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We have put together a round-up of preview write-ups and gameplay video coming out of last week's Gamescom for Divinity: Original Sin II, Larian's ambitious sequel to the very successful and well-received 2014 turn-based CRPG.
We're going to start with the write-ups, like this piece from GameSpot:
Origin stories and traits you don't pick during your initial character customization will appear in Divinity II as other characters. These others you can recruit into your party, and doing so will unlock their specific origin quests--you just have to make sure that character is taking the lead on them. There is also unique dialogue between these special characters--for example, if you have a Sibele (a murderous Elf) and Red Prince (a lizard warrior) in your party, they will have their own unique interactions.
In multiplayer these branching paths can intertwine in ways that make the game competitive. Sibele, for example, has a long list of Lizards she wants to kill. If she is in a multiplayer party with Red Prince, she'll be in trouble, as he also has a long list of the same Lizards that he wants to recruit as he allies. This is sure to cause tension, and adds another layer of Divinity II's story for players to tailor themselves.
And that’s how ten minutes later I found myself on fire, roasting alive and watching my health bar plummet while Vincke said “Chris, do you have—can you rain blood on him?” And he did, and the fire I foolishly stumbled into extinguished itself under a heavy downpour of blood falling from the sky.
Seriously. I mean it. The first Original Sin was pretty great in co-op also, with players by no means required to cooperate in any form, but Original Sin II raises the potential for mayhem. It seemed like no matter what Avellone and I did, hell was bound to break loose.
Take the eighteen-foot alligators I mentioned above. The reason we went after them? One of them swallowed a teleport stone, and a shady character told me if I retrieved it for him, the two of us could escape the prison we were in. Then the same shady character went and (unbeknownst to me) offered the same quest to Avellone.
Had we defeated the alligators, the two of us would’ve been in a deadly struggle to secure the teleport stone and rush it back to the questgiver so that one of us could’ve escaped from prison, thus fulfilling the much-larger goal that arcs over this introductory chapter. Or maybe we could’ve killed the questgiver, taken his stone, and both of us could’ve escaped.
I chose to play as an elf, an ex-slave who is travelling the world with a hitlist of people responsible for the scars that criss-cross her body. Elves, in this world, can eat people to steal their memories. That, like almost everything else, plays into levelling systems (learn abilities by devouring the dead!) as well as questlines.
As I was sitting next to another journalist playing the game, I was treated to the rather horrifying image of his party killing my elf when they encountered her half an hour into the session. We were playing singleplayer rather than working together, and almost every time I glanced across at his screen, I saw a different approach to a problem I’d already encountered or an area that I hadn’t discovered. Whether intentional or not, having the two screens side by side was a perfect way to illustrate the ways in which a relatively small area can contain such a diversity of options and experiences.
My route out of the colony took me through a cavern full of intelligent, flaming slugs and into a prison torture-basement, where I had a prolonged and tense fight against a gang of bastards who came very close to killing my elf and the three friends she’d made along the way. I say ‘friends’ but that might not be the right word. They’re companions, with the same ultimate objective in mind (in this case – escape) but with their own motivations and secrets.
Playing the game, it’s not hard to see why so many cooks are needed for the broth. Every interaction, however minor, takes into account your character’s race, demeanour, origin story, things which are chosen by the player at the start. There are five races to choose from, a number of stock characters with detailed background stories, a 'tag' system which determines a character’s traits, and how the world perceives them.
It’s a lot to take into account, and Larian seem determined to have every conversation reflect these choices. The demonstration reflects this, showing the same encounters with different parties and player characters. Depending on how you’ve set up your avatar, different conversation options are available, even the tone of NPC responses is noticeably altered from one situation to the next. Just imagining the flow charts required induce a migraine.
There are entire questlines that are specific to certain origin stories, and while they will potentially occur no matter what you choose at the start, they will play out differently. They also intertwine, introducing the possibility that two characters in your party will have conflicting goals – an interesting prospect for a single-player campaign, and doubly so when playing in co-op. Playing in tandem with friends with whom your motives do not align sounds fun as hell, if you’re into backstabbing.
The Fort Joy map is enormous, surprisingly so given its effective role as the starting village. As a staging ground for exposition, and a holding pen for party recruitable characters, it feels almost excessive – one wonders how many players will ever see the other parts of the game. (Anecdotally, I know people who played Original Sin for dozens of hours without ever seeing past the first area.)
They also have some gameplay footage:
Eurogamer was another outlet that published some gameplay footage:
Finally, PC Gamer has an entire hour of footage from the game: