Divinity Original Sin 2’s Competitive Roleplaying And Diverging Narratives Are Boldly Inventive

Divinity: Original Sin 2 [official site] has just landed on Kickstarter but we’ve already played an early build. It’s an ambitious sequel, supporting up to four players who will now be able to compete as their objectives overlap and diverge. As well as bringing about the life and death of the party, Original Sin 2 brilliantly overhauls its predecessor’s turn-based combat and introduces multiple playable races and an origin system that defines each character’s evolving place in the world.

Bold and inventive, it adds complex layers of overlapping narrative consequences to Original Sin’s world of interlocking systems. This is how it works.

In the Fallout games, it’s possible to reverse-pickpocket, using your sleight of hand to plant an item in an NPC’s inventory rather than removing one. This unlikely skill can be used to arm NPCs or to mess with their dress sense by replacing one item of clothing with another. Most people don’t use reverse-pickpocketing to leave a surprise gift in an NPC’s pocket though – they use it to drop armed explosives into peoples’ trousers.

Is that a stick of dynamite in your pocket or are you just pleas-

And so it goes.

For their sequel to the extraordinarily inventive Divinity: Original Sin, Larian are seeking to elevate reverse-pickpocketing and other chicanery to an artform. The stand-out fresh feature in Divinity: Original Sin 2 is inter-party competitive questing, which should not only allow for diversity in narrative and objectives, but also allows the studio to build on the systemic simulation of the world. I spent a couple of hours playing an early build set in a single town last week, and while the new origin stories and cleverly branching subplots are the big news, the changes to crafting and combat are just as smart and exciting. For crafting, the big addition is the ability to combine skills, allowing for the creation of a stealth spider (stealth + spider summon) or a rain of blood (rain + blood; heals characters with a vampirism skill). That, in itself, is exciting. There’s a whole lot more to come.

A few quick paragraphs on combat before moving on to the main course. Fighting is still turn-based but there are two major changes. There are fewer action points to use in a turn. When Larian announced that, it seemed like a minor change but in practice it’s akin to a rewrite of the entire system. Rather than calculating how many action points will remain if you choose to move or use an ability, now your characters speed determines movement range for a single action point while skills take up one or two points. It makes the game far more tactical, flexible and legible.

The second change relates to Source abilities, which are the strongest powers in the game. To use them, you burn Source points and these are hard to come by. We were shown three abilities that allow players to gain them. Bodies can be ‘consumed’, in and out of combat, which provides one Source point but also shifts the player’s karma. What the consequences for that shift are, I can’t say yet, but I can say that making corpses explode into a bloody mess during a fight is A Good Thing. The second method involves Channelling, which freezes the character and allows other characters (including Source-powered enemies) to draw points from them, chipping away at their health as they do so.

The last method we were shown ties back to the wider mechanics of the world. In the first Original Sin you could kill any NPC and finish the game without them. That’s still true but now, dead NPCs leave behind a ghost and characters with the right trait can communicate with those ghosts. It’s also possible to consume their soul, which will top up an empty bloodstone if you have one handy. Bloodstones, when charged, can be used during combat to provide a Source Point. Handy.

Talking to ghosts is fascinating though. It means that if we were playing together, I could kill an NPC that you were hoping to talk to, interrogate his ghost and then use the information I discovered to cause more trouble down the line. You see, even if we were to play together, we wouldn’t necessarily be on the same side. Not all of the time, anyway.

It makes sense that Larian, the mischief-makers of the modern CRPG, would create an entire set of mechanics that enable trickery and encourage playful deviation from the usual roleplaying flow. That flow generally involves accepting a quest, going to the quest location, killing the thing or collecting the thing, and then returning to the quest-giver to receive a reward or advance the story. Swen Vincke, CEO of Larian, dismisses the word ‘quest’, preferring ‘situation’ – “A quest implies a definite objective, a situation tells you to be reactive and to improvise.”

Here’s how it all plays out. When you create your character, you’ll choose a race and an origin story. There are currently four selectable races – dwarves, humans, lizards and wood elves – but the game will include more at release. Your race and elements of your origin story (‘noble’, ‘criminal’, ‘assassin’) are tags that NPCs might be programmed to respond to in various ways. Many dwarves, for example, are economic refugees who have left their crumbling empire to carve out a life among the other races of the world. In many places, they’re unwelcome and a dwarven character is likely to meet with hostility in certain quarters, while receiving support from his struggling fellows.

