Divinity: Original Sin Second Preview
Divinity: Original Sin is one of two Divinity games currently in development at Larian Studios. Where Dragon Commander is a RTS with RPG elements, Original Sin is a full blown RPG which takes us back to a time before the first Divinity game.
Almost a year ago I previewed Divinity: Original Sin for the first time. I am not going to repeat what I've written in that article (not much at least) and will focus on what has changed or what is new compared to the first preview. Besides that I now got the chance to actually play the game. For a complete impression of the game you might want to read that first preview (again) as well.
One thing that has completely changed during the last year is the background story. There are two main characters, a man and a woman, who are both students at the headquarters of the Source Hunters. This organization has been created by the council of seven to ban the use of Source, which is used for magic. The reason for this is that even though Source can be used for good, it can also be used for evil. The Source Hunters are responsible for locating the users of Source and stopping them from using it again.
The headquarters of the Source Hunters was attacked and the inhabitants were unable to stop the attackers. Our two heroes are the only two survivors of that attack. Once they escape from the headquarters they meet the young Zandalor. He was traveling to the Source Hunters' headquarters because the council and all its buildings are covered in a thick layer of ice. Zandalor discovered he is unable to remove the ice, none of his tricks were successful. As he recognized this was Source at work, he came to the Source Hunters for help. When he noticed that their headquarters was attacked as well he realizes the attacks are connected and asks the two survivors to go into the world to learn as much as possible about Source magic in order to be able to solve the council's problem.
Although the use of Source is forbidden, our two heroes know a bit of Source, because Source Hunters must have knowledge of it in order to do their job.
A classless system
Divinity: Original Sin is like the other Divinity games a classless game where you can develop your character into whatever you like. To do that you can modify the primary stats of each of the characters whenever you level up:
- Strength influences the damage for non-magic non-ranged weapons and the weapons you can use.
- Dexterity influences the damage for ranged weapons and what you can carry
- Intelligence influences the damage with magic, which spells you can use and the amount of mana.
- Constitution influences the amount of hit points and resistances, like poison and disease.
- Speed influences how far you can walk with one action point and your defense against attacks.
- Perception influences how good you are in attacking someone, the chance to hit, and how far you can see and how well you can hear.
Next to these primary stats there are many more secondary stats, like how well you can inflict damage, how good your resistances are for specific damage types, but also non-combat related stats like charisma, luck, affinity and affection. The secondary stats are influenced by the primary stats and by your actions in the game.
Any opponent you encounter is using the same system and can have access to the same spells and weapons as you would have. To defeat them you will have to take into account what their strengths and weaknesses are. A fire elemental for example cannot be harmed by fire and could even heal if you throw a fireball at it. Although for a fire elemental it is obvious that it has a high resistance against fire and a low resistance against cold, for many other opponents it is not. The game does provide an option to check what the statistics are of your opponents depending on your intelligence level. A higher level will show you more stats. To temporarily see more stats you can also eat specific food like fish, which is one of the things that increases your intelligence for a short time.
Single player versus multiplayer
We already know that the game has two protagonists and as explained in the previous article, you can hire two mercenaries allowing a total of four players to play the game simultaneously. However the focus is on the two heroes, so all conversations and interactions are limited to these two. Also the two mercenaries do not have a story of their own. At the moment their only purpose is to provide aid in combat.
I've seen the game in action in multiplayer mode, but I was wondering how this would play in single player mode. To test this I got the opportunity to play the game by myself and the short answer is that it plays like one would expect from a game with a party of two and turn-based combat. Playing solo never felt like something that was added on top of the multiplayer game. The game is controlled with a mouse and has short-cut keys for the various panels, such as inventory, character and skills panels. Selecting the icon of the other protagonist lets you control that person instead. In my solo game-play I did not notice any game elements that were not as I would have expected them to be.
My solo gameplay was automatically changed into a multiplayer game when the second player connected to my game and control of the second character was handed to that player. It also changed back into a single player game when that second player left again.
Divinity: Original Sin uses a dialogue system in which the two protagonists can disagree with each other on the actions to take. Secondary stats like intimidation and charming are used to determine who will win such a discussion. The results of the choices made does have an influence on the relation between the two protagonists, making it possible to develop them into haters, lovers or anything in between, which will have its influence in the game.
A full scale editor will be shipped with the game which allows everyone to make mods for Divinity: Original Sin. This is the same editor as is used by Larian Studios to develop the game, so everything they have done you should be able to do as well. It is based on their collective knowledge of creating RPGS gathered in the last 15 years.
Creating a mod usually starts with creating a new level. Using the various tools available a terrain can be created with trees, hills, valleys, rocks, grass, houses and other elements. To create a house you select the type of wall you want to use and drag your mouse to place the walls. The windows are automatically placed on these walls, but their position can be changed at any time. Adding a door is just one click away.
Characters that are placed in the game can be given any look. By means of the editor you can mix and match different types of heads, bodies, limbs and their colors. Any color is possible so you could create a Smurf mod if you like. The characters can be given any one of the available automated behaviors or you can create a behavior manually.
The trigger used to detect if you are stealing something does not require any manual scripting. All that is needed is to create an area in the UI where the detection is enabled and assign the items to an owner and all items are automatically 'protected'. Once this is in place the characters can be given stories and story events can be scripted.
By adding a series of screenshots of the editor I've created the video below.
If you need something special or are not happy with the default behavior provided by the editor you can always go to the scripting language itself and modify things until you are happy with it.
Once you have tested everything and are ready to finish the creation of your mod, it can be published online and you can play it with your friends.
Wrapping it up
Divinity: Original Sin in its current version is, as can be expected, a somewhat incomplete game. It even crashed, but that also showed something that was working very well. The game crashed for the other player. For me everything kept on working. The only thing that happened was that I got control back of the other character.
The game is estimated to be released in the last quarter of this year and all open ends and balancing issues should be fixed by that time.
There are many things in Divinity: Original Sin to look forward to. It is a highly interactive world where you can move everything around that is not nailed to the ground or wall and where you can combine items into something new. You can use the environment to your benefit, like using the water puddle your opponents are standing in and turn it into ice to disable them. It has a unique dialogue system which makes it more interesting in multiplayer mode. You can't just take everything you want as that is considered stealing and you might even be thrown in jail because of that. It is the first Divinity game that has turn-based combat and it has the quests, humor and character appearances you already know from previous Divinity games (like ZixZax, Jake, Arhu and Zandalor to name a few). If you are worried about the multiplayer options, I would advise you to don't do that. The game plays very well as a single player game.
In short the game felt and looked like Divine Divinity on steroids.
Also check out the Kickstarter for Divinity: Original Sin to turn this game into somethiing even better.
Information aboutDivinity: Original Sin
Developer: Larian Studios
SP/MP: Single + MP
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Expected at 2014-04-25
· Publisher: Larian Studios