This first piece comes after about six hours of initial gameplay, plus a few restarts. Let us know in the comments if this format is helpful and something you’d like to see more of.
From the very beginning, Divinity: Original Sin 2 can feel overwhelming. Even at the character creation screen there were so many options to read through, and the choices that you make truly matter. I spent a good thirty minutes deciding on which race I wanted to play, my character traits, choosing my class, and even struggled trying to pick the instrument that would play when I accomplished badass feats in-game. However, complication and choice is not a bad thing. As a recent Dungeons & Dragons upstart, it all reminded me of the first hour of a new campaign, pouring over stat sheets and trying to understand what makes a character tick. There aren’t many games that will make a player think this hard about basic character creation, but in a world where every minute choice matters, and every trait has an influence, it’s important. For those who don’t want to go through the long process of customization, the developers also created characters with preset backstories and abilities to help take some of the pain out of the process. These characters are still fun to play and are a great way to help new players create something balanced, and ease the game’s difficulty somewhat.
Now, taking a step back, I said each detail in character creation matters, and it does. Beginning with the races, each has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. These can come in the form of abilities, like the elves eating the body parts of the dead to experience their memories, or even subtleties in the way the world interacts with your character. For instance, playing as a lizard, you will find that some characters you meet will have an unpleasant history with the race’s slaving tactics, and it will be something you have to overcome to interact with them. On the less subtle side is the fact that each of the races also has an undead counterpart in the form of a skeleton. Picking undead comes with its unique set of challenges and boons. For example, poisons heal the undead, but healing spells hurt them. They also have the ability to play dead in battle, but have to remain hooded at all times in public, or risk being killed by the town guards. Every choice in this creation stage is important and should fit with the playstyle that you enjoy most. That being said, I had to restart a few times to find the class that matched with my playstyle in previous games.
Moving past the races, there are 14 classes with distinct abilities to choose from. These range from the more typical mages and fighters, to unique hybrids like Battle Mages that DnD fans will be very familiar with. As with all games, some classes are easier to play than others, but one of the best parts about Divinity is the fact that you aren’t tied to one style of gameplay. During initial character creation, you will have to pick a specific class, but Divinity’s main gameplay revolves around the player controlling a party of four characters. This means players will likely experience four different classes and can mix and match to vary up combat and gameplay.
For the first chunk of Divinity: Original Sin 2 all the characters in your party are going to be “source muted”, meaning their magic abilities are dampened, and the initial fights can be an ass-kicking. For this reason, it’s important to not fear the ‘retreat’ button. While you do start with resurrection scrolls, they can be spendy later in the game and it’s better to save them. To retreat, characters need to be a certain distance away from the enemy, but other than that, there’s no cost. It’s also important to note that Divinity: Original Sin 2 has a quick-save button that can be handy when checking out potentially sketchy situations. For example, I was walking around a corner, saw four apparently harmless tortoises, but I had learned to trust nothing, so I quick saved, and sure enough, those tortoises turned evil quick.
It’s also important to have characters with skills that complement each other. Don’t be afraid to respec new party members when you pick them up if their default class doesn’t fit your combat dynamic. My main character is a battlemage, so when I picked up “The Beast”, an amazing pirate-dwarf companion who is also a battlemage, I respec’d him to be more of a typical fighter. Every companion you find will state their specialty, but also secondary classes that they can play. Through dialogue options, usually you can get about four choices for classes they can use.
Finally, don’t be greedy with your loot. It can be tempting to throw all the gear and weapons you find onto the avatar you created, but not all items are going to fit their class. For the most part, Divinity: Original Sin 2 won’t stop you from putting them on even if they don’t necessarily fit the character’s archetype. In my experience, fights got a lot easier when I began putting armor on my tanks. It seems like a simple tip, but the allure of shiny things can be misleading.
Talking is Key
Almost everyone in Divinity: Original Sin 2 – animals, corpses, or plain-old people have a story to tell, and can be useful to the player in some way. It’s very important to monitor your actions early on as they are going to affect the rest of the game, sometimes in significant ways. With no spoilers into the opening of the game, let’s just say being an asshole makes everything difficult. An important note, in order to talk to animals, a feature which is often very useful, make sure to bring a party member that has the “pet pal” talent. If you’re having trouble, Fane, an undead companion near Fort Joy has it, and his dialogue is excellent.
The ability to talk to almost everyone in game can also feel quite overwhelming at times, and my best advice is just to embrace it. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a game about stories, little and big. While combat and exploration are fun, it’s the interactions that make the game great. It’s the first game in a long time that feels as though each piece of dialogue really matters in determining the game’s outcome, and it’s not easy. Righteousness is not always the path to benefit in Divinity: Original Sin 2 as it’s mostly about reading the character you’re interacting with. If someone is on the run, or a thief, they’re not going to respond well to a nobleman barking at them, but an official magistrate might (or they’ll kill you).
Every race has their own specific dialogue options that will open or close based on their specific attributes. So, the more varied your party, the better chance you’ll have of unlocking different dialogues and gaining more information/assistance.
Impressions so Far
After quite a few hours with Divinity: Original Sin 2, I’m beyond impressed. The game has a level of depth and attention to detail that I haven’t seen in an RPG in some time. Every character has unique dialogue that is fully voiced, influences the game, and is well written. Even though many of the choices come through text-based dialogue boxes, the interactions feel immersive, and it’s easy to get lost in the game simply by talking to people. Combat can be difficult to master at first coming from other RPGs, but it makes the fights where your party dominates feel even more rewarding. Even without completing the first act of the game, I feel like Divinity: Original Sin 2 is well worth its $45 price tag. I’ll provide more updates and guides as I play the game further, so for more info subscribe and check back.