Divinity: Original Sin was one of several cRPGs released in the past couple of years, although it stands head and shoulders above its brethren in one aspect: the freedom it gives you to tackle its quests and combat. I played it for a good couple of dozen hours but, after hearing they’re going to release an enhanced edition with a different story and more voice acting, I decided to wait.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is being developed with the same idea of making something novel in the gameplay department. In it you can expect more of the first game’s interactive gameplay – heavy use of environments, combination of spells and area conditions, co-op – and several new mechanics that, at least in writing, look brilliant.
You can have a more thorough look at the kickstarter page, but I’ll give you the condensed lowdown: you’ll start the game by creating a character, this time picking from a selection of races (from dwarves to lizards), and your origin story – you could be an assassin, or a noble or perhaps a criminal. This will affect your personal motivations and the interactions available to you with the world’s NPCs. As each different character and origin story will have a goal of its own and different interests, conflict between players will often happen, inadvertently or not, as their goals collide.
Here’s a bit from the folks at Rock, Paper, Shotgun¹:
Another character was secretly in the employ of a group of assassins and had a target on the island. The other players didn’t know about this but could accidentally ruin the assassin’s chances of success by interfering with the target. In a perfect example of the kind of intertwined branching objectives that can emerge, one character might follow a plotline that makes them reliant on the survival of the assassination target in order to leave the island, while the assassin has been promised safe passage if he carries out the job. The respective players might not be aware that they’re locked into contradictory objectives but when they do become aware, they can either decide to work together for the greater good, or apply metaphorical (and perhaps real) knives to backs.
What this means, essentially, is that you’ll be able to put your friendships to the iron trial of in-game griefing. Want to make a liquid that looks like a potion, smells like a potion and tastes like the innards of a Brazilian Wandering Spider (I’d link to its wikipedia page, but with a name like that I felt it was unnecessary) and give it to a friend? Well, why not?
Add to that an improved crafting system, the possibility of Skill Crafting – where you combine two spells or skills to create a new one, such as mixing lacerate, a bleeding spell, with a rain spell to make it rain blood, which would be bloody convenient (*wink*) if you have the leech talent, which lets you recover HP from standing in blood pools. Combat will also feature a few new aspects to take into consideration, such as a cover system for your ranged characters and a push/pull interaction which lets you place other people into, for instance, a greasy surface you’ve created, only to light it on fire later.
You’ll also have a new category of skills called Source Skills, which require you to tap into a limited resource pool called Source Points to use them, which can be recharged in different manners but, most importantly, can also be recharged by absorbing the bodies of the fallen or sucking out the astral energy of the spirits around them. Evil wizards? Check².
The other change the developers over at Larian Studios have made clear that they’re going to make is the tone of the narrative. The first game had an overall silly motif through and through, and while I felt that the humor was funny for the most part, the lack of a more serious, overarching narrative did diminish my interest in completing it, a sentiment shared by enough people that their upcoming enhanced edition will feature a different story. From their kickstarter page:
A more grounded and serious narrative will ensure that you’ll feel invested in the world, but rest assured that we won’t forget to make you smile. We have a bigger narrative team now, meant to ensure that you’ll have many interesting choices to make.
If anything, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an ambitious project – much like the first game was. In their Ultima-inspired game you could solve quests and situations in many different ways, reducing the gap between the experience you have in a table-top RPG and a computer one. If the sequel plays out the competitive/co-operative, asymmetrical cards it plans on having well, this distance will be even further reduced. If I had to describe the first game in one word, it’d be freedom – any attempt to increase and further branch out this systemic narrative system will be met with my warm smile, covering the thoughts of “how unexpectedly can I do this”, a sentiment that oozed from both narrative and combat in Divinity: Original Sin.
¹they actually played an early stage of the sequel, so if you’re interested I’d definitely recommend you read the linked article, or the very thorough likes of RPGCodex’s piece.
²they’re actually sourcerors.