Another character was secretly in the employ of a group of assassins and had a target on the island. The other players didn’t know about this but could accidentally ruin the assassin’s chances of success by interfering with the target. In a perfect example of the kind of intertwined branching objectives that can emerge, one character might follow a plotline that makes them reliant on the survival of the assassination target in order to leave the island, while the assassin has been promised safe passage if he carries out the job. The respective players might not be aware that they’re locked into contradictory objectives but when they do become aware, they can either decide to work together for the greater good, or apply metaphorical (and perhaps real) knives to backs.

In the scenario I played, the four characters in the party had been shipwrecked and were trying to escape from an island. One of the two humans in the group was of noble birth and was a native of the settlement on the island, a place now divided along racial and economic lines. Original Sin 2 still has much of the silliness that helped its predecessor to stand out from the crowd – Pet Pal, the Dr Doolittle skill, is in glorious form during a conversation with an unhappily pampered dog – but there’s a serious bite to the world. Racism, class warfare and fear of Source magic and those marked by it all play a part in the situations that arise during our party’s attempts to leave the island.

Source magic is the one common element shared by our characters. They all channel it and, indeed, the meeting place for every character, no matter what their origin, is a prison in which they were to be purged of their abilities. This would leave them hollowed out, effectively lobotomised. Their escape places them in a predicament – when they meet characters who know of them, due to their chosen origin story, their Source abilities may be exposed. I chose to have one character lie, convincing people that she’d been freed because her apparent Source affinity had been a false alarm. It’s also possible to threaten, boast and charm. Dialogue choices, as well as actions, might lead to new tags being applied to your character, opening up new NPC reactions and options during conversations.

It’s exactly what I wanted from a sequel, building on the anything-goes nature of its predecessor with a narrative system that should produce controlled chaos similar to the elemental accidents and combinations that drive combat. There are whole sets of new behaviours that plug into the competitive party elements, including the ability to steal an item and then drop it in another player’s inventory. Inform a guard that you’ve seen that player’s character acting suspiciously and the alert status of the area rises in relation to that player alone. Next stop, a ‘random’ bag search, and either a fight, a bribe or a trip to jail.

Creativity is encouraged at every turn. Combine the new flexible crafting system with the ability to plant or gift items and you’ll soon be providing your so-called allies with shiny red healing potions…that are actually bottles of poison with a dash of red dye added into the mix. There’s a great deal of scope for murder between friends and Vincke says the possibility of constant grief and griefing will be countered in two ways. First of all, this isn’t an MMO. It’s a game for up to four people and those people will likely know each other and want to have fun. Sometimes the fun will involve murdering one another in sneaky ways but the penalties for intra-party slaughter will be slight. And that brings in the second point – characters who die will resurrect at the most recent waypoint they visited. There will be some penalty but the details of that will come later, when the world is complete and balancing begins in earnest.

What Larian are aiming for with Original Sin 2 is remarkable; an enormous RPG that adds four possible player-centred layers of systemically driven narrative on top of all of the complexities that were already in place in the previous game. Constructing a world that can support this kind of competitive and cooperative narrative is daunting, in terms of both design and workload (the amount of dialogue required just for the location in the early build is astonishing). If it all comes together, it could have many of the qualities of a social tabletop roleplaying experience with the benefits of a complex set of mechanics that begins with the finely tuned turn-based combat and runs right through to the tangle of overlapping objectives that make up the narrative.

The major challenges for Original Sin 2 might well relate to directing the player experience. Will the game effectively promote cooperation as the solution to major conflicts without placing artificial limits and brakes in place at key points? Will the singleplayer experience benefit from many of the new features? The building blocks are already in place and the strengths of Original Sin have been amplified. Vincke says every situation in Original Sin 2 has “N+1 solutions”. Fail at every turn of the script and kill everyone who might have been able to help, and you’ll find an escape route as you scrape the bottom of the barrel. That’s the heart of Original Sin – for every problem, a thousand solutions. Larian know how to construct compelling situations that make use of their existing design and if they can master these new narrative systems as well, Original Sin 2 will be another triumph.

