While at Pax East I had the immense joy to demo one of the standout RPG’s of the convention, Divinity: Original Sin II from Larian Studios

Origin Stories & Unique Character Creation 

I spent almost half an hour choosing between a cannibalistic elf or a musical lizard before I was ushered into the main story. Looking through the selection I was never able to detect any bias between characters, as the designers put extreme detail into each model that I could not take my eyes off of. Though, if you want to jump right into the story, you can start right away as four preset “Origin” characters that each have their own origin story. The origin stories contain events and interactions that will have a major impact on the main campaign.

Among the origin characters are Sebille Kaleran, a cannibalistic Elf; Ifan ben-Mezd, the revenge-seeking Human; Lohse, a woman whose mind is a playground for demons; and The Red Prince, an exiled Lizard prince who seeks to clear his name. We have been told by sources at Larian studios that two more origin stories will be added, one of a dwarf and an additional undecided character.  Don’t worry, though, even if you do not choose one of the provided characters as the hero of your journey, your personal character can take the other four origin characters as companions. Your interactions with those characters will be dependent on your race, background, and actions. I would personally choose all of the companions to see a Legolas and Gimli-style friendship develop.

However, if you don’t want a pre-set character, you can also design your own “Custom” character within the five races: Human, Lizard, Dwarf, Elf, and Undead.  From there you can choose classes from Battlemage to Rogue, and if you want to be even more specific, you can customize that class by changing stats, abilities, talents, and skills.  The developers have worked to expand your character’s backstory by using your chosen gender, race, profession and origin story to unlock specific tags in the tag system. You have the inborn tag, which decides the genetic abilities of your character, and your background tags, which decide what the history of your character is.

Among the hundreds of new skills and spells that have been created, Polymorph and Summoning are two new classes that have been added. Polymorphers can take on animal characteristics like sprout bulls horns to deliver devastating charges or grow wings to glide over the battlefield.  They can even turn other people into animals. During the demo I chose the Summoner that can bring their demon Incarnates to battle.  Almost like a demonic pet, summoners can call their incarnate to defend them and do their bidding. Summoners can also summon totems whose abilities are dependent on surfaces like fire, water, and blood.  These totems defend the sorcerer, and two can be summoned at one time during battle.

Musical Stories

The ability to choose your own music track in character creation was one of my favorite new elements of Divinity: Original Sin II. With the unfortunate passing of  Kirill Pokrovsky, Borislav Slavov now provides a brilliant score, which allows for new forms of storytelling. In this new venture, Borislav has created individual solo tracks for each main track that will add to the return of Kirill Pokrovsky’s musical score. In addition to character creation, players can also choose the instrument they want their soundtrack to play. From a cello to a flute, this instrument will be prominent in the main track and will have solos during major events and character development.

Complex Storytelling 

Divinity: Original Sin II thrives on its ability to provide creative dialogue between origin characters, created characters, and NPCs.  When asked how the writing developed from the first title to this one, we were told,  “in order for this story to work, nine writers made up a team to create unique dialogue and plots.”

A continuation of its predecessor, it takes place 4 years after Beyond Divinity, 1,000 years after the first game, and the Magisters of the Divine Order is rounding up sorcerers and putting them on an island in exile. As you are on a boat headed for Fort Joy, your ship is attacked by creatures called Voidwoken – beings who are attracted to magic – and you wake up on the island.  From there you immediately encounter more Voidwoken in turn-based combat.

If you are a fan of varied interaction with your environment, then you will definitely enjoy this game. Larian Studios has provided players with more access to their NPCs as they can now talk to, kill, trade with, and steal from any friendly NPC in the game; and they will still be able to complete the game based on any of these actions.  So, if you decide to murder one of the guardsman who has the only key to the gate hidden somewhere, chances are you will still be able to access that area somehow.

Co-op & PVP Mode

You will be able to play Divinity with even more friends, as co-op has increased from 2 to 4 in order to create more diverse teams within the game. If you want to take this journey solo, you can fill your team with in-game companions with their own origin stories. However, the goals and motives of the characters will, as in real life, often conflict. As a result, players must choose to co-operate or fight against their own companions. If the characters choose to work together, the players can activate a shared inventory that can be accessed by any member of the group. So, if you are with your friends, or just really enjoy a specific in-game character, you might want to make your alliances quickly.

The developers also created another mode to let players burn off some steam separate from the main story. The new PVP mode allows 4 players to battle in arenas, where players will select from pre-set heroes. There, they can participate in 20 min Free-for-All, Capture the Flag, and King of the Hill-style missions.

Improved Battle Mechanics & New Magic

Divinity is sticking to the classics with its turn-based battle structure. Though, this time, around action point equals 1 movement, allowing the player to carefully plan out their moves. The combat combines close, mid, and long range attacks with a mixture of physical and magic-based damage specific to your class and race. You can either choose to battle on the ground or take out enemies from up above, landing on them during attacks. Using your environment you can use different surfaces like water, sand, and blood to set traps, increase your abilities, and lower the stats of others.  As a sorcerer, your magic is your strength and Source Spells are among the most dangerous weapons in the game.

The complexity of both the story and characters of this game is contained within three acts that each have their own map with 10-15 hours of playability. I felt that even with an hour with the demo, I did not even scratch the surface of Divinity Original Sin II’s world and it honestly left me wanting to break it open and see what was in store. Larian Studios does a phenomenal job in combining layers of mechanics and storytelling set in a gorgeous environment that challenges its players. For those who are waiting for this extraordinary game, like me, no official date has been announced. However, sources from Larian Studios have told us there will be an announcement sometime this year. Divinity Original Sin II will first release on PC and Mac and will release on PS4 and Xbox One at a later date.

About The Author

Christine M
Sr. Community Developer/ Staff Writer

About me: Christine "smollbirb" Marten is a recent college grad that has been playing video games since she was gifted with her first NES console in 1999. Known as LuxAterna on Steam, she started as a games journalist in 2012 and has been writing about games and the industry since. In college, she acted as the president/clubmother for the gaming club, and hosted her own gaming radio show called SoundWave Games. When she is not gaming she can be seen cosplaying at conventions, working with non-profits that fundraise through video games (like Extra Life and Child's Play), acting as community manager for The Senpai Project, playing League of Legends with friends, or serenading passerbyers with her violin skills on the streets of NYC. She will literally play anything that is thrown at her (but please don't throw to hard she is smoll). She enjoys indie games and horror games especially, and her favorite series of all times is Kingdom Hearts. Her third love, after video games and violin, is puns. Although it is a dangerous life she makes them whenever she hears the opportunity to do so. Christine hopes to bring her own spin on storytelling to the GAW community as she continues to seek out whatever the world has to offer!