Note: This review is based off completing the first major area/chapter of the game, Fort Joy. I’ll update if the later areas are dramatically different.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 (D:OS2) is, IMO, the game the first one should have been. It has the same great combat, still has fantastic graphics and sound, but removes the non-stop immersion-breaking meta jokes and has a far more serious tone. After 30 hours of the first game I just couldn’t push past all the humor, so I’m very happy that D:OS2 has mostly curbed that, and what comedy it does have is placed much better.
As mentioned, D:OS2 has great combat. It’s turn-based, and relies very heavily on environmental effects, both what is around you right now (water, fire, high ground, doorways, etc), and what you and enemies create with spells and abilities (setting fire to poison, freezing water, making it rain blood, etc). Perhaps it’s just perception, but I also feel that the sequel has fewer ‘gimmick’ fights, and is more natural in terms of what is around you. It does still have plenty of oddly placed fire, water, and poison barrels, but beyond that most of the stuff around you makes sense.
Pulling off combos is still a thing, but again it feels less ‘must do’ than the first game, where if you didn’t teleport someone off their healing pad and into the ‘damage zone’, you simply couldn’t beat a fight. One items that still annoys me, and I think will go away with more experience, is the accidental triggering of things. One example that happens all the time is lighting poison on fire when I don’t mean to, because it’s hard to tell when a puddle connects to another, and when enough space exists that a fire won’t spread.
Just based off the first chapter, and on normal difficulty, fights overall have been pretty challenging. There are no random battles in the game, so each encounter is a set piece battle. They also don’t scale to your level (even though chest loot does), so it’s entirely possible to encounter something you shouldn’t for another level or two. Early on this is huge, because not only can you be under-leveled, you will be massively behind in gear as well. I found towards the end of the chapter this was less an issue, but early on (first 3-4 levels, so about 10 hours) I was reloading a ton and having to not take certain fights until later. Considering how fairly open the map is, and how many ways you can open areas up, you might be running into too-difficult battle often on your first playthrough.
D:OS2 has great characters, and I love that even if you pick from one of the six pre-defined backgrounds you can still edit almost everything about the character. And when you find a party member, you can also decide what class they will start as (though you can’t fully edit them like you can for your main character, which is a little limiting as the pre-set classes aren’t fully ideal from a min/max standpoint). What this means is you can select a party based on the look and personality of the characters, while also but separately put together a mix of classes that will work for you. Most RPGs you have to choose between picking a cleric because you need healing, and picking a non-cleric because you like the style/background of a character, which in retrospect is pretty silly when it seems so easily ‘fixed’ in D:OS2.
Surprisingly, I really like all six pre-defined characters from a story standpoint, and I’m almost sad I can only adventure with four of them (the max party size). It adds more replayability I guess, especially if future updates add more characters so you can go with a completely different party, but right now it just means missing out on two of the six unique interactions. That said, who your main character is has impact on the story vs that same character being just a party member, so to see all of the story content you are going to need to replay the game a bunch anyway.
I’ve encountered a few bugs so far, mostly around quests not updating properly and leaving their marker on the map even once they have been finished. Annoying, but not game-breaking. I’ve yet to have the game crash, and overall performance is perfect even on max settings.
One reason I’m doing this review now is that I’ve decided to restart the game, picking a party composition that fits a little better than the one I originally had. It’s not that I couldn’t progress because of difficulty, but the min/maxer in me saw too much potential in certain combos, and too many wasted skill points spread across characters to continue. That said, it’s been fun going over the starter area again, this time with some prior knowledge, and seeing how differently things can play out. If you are someone who enjoys replaying games, especially RPGs, I think D:OS 2 has a lot to offer you here.
Overall the game so far is really fantastic, and highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good, deep RPG experience.