There’s an intangible barrier of interactivity that has always driven a wedge between pen and paper role playing games and the video games that imitate them. The quirky way players manipulate verisimilitude to solve problems, the fluidity of how problems can arise based on who you meet and how you treat them; the from-the-hip approach to storytelling that a Game Master employs offers that most creative and dynamic sort of world a player can experience.
When Divinity: Original Sin launched in 2014, it seemed that fortress of was in danger of being breached. A turn-based strategy RPG with boundless hours of gameplay would find its legacy cemented by its incredible storytelling tools. The key that unlocked this incredible potential for depth in the narrative department was Larian Studios’ heavy focus on multiplayer. Being a world saving knight that gathers an unlikely party of heroes is one thing, filling that party with your friends is another thing entirely.
Original Sin 2 keeps that multiplayer dynamic strong, allowing individual players control the combat actions and dialogue choices of their specific character. Nothing is stopping players from colluding with one another to work through problems. Nothing is preventing an ally from going rogue either. Now, it’s not limited to just provoking random people or interrupting conversations. You can go so far as attacking and killing your party members.
This seems relatively useless and un necessarily trollish, but it’s larger implication is that player vs player content is alive and well. We pit our party against each other in the battle arena, which was both hilarious and relatively mean-spirited. During me and Alex’s brawl, we saw the massive effect players can have on the environment in combat, and how height and cover now plays an expanded role in the tactics of victory.
Also new to the series is the expanded party. Now 4 characters can adventure together or fight against one another. Characters can choose their races and backgrounds, which heavily effects their starting abilities and dialogue scenarios when interacting with NPCs. An elf who’d eventually join my party was very unimpressed by me being a human, which made it that much more difficult to get her not to kill me instead.
Crafting, an upgrade relationship mechanic, and a game master mode are also on deck to push the franchise forward, but Divinity Original Sin 2’s best feature is refining and expanding on what it already does better than every other RPG on the market. It’s stellar multiplayer is what pulled me away from my character sheet years ago, and knowing that it’s coming back bigger and better in 2017 all but solidifies a launch purchase.