This weekend I got to spend some time with the Divinity: Original Sin 2 devs, and they were showing the new, and very much improved combat system that they have put together. One of the devs and I played a two-on-two skirmish, and I made the mistake of telling him not to take it easy on me, that I would learn more if he hit me full force. In retrospect, that was a huge error, as he trounced me quite handily.
The first thing that strikes you is the battlefield. The team has introduced a much more robust terrain and movement system that rewards the player for taking advantage of positioning, and especially verticality. Taking the high ground results in a plethora of advantages, including extended range on your spells and ranged attacks, and improved vision and visibility. Included in each of the characters in our skirmish were a fairly wide variety of spells and attacks, and each character has at least one movement spell, allowing for quick maneuvering around the battlefield. Characters could also secure and consume Source puddles on the battlefield that could then be used to power much greater spells and powers. The battlefield was also strewn with explosives and acids and other detrimental effects that could be triggered by hapless players upon themselves, or by wise tacticians to wreak havoc upon their foes.
Another cool thing was the ways spells could turn the adverse effects in the casters favor. One time I triggered a fire bomb at the feet of one of my enemies, and while I was cackling at the flaming opponent, my counterpart cast a bless spell on the flames, turning them into divine flames (blue) that healed the target, rather than burning him. Later in the same battle, I tried the same trick, only to discover that my opponent had created NECROFLAMES! My timely Bless spell removed the necro effect, but not the fire effect, so I continued to burn.
Since use of the terrain has become such an important part of combat, it should be noted that the tools provided to view the battlefield are quite robust, allowing for zooming in, zooming out, scrolling and rotating the camera in such a way as to provide the perfect view for whatever end you are trying to achieve. Sadly, my battle didn’t last too much longer than that, as my Ranger went down the following turn, as a result of a summoned slime monster that my opponent called into existence right at my feet. This creature bled acid, and thus was my doom when I tried to destroy it. My warrior heroically destroyed my opponent’s warrior, but that left my enemies Wizard with full health and full magical defenses, while my warrior was already on his last legs. One more turn and my warrior fell, ending the battle and the demonstration.
Since PAX East was all about showcasing the new combat system, my inquiries about other aspects of the game were skillfully and politely turned aside, leaving me wanting more, and awaiting the next revelation with bated breath. If the new combat system is anything to measure by, I think RPG fans and fans of the original Divinity: Original Sin will be well-pleased by this new incarnation.