Hatching: Divinity II – Dragon Knight Saga

By Jim Rossignol on October 12th, 2010 at 9:13 am.


Wow, it’s been almost a year since I dragged myself through the first dozen or so hours of Divinity II. Just the first dozen hours of what was a huge game, because I simply couldn’t cope with the grind. In many ways this was a well-produced RPG, with a lavish, sprawling world and a bajillion quests, but not being able to walk down the road because I’d get sniped to death by enemies a couple of levels higher than me really took its toll. That hasn’t stopped plenty of other folks from enjoying the dragon-based adventures, however, and it’s now back (BACK!) with an enhanced edition: overhauled graphically, and furnished with a grand total of 180 quests. It really does look lovely, but – despite it brimming with fun ideas, like dragon battles, and flying death-ships – I don’t think I will be going back. Check out the trailer below and you’ll see what I mean, it really does look the part.

No release date that I can dig up for this, but it’s supposed to appear some time this year.

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34 Comments »

  1. Kevin says:

    Sounds like you managed to get as far as I did, Jim. The game had an utterly beautiful art design (shut up, I’m a studio art major) and it’s refreshing that it had surprisingly good writing and voice acting to back it up (Bethesda’s in trouble if their voice acting can’t stand up to the efforts of a bunch of flamands). But eventually I got tired of the many false starts I made in this game that I un-installed it.

    Still, the box sits on my shelf… calling to me.

    • Al3xand3r says:

      The art was incredibly boring, most of the content showed little imagination despite some glimpses of interesting things like the airship in the beginning. Those were sadly the exception rather than the rule. The art wasn’t really of that great quality either and in full screen motion it was much more flawed than some fancy screens would indicate too.

      Ok, if you must do a generic grassy area or whatever can’t you at least make it look cool and unique instead of make some terrain and crank speed tree up or whatever, then add some standard wooden settlements and buildings?

      How about an area like the first city in Icewind Dale, houses intertwined in the roots of a giant tree or something? How about using lighting and colors to give the whole an unreal, interesting look that would fit whatever mood you wanted to give, be it creepy, cheery, relaxing, menacing, or whatever else, a la Xenoblade (a Wii game no less!)?

    • Jeremy says:

      Classic Internet right there.

  2. neofit says:

    Loved the game. I don’t understand humans. The more I hear them talk the more I like my cat. On the one hand you have cries of “oooh Oblivion sucks because enemies level with you”. On the other it’s “oooh I can’t go anywhere I want in Div2 because some mobs kick my ass”.

    Played the whole game ok, yes, some places had higher level enemies and this made me go do some other quests in other places. And I did no MMORPG-like grind, I don’t know where this even came from, I’ve quested all the way to er… victory.

    I don’t have this new edition, but according to the official site it contains the original game with the Flames of Vengeance expansion. I don’t know where the “180 fancy new quests” came from, but the official site says: “A total of over 100 hours of gameplay and more than 180 original quests await you in this epic role-playing game”. I take this to mean 180 quests overall, in the main game as well as the expansion.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      You’re right. Funny wording in the press release implies that it’s 180 new quests, but it’s 180 total.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Agreed neofit, scaling makes an RPG’s world feel not at all dangerous. The way Divinity 2 does it is the same as Fallout and a ton of other classics did it: some areas have tough enemies and if you go there unprepared you will die.

      Hell, even Fallout 3 did this… try going to Old Olney at level 1.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      You shouldn’t have to kill everything multiple times in one area just to be able to go to the next one without dying instantly. It’s the grind that most people complained about, not the fact that there was no level scaling.

      Also, there’s a huge difference between “enemies two leves above you are hard” and “enemies two levels above you will destroy you”. Just look at Borderlands.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It wasn’t a lack of scaling, just a weird world design structure and too tight on the levels. You could literally cross a valley and not be able to fight.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ Mr. Labbes

      It’s a non-linear game though, there is no one area to the next area structure. If one area is too hard, you try a different one.

  3. Rinox says:

    I will pick this one up eventually. It looks great, probably plays allright enough and I know the music will be amazing (it’s the same composer as the original DD).

    It got lost in the other big RPG’s last year for me – as I recall it was delayed and thus released at a the worst possible time, in the shade of Dragon Age and later Mass Effect 2.

  4. Will says:

    I played this to completion on a non-PC platform and loved it. There are some terrible difficulty spikes though, especially after you leave Broken Valley, and the ending is (in story payoff terms) terrible although fun to play. It helps having a map to find some of the fun things to do the Fjords, since there’s minimal signposting and it feels barren despite having plenty of caves and other goodies to play with.