We’ll have more coverage early next week, including thoughts on the Kickstarter campaign and the challenges ahead.

51 Comments

  1. Babymech says:

    It’s very soothing to watch the Kickstarter tick up past 15k in the first five minutes…

  2. jasta85 says:

    man, I check kickstarter, don’t see it up, come back an hour later and its already on its way past 50k. No problems with this one being funded

  3. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    Just pledged. Actually not that interested in the team playing aspects, since I’m a solitary sort when gaming. But was so pleasantly surprised and pleased by the first one, and since they are focusing on taking some risks to improve some important aspects of DoS they deserve support again.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Pretty much “ditto”. Liked the first one a lot, looking forward to another one.

  4. Rumpelstilskin says:

    Do people really play games like that together?

    • Kitsunin says:

      Definitely not usually, but the question is how much of that is because there’s never really been a way to do so.

      The way cooperative play worked with the story in Original Sin had me feeling that it’s an incredible shame such ideas go utterly unexplored.

    • jasta85 says:

      as said above, most cooperative games don’t give you the option of competing with your partner, they usually just involve the two of you killing enemies together. In an actual role playing game like this I know quite a few friends who would love to spend all their time figuring out how to screw each other over, and probably never get past the first city hub, cause it’s all about having fun

      • Rumpelstilskin says:

        Well, I don’t know. Multi-playing large turn-based RPGs with persistent state sounds like a very niche thing, and playing them so that you can screw your friends up (and inevitably be screwed up by them in return) is a niche in that niche.

        • Rizlar says:

          And cooperating with other people is another niche, roleplaying will be another niche, playing alone while roleplaying different characters will be another niche, playing alone and using characters to screw each other over another etc etc

          The game will allow all of these things, how many people play it a certain way seems less important than the freedom to play the game how you like.

          As it was in the first game. I seem to remember Vincke commenting on the ability to kill any NPC in D:OS even though most players would never notice, how it was essential to giving the player real freedom and allowing their choices and actions to be meaningful (possibly in this video: link to rockpapershotgun.com).

        • Kitsunin says:

          There are a lot of ways it makes the experience fantastic. As the sort who typically goes for the most moral choice, it was interesting that in Original Sin, I played with someone who preferred a rather conniving approach. Someone shifty might ask us to help them and I would agree without a second thought, but then the other player could have their character pipe up with a disagreement. There’s a second, sneaky option, which they would insist we pursue instead, and after an argument, we end up agreeing that it makes more sense than blindly trusting them.

          Later on, the other player might murder a couple people they grew to dislike. Those people might’ve be involved with important quests, shifting the game state into unexpected territory.

          If there’s one thing this multiplayer roleplaying adds to the experience, it’s the feeling of an uncontrollable and human vector within the experience, shifting things away from the way you would be used to playing alone.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      I’m not so enamored with the “competitive” aspect of it, but the idea of a small-scale multiplayer RPG where each player has his own quests, goals, and story is something I’ve wanted for a very long time. NWN was an attempt at this, but never really pulled it off.

      • Rumpelstilskin says:

        It just sounds like coordinating play sessions would be a nightmare. Maybe it would be ok if you could play alone if you like, and the game would just sync the state with the others, and you would only meet in game if you happen to play at the same time. Maybe it even works like that already.

    • Myrdinn says:

      Oh boy, you guys have missed out if you haven’t played D:OS in co-operative. It’s a bit like Baldur’s Gate 2; almost impossible to find someone to play with, but if you do, it’s glorious!

    • jama says:

      I played through Original Sin from beginning to end with an online friend. We had the mic running throughout, chatting and also discussing tactical game things. We played almost daily at night for a few hours each time during summer holidays.

      It. Was. Glorious.

      I can’t imagine playing this game in single player. I will definitely play the second one again in coop when it’s out.

  5. qribba says:

    Quickest backing of a Kickstarter ever. Larian is the new king of rpg games

  6. Reapy says:

    Very few studios I would back but larian is on that list, divinity was a great game, and their efforts to follow up with it after the fact were great. I more look at the pledge as getting divinity 2 at a great price more than anything.

