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Divinity: Original Sin - Enhanced Edition is comfortable on console, if a little slower

Nov 03 // Zack Furniss
Split-screen co-op functions much like ToeJam & Earl from back in the day: both players share a screen when they're close to one another, but if they drift far enough away, the screen splits and each player has their own camera to control. This can be jarring if you separate and rejoin multiple times in rapid succession (imagine someone flailing their hands in front of your face really fast to obscure your vision) , but it otherwise works surprisingly well. I also didn't anticipate being able to wander so far away from you partner. There were multiple times in the ten or so hours we played where he would be in town and I'd be fighting enemies on a distant beach. Controlling characters works better than expected in that it actually works without making me want to throw my controller into the toilet in exchange for a mouse and keyboard. You can move your character around with the left thumbstick, or you can click it to create a small cursor. This effectively allows you to maneuver your avatars like a point and click RPG and is blessing when you want to go to the bathroom while you traverse to the other side of a map. Combat is easy enough to handle, with multiple radial menus and shortcuts providing quick-enough means to an end.  An RPG can live or die by its inventory, and Divinity: Original Sin was never exceptionally manageable in the first place. While the presentation is pleasant (little chests, barrels, and gore piles show up as a cute lil' grid when you look through them), picking up items can be a tad tedious. Holding down the X button brings up a search circle around you so that you can look at multiple items simultaneously, which minimizes minutia but still isn't completely ideal. If you hadn't played the PC version before you'd probably think it was a little slow but nothing out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, even with hands-off experience I know how much faster that can be, and in a game as large as this one, poor inventory accessibility goes from a wrinkle to a wound after awhile. Moving items out of your way is probably the offensive activity here. Instead of just clicking and dragging it out of your way, you have to hold down that search button, choose the item, go to a separate small menu, choose move, and then determine where you'd like to place said item. That is entirely too many commas and clauses to complete an action that you'll do often. It does work better if you use the point and click control scheme, which I found myself utilizing often. Overall, I wouldn't call these controls unwieldy so much as inconvenient. But if you can manage to acclimate to these puppets' strings, there's a fantastic game underneath. Divinity: Original Sin - Enhanced Edition is one of those rare fantasy RPGs that has charm, charisma, and doesn't feel completely generic. Now that almost every NPC is voiced, the world feels even more alive and personable. The co-op conversations, in which your main characters can agree, disagree, argue, and jest with one another, eventually leading to traits that have a tangible effect, are perfect for couch sessions. Turn-based combat doesn't seem like it would flow as well, but it does. Each time my brother covered an orc in oil and I set him ablaze, we high-fived like a couple of douches. The environmental/elemental battles always find a way to remain exciting. I'm no Chris Carter, so I can't finish a 100 hour game in two days. There's still a garbage dump's worth of shit that I haven't in Divinity. So far, the extra quests and dialogue feel right at home, and the addition of dual-wielding has made my rogueish spellcaster even more formidable. Even after the little that I have played, though, I'm confident in saying that this one's worth your time. Just remember to pick up every shell on the beach and send one to your brother's inventory every time he checks his phone. See how many shells you can send