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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.

Some paths we could take:

  1. Forge evidence against the dwarf to get your mother out of jail.
  2. Forge evidence against your own mother to get the dwarf out of jail.
  3. Heal the mayor and ask who really committed the crime.
  4. Kill the mayor, talk to the mayor’s ghost, and again ask who really committed the crime.

And then there are branches after those branches—if you find the real criminal, for instance, how do you handle that revelation?

Some characters even have secondary quest goals. For instance, our human thief was let out of prison at the beginning of the game on condition that he kill a certain character—a character involved in this very quest. If he doesn’t kill his target, he’ll be in trouble. If he does kill the target, the quest will obviously play out differently.

Now of course, what we’re playing in this preview is a guided demo—more indicative of Larian’s goals for Original Sin II than anything else. But if the finished product ends up as malleable as what I saw this week? Larian’s going to set a new standard for quest reactivity.

A real story

Speaking of which: Larian’s really talking up its focus on story, this time around. It’s one of the weakest points of the original game—fantastic mechanics saddled with a pretty bog-standard fantasy tale, albeit one bolstered by some hilarious dialogue. The story was in no way up to par with Wasteland 2 or Pillars of Eternity though, let alone something like The Witcher 3.

It’s too early to get excited, but I was told the writing crew has expanded from “one and a half” writers on Original Sin to seven on Original Sin II (and potentially even more after the Kickstarter). Hopefully an increase in writing staff is commensurate with a similar increase in writing quality.

Sourcery

A quick side note: Remember when I said you could talk to the mayor’s ghost? Yeah, that’s a thing now. Those who played Original Sin might remember the Pet Pal trait, which let you talk to various animals in the world. Well think that, except for ghosts.

In Original Sin, you played the part of two Source Hunters—essentially bounty hunters/extralegal police who hunted down practitioners of a forbidden magic called “sourcery.” Original Sin II flips that, with four source-adept party members.

As a result, there’s an entire Source branch of abilities now—ultra-powerful spells that require a “Source Point” to cast, as well as the standard turn-based combat action points. Source points can ostensibly be gathered in a few ways, but the most common we saw was also the darkest: Absorbing the souls of your dead enemies during combat.

 

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