One of the highlights during my time with PAX East was Larian Studios’ Divinity: Original Sin II. Granted, this is coming from the perspective of someone who hadn’t played a classic Western styled isometric RPG in many years, so trying this out brought back some positive feelings of nostalgia, when games emphasized roleplaying dialogue options and character immersion over being the prettiest game in town. I’m happy to say that Divinity: Original Sin II is no slouch in either department. Spell effects dazzle, environments are lush and full of detail and the character models themselves look great.
Divinity: Original Sin II takes a unique approach with character creation, giving you five races to choose from, and a tag system that’s inspired by the way tags work on social media. To explain what I mean, a tag functions as a label on your character which offers you different dialogue options, and you can gain and lose these as you progress through the game with the choices you make along the way. Should you choose not to pick one of the default origin stories, the game will give you more tags to make a character that’s truly your own without being bound by a pre-written beginning. In addition to this, there are no defined classes in the game. Rather, your character has presets to choose from, but all stats, abilities, talents and skills can be customized and you have complete freedom to develop yours however you wish.
Combat is done with an action point system, and even just moving around will use up action points. You need to us e everything at your disposal to come out on top. The classic rules apply, like being careful not to hit your allies with friendly fire AOE attacks. But you can also gain height advantages by attacking from above, comboing spells and abilities to poison, burn, freeze enemies, and bless and curse areas as well. When fighting your foes, you have to be mindful that they have can have either physical or magic defensive armor (or both!) and they need to be overcome before you go straight for the hit points.
There are many other features found within Divinity: Original Sin II, far too many for me to list in a short impressions piece like this. But to me it was a promising throwback to the days where games like this were commonplace, and creators focused on what really was important in a role-playing game: characters and story. The game has been out on Steam Early Access for a while now, and the most recent update adds Polymorph and Summoning abilities, as shown in the trailer below.