I have been keeping a very close eye on Divinity: Original Sin 2. Ever since I first got to play the GM Mode earlier this year, it became apparent that there is more to this sequel than meets the eye. Revisiting the game at Gamescom last week left me with some rather impressive and frankly baffling moments that have me even more hyped to play the full release.
The game as a whole seems to be coming along nicely and boasts some impressive statistics. Apparently there are so many lines of dialogue that they couldn’t promise full voice acting initially, yet they are now somehow able to say that they’re offering this as a feature in the full release.
This is especially awe-inspiring because of a background technology called Tags. Each character, premade or custom, will have specially created tags assigned to them. The game will look at each line of dialogue for each NPC and match the relevant tags so that the dialogue matches the context.
Not only does this include gender and race, but also other defining characteristics such as if they are a noble, or if they’ve served in the army. Larian have said that every character will be spoken to in very different ways as a result, including special tags for those with Origin stories.
This leads me nicely into something they have been teasing for a while: the undead. There is a pre-made undead character in the game, but you can also make undead variants of the four other races – Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Lizardfolk.
It doesn’t stop at just undead variants, however. I was also shown the crafting system in order to demonstrate how to craft a rather specific item. This item uses Source as well as the head of a fallen enemy in order to create a device that allows your character to change race. Since Source was a forbidden art in the first game, it only makes sense for it to play a major role in the second and do some really crazy and terrifying things in this world
At this point, two things sprung to mind. The first was that I had watched too much Game of Thrones. The second was that it reminded me of the Headhunter boss in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. This monster initially takes the form of a noble woman, who tries to stab you with her knife. Upon their head falling, the head of an old man attaches to grant it magic powers, only to be followed by a lizard head that allows it to stick to walls and lash at you with its tongue.
Upon describing this boss to the PR contact from Larian, he essentially confirmed that this is how the heads work in Divinity: Original Sin 2. Certainly from a dialogue perspective, taking the face of an enemy will edit the race and gender tags, meaning people will see you differently as a result, potentially allowing you to reach parts of the game that you wouldn’t otherwise see.
One example they gave was of a small kid who would run away from an undead Lizardfolk, only to approach and talk openly when he put on the face of an Elf. They did experiment with having it so NPCs remember the player, but this was apparently game-breaking in places.
These little curios along with the solid combat, character creation, and world building already apparent are all signs that Larian Studios are going all out for the sequel. With not long until the games’ full launch on 14th September, it’ll be fascinating to see if all their hard work has paid off.