    One thing this game really had me thinking, was to use their combat system as a miniature battle system replacement. Divinity just did such a great job taking a system where rangers were measured out to the 10th of a meter, and the combination fields on the ground and such, I thought it would be a really cool platform to handle miniature table top games that traditionally use rulers and all that kind of stuff.

    I honestly wasn’t too into the story of divinity, but I really, really had a great time in the combat playing co op with a friend. We have limited time but just getting on for 45 min and getting a few hard fights done was really satisfying, more so than the RPG parts of the game (which was hard to follow as the non controlling player, and was sort of an uninteresting story)

  7. FriendGaru says:

    I don’t back stuff often, but Larian did a good job with the first D:OS. Particularly in making the enhanced addition available to everyone. I’m not completely sold on what they’re promising, but even if it doesn’t work out as hoped it will hopefully yield a bunch of fun, sandboxy systems to play with. So, I’m suspending my usual extreme reticence in putting down money for something before it’s available and backing this one.

  8. Zenicetus says:

    The option for two people to control the two lead characters in D:OS didn’t get in the way of the singleplayer experience. This one, I’m not so sure about.

    How can the hidden goal stuff be stripped out for a singleplayer-driven party, without compromising the quests tied into that mechanic? Even if it can be made to work, it looks like a lot of dev resources will be going into something I can’t experience and don’t care about, as someone who only plays games like this in singleplayer mode.

    So I’ll have to wait for a post-launch review before getting too interested in it. I wonder if the devs realize the effect a heavy focus on multiplayer has, on potential sales like this?

    • Rizlar says:

      Pretty sure the systems will be the same whether playing solo or with others. Like the banter system in the first game, you can play the characters as individuals even while controlling them both.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Okay, but the banter system in singleplayer just meant that I chose one of the two leads as my “main” character. Since I was in complete control of how it played out, it didn’t feel too weird. It was just a minor distraction that didn’t impact the feel of the game in singleplayer.

        I can’t get my head around the idea of an RPG party where everyone is at cross-purposes, when I’m the only one controlling them. Might be fun in multiplayer, but what’s the attraction of that for a singleplayer game? Especially if the quests are going to be tuned to support that?

        The alternative would be for the player to choose one main character in the party, and have the AI running the other party members’ hidden goals. Maybe that’s what they’re planning, but I’m still not sure it sounds like fun.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I’d imagine that while you will receive all the hidden information when creating your characters, you can still control them individually and if you want to roleplay, even have some of your characters double-cross others. Like actors which can be controlled by you separately and in turn or together and as a party (so generally just a lead character with fight-buds). Or simultaneously and separately by another player.

        At least, that’s my expectation.

        • gwathdring says:

          And since that’s something a lot of fans of these sorts of games do in their heads anyway, having mechanical support for exploring multiple character perspectives and telling yourself a story while still allowing for a proper single-player experience for the uninterested and allowing for a revelatory multiplayer approach sounds AWESOME.

          The question is how well do they pull it off on all counts, of course, but they did quite a pleasing job with the first one. I’m excited.

  9. tenacious says:

    First time i’ve kickstarted anything, that “Divine dibs” tier will be great value if it’s even half as good as the first.

    Just waiting on the enhanced edition of the first one to come out to do a fresh playthrough!

  10. Martel says:

    Insta-back for me. No game is perfect but the first one was a lot of fun and more importantly they were responsible with their project and their game.

  11. RedViv says:

    I do enjoy being a lizard lady heading out with a giant warhammer to smack everything that seems too silly and dangerous.
    And in the game.

  12. Expanding Man says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I thought Divinity: Original Sin was absolutely brilliant, despite it having one of the stupidest titles of any game in the past 5 years (and that’s a feat). Some of this makes me a little nervous though. I wish gaming media and developers would get it through their heads quite how terrible the storylines in the vast majority of games usually are. In fact, even in some of the most well-written games (I’m thinking of the Witcher 3, Morrowind and Mass Effect), the only redeeming story aspects are the variety and intricacy of the many side-quests. Even in games such as those, the main storyline is the same old terrible “Some big old monster is trying to kill everybody in the entire universe! It’s up to YOU to kill IT first!” Please. (Ok, Morrowind wasn’t quite that.)

