Thursday, April 15, 2021
Divinity Original Sin 2
I was a fan of Divinity Original Sin from Larian Studios, and not only played it through once, but then played it half way through a second time, spending 130 hours with that game. But while I bought Divinity Original Sin 2, I hadn't played it up to now, because, you know, too many other games. So I kind of skipped it when I started playing the latest Larian Studios game, Baldur's Gate 3. Now I have to say something blasphemous: I don't really like Baldur's Gate 3. To me it feels so *unfair*. Dungeons & Dragons 5E puts a lot of restrictions on players, but balances that by putting the same restrictions on monsters. In Baldur's Gate 3, we still have those restrictions on the players, but the monsters don't follow the rules. To somebody knowing 5E rules very well, it feels a lot as if the monsters are cheating. Okay, most AIs cheat, but some do it less visibly than others. So after a fight where the enemy not only cast mirror image, but then was able to cast spells each turn with each one of the images, I got fed up and stopped.
But as I was still in the mood for this type of heavy computer role-playing game, I went back and started playing Divinity Original Sin 2. And I must say that I like it much better. The flow seems much better, and the monsters visibly use the same powers that you have, which makes it feel a lot fairer. I am aware that part of that is the difference between playing a game in "definitive edition", as compared to "early access". And the definitive edition has some weird design choices: The developers added "gift bag features" that improve various things in the game, for example inventory management. But if you activate those, the game tells you that because you are using mods, you won't earn achievements anymore. I don't care about achievements, but I that to be very strange design. The gift bag "autopack" feature that sorts items into bags according to category is very useful, but I wouldn't consider it as a sort of cheat that makes the game too easy.
Speaking of mods, I also installed a mod from the Steam Workshop called "Let there be Tooltips!", which fixes another UI flaw of DOS2: When pressing the ALT key to highlight items you can interact with, the mod makes it so that *all* items you can interact with are highlighted. In the original game, lots of items, even very basic ones like crates, don't show up. Really, that is more of a player-created bugfix than a mod.
What is absolutely brilliant in DOS2 is the ability to easily respec your characters, with barely any restrictions. You can build a completely different party out of the characters you have. I'm playing with Sebille, Ifan Ben-Mezd, and Beast. If I go for a second playthrough, I can take the three other companions, enjoy their different character stories, but without that locking me into certain character choices. The ability to respec also makes me feel more relaxed about my deliberately underpowered choices: For pure power it is obviously better if your character skills work well together. But I have, for example, both fire and water powers, which sometimes cancel each other out. The advantage of using all sorts of powers is that you get to know them all, and have more fun with more variety.
I have already played 40 hours of DOS2, and I am still in Act 1, out of 4. And I am level 7, out of 20 or 21 (soft cap). So still a lot of game to go. I have to say that the quest system isn't ideal is telling you what you should be doing next, your quest log tends to be overloaded with stuff that you can't really do much about right now, so it is easy to lose track of your goals. But then, just going everywhere and revealing all the fog of war on the huge map works pretty well. Overall I am having a lot of fun with Divinity Original Sin 2. I just hope that in a few years Baldur's Gate 3 will be as good as this.