still ongoing, but there already is a first suspect – a human female. When you start the conversation with her playing as another human, she will suggest blaming dwarves and will ask you to fabricate the evidence. However, if you approach her playing as a dwarf, she will tell you nothing. On the other hand, your dwarven brothers will beg you to do everything possible to make execution of the suspected human eventually happen. If you have an elf in your team, he or she can choose completely different paths of solving this case, and, for example, talk with the ghost who will reveal the real identity of an assassin.

Even though Larian Studios is planning to release the game on PC only (engine is going to use DirectX 12 and we don’t know yet how will Mac, Linux or consoles handle it), Original Sin 2 has already almost flawless controller support. Xbox controller, Dualshock and even Steam Controller are working simply perfect with the early version of game.

Anti-cooperation

While playing alone those competitive quests do not sound so exciting, but it changes drastically in multiplayer. Instead of playing as a team, we are basically fighting other players, trying to manipulate the world for our cause, at the same time doing everything possible to make others fail at their missions. What’s new in Original Sin 2 is the fact that characters can be controlled not by two players, but by… four simultaneously. That means potentially competing with three other people to complete “the same” quest – and that is something that was never done before in any present-day RPG.

One of the things that will improve the depth of the world and the whole gameplay is the presence of ghosts. Sometimes, they will arrive in the area by themselves, but we can “summon” them by killing enemies. Every time we kill someone, there is a chance that his or her ghost will show up. We can talk with it, but we can also “swallow” them – it’s not the nicest thing to do, but it gives us the so-called “source points”, required to cast most powerful spells.

Some changes are also coming to the combat mechanics. It’s still going to be turn-based, but this time there will be fewer actions points – four to five most of the time. The game follows the “one skill/spell – one action point” rule, and that means even more emphasis on strategy and planning. It goes even deeper, thanks to the increased number of elemental combinations. Possibility of, for instance, chaining fire and acid spells to do more damage was one of the best parts of Original Sin and the sequel follows the same path. The exact number of new elements depends on the success of Kickstarter campaign, but developers assured us that their ambitions are high and they want to implement as many of them as possible. There are also going to be “source points” (you can read more on how to acquire them on the right), but what’s most important – they will allow us to overturn pretty much every single fight in one round! While testing new possibilities of the combat system, it was easy to notice that the old problems – like very long waiting times during bigger battles – are unfortunately still present. Well, you can’t have it all, can you?

Evolutionary sin

One thing that has not changed at all so far is the UI and graphics. Game still runs on the previous version of the engine and is using old assets, so it will improve overtime with implementation of engine 3.0 (Original Sin was running on version 1.0, Enhanced Edition will use 2.0). With new graphical interface, everything should look better, darker and not-so-comical as it looks now. Also, it’s not possible to judge the sound quality yet – the soundtrack is far from complete, the same goes for dialogues. The good news is that Larian is considering adding full voiceover from the start, but again – they will be able to accomplish this only if Kickstarter succeeds.

To sum things up – to no surprise, Original Sin 2 is following the path of Original Sin. Most of the game mechanics are going to stay the same, but it doesn’t mean Larian is not trying to improve and expand their creation. Instead of simply copying all solutions, they are slightly modifying them, which, in terms of gameplay, gives players a whole new experience. Game will be more complex, bigger and better than the previous installment, and seeing how hard the developers are working on bringing their fresh vision to reality, we can only hope that all goes well for them.

Luc | Gamepressure.com

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