Dark or Light

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is Off to a Promising Start

Christopher Coke Posted:
Columns The RPG Files 0

The first time I met the Red Prince, I tried to shove him into the ocean. Even though I had guessed he was to be my first companion, I wanted to test the system. Would Divinity: Original Sin 2 really let me go off the rails so quickly? The Prince threw me to the ground and cut my face. As I lay bleeding, I was given the option: do I make nice and admit I was wrong or do I demand blood for blood? Of course, I chose blood.

If this were another other video game, the Prince would balked and made some excuse to avoid fighting me. But Divinity is not any other video game. With a surprising amount of ease, the Red Prince became a smear of meat and gore on his rock over the ocean, already changing the course of the game. After taking his meager possessions as my own, I reloaded and went the opposite route, using humor to defuse the situation, and adopting him as my very own bright red lizard-tank.

You begin again on a beach, this time as a prisoner after your boat has gone aground. To your jailer’s good fortune, you’ve landed on a remote island, as good a place as any to separate Source users from society. I was surprised to meet the Red Prince so soon after washing and sputtering my way onto dry land. It’s possible to choose the Red Prince at character creation,. This turns out to be a theme, so you can experience bits and pieces of the origin stories you don’t choose, though to have the full experience you’ll want to play through multiple times.

In the Early Access alpha currently available on Steam, there are four characters to choose from with complete backstories (until the end of Act 1 anyway). You can also create your own character from the 4 races and 12 classes, giving a huge variety of customization. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to create your own character since the four origin characters can also be set to any class and their appearance can also be customized. Talents and skills are limited now, but will also be customizable in the final version, essentially making race and story preference the deciding factors between premade or custom characters.

I chose Lohse and wouldn’t be surprised to see her become the most popular character out of the gate. She has a tantalizing bit of text about being haunted by a demonic past, whereas the others aren’t nearly as memorable or compelling. Playing through them may be another matter entirely, however, especially considering how the world reacts to you through the new tag system.

Every character enters the world with a series of tags for their character/history, race, and personality that affect how people respond to you. Lohse has a jeering way about her, so she carries “Jester” and “Human” tags. These tags pop up next to dialogue choices, allowing you to take more unique paths with each character than anything in Original Sin 1.

Dialogue has also been updated with far more insinuations than scripted lines. For example, you might have the option to *Roll your eyes and tell the kid to run along* rather than say, “hey kid, get lost.” Options like this allow your imagination to fill in the blanks and give the player more agency in interpreting their character. Partial voice over is coming, but we don’t know exactly what that will include. Hopefully interactions like this are left to the player.

At the end of my third time playing through this fight, I walked too close to the turtle on the left and he exploded into flames, killing my whole party *after* we'd already defeated them.

Combat has also received a fresh coat of paint and remains as excellently environmental as ever. One of the highlights of the first Original Sin was the sheer creative potential its combat system brought to the table. It is always satisfying to soak an enemy in rain before exploiting that with electricity, or dropping an ooze barrel just to set the entire party on fire with a single fire bolt. Like the first game, however, this did make me feel like I was missing out by not rolling a class with environmental spells.

This time around, elevation is now an important consideration. Likewise, a new system of blesses and curses can turn battles on a dime. Casting a bless on fire, for example, may turn it into a heal, offering up a whole new level of strategy between battles.

It’s also worth mentioning that Divinity: Original Sin 2 is still a challenging game. The first could be downright punishing fairly early out of the gate if you left the city in the wrong direction. The same may eventually hold true here, but the difficulty feels more well rounded without feeling dumbed down or easy. In fact, one of my first deaths came out of nowhere at the hands of three angry sea turtles. I came back wiser and more prepared and beat all three on the second attempt, less bloodied but still taken down a peg, and earned a nice weapon for my effort.

I didn’t get to try multiplayer yet, but what’s there looks interesting. Original Sin 2 brings a PVP mode to the fore allowing you to choose two heroes from a pool of classes and take part in turn-based battles. This mode features all of the environmental elements of the base game which should lead to some fun encounters for those who think outside the box. There is also co-op multiplayer, which I admit intimidates me. In my estimation, it is a mode to be played with friends, as the potential for griefing is high. At the same time, campaign co-op as freeform as this has the same potential to create some of the best stories we’ve ever seen from an RPG, so it’s certainly something I plan to watch and dabble in going forward.

But, for as neat and polished as Original Sin 2 is, it’s also not quite ready for prime time. Party dialogues are currently missing and there are a handful of scattered bugs that will need to be squashed, as well as the lack of voicing mentioned previously. Early Access is a fine option to get your hands on this one early, and goes a long way to justifying why Early Access is still something that shouldn’t be written off, but expectations should be checked just the same. That said, the game already features quite a bit of polish on what’s there and performs excellently with no crashes during my time with it. If you’re on board with giving Larian the time to finish the job, there is a worthy 10 or so hours here for less than the cost at launch. And if you enjoyed the first one even a little bit, watching this one is a no brainer.

Have you played Divinity: Original Sin 2? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight