Uproariously Glorious: Divinity Now On Early Access

By Nathan Grayson on January 18th, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

We’ve been eagerly watching (and, on some occasions, playing) Divinity: Original Sin ever since it launched a turn-based assault on Kickstarter, growing its already grandiose vision of a classic RPG world into one worthy of having its praises sung. Now it’s finally available to everyone, whether old and grizzled or so young that they think Baldur’s Gate was a middling action-RPG on the PlayStation 2. That said, this one traces its roots more to Ultima VII than anything else what with all its systemic complexity and obsessively detailed interactivity. There is, in other words, much to dig into here, even in Early Access form. But should you? Well, that depends on a few factors.

On one hand, this is a pretty sizable chunk of content, clocking in at around 15 hours if you only play once straight-through. But there’s also plenty of choice and many systems that are absolutely delightful to just mess around with, so you could conceivably spend even more time gallivanting about. New to this version over the initial backer alpha, meanwhile, are companions and a co-op mode.

All sounds rather nice, right? Problem is, Larian admits that it’s still early, and wipes are liable to happen. Don’t get too attached, in other words.

“Be aware that it’s still rough around the edges and that certain features are missing. New features and improvements will be added regularly. We will be updating the game regularly. It’s important to know that save games will not be compatible between versions.”

“If you want a polished experience, we advise you not to play the Early Access version. It only makes sense to play an Early Access game if, for instance, you want to support the development of the game, you want to influence development with your feedback or if you want to get a taste of things to come.”

So be wary. That’s kind of the conundrum with Early Access and sprawling single-player games. You don’t get the full package, but if you decide to string up your patch-ridden adventure trousers anyway, you spoil a portion of the game for yourself. And that portion isn’t even as good as it could – and probably will – be. I mean, I’m glad Larian is doing all of this testing given the awful state Divinity II was in when it first launched, but still. Decisions, decisions.

Are you going to try Divinity: Original Sin’s Early Access alpha? If it helps, I imagine we’ll have impressions up in some form or another before too long. But if you can’t stand to wait, probably don’t go in expecting an experience so polished that its glint could blind the heavens. Someday, hopefully, but not yet.

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62 Comments »

  1. Utsunomiya says:

    This game looks really good; yeah, I’m gonna wait.

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    • Grequis says:

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      http://www.Jobs84.com

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I’m a backer, but I’m waiting until it’s story-complete before diving in. With Broken Age it’ll still be a few months before the conclusion, but my D:OS characters might get wiped before the final release and want to wait until I can play through the whole thing without that happening.

  2. Simbosan says:

    Exactly the kind of game that would be ruined for me by early access, which I just see as another form of spoiler. I eagerly await the finished game! This has been an excellent series.

  3. BobbyFizz says:

    Am I right in thinking this is on offer on USA steam but not UK/EU? Some smuggling may be in order if this is the case.

    • Iceman346 says:

      Why should that be the case?

      I have access already because I’m a backer but I can see the store page from my german internet connection.

      • BobbyFizz says:

        My mistake, I got a notification of a sale in US dollars, seems the offer doesn’t actually exist.

  4. Zankmam says:

    This reminded me of Divinity: Dragon Commander from last year.

    Why did that game go so unnoticed?

    • dE says:

      Imho because it failed so horribly at the central part of the game: The being a dragon part. It’s like one of those novels were a maincharacter is set up and then some random sidecharacter turns out to be that much more interesting. In terms of Dragon Commander: It was a superb visual novel. It was an okayish turn based strategy game. It was an absolutely awful RTS that somehow managed to make playing a dragon boring. I’m probably not the only one that bought it for the idea of dragon battles, yet quickly ended up auto-resolving combat whenever possible.

      To me, the game was redeemed through the visual novel parts on the ship. And VNs don’t sell too well.

      • Premium User Badge

        Rizlar says:

        Funnily enough that almost makes me want to try it. I’m not a huge fan of fast-paced RTS, but the other elements sound appealing. The style and substance of the game world did seem really great.

        Then again I also quite enjoyed Baldur’s Gate on the PS2…

        • Tams80 says:

          It can be really hard, even on the easiest mode. This can be very annoying if you like the VN part, as it hinders yoir progress.

      • Awesumo says:

        Yeah, Dragon commander was an absolutely shockingly bad game. The concepts were all great, but the actual gameplay?

    • Ringwraith says:

      Also like most Larian games, they don’t really have a marketing budget, so it mostly just slipped by.
      I really enjoyed it though, and at least buying a Larian game for the writing is never a loss. (Plus you could skip through to mostly just that if you wanted anyway).

  5. Oathbreaker says:

    Never again will I pay for buggy, unfinished product. Go ahead and get sucked into the hype if you please. I’ll wait for the inevitable sale. Been burned too much by Shadowrun, XCOMEU, Space Hulk and all the others.

    Join me and demand proper QA-approved product.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Agreed. I have learned my lessons the hard way as well.

      Never buy anything on release. Instead:

      -Ignore Early Access and wait for stable, finished games
      -For AAA Release, wait 3 months, or until a sale if you can hold out, EXCEPT for
      -Bethesda games. Wait 1 year, or until their tool set has been out for no less than 3 months

      Seriously, though, the regularity with which gamers are perfectly happy to purchase bug-ridden, unfinished products troubles me. Especially where Early Access is concerned. While I have every faith Divinity will be finished given Larian’s track record….few other early access games offer that sort of pedigree or certainty.

      We are handing developers a pass to sell us unfinished products and then…walk away, if they so choose. Its a trouble trend, in my opinion.

      • Premium User Badge

        amateurviking says:

        I can understand it (especially in early access) where people get a kick out of helping a game get better (I imagine that’s a big reason why people make mods etc too). Being part of the creative process can be just as rewarding as playing a final, polished complete product. Particularly in highly system-driven games.

        To each their own is basically what I’m saying here. And early access is definitely not suitable for every game.

        • Ringwraith says:

          It also makes sense considering the game had a kickstarter, with the usual early access rewards for certain tiers.
          It’s offering that again to a wider audience.

        • Lanfranc says:

          On the other hand, some games are completely playable even in alpha.

          Following a strict no-alpha/early access rule would have meant I wouldn’t have been playing e.g. Kerbal Space Program for the last year or Prison Architect for six months, and that would obviously not be an ideal situation.

      • DarkFenix says:

        There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a game on early access so long as you set your expectations accordingly. Buying early access games is for people who are interested in participating in the development of the final product, not for anyone seeking the ‘ordinary’ gaming experience.

        If you’ve been disappointed by early access games because you expected them to resemble a finished and polished product then I’m afraid the joke is on you.

        On the other hand I agree with the AAA and Bethesda comments. I really need to stop being such a huge sucker when it comes to those.

      • Shuck says:

        “We are handing developers a pass to sell us unfinished products and then…walk away, if they so choose.”
        No developer would choose to walk away, the real issue is going to be developers whose ambition outstrips their financial resources to make good on their promises. Early access provides necessary money when many developers are close to running out (it’s sadly common for budgets to last just until the end of development, leaving studios short while they wait for the sales money to trickle in, necessitating mass lay-offs and even studio closures). And while early income will make it more likely that developers in that position will survive longer than they might have otherwise (making post-release bug-fixes and content patches more likely as well), I imagine that at the same time, some developers will count on early access money to keep them afloat earlier in the development process. When that money fails to match expectations, we’ll see some games abandoned before they’re finished. Also more than likely, we’ll see games that developers consider “finished” but where players had expectations (reasonable or not) that weren’t realized.

        • Oathbreaker says:

          You pay massive amounts of money to developers and artists and producers and dreamers and nerds to make a product. It’s only natural to want to get a return on your investment as soon as bloody possible. This short term profit incentive is then quickly replaced by the next big thing as soon as you’re done and close to launch. Fixing a buggy product may get you some more sales, but not that much. So you spend the money and effort on the next thing.

          • Shuck says:

            Well sure, but what is all-too-common, for a variety of reasons, is for studios to budget up until the game’s release, but entirely rely on sales of that game to fund the next project. By which I mean there’s no money at all at the end of the development cycle. So there’s this gap between finishing the project and getting the revenue from it to continue operations, and I’ve known quite a few studios that closed down in that gap. They were more interested in getting the game out than in saving funds to stay in operation or pay salaries owed, etc. Early access gives, well, earlier access to those sales funds. Which means a solution to that problem, but the creation of others. Even in a best-case scenario, the funds that would normally make the next project possible are being used to finish the existing one, so unless the game is wildly successful, developers can’t afford to spend much time or money continuing development on an early access game if they hope to save anything for further development.
            Early Access has been around just less than a year, and some of the first games available that way still appear to be pretty far from done.

      • Nick says:

        Uh, so don’t then. Not sure what your problem is, they aren’t hiding the state of the *unfinished alpha* off the game… I mean, in the end you get the actual finished version, so whats your fucking issue really? They aren’t claiming it anything but that, you can just, oh, I dunno, not give them any money till its actually finished, so again, whats your fucking issue?

    • secuda says:

      Agree i refuse to pay for being a beta tester, it was something we could get free if we signed upp on dacade ago or something like that.

    • khomotso says:

      Never again will I leave to game publishers the decision of what games to greenlight, what features to include, and how to rush them out the door in time for a quarterly earnings report. Never again will I just sit back and wait 6 or 7 years for talented modders to break down and rebuild a flawed gem of a game I might have loved the first time around, if only it had been given more care during the development process. If this requires me to put a little money where my mouth is up front, so be it.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        Yeah I wonder how many people bemoaning the ‘dangers’ of early access also complained about how stale and lacking in innovation games seemed to be when publishers were running the show. There are a ton of interesting games released, in early access, or under development right now that wouldn’t get made without new business models like these.

        I’ve seen the argument that developers could just ‘walk away’ with their backers’ money if they wanted to, but are there any actual examples of that? They might walk away with a year’s salary, but they’d also kill a career. Seems like a false argument.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          There have been a few instances of people being badly burned by early access. War Z, for example, but really that was a case of people rushing out and buying something they should have known better than to buy at all.

          Most of the time, people get burned not by early access but by games at release being buggy and unfinished messes. In fact, early access isn’t more “dangerous”, it’s LESS “dangerous” because you (should) know exactly what you are getting into. If a dev were to take early access money and “run away”, they’re done for, sacrificing the huge amount of work it takes to get a game into early-access-worthy shape in the first place. Unless you are outright frauds like the War Z (or whatever they changed it to to avoid the wrath of the Day Z devs’ lawyers) devs, getting into early access means you’ve already proved you aren’t lazy, and fully intend to finish.

          • onyhow says:

            War Z has no early access. It has problem of false advertisement, but it’s not part of Early Access.

      • Blackcompany says:

        In all honesty I used to think like this. I wanted a say in the direction a game took, the mechanics, etc.

        Then I paid $20 and joined the Firefall Beta before it was “Open Beta” (which is more like Open Alpha, to be honest). They promised horizontal progression and a skill based game. And then they took our money, created color-coded, tiered enemies and gear, leveled zones, etc.

        So they basically promised one game and delivered another. In as much as they have delivered anything after 5-7 years of “development” time. It was at that point that I became more than a little jaded toward paying to help a developer make their game (or make it better).

        If others want to pay for a beta and risk another Cube World, Sui Generis or Firefall, have at. Me, I will wait for finished products before I give anyone my money again.

  6. Morcane says:

    I just looked at the price on Steam for this alpha and laughed uncontrollably.

    40 euro? Are you serious?

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Oh no, run, it’s a retail price! How can they?
      Won’t SOMEBODY think of the CHILDREN?

      • Grygus says:

        Oh no it’s a consumer who expects to pay less for a not-ready-for-retail product! Let us deride him, because Capitalism is only valid when it means higher profits.

        • Premium User Badge

          RedViv says:

          I’m sorry, I forgot that people are forced to buy this now instead of heeding the advice of the very creators of the game itself.

          • waltC says:

            Yes, everyone knows that capitalism (in which the citizen is presented with myriad economic choices he is free to make himself when spending his hard-earned moola) is much inferior to socialism; which provides everyone with a single product choice at a single, low, low price subsidized by astronomical taxes (which must be paid involuntarily whether the citizen avails himself of the product or not.) How could anyone *ever* prefer capitalism? I mean, look at the Newegg web site, for instance–all those choices–gotta make for a lot of brain-hurt and mental breakdowns in the capitalist world, no doubt!

            On a more substantial note, however, I find the phrase “a fifteen hour game” to be most troubling. I’ve got probably 30 hours into Divine Divinity and am not close to being half-way through…likewise with Beyond Divinity at maybe 20 hours in. Fifteen hours doesn’t sound like much to me. Maybe it’d be OK at $19.99, though. But wait–even Torchlight II @ $19.99 since day one goes further than a 15-hour play.

            RedViv: I’m replying here since for some reason the forum won’t let me respond to your last post: Yes, that’s very good to know–I had hoped the 15-hour thing was a result of this being an alpha! Good to know that it will probably be a much more substantial game!

          • Premium User Badge

            RedViv says:

            Oh don’t worry about the 15-hour thing, that’s just a guesstimate as to how long it takes to get “through” the stuff in the alpha, which consists of the game’s beginning and around 15 to 20 percent of the final game.

          • Sfeza says:

            @WaltC You have no idea what you are talking about. Please stick to the topic, which is gaming, because the issue you are trying to discuss is obviously not for you.

        • Manco says:

          Pretty sure you’re paying for the actual retail product. You just get early access on top as a thank you for supporting development.

          Where did people ever get the idea games in alpha/beta SHOULD be cheaper? You’re not buying the alpha, you’re buying the finished product. It’s your own fault for not waiting/getting sick of the game before release/expecting something they weren’t offering/…
          All this faux indignation and entitlement is childish. Leave the cynicism to actual cynics.

          • UncleLou says:

            It’s weird, isn’t it? Unfortunately, you always get a vocal group in every Steam community hub that suffers from the same misconception. It’s a particularly annoying combination of ignorance and entitlement.

