Your donations keep RPGWatch running!

Divinity 2 Preview

by Joost "Myrthos" Mans, 2008-08-27

At the Games Convention I had the opportunity to check out Divinity 2, which was presented to me by Larian Studio’s Swen “Lar” Vincke in a half hour session. In this two part article you’ll first read the impressions I got from the game based on this half hour session followed by a Q&A in the second part.

Note: this article contains spoilers

 

Tutorial

In Divinity 2, the sequel to Divine Divinity, the player starts as a dragon slayer initiate who is introduced into the mysteries of the dragon slayers. You as a player arrive in a zeppelin where the first quest is received from your commanding officer. This first part of the game is the tutorial area and it will teach you everything you need to know to be able to play the game.

The first thing that needs to be done is to go to the village where you encounter various NPCs and where you are taught your initial skills and can start forming your character. Like Divine Divinity, Divinity 2 uses a classless skill system that works in a similar manner, but with a whole set of different skills.

One of the things you will be taught is the mystery of mindreading, which according to the words of Swen Vincke; “is a cool thing we have introduced in the game”. Every time you encounter a dialog in the game you have the option to read the mind of the person in front of you, which gives a new and unique twist to the quest you are doing. The mind reading is skill based as well, and you will get better at it when you assign more skill points to it.
Furthermore, you will be given your shiny silver-blue eyes that will allow the dragon slayer to see the world of the undead (and yes I did ask him what this meant but he refused to spill the proverbial beans on this one). In addition, you will also be infused with dragon memory, which is what a dragon slayer needs to be able to combat dragons.

 

Quests

Once your training has finished you head out on the zeppelin to the town of Broken Valley. Dragons have been sighted in the area and you have to talk to the villagers for any clues. The other dragon slayers have already run out into the forest in search of the dragons. To show that Divinity 2 is not just another action RPG, but a very deep RPG with a lot of action, Swen ran us through one of the quests.

"I will show you one of the quests and also show you how mindreading works. I am going to visit 2 guys. So these guys are having a bit of an argument. I will interrupt them and I will show you how the quest structure in Divinity 2 has been approached. These guys will start you off into a standard ‘fasten my shoelaces’ quest, where he asks me if I want to make extra money and I say; ok what’s the deal and he says well I am killing goblins and I give you money for every goblin heart that you bring me. Here I can accept the quest which will then bring me to a series of other quests, or I can refuse the quest and then I will enter another quest chain. This is what we tried to do with every single quest. The choices you make in Divinity 2 are much more immediate than before.

When you are in a dialog with someone you also have the option to do mindreading and the way we implemented it is really new. It is a special power of the dragon slayer and when I use it I learn that he is actually not going to pay me enough for the Goblin heart. I can get much more money if I’m going to negotiate with him when I come back with my hearts. Or I can go to the guy to whom he is selling those hearts and get more money from him. There is however also a downside to mindreading that I can’t talk about at the moment unfortunately.
Besides accepting and mindreading you can also refuse the quest. When I refuse the quest, the guy says: Ok, bugger off I’m going to do it myself and off he goes. Later on he will then be found in the woods surrounded by Goblins and you can pick up the quest with him again. If I had accepted I would have gotten a series of quests that were darker in nature, like there is a famine somewhere; there is some food to stop this famine and are you going to help him to steal the food and so on.

 

Combat

The combat in the game has been taken a step further than Divine Divinity. The dragon slayer is very agile and can move and jump around in combat. This might sound a bit too much like Prince of Persia, but it allows the player to make combos of moving, jumping and slashing with his sword to kill the opponent. Swen showed us the jump attack, which is skill based, where the hero jumped and slashed with his sword in one smooth movement.

In another example the hero was surrounded by Goblins. Instead of hacking away at them, Swen used a skill to frighten them, which resulted in the Goblins running away. This gave him more time and made it possible to use his bow on the Goblins that were running away to a safe distance. In a second fight, one of the opponents was charmed, resulting in that opponent helping him out, evening the numbers a bit. By summoning a creature as well, the fight was quickly won.

Combat can be made much easier in Divinity 2 by using the right combinations of skills. This holds the promise in it that, in contrast to Divine Divinity, it will be very hard to survive in the game by using only one powerful skill.

