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Divinity: Original Sin II preview: An ambitious sequel to one of the biggest, best RPGs of 2014

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 27, 2015
When you look up 'ambitious' in the dictionary, you find a picture of this game.

Divinity: Original Sin II

When talking about last year’s excellent Divinity: Original Sin, I’m fond of saying, “Imagine the game you’d get if, instead of dying off in the early 2000s, the isometric CRPG genre had kept evolving through 2014.” Now imagine that the same company came back afterward and pitched a sequel twice the scope.

That’s Divinity: Original Sin II.

And Larian’s founder Swen Vincke has a very specific vision for the game: “What they did at BioWare back in the day is they had Baldur’s Gate, they had this framework, and then for the sequel they expanded in every single direction. This is what we’re doing with Original Sin II.”

Name-dropping Baldur’s Gate II, a.k.a. one of the most oversized, extensive RPGs of all time—and one of the best. That’s quite a target to aim for.

Well I saw Original Sin II for about an hour earlier this week, and it looks ambitious as hell. Here’s what stood out.

Personalized characters

The original Original Sin (say that five times fast) was surprisingly sparse for character creation, considering the rich world Larian created. While classes were wonderfully fluid, your two characters were limited to human or…human.

In Original Sin II, your character’s background is paramount. In addition to your class, you’ll be choosing race (humans, dwarves, and elves were on display in our demo) and potentially some sort of unique upbringing.

This plays into pretty much every conversation and interaction you’ll have in Original Sin II. For instance, coming upon a statue on the side of the road we were shown how the four party members individually react. Lady Gwynne, who (according to her “Heiress” background) grew up in the area, related her fond memories of the statue from childhood. But our dwarf party member was unsettled, commenting on how the statue portrayed someone who famously massacred dwarves. And our elven party member didn’t even know who the statue represented.

That’s only one small and insignificant example. During my hour-long demo I saw everything from a smuggler who would only talk to thief-class characters to townsfolk recognizing Lady Gwynne (and either condemning or supporting her) to a racist dog who’d been trained to hate dwarfs. It’s the sort of character-based responses Bethesda discussed for Skyrim but on a much larger level.

Branching quests expanded

And because people react to different characters in different ways, quests need to support multiple paths to completion. Original Sin was already pretty good about throwing in two or three paths to each objective, but Original Sin II appears to have even more branches.

Upon entering town, we were informed that the mayor had been poisoned. The suspects? An anonymous dwarf and the mother of our very own Lady Gwynne—because, remember, we have the “heiress” trait.

 

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