          • adammtlx says:

            How dare they offer me access to a product for retail price before it’s ready for mass consumption and also warn me that it’s incomplete!

            The nerve of some people.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            Notch and a few others do it this way, but not every game is Minecraft. The reason why Notch offered earlier access at cheaper prices (I think Alpha was 15 Euro via Paypal) was because direct sales of unfinished games was an untested and almost unheard-of idea at the time, and because Alpha Minecraft started off in a pretty awful state at the very, very beginning.

            The idea was something along the lines of “Hey, I’m this unknown Swedish guy who worked on Wurm Online and I’m making my own clone* of Infiniminer but it’s going to be different but I really need to eat and pay bills in order to make it into a real game so if you can give me some money to buy food and pay bills now, you’ll be getting the game cheaper in exchange for putting your faith in a crazy starving Swedish guy.” And it was riskier, because no class-sction lawsuit is going to successfully squeeze money out of a Swedish guy who starved to death because he ran out of money making his weird lego game. (Fortunately the parallel universe where Notch failed and starved to death is a different one, and our Notch eats money sandwiches for lunch.)

            *That’s not a criticism of Minecraft: that’s what he called it before he came up with the name “Minecraft”.

          • phylum sinter says:

            Well i think if the consumer’s view is one of buying into the development to HELP OUT THE DEVELOPER TEST THEIR GAME, then yes, some sort of thank you to the buyer who, on good faith alone, is willing to purchase and test said unfinished, unfunded game. A thank you in the form of a reduced price would be excellent. Please explain to me how it is uncouth for those with this mindset to expect a little something in return.

            I’ve been a part of betas 10+ years ago that as a thank you, i received a full version of the game. The Early Access thing is like a 180 from that ethos. Pay retail AND play (work?) with the alpha?

            Seriously, i’m not against the idea that Early Access should be a thing – but i do think that if you’re going to get your audience to test your game for you, giving them something in return for their patience and faith is a good thing.

    • Oathbreaker says:

      They’re serious and people will pay it. Hype sells. Vote with your dollar. Euro. Whatever.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Handing out the Alpha on steam for cheaper than it was on Kickstarter would be INCREDIBLY shady. It’s called integrity.

  7. DrMcCoy says:

    The alpha is also currently Windows-only. No GNU/Linux and Mac OS X versions yet.

  8. BarbaraRGonzalez says:

    my roomate’s half-sister makes $78 hourly on the internet . She has been out of a job for ten months but last month her paycheck was $12406 just working on the internet for a few hours.

    see this,,,,,,,,,,,, http://x.co/3fSON

  9. azrd79 says:

    Wait, I thought this game was gonna come out complete since the KS was only to complete what was already essentially done. But 15 hours sounds like there’s still a whole lot of content still to be added.

    So yeah gonna wait till it’s done.

    • drinniol says:

      You’ve been grossly misinformed. The KS was essentially at a prototype stage.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Woh there, Greyson. Dark Alliance was actually quite good (for a 2001 console action-RPG).

  11. callumdarke says:

    my buddy’s step-aunt makes $82/hr on the computer. She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $18010 just working on the computer for a few hours. read this….
    http://www.dub30.com

  12. racccoon says:

    Looks interesting I’ll wait till its finished!
    2014 I’m out of early access and paying to alpha test games.
    In any case I wont enjoy it if I got in early as It’ll become over played and not really have much life left when its finished. The other niggle I’m against is the turn base, its kind of laborious and warn out to me.

    • phylum sinter says:

      agreed – i’m not totally bitter on Early Access, but if i’m going to be a part of that stage, there’s gotta be some greater incentive (even like a 30% discount) to get me to play a potentially buggy, busted sort of half finished version of a game.

  13. Premium User Badge

    maicus says:

    Dark Alliance and it’s sequel were amazing! Champions of Norrath wasn’t half bad as well. 4-player single screen giant-ant bashing took up a decent portion of my childhood.

  14. drvoke says:

    Going to have to agree that Dark Alliance was heaps of fun. This looks fun, too. But I will be waiting for the final version. I’m not so hyped for this game that I simply cant wait.

  15. DatonKallandor says:

    Dark Alliance was friggin awesome – far prettier than other games of it’s time, a deep combat system and awesome coop. Dark Alliance 2 was even better.

  16. Eclipse says:

    A new top down Divinity game and has turn based combat. WHY THE FUCK?
    I like turn based combat systems if they are done well, but I actually expected this one to be something like Divine Divinity :-\

  17. 123kings says:

    I backed the KS however I didn’t back for Alpha access and I have it! Downloading now… I been itching to try out the game, it looks pretty.

  18. Fishstick says:

    Turns out the Belgian games industry can make things beside iOS games?!