 

Quest trees

To show more of the complex quest structure Swen showed us a second quest. There was Dana, married to the farmer Karl, but having a secret affair with the town blacksmith Dirk -though you don’t know that at the time. Dana asks you to bring a letter to the blacksmith and mentions that you should not tell her husband. The first choice you have is whether to pick up the letter or not. Once you do, you can bring the letter to Dirk or break the seal of the letter and read it - or bring it to the husband. Curious as ever, the choice was made to break the seal and read the letter, which explains Dana is having an affair with Dirk. Bringing the letter to Dirk now will make him react differently to you than if you brought him the letter unopened. But there is also the choice to talk to Dana again and confront her with the contents of the letter, so that you can blackmail her - or you can read her mind. When you do that, you learn she thinks about a hidden key in the village belonging to her husband that she cannot find. The key can be found in the village if you look close enough. When you find it, it will open a cellar. In that cellar is a diary that belongs to Karl and in that diary he wrote he killed the former lover of Dana. You can go to the guards with the information who will then arrest Karl or you can go to Karl and blackmail him instead. Then again you can do none of that and just tell Karl about the letter and the affair, which will make him angry at Dana and throw her off the farm. She then runs off to Dirk and goes to live with him. Dirk is not so happy with the chain of events that I set in motion and I will find that when I want to buy some weapons from him the prices have become higher.

This shows a bit of the complexity of the quest system in which there are consequences to all choices you make and a bonus, like the choice that was made here, which resulted in the hero receiving an amulet from Karl, which he would not have received otherwise, besides by killing him and stealing it from him, of course.

 

Dragon Knight

Later on in the story you will become a dragon knight which will give you the ability to change into a dragon. This will put you as a player in a predicament; dragons are evil - they killed the Divine One and that is why they are hunted everywhere. Now you finds yourself cursed into becoming a Dragon Knight, resulting in everybody hunting you.

A dragon is far better than a horse though. You can fly and navigate quite smoothly over a deep world, which actually looks like it is a lot of fun. You as a player will learn at a certain stage how to become a dragon. Once you did that and you are up in the air the navigation is like a first person shooter. Your arrow keys move you in the right direction and it controls and moves very smoothly. When you are a dragon you still have access to all the skills, like you do when you are human. The dragon is already a fearsome beast without the skills, but with the skills it becomes even more powerful.

The gameplay in the later stages of the game is built around the fact that you use your dragon potential and your human potential. The mix between the two is very powerful. As said you are in a world that hates dragons which means that there are a lot of anti-dragon defenses, so you best deal with those as a human. Sometimes it’s not the most opportune thing to change into a dragon for example when you are in a dungeon. The size of a dungeon does not really fit the dragon…

 

Conclusion

I loved Divine Divinity and even liked Beyond Divinity to a certain extent. I’m not much of an action RPG player - never have been and probably never will be. I find many of these games lacking the challenge and the combat leads to boredom after a while. Divine Divinity was labeled as an action RPG, but it was much more than that. It offered a deeper RPG experience than most action RPGs have to offer. I think Mike’s retrospective of Divine Divinity tells it all.

So the expectations I have for Divinity 2 are high. Sure the graphics are a big improvement over the graphics of Divinity and are on par - or maybe even better - from what is to be expected of modern day RPGs. You can check out our gallery to verify this for yourself. The music is from Kirill Pokrovsky and I have faith that he will be able to match or even improve over his Divine music. But even though graphics and music are important, more important to me is whether or not the developers will be able to match or even improve upon the RPG experience Divinity had to offer. The quests that were shown to me clearly point in that direction and the combat looks like an improvement as well. I hope they also succeed in improving and balancing the skill system over the one used in Divine Divinity and that they keep the humor of the game. I know that you can never be sure by watching a half hour presentation, but Swen Vincke was able to impress me and give me faith that Divinity 2 will be the game I want to play.

Box Art

Information about

Divinity II: Ego Draconis

Developer: Larian Studios

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Combat: Real-time
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: Unknown

Regions & platforms
Germany, Austria & Switzerland
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2009-07-24
· Publisher: dtp

Germany, Austria & Switzerland
· Divinity 2 - Ego Draconis
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2009-10-02
· Publisher: dtp

Western Europe
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2009-11-06
· Publisher: dtp

UK
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2009-11-20
· Publisher: dtp

North America
· Divinity 2 - Ego Draconis
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2010-01-05
· Publisher: CDV

UK
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2009-11-20
· Publisher: dtp

Western Europe
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2009-11-06
· Publisher: dtp

North America
· Divinity 2 - Ego Draconis
· Homepage
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2010-01-05
· Publisher: dtp

More information


Other articles