    My daughter still asks me to play “The Dragon Game” on a regular basis :)

  5. Torqual says:

    The first area of DD2 is well designed. The second area (the canyon) is not worth mentioning. And the third area is a small island with a tower on it. The short final battle is a joke. With open end. The replay value is zero for me. The game plays hard on rails because of the monster level thing. If you are headed in the wrong direction will be instagibed by powerfull monsters. With try and error you can find a spot to grind more xp and clear more and more areas. The most important thing in open world rpgs is the exploration for me. But the leveldesign is very linear and smallish. So exploration does not take place in DD2. Divine Divinity 1 was much better in many aspects. Playtime is about 10 hours. I was really disappointed and angry about the game when i finished it the first (last) time.

    Have a nice day.

    • neofit says:

      I concede that the quest flow could have been better, to remain polite. If you follow the main quest, you’ll end up getting your butt kicked more often than in any other game, so you’ll have to “grind” elsewhere, which means go do some side quests. I don’t have a problem with this, since I have more fun doing side quests anyway, more than following another “save the universe please” main quest. I often get so sidetracked that I forget wtf I am supposed to save in this very game, so I didn’t notice anything different in Div2′s gameplay.

      Difficulty progression is not very well done. You have some bottlenecks you can’t go through without being of a higher level. But when you are, the later quests become trivial. So from what I recall from Div2 was mostly fighting lower level mobs in most of the 2nd chapter, and then an incredibly difficult final fight. But I suppose this fell under the “massive rebalancing” the devs were talking about for this expansion.

  6. Tei says:

    Yea, is a gem of a game, with enormous flaws.

  7. Tei says:

    If you think Divinity has some scaling problems, I herd that you will enjoy Elona. Is a good rogueligue made in japan.

  8. Renzatic says:

    But is it as good as Divine Divinity? Corny name aside, I consider DivDiv (what those of us in the In Crowd refer to the game as) to be on the short list for favorite RPG. The sequel looked somewhat bland and uninspired in comparison, to the point where I wasn’t even interested in trying the demo. General opinion made me shy away from it even moreso.

    Maybe I’m just not giving it a fair go. But whatever, it still doesn’t tickle my fancy.

  9. Wayward says:

    I was pretty unimpressed by the game, and I’m usually lenient when it comes to RPGs. It’s not rubbish, but I couldn’t be bothered to complete it either.

    It’s an attractive game but there’s not a lot of meat to it. Combat is MMORPGish with repetitive clicking on enemies and pressing number keys to active special abilities with cooldowns, and it’s not very satisfying at all. There’s some non-linearity to some of the quests, but giving you a mind-reading skill and then charging you XP to use it is a bizarre decision.

    Elements like the skill trees, enchantment and building your own pet seem nice, but it’s largely a deluge of limp numerical juggling – 2% more damage here, or +2 Ranged resistance there. I know that’s common to RPGs, but it felt particularly min/maxy to me.

    There’s nothing engaging about the story either. It has a jokey tone without actually being funny.

    And I thought the music was weak.

  10. Mac says:

    I managed to get to the flying bit where you destroy the towers, etc, then I got hopelessly lost and never went back …

  11. Carra says:

    Well, it’s a Flemish game so I owe it to myself to play it one day… if it ever gets to a nice bargain price.

  12. RiptoR says:

    I hope they release a patch to bring the original Divinity 2 release up-to-date with the improved engine. Still have to play the game.

  13. Jim9137 says:

    Question: Do I want to spend 100 hours on this game which I could spend on browsing RPS?

    Ah, the questions.

  14. Jim9137 says:

    Also yeah, screw min-maxing. I want a flail that shoots out fire-cows that spit holy dung in turn, not a holy flail with +2 fire damage. That’s just boring.

  15. Alistair says:

    Well worth playing in its original form, but presumably the rebalancing they talk about is aimed at those of you who found the pacing off. For me that just meant you had to do all the quests in an area before moving on. A good thing in other words. I don’t recall ‘killing the same thing multiple times’. To be honest most of the comments make it sound like the complainers don’t really know what the game’s like as they quit it early. 40 hours for me and the sequel is a definite buy.

    They have talked about issuing the rebalancing changes in a PC patch, but have not committed, so the only way to get those at present would be to buy both games as the ‘Saga’.

  16. Al3xand3r says:

    Me thinks smaller studios should try and fit in a niche, their games are never vast/easy enough to attract the casual audience the likes of Bethesda and Bioware go after so they should go for the serious RPG fan with the emphasis on a fleshed out story, quests, a cohesive, interesting world, and fun strategic encounters instead of a ton of 3D art content, cinematic dialogues with dodgy voice overs (further accentuated by crappy animations) and a shallow action based combat system that never seems to be as fluid and fun as even a 12 year old console game (ocarina of time fyi). Especially with gog just bringing back classics like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment, I think many would appreciate something in that vein with somewhat more modern interface, resolution, combat rules, etc, and it should take much less money to create too…

    • Al3xand3r says:

      Incidentally, that’s what i liked about Risen from a bit after its beginning to roughly 3/4ths into the game. Though they still lost points for trying and failing to match big budget American productions in things like dialogue scenes and cut scenes. If something’s gonna look messy I’d rather not have it at all, and have just a basic representation with the emphasis on some dialogue box instead of weird looking characters. And the last 4th of the game was horrible, an action game with lame mechanics and one of the worst (no, it was easy, I don’t call tough bad) boss fights that show what I’m talking about when I say what I said about combat systems in the post above…

  17. Temple to Tei says:

    Al3xand3r I can raise about 37p if the rest of RPS could double that amout could you make that game for us please.

