Divinity: Original Sin 2 Preview & Interview – Perfecting an Already Great Game

Alessio Palumbo
Posted Sep 5, 2016
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Larian Studios is finally going big with Divinity: Original Sin 2, after the success enjoyed with the first game. The Belgian developer found its breakout game with Original Sin and now RPG fans are very much looking forward to the sequel, which received over twice as much in crowdfunding via Kickstarter.

At Gamescom 2016, the developer presented some of Divinity: Original Sin 2’s new features. First of all, character creation is now set to be much deeper thanks to the ability to choose different races such as elf, dwarf, lizard, undead and of course human.

This will determine how NPCs in the world react to your player character, but there are also racial skills and talents to consider. For instance, if you pick an elf you’ll get Corpse Eater – anyone in the game can eat corpses, but they’ll just get sick unless they are elves. This race is not only able to heal by eating corpses, but they can also sometimes remember something about the dead person and even possibly inherit one of their skills, such as a magical spell.

During character creation you may also choose a musical instrument, which will dynamically change the musical score during your game, for example when you score a critical hit.

Going back to how the world reacts to your character, Divinity: Original Sin 2 adds a tag system. For instance, you could choose two tags like outlaw hero (if you dig the Robin Hood archetype) or even noble villain.

The biggest addition in character creation may just be the ability to pick an origin story, though. This was added by Larian to address a specific critique often brought upon the previous game.

While players can still decide to have a generic background and roleplay their character, the origin stories will add a personal quest. For instance, Lohse has been possessed by a demon which will sometimes emerge and force her to say or do things; the Red Prince was supposed to be the next emperor of the lizard country, but he was framed and kicked out, so he’s eager to right this wrong and reclaim his throne; Sybille is an elf who was a slave to lizards, rebelled and ate her masters. This allowed her to remember other lizards who have elf slaves and she decided to tattoo their names on her body, setting forth on a quest to kill them all.

What’s more, in case you go with the generic background you’ll still find NPCs with those origin stories in the world. You may choose to ignore them, kill them or add them to your party; if you ignore them, they’ll progress in their personal quests on their own.

Divinity: Original Sin 2’s Early Access release, due in ten days from now, will throw player characters in a rather thorny situation: as Source wielders, they are among those imprisoned by Bishop Alexander on the island of Fort Joy. That’s because creatures from the Void are being attracted by the Source and Bishop Alexander thinks he can find a cure, once all Source wielders are confined on the island. Except the Source isn’t something to be cured of…

In the very beginning of the game, it will be rather hard to find useful items (but there’s a black market somewhere on the island). Of course, the main goal is to remove the Source collar (which blocks your character’s powers) and escape the island; there will be multiple ways to do that.

During the presentation, a dialogue between the right hand of Bishop Alexander and a soldier was showcased. The soldier, believed to be helping prisoners escape the island, is questioned and ultimately executed. At that point, we can pick up the soldier’s severed limbs and eat them (if our character is an elf) or look for an elf that would eat them; by doing so, we’d learn that the soldier was actually helping prisoners and thus we’d receive a hint towards a possible escape route.

Finally, the folks from Larian clarified that the engine also received a significant overhaul thanks to the introduction of PBR, higher texture quality, cloth simulation, improved animation and particle effects systems.

After the presentation, we were able to ask a few questions to Executive Producer David Walgrave.

During the presentation, you said that the writing team has increased in size.

Yes. The first game was written by two writers, but one took a really long Holiday so I usually say it was written by 1.5 writers. We now have eight writers. Just like I said during the presentation, I also believe in quality over quantity, but the way we are working now with the origin stories makes it easy to distribute these guys over the origin stories. We have a couple of writers taking care of the main story while the rest help on the origin stories, but they all criticize each other’s work which also helps.

I know you said that it’s not about quantity, but with the additional writers can we expect a larger game in Divinity: Original SIn 2?

I don’t think it’s a longer game. It’s approximately the same size, but there is more content. In just one playthrough, you will experience only one story. Now, when you restart the game you can get different stories as well.

So we can say that the game is more replayable than the first one.

Yes! Most certainly.

When Divinity: Original Sin first launched it didn’t have any voice acting, but you added that with the Enhanced Edition. Divinity: Original Sin 2 won’t have voice acting, but are you planning to add it again with another Enhanced Edition?

We don’t know yet if it’s doable, because there’s now so much written content, there are so many words. It might take a long time, be very expensive…We need to decide this, but first we need to have numbers. We are going to crunch numbers, not only for voice recording but also for localization. Translating a complex RPG like this is not about translating 100K words, the previous game was almost half a million words.

It’s not just about costs, it’s also about what you get in return and how long it takes. We want to release everything at once if possible, there are indeed some things that we need to decide on.

In the Kickstarter campaign you also mentioned an improved dialogue system, can you expand on that?

What we meant is the tool that we use in-house to make dialogues has been improved. It’s now more user friendly, which will also help modders since we’ll still have modding tools and you can still create your own RPGs with the editor. It’ll be easier to create dialogues with it.

We also introduced the tag system to dialogues, which improved it immensely.

You talked about some of the tech improvements during the presentation. Are you going to support DirectX 12 or Vulkan?

We’re now running on DX11, but our graphics programmer is indeed looking into those technologies.

Of course, you released the Enhanced Edition on consoles as well and I bet there are a lot of console gamers interested in Divinity: Original Sin 2. Is that something you’ll be making after the PC launch?

Yes, we’re focusing on releasing on PC first. And that means making it run on PC, making the user interface for mouse & keyboard…Once we’ve done that and we’re happy with the game, we’ll start looking at user interfaces that support a controller, be it for PlayStation or Xbox or if only to be able to add controller support on PC.

We’ll look into consoles after the game is done.

So there won’t be controller support on PC at first?

Not initially, no.

Thank you for your time.

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