The World Is Yours In Divinity: Original Sin II – Hands-On Preview

Become divine... before your friends do.

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Thousands of years have passed since the story of the first Divinity: Original Sin ended. The divine has been killed off, the world is now taken over by a demonic presence known as The Void. Those who can summon monsters from the Void, the Sourcerers, are being blamed and hunted down by the governing power known as The Magisters of the Divine Order.

The sequel puts you in control of a captured Sourcerer, sent to Fort Joy to be removed of your powers. But everything isn’t as it seems, and you soon learn that the Divine Order’s intentions may not be so pure after all. The world needs a new god before it’s enveloped by The Void, and you’re up for the position.

Like it’s predecessor, Divinity: Original Sin II is a top-down isometric RPG with deep turn-based combat. It is being developed by Larian Studios, and they’ve learned a lot from the success of the first game. I was lucky enough to try out the game at PAX East and find out for myself what has changed.

Character creation has received an overhaul. There are now five races to choose from – Human, Lizard, Elf, Dwarf, and Undead. As one would expect, each race has their own positives and negatives. Classes are nonexistent in Divinity II. Players can instead customize their character’s skills as they wish – with all skills and talents available to them throughout the game.

Classifying your character comes instead through the tag system. Tags are ever-changing groups that apply to you based on your choices, and they determine how the world will react to you. A character with the Scholar tag may be taken more seriously than one with the Jester tag, but others may feel threatened by your knowledge and attack you on sight. Some tags are based on race and origin story, while others are gained or lost depending on your actions.

Origin stories impact the main narrative of Divinity II, and they will lead to different dialog options and quest opportunities. Depending on which story you pick, the world will become filled with recruitable characters that embody the other ones. Regardless of if you end up recruiting them or not, their story will play out and will likely impact your own.

Hours could be lost in character creation. The amount of depth that goes into customization is astounding. I can choose everything from my race to the more minute details like my characters aspirations, all the way to which instrument dominates their soundtrack during the game.

The depth here rivals most character creators I have seen.

The original Divinity featured two-player drop-in/drop-out cooperative gameplay. It’s sequel now supports up to four players, and they don’t have to be on the same team this time around.

Each player has their own story and their own goals to achieve in Divinity II. It’s up to them to decide who is valuable to them and when. Players can exist at any point in the world. They don’t have to be in presence of one another at all unless they choose to. If you know your friend needs a certain quest to improve their equipment, you can, of course, help them out on that quest. BUT, if you feel your friend will be a threat to you, later on, you could get to that quest giver first and be sure to eliminate them – removing the possibility of your friend getting that upgrade. You can also just go and kill them if that suits you.

These sorts of possibilities occur throughout Divinity II’s campaign. Of course, players can choose to play cooperatively the entire time, but it’s important to remember – there can only be one Divinity. Only one player can win at the end. Regardless of the agreements, they set ahead of time, each one has to go through the campaign with that in the back of their minds.

But what good is any RPG if its combat isn’t up to snuff? Thankfully, Divinity II delivers on that front as well. Each turn gives you a certain amount of action points. Everything you do in combat connects to these, from movement to skill activation. With hundreds of skills and spells to choose from, it’s up to you to create the most effective combination for your play style.

Combat can get ridiculously hectic. It’s important to keep track of your skills.

Enemies have both physical and magical armor types that must be countered before you can affect their health. Physical armor prevents status effects such as Poison or Bleeding, while Magical armor prevents burning or slow effects. Organizing party members around this are essential, otherwise, you may find yourself dying quite a bit. Friendly fire is also on, and death is permanent, folks.

The environment also adds an extra level of complexity to combat. Height differences affect your damage and range, and a multitude of surfaces, both natural and player-made, can be utilized in either side’s favor. Lure an enemy onto some spilled oil and cast a fire spell to ignite it, and watch them burn to death.

Divinity: Original Sin II is shaping up to be a massive title. I was only shown so much in my short time with the game. The entire world can be interacted with, no NPC is safe from death, some skills and items must be crafted, and those who want to prove themselves can compete in a new PvP arena.

For those who want to try it themselves, the game is currently in Early Access on Steam and contains around 8-12 hours of content as well as the PvP arena. A full launch is planned for later this year.

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Max Moeller Editor
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