by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Entirely new game
Even from the half hour demo I saw of Divinity: Original Sin 2 at Gamescom this year, I can tell that fans of the original game will not be disappointed by the sequel. That’s not to say this is just the same game repeated, though. Developers Larian Studios assured us they are not just using the same engine to tell a new story, they are building an entirely new game. Features are being added, new things are being experimented with, but you will still be getting a similar core experience which made Original Sin a great RPG.
Character creation has received an overhaul, with the most important change being you can now select your race, while previously you were forced to play as a human. Your race will affect how people react to you in the world, and right now there are a handful to choose from, including Lizards, Dwarves, Elves, and Undead. You will also get a racial skill unique to that race, and a couple of talents. The developers are going outside the norm with Divinity, as Elves have a talent called corpse eater. It’s not as sinister as it sounds though, as this is how people are remembered in their culture. If you are an elf and eat a corpse out in the world, you might remember something from that person’s history. In character creation you can even choose your own personal musical instrument, which will change some of the audio cues during the game.
The tag system which has been talked about before in relation to Divinity games has finally been implemented for Original Sin 2. There are nine writers for the game, and they have the job of making sure a certain tag assigned to them is used in all the dialogue. In this way, it really feels like you have made a difference to the world by selecting a certain character and traits, and Larian hopes this will provide truly unique playthroughs for everyone. You automatically get the tags “female” and “elf” if you select a female elf, but you can add a couple of your choosing. Maybe you will choose “outlaw” and “hero” and become sort of a Robin Hood character. The game will start reacting to these tags as you play. There are dynamic tags which you may gain and lose throughout the game too. You might become “champion of the arena,” but if you lose that title, you will also lose the tag.
Class selection doesn’t really bind you to any specific set of skills, so you can still do whatever you want in the game, within reason. There are presets which are made for you, but if you are familiar with the intricacies of all the stats and attributes and talents, you can customise them to your heart’s content. Another new addition is the origin story. You can choose not to take one, but if you do, it adds a personal goal to the game for that specific premade character. For example, Lohse is a fun girl, but she also has a demon in her head which forces her to do or say something. It’s her personal quest to get rid of the demon. The characters you don’t select will turn up in the world, and they will be progressing their own stories, so they will change each time you meet them. They might even be conflicting with your own, even if they end up joining your party, so the only way to see an origin story through to the end is to play as that character.
As for the gameplay, Divinity: Original Sin players will feel at home, although there are some slight tweaks. The dialogue will now be tailored to your various tags, and you will still need to select the right option for how you want to play the game. The characters in your party aren’t safe in dialogue either, as we were shown instances where characters just straight up got killed if they chose the wrong dialogue option. You can still interact with just about anything in the game, as long as it’s not too heavy. You can interact with anyone, and you can kill anyone, even quest givers. Combat is still turn based, but there is a bit more surface interaction in combat. You might paint an area with a certain element, and blow it up with a different element. Turning a surface red with blood can be combined with a contamination spell to turn it into an acid, making short work of enemies. There are also cursed and blessed surface interactions. Standing in fire is bad, but if you bless it, it turns it into a good fire which will heal you.
Early Access soon
Larian understand how important the story is to an RPG, so although the tongue-in-cheek humour the series is known for is still there, the developer claims to be telling a more “gripping” story with Original Sin 2. The new game looks to be more of the same, but with extra improvements across the board. The game is going into Steam’s Early Access program on September 15, with an eye on an eventual full release later this year.