I am for once at a serious lack of where to start since I can’t just declare 10/10 what are you waiting for and go get it! Though I may just have… Divinity Original Sin 2 is the sequel to the reboot of the series that took to Kickstarter a few years back and has made a mark on both the PC and the Console markets alike. Back again with even better visuals, multiple playable races, choice of musical instruments to play your background music, custom characters or special ones with more storylines and the ability to customize their classes as you see fit? (Takes a breath) It took some time getting out of character creation…
In all seriousness. Wow. Divinity Original Sin 2 sets a higher bar than that of it’s predecessor when it comes to these style of RPGs. Everything from the gameplay mechanics to the story telling and the dialog choices are superb. Having opted to go with the Skeleton Thane who is an Origin character that comes with his own personal dialog options and quests lines that wouldn’t appear otherwise, I set out into the world only to find myself with a collar around my neck preventing me from equipping necklace accessories. The horror!
Before even getting to that point I am serious when I say that it took a long while getting out of character creation and it’s not because there are thousands of features in order to get your cheekbones right. Instead you really have to think if you want a character of your very own or if you want to explore the world from the perspective of someone who already lives in it. This can affect gameplay in a variety of ways as Thane for example is an Undead from a time long past so his dialog options differ from another Undead without the backstory. Being said Undead however expands the dialog options even further because of their “race” and that’s another feature that pleasantly surprised me. The Undead are not just humans but can be Dwarven, Elven or even Lizardfolk which makes sense because everyone can die and coming back isn’t exclusively a human thing.
So once the choice has been made for being either an Origin or a Custom character, it’s time to get to customizing the rest. There are a few cosmetic options but they really aren’t the focus as that’s what a character’s personality is there for! The class system is just as robust as the first with the option to take the defaults or to customize it as you see fit. Unlike Divinity Original Sin however you’ll only be creating one character instead of two meaning that if you decide to take an approach that leaves you vulnerable in one area you’ll need to find a party member later on to cover you. Either that or level into that aspect and pick up skill books along the way.
Once all the “administrative” is taken care of it’s time to dive in and fair warning, you could be at it for hours on end and not even notice. I’m talking about a serious ten hours not even noticing until I realized oh hey, it’s been ten hours, maybe I should call it quits for a day! This includes talking to various people, re-loading because of a fight gone wrong, making the fights gone wrong right after re-loading from a previous save, so on and so forth. It’s very easy to get lost inside of this world and all depending on how you play out your adventure, it can be completely different than another person’s even while using the same character as my brother and I compared notes as I had people join me while flat out refuse to look at him.
That particular aspect brings me to one of the best things that I’ve ever seen. Just because a shop vendor or an NPC hates “your” face, it doesn’t mean that they hate your companion’s. Pissing off one of the best vendors in the starting location because I thought I was being smart about it, oh I was smart alright, I locked myself out of being able to deal with them. Having another member walk up however and things started off fresh and they became the best of friends especially after giving them some gifts in order to bring their prices down. Some other times it could lead straight to an unintended fight, someone dies and well you just so happen to pick up their inventory and the gems you sold them. While it sucks that you lost that NPC as a vendor, at least you got the sword you wanted to buy and experience towards your next level up!
This freedom carries on through most aspects. You have a goal sure, but how you get there is entirely up to you. There’s more than one way to get there such as talking with some people, fighting others, but you could even find entirely new routes leading to the same location and in my particular case, missing where I needed to go. Bright side is I found another way in, downside is that it took a while longer to get to where I was going.
Throughout all of these portions of the adventure however there’s always choice. Giant fire slugs barring a path for example kept turning into a fight that while I could win it, cost my party too much but I refused to simply sneak on by. Found out after a few tries that there was water and then brought the fight to there. While it went more in my favour since my party didn’t burn to death since they were constantly wet it was still costly. Finally just because I had one of my party members selected in order to go in for a sniper shot I had a friendly conversation with the Royal Fire Slug and she let everyone go on their merry way because that character in particular could talk to non-humans. Why didn’t I think of that in the first place? Because I forgot what my party could members could do individually which is something that should be kept in mind at all times.
The amount of effort put into these dialog chains is incredible. Everything is voiced and sometimes not wanting to be forgotten the narrator will chime in with his two cents on the situation sometimes describing how another person feels or emphasising just how bad your recent decision was. Regardless of how amazing or poor your choice was however, the voice track is worth listening to and adds an extra layer of polish to an already amazing experience. Can the adventure survive without it? Yes. Should you play without the sound? No.
With how much talking can be done, it will not always win the day and while it can lead to some serious experience points, sometimes you just need to get your hands dirty. The environments are great for this. Poison clouds can be ignited into fireballs damaging all those that are too close. Oil patches can be ignited to burn whoever is standing in this patch. Water can be used to put out the flames or someone can send a spark through it electrocuting whoever is standing in that puddle. Adding in vantage points and places to take cover there is always a way to turn the tides. If all else fails, hopefully you saved recently!
Not every battlefield will be geared in your favour so sometimes you just need to take care of things yourself. Sneaking around is a possibility as long as the enemy doesn’t see you allowing you to move in real-time instead of the turned based action point system that kicks into gear once the enemy has locked their eyes onto you. Because things are heavy you’ll have to manage your packs but barrels of poison, water or oil can be carried around and used in order to make poison flasks or water balloons. What they can also be used for it being thrown onto the battlefield and ignited or destroyed to follow through on some serious elemental damage. So while some characters could be taking their turns, those “outside” of combat can be moved into position to “start the fire” while the enemies are distracted.
Once these characters join the fray however they become part of the combat’s initiative and everything rolls on a turn by turn basis. Each character and opponents have a certain pool of Action Points that can be used or carried over to the next turn in order to deal some serious damage as long as they are still standing. Movement, skills and good old fashion standard attacks all take up these points though some classes like the Rogues can have some more freedom of movement without actually using up their points. Abilities exist in order to grant more points that turn at the cost of points on the next so it all boils down to what’s in your best interest.
While there is a lot of talking and exploring combat will take up a substantial amount of your time especially when there are a lot of participants involved. Saving before any of these encounters, if it looks like you’re going to have one, is recommended because things can go wrong in a heartbeat and that advantage that you were pushing can lead to an entire party wipe. Once thing that I absolutely loved is that if a character dies then their spirit will hang around their body. Because they participated in the combat however they get experience and can level up off of that once you’ve brought them back to life and get them back up on their feet. There’s no penalty from that point of view short of how expensive the resurrection scrolls are from the vendors!