    My biggest problem with D:OS was that the story elements were too big of a distraction from the excellent combat, character building, interactivity with the environment, and the more measured and pleasant interactivity with the NPC’s that I would have much preferred. I appreciated Larian’s attempts at humor, but it by and large wasn’t terribly funny. For actual good writing I’ll content myself with finishing the rest of Neal Stephenson’s novels for now. Also, spastically clicking on everything in a room which may or may not be interactable to solve a “puzzle” and progress through a quest is not my idea of a good time.

    Ok, after all that negativity, I’m excited about D:OS 2, and I’m sure that no matter what annoying gimmickry it may include, I will quite enjoy it.

    • Rumpelstilskin says:

      Come on, “D:OS” wasn’t that bad a name. It might even be considered “deep” and “philosophical”, as in “is what we call ‘divinity’ in fact the proverbial original sin? is it our strive for perfection, which separates us from just being?”
      DD, on the other had, was irredeemably bad.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I wish gaming media and developers would get it through their heads quite how terrible the storylines in the vast majority of games usually are.

      Yes, the amount of praise heaped on mediocrity is really odd, like game critics are mostly ignorant of other media. You mention Mass Effect, which can be compared directly to a mountain of science fiction novels and short stories which are inventive, engaging, and emotionally moving. Start with Iain M. Banks or something.

      And every fantasy RPG pales in comparison to the most popular fantasy series of recent time, A Song of Ice and Fire. Or even darker stuff like the Night Angel trilogy.

      • gwathdring says:

        This attitude is quite strange to me.

        For starters, plenty of people genuinely love and even respect writing that doesn’t approach the top or even secondary tiers of a given genre. Second, books are a different medium. The same story is going to be told, and felt, differently in different forms. Not every great book makes a great movie and so on and so forth. Boiling a story down to it’s plot is a rather uncritical reduction of storytelling in any medium, and I don’t quite understand why people so eager to pan gaming narrative craft as a whole are equally determined to pretend storytelling begins and ends with how “original” your outline-level (or in your case, blurb-level) plotting is.

        Further, while this doesn’t give it a “free pass” or anything, it is worth noting that storytelling in games is far more complex and collaborative than storytelling in, say, a linear, solo writing project where you have an author, an editor, and some editorial assistants, proofers and close friends none of whom take much of the content generation job away from the author. This is a very different environment that produces different kinds of stories and that’s worth looking at on some level.

        In any case, if you haven’t enjoyed any of the storytelling you’ve encountered in video games I want you to know that it’s not because you have superior taste. It’s not because games are bad at telling stories. It’s not because books or film or whatever are more mature mediums. It’s not because gaming hasn’t seen some rather remarkable storytelling efforts. It’s becasue you happen to no like the medium’s main approaches to storytelling, probably quite apart from their quality. That’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with you. But if plenty of people who appreciate the same literature and film as you do for similar reasons and even use that cultural currency as leverage for talking about game narratives they like … you’re probably screwing up if you assume everyone else is just blind.

        • malkav11 says:

          Just wanted to applaud gwathdring’s comment. That’s pretty much spot on. Sure, it’s a little eye-rolling for me when people talk breathlessly about how original and exciting the ideas or setting in Mass Effect are, because they aren’t really. Even before it starts lurching back and forth between games as different writing teams take over. But all the same, they’re games that I really enjoyed and a large part of that enjoyment was the narrative, because even though it may not blow my mind with its originality, it’s very good at getting me to personally invest in the world and characters in a way that is unique to games as an interactive medium.

          I do get the sense that a fair number of gamers don’t really read, but that’s not to say that you can’t be an avid reader and still care passionately about narrative in games, because I am and I do. And I certainly don’t think the solution to any perceived lack of quality in game narrative is to abandon it, which sure seems to be the subtext of a lot of comments on the subject. Or, at least as often, the text of the comments.

        • Expanding Man says:

          I agree with some of what you say (especially the bit about plot not being the sole indicator of quality for story elements). Also, I probably should have made clear that I did immensely enjoy the story aspects of some of the more well written games like the Witcher 3, Morrowind, Mass Effect and Deus Ex, and mostly not because of the main plot.

