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Divinity: Original Sin II preview: Choose your own reactive, gloriously chaotic adventure

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 23, 2016
And it's coming to Early Access on September 15.

“Oh, see that? He’s learning.” I laughed at the semi-sarcastic quip came from Larian’s Swen Vincke, since it made for a nice change of pace from his mantra during the first half of my hands-on demo with Divinity: Original Sin II—“Uh, hit F5 please,” prompting me to save the game in case everything went horribly wrong.

Walk into an outpost guarded by profiteering bandits? “Hit F5, please.” Casually initiate a conversation with an unassuming NPC? “Hit F5, please.” Inevitably his voice would pop in from over my shoulder, Vincke’s foreknowledge of certain death struggling with his desire to let me play without restrictions.

But I didn’t need prompting when I decided to go take on a pack (Are they a pack?) of eighteen-foot long alligators. That time, I hit F5 myself—much to Vincke’s relief. And mine, considering I was brutally murdered in the first turn.

“We’re out of resurrection scrolls”

This was our first hands-on with Divinity: Original Sin II, and the first time I’ve seen the game since it was unveiled last August. And it was the real game, too. Where last year Vincke demonstrated some basic systems of the studio’s isometric CRPG follow-up but in a thrown-together prototype world, what I played a few weeks back in San Francisco was the opening chunk of the actual game, which is launching in Early Access on September 15.

Divinity: Original Sin II

As you might’ve inferred from that intro, it packs the same bloodlust as the first Original Sin, one of the best PC games of 2014. I created my character (a battlemage—my first mistake) and picked a backstory for him, deciding on “The Red Prince,” a fallen lizard-prince who’s been betrayed by his family and exiled to distant lands.

It’s one of the many unique pre-written “origin stories” you can roleplay as in Original Sin II, with certain extra dialogue options and attitudes specific to their upbringing. For The Red Prince, that meant the character-agnostic traits “Noble” and “Scholar,” plus a few specific to me personally—fellow lizard-people who were happy to see me toppled and my reign cut short, others convinced I could win back the throne.

More interesting is the fact these characters still exist if you decide not to play them. Didn’t choose The Red Prince? You’ll still find him in the world, he can still join your party, and using him to start off dialogue with NPCs will result in the same opportunities as if you’d begun the game with him. (You can also start the game as a “Generic” character, with your own custom traits.)

 

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