Divinity: Original Sin 2 Preview
A little disclaimer here: I loved the first Original Sin. It was my favourite game from 2014 and I pumped hundreds of hours into both the classic edition and the enhanced edition; which was actually free if you already owned the classic version, and included full voiceovers for all lines of dialogue, entirely new content to play through, and new game modes to add even more depth to an already brilliant game. I wanted to add this disclaimer to show my trust in Larian Studios and why I believe that this early access will snowball into an even greater game.
Original Sin 1 was a game that reminded me how much fun it was to play a well written and properly thought out RPG. There was always more than one way to finish a quest, and plot armour was thrown out the window as I went about killing anything and everything that so rudely didn’t recognise me as the heaven-sent hero that I was.
Now, with the sequel just around the corner, Larian Studios has the bar raised so high that I began to worry whether or not they’d crack under the pressure. Luckily, with some new additions to the combat, well written dialogue, an intriguing start to the story, and even more features to be added soon, this game is off to a tremendous start.
“Now, with the sequel just around the corner, Larian Studios has the bar raised so high that I began to worry whether or not they’d crack under the pressure.”
To start your story you must first create a character. There are a few pre-set characters of varying race to choose from, but you can just as easily build your own from scratch. The game only gives you four to start with, but Larian has said there are more to come, with even more races to play with. Each Origin character has their own unique background and upbringing, allowing for each different character to have dialogues and actions unique to them. I personally would like to see the Steam Workshop implemented here, as it would allow the community to contribute in their own little way to create some great characters.
The character creation page is practically identical to that of the previous installment with the exception of a few new features that give your character that little bit more personality. The new tag system unlocks certain dialogue options for your character based on what tag you choose and can get you out of, or in to, all kinds of sticky situations. These tags can be gained and lost during your travels, acting as an indication to how your character is progressing as a person. You can now even choose what music you want to play during any confrontation, which is great – I’ve always wanted a cello to sound off in the distance when I punch someone in the face.
I opted to play as the pre-set Origin story of a lizard noble-born who had a history of owning slaves but has since hit rock bottom. He is often cursed at and spat on for his past, but I chose to rise above it all and remind everyone that I am far superior than they are and that they should watch their tongues should they wish to keep it. The lines of dialogue I received thanks to the tags system made the process of roleplaying the character much easier, allowing me to cement the Lizard Master Race into my subjects without any hassle.
The single-player aspect of Original Sin 2 has been changed from the previous installment to make for a much smoother and more enjoyable experience. The UI has pretty much stayed the same what with a few more keybindings and one giant spell bar instead of five mini ones, but the main change to the gameplay is that instead of creating two main characters, now you only create one. You still have to find more followers of your choosing, but your followers are no longer just bodyguards to follow your characters around – they also count as a ‘main character’ now.
“The story itself is off to a good start and it already has me thinking about what could happen in the next act.”
In Original Sin 1, NPC’s would only talk to either of your two main characters, and if you tried to start a conversation with one when controlling one of your followers they would tell you to shoo and bring your master. Now every character can talk to whomever they desire. I really enjoy this change, as it creates some more uses for my party when travelling through the world; as an example, a woman would not talk to my lizard character, as she feared I would scare away her daughter, so I switched over to one of my human followers and got the conversation rolling that way whilst my lizard-man hid behind a barrel of fish and eavesdropped on them to get the four-one-one. I would love for this much depth to the characters be consistent throughout the game, perhaps with little secrets to be found depending on whom you talk to with what character.
Another new change from the previous game is the dialogue itself. Instead of having actual lines of dialogue for your characters to speak it now offers an ambiguous description of how the character you’re talking to will react and/or what your character will do as a result of choosing said dialogue. I’m not sure if this is acting as a placeholder until they write the actual lines of dialogue, but I like this change as it feels much more immersive and allows for players to fully understand what your character means when they speak, instead of guessing and hoping the NPC doesn’t find it offensive.
The story itself is off to a good start and it already has me thinking about what could happen in the next act. I’m enjoying the replayability that has been added through there being a handful of ways to tackle each main quest objective – should I charm and seduce the queen of the fire slugs into letting us go, or should I just duke it out with them? Either way you’ll get more or less the same amount of XP, so normally I’d go with whatever would make for a good story to tell.
It seems to me that the story has started to take a much darker route than the previous game, though that wasn’t exactly happy-go-lucky itself – there was the constant murders and an impending doom for the residents to live with. In Original Sin 2 it seems Larian has adopted a darker, more interesting style of writing; from the constant segregation and enslavement of certain races, and helpless animals begging you for their life if you happened to choose the trait which lets you understand what they say. The small details that highlight how certain races treat each other really helps to flesh out the world that Larian has made, making it a treat to dive into.
I’ve also found that in the first act there are quite a few more conversations that break into brawls, which gave me an excellent chance to test out some of the new mechanics in the combat system. Larian has retained and improved upon the famed combat system which earned them so much praise in the previous installment.
The combat is point based. You get given a handful of points, or AP, at the start of each round and it costs you AP to cast abilities, use items, or move your character. As with Original Sin 1, utilising the elements will be crucial to your success; with fire being doused out by rain, poison clouds detonating at the first sign of fire, and blood spilt in battle can be used to electrify anyone unlucky enough to be stood in it when a stray bolt of lightning hits it.
As Original Sins 2 is in early access, the game is not fully complete. With it offering only one of the four main acts of the story I found that I was able to finish the first act of the game on one character in just under twenty hours, but I’m one of those boring people who read all the bits of trivia that are in all those books you forgot you picked up – I mean, someone has to do it. That statistic doesn’t factor in any replayability, which this game has mountains of.
In regards to performance, the game ran almost perfectly – and on fully maxed out graphics it looks amazing. I had a hiccup where I’d crash to the desktop when I tried to open a trapdoor, and another where an NPC wouldn’t mark a location on my map, but the latter only gave me more reason to explore and the former broke me free of the game and reminded me that my dinner was almost ready. The co-op system, however, is flawless as of time of writing. There was no issues with connection and I had to option to assign my own characters to my partner before I brutally murdered them to demonstrate why fire and poison gas don’t mix.
With the amount of content they throw at you in only the first act of the game it is very easy to forget that this game is still in early access. In my opinion, and with what I’ve played so far, Larian Studios can only go from strength to strength with Original Sin 2 and by the full release we’ll all have a strong contender for 2017’s GOTY.