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Divinity: Original Sin II Preview – Rivellon, and on, and on

Our last trip to the bright and colourful world of Rivellon was a treat the likes of which we rarely get to experience. And it’s getting a sequel which apparently makes everything better. And in the game.

Let’s take a look at some of the best things to come our way when Divinity: Original Sin 2 launches on September 14.

(Un)Cooperative playthrough

The first Divinity: Original Sin, among its many features had a spectacular co-op mode for two people. It even allowed you to resolve your differences during conversations peacefully and playfully. Original Sin 2 goes a couple steps further to gain momentum and make a big leap forward.

First of all, instead of two players with a single hireling each, DOS2 co-op allows you to team up with up to three friends, whether locally in split-screen or online, or in any mix of the two.

Even better: players don’t even really have to cooperate. If you feel like playing nasty pranks on your teammates, nobody is going to stop you. Larian themselves have made a video showcasing some ways to do it.

You may also find yourselves at odds, because origin stories you may pick (if you don’t want custom characters) have at times opposing goals and you’ll need to figure out what to do. Messing up a friend’s quest to complete you own is perfectly acceptable and even expected. Roleplaying is fun!

Game Masters of the Universe

Larian Studios clearly looked at the Game Master modes in Neverwinter Nights (whether the one by BioWare or Obsidian) and decided they can do it too. And you know what? By all accounts it seems that they did.
Although at present they may not be suited for running persistent worlds like NWN, but its adventure-engine apparently has everything you could ask for and some things you may have not even realised you wanted. The mode has been wonderfully presented by Larian in cooperation with Matthew Mercer.

It will allow an aspiring DM to create a sequence of scenes based around different locations. Although it might seem like a PowerPoint approach to storytelling, the true fun lies in the “slides” and what goes on between them.

For instance you’ll be able to customise the scenes extensively. Even the pre-made one will have multiple different setting allowing you to choose the atmosphere, time of day, texture packs etc, so a house by the lake might become a hut at the edge of a swamp. Crafting your own locations will be possible too, of course.

The GM also has complete control of all NPCs (including changing them into anything they could wish), can call for ability checks using the in-built dice roll generator…there’s a ton.

At pre-made decision points you’ll be able to create a sort of Make-your-Own-Story-like vignettes. Of course if your player won’t like options A, B, and C you so thoughtfully prepared for them, you’ll be able to add new ones on the spot, too.
This mode will support up to four players+GM at release, but who knows what people will be able to mod in.

Excellent audio

Recently Larian announced, that Original Sin II is going to have extensive voiceover, much like the Extended Edition of the previous game, only, you know, more, because DOS2 is reportedly much larger than its predecessor.

It’s also going to have an orchestral soundtrack, so that’s nice too. One of the best things about classic cRPGs were their magnificent music, so seeing it in the one game that manages to link the new and the old is all the more welcome.

Extensive character creation

While the previous game had a pretty solid character creation, some could feel it wasn’t as consequential or varied as it could have been. So Larian decided to improve on that too.

Now instead of being locked into playing humans, we’ll be able to select from a number of species, each with its unique features. There will be Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Lizards, and Undead. Of course customisation will be suitably complex. You’ll even be able to pick the leading musical instrument for your character, playing during important moments. Finally, there will be tags describing your character: noble, poor, scoundrel etc, each influencing NPCs and quests in appropriate ways.

Select your hero

If creating your own protagonist doesn’t appeal to you, Divinity: Original Sin II will have several pre-made Origins, like an exiled Lizard prince, a weathered paladin (or sorts), or a freed slave seeking vengeance. There are several to pick from, with unique voiceovers, of course. The best part? The Origins you don’t pick you can still add to your party, because they exist as NPCs in the game world.

A myriad of other things

We will also get to play with two additional branches of magic. One of them, Polymorphing, allows you to temporarily alter your own body. Get wings, turn your arm into a reaching tentacle, or get yourselves some horns and charge into enemies. The other branch is all about using existing (or created) surfaces to summon totems and elementals. For instance you could summon a fire totem/imp to a ring of blazing earth left by an explosion.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is the ability to craft skills. If you played the first game, you might remember combining, for instance, blank skill books with specific spell scrolls to learn abilities. Now you’ll be able to combine two abilities to get the best of both worlds. If for some reason you wanted to conjure a rain of blood, you can. Gross, but also exciting. One wonders what crazy combinations we will get to create.

Final statements

Larian Studios are on a path to creating a game that may join the legends of the genre. Complex mechanics, stunning presentation, incredible scope, and a storyline allegedly more serious than in the previous instalment, they all sound very promising.

You’ll be able to see for yourself when Divinity: Original Sin II launches on September 14 this year, which means there is very little time to get a pre-order, if pre-loading and launching a new game immediately at launch appeal to you.

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