          However, my derision originates from the fact that the major plot lines in video games are often so far behind other media, are so inane and simple, and are so very much the same among games which outwardly appear to be drastically different from each other. When I said most video game plots are “Some big old monster is trying to kill everybody in the entire universe! It’s up to YOU to kill IT first!” it really wasn’t much of an exaggeration. When praise is given specifically to these sorts of plots (rather than to the backstory, style or theme, which are usually better in games and are much harder to criticize) it makes it seem to some of us like the gaming press is ignorant of other media. It’s not being snooty to make a mockery of some of these stories, and I wish that if game developers would insist on shoving them in our faces, they would at least be much better at self-parody.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          Obligatory response to say I couldn’t disagree with this more. The majority of videogames have terrible writing because the majority of people who play videogames don’t really care about the quality of the writing and don’t understand how good writing can make games better; it’s not because of some nebulous “Oh, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” rubbish. No main Final Fantasy except XII has good writing. Bioware have never written anything that warrants the praise that Gamers with a capital G shower them with. Few, if any JRPGs have really good writing, despite what Kotaku would like you to think: Suikoden III is flatly nowhere near as well-written as Game of Thrones, no matter how much you enjoy either. No visual novel in existence has ever had really good writing, no matter how much Japanophiles fawn over them. And on, and on; these are as close to statements of fact as makes no difference. “Bad writing” is a thing. Dan Brown is – technically speaking – an appallingly bad writer, despite his millions of dollars and his adoring fans. The only argument against this is the usual everything-is-subjective claptrap which does no-one any good and never has.

  13. Gibs says:

    It seems they invested a lot in writers/story which IMHO is the right way to go about it, backing this right now.

    Ahh man, I’m so enjoying this cRPG Renaissance.

  14. jrusselld says:

    On my first playthrough of Divinity. Thought I’d hate the turn-based combat but its actually quite refreshing.

    Thinking of backing the 2nd one but the these darn currency conversions will leave me broke for months.

    Also, who else think the King pictured here looks like Sir Patrick Stewart?

  15. klops says:

    Rain + Spider summon?

  16. draglikepull says:

    The multiplayer stuff sounds cool in theory but the logistics seem implausible for most people to pull off in practice.

    You’ll need a group of friends who:

    1. You can reliably schedule a lengthy campaign worth of play-time with.
    2. Don’t want a traditional co-op experience (where you work together towards a singular goal).
    3. Aren’t going to ruin the experience with griefing.

    Sure, sounds like it could be fun in theory, but how many people are going to be able to get together a group that fits those criteria? If the selling point of a game is something most players can’t take advantage of, how important is it, really?

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, one, it’s not “the selling point”, it’s a new part of the experience that can be utilized if desired. I’d say the expansion of the coop support to handle up to four people and the more detailed character creation are the bigger take-aways from that part, and both sound like great additions to an already excellent formula. For another, even if not that many people actually get to make full use of it (which I agree is likely), it’s still something literally no other CRPG has.

      • xsikal says:

        “For another, even if not that many people actually get to make full use of it (which I agree is likely), it’s still something literally no other CRPG has.”

        Well… sure, I guess… but rather than spending significant dev effort on something not many people will experience (again, because the vast, vast majority of players for these games play it SP), why not spend it on areas that improve the game for everyone?

        I backed it already, but not because of this gameplay mechanic. Frankly, the competitive co-op aspect is at best meaningless to me, and at worst something I am worried might actively interfere with SP.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Well it’s an important question, but to me the answer is generally obvious.

          Do you want to give people who already have loads of what they want, more of what they want? Or do you want to give a smaller subset of people who have literally none of what they want, some of what they want?

          Even though I’m likely to never get the chance to play OS2 4-player, for some reason it just pisses me off seeing people complain about something which has never been done before, that a lot of people (not statistically but still thousands at least) are likely desperate for, whether they know it or not.