    Yes, DIv 2 did not sign post that these monsters will squish you if you go here.
    No point to levelling in Oblivion, had to level in Div 2 -you might say this is a good thing as it meant you had to do sidequests, but if you had to do them then they aren’t side quests.
    Do not remember killing the same thing over and over though, would have liked the opportunity to grind sometimes when I was getting squished so badly.
    I think the monsters don’t respawn?

    For an obsessive like me the levelling in Divinity 1 was just as bad -the xp earned for killing a monster went down the higher your level, but the xp for a quest was always the same, so I had to kill all monsters before doing quests.
    Just give me a fixed amount of xp for each monster and quest and make the gap between levels higher.

    So many…
    So often…
    They try and fail, we love your work designers -just make the second game a bit more polished, a little less buggy. Don’t blow the budget on flash graphics and voice acting which will only be mocked by 50% of the audience anyway -uncanny valley and people’s individual preferences for accents. (Oh my goodness, tried Hydrophobia yesterday very very bad-and yes I’m hiding my negative comments here so the devs don’t attack me)

    Give us options in the gameplay, controls and camera, support and patch the game, earn our trust then sell us another episode and we will buy. WE PROMISE!

  18. Wulf says:

    Passing thought: I’d love to see some indie devs do a Dragon game. It’s been long enough, and they could have the media tagline of Lair done right. Bonus points if they actually use the dragon as the character, rather than cheesing in some familiarity with a Dragon-rider accessory. Really though, what was the last good one? Panzer Dragoon, maybe? And the only parts of that trailer that looked remotely interesting (and by interesting I mean ‘blimey, this looks like it hasn’t been done 1,000 times before’) were those involving Dragonflight.

    So I’ll still say there’s an unfilled niche there, and Lair actually became quite a bit more popular when they did the sane thing and added proper gamepad controls, instead of six-axis. (Though I have to admit to being insanely good at six-axis controls in Lair, to the point where I could fly with quite a degree of elegance, it took skill, but it was amazingly fun to show off with.)

  19. Zyrxil says:

    The problem with Divinity 2′s combat system were numerous-

    -REALLY stringent raw level effects. What I mean is, you could have 999 strength and not be able to hurt a guy 10 levels over you.
    -Really boring and ineffective special attacks
    -A boring talent system that wasn’t at all interesting
    -Terrible dragon combat. Just so boring and ineffective
    -Goblin Shamans that can knock you down from 200 feet away, even if their spells do no damage
    -Just so incredibly grindy, with uninteresting loot
    -Boring level design
    -Bad animations and models, so you can’t even enjoy watching it

  20. Spoon says:

    When it comes to RPGs, I am one of those obsessive completionist types. If you complete all the quests you can possibly do, you actually start to outlevel everything. The endgame becomes ridiculously easy to the point where some enemies do 0 damage to even the more lightly armored magic and archer focused characters.

    Apparently, when this expansion is released, they will be retooling the difficulty curve for the main game as well, but I don’t think it will be in a way you guys are thinking. They probably won’t make the beginning easier, but the end harder.

  21. Urthman says:

    Speaking of RPGs distributed by DTP, do any of you European blokes know anything about Venetica getting released in English on the PC?

  22. Jacob Etter says:

    @Mr. Labbes

    Borderlands wasn’t that bad. The only time you had to worry was if the showed up on the enemy bar.

  23. Sarkhan Lol says:

    The makers of Divinity 2 were far too deeply in love with their main villain, and its this obsession that completely ruins the ending and, in my view, retroactively ruins the entire experience of the game. It could have done much the same thing and been really cool, but they just went too far. Quit before you ever get there and you ought to have a pretty decent time if you’ve got the stomach for GRPGs.

    As an aside, one section I really loved in this game was Bellegar’s hall of moral choices, a hidden side-quest in which you choose between good and evil deeds, advancing through a branching tree of possible situations and eventually reaching ridiculous extremes of malevolence or self-sacrifice depending on how far up or downstairs you end up going. It was a neat little diversion and a pretty amusing parody all in one.

  24. Alistair says:

    Damn – did I miss that? Oh well :)

    No sign of an English Venetica release I’m afraid.