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            Well you’d have to agree that if I’m kickstarting a game (which I haven’t actually done, but mainly because I was sure they’d made it without my help – which they in fact did – and I didn’t want them to drown in pledge money, lest they start adding things like full voice-over or an FPS module), it’s rather ok for me to be conscious about how my money is spent. It’s not entirely the situation here though, since I’m assuming a significant portion of their budged comes from D:OS1 sales, and they of course are free to spend it as they see fit.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Well, it’s a notable part of the Kickstarter. I think you’d be quite silly to complain about them doing something they said they’d be taking your money for the sake of. It’d be kind of like backing Darkest Dungeon and then asking they use your money to make the game child-friendly.

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            Well if you are implying that this ‘competitive online roleplaying’ is as essential to the game as gruesomeness is to Darkest Dungeon, then I’m starting to doubt whether I’m actually excited about it. And I didn’t back it anyway.

          • Kitsunin says:

            No, I’m just arguing through reductio ad absurdum. My point is that if the Kickstarter has a feature as a selling point, you can’t participate and then say “wait, no, I don’t want this thing you explicit said you’re going to include!”

            If anything, the potential for competitive multiplayer is likely to make the singleplayer more robust, as it means questlines ought to have many options and weave together in interesting ways. Furthermore, judging by OS 1, even playing solo you should be able to control characters individually if you wish, and roleplay them double-crossing each other — again, the multiplayer option can feed into the single-player in a very positive way.

          • malkav11 says:

            It’d be one thing if they were starting to tack on completely unnecessary multiplayer modes that were separate from the main game because of an arbitrary mandate that all games must have multiplayer even if nobody uses it. The multiplayer in games like Bioshock 2, Dead Space 2, Dragon Age Inquisition, and so on all seem pretty wasteful (ME3 seemed like it would be on this list before it came out, but it turns out the multiplayer in that was actually quite good and continues to maintain a playerbase even now.). But Original Sin is a series that has been architected around seamless coop integration through the whole campaign, so expanding the number of possible coop partners and the range of interactions in the sequel is a natural and desirable path. And unlike an unfortunate number of games that are designed for coop play, Original Sin’s singleplayer experience isn’t harmed by it because the coop characters and interactions with them are all fully under your control instead of being relegated to inadequate AI or simply vanishing.

  17. Traipse says:

    This all sounds really great, and I’m ordinarily a big RPG fan, but… I’m skeptical. I tried Original Sin, and bounced off it super-hard. The story was bland, uninspired save-the-world-from-bad-stuff fare, the supposedly open world was beef-gated by nigh-impossible fights until you stumbled into the right path, and it was remarkably easy to make a party that was non-viable in combat and not discover that fact for several hours. (I think I ended up restarting three times.) There were great moments scattered around, particularly in the NPC dialogue — mad props to whomever did the dialogue writing — but you really had to hunt for them, and the time in between those moments wasn’t fun enough for me to keep going. It’s sad… I really tried to like it, but I just couldn’t find the fun.

    (For Pete’s sake, why are there so many RPGs which require looting every crate in the world for junk? It’s not so much a “crafting system” as it is a “mentally unstable kleptomaniac hoarder breaking into your house and taking all your food and useless small items”.)

  18. Carra says:

    Divinity: Original Sin was my favorite game last year. So, the sequel is backed :)

  19. Expanding Man says:

    I agree with some of what you say (especially the bit about plot not being the sole indicator of quality for story elements). Also, I probably should have made clear that I did immensely enjoy the story aspects of some of the more well written games like the Witcher 3, Morrowind, Mass Effect and Deus Ex, and mostly not because of the main plot.

    However, my derision originates from the fact that the major plot lines in video games are often so far behind other media, are so inane and simple, and are so very much the same among games which outwardly appear to be drastically different from each other. When I said most video game plots are “Some big old monster is trying to kill everybody in the entire universe! It’s up to YOU to kill IT first!” it really wasn’t much of an exaggeration. When praise is given specifically to these sorts of plots (rather than to the backstory, style or theme, which are usually better in games and are much harder to criticize) it makes it seem to some of us like the gaming press is ignorant of other media. It’s not being snooty to make a mockery of some of these stories, and I wish that if game developers would insist on shoving them in our faces, they would at least be much better at self-parody.

    • Expanding Man says:

      Ugh, I was trying to respond to my original thread, and somehow ended up making a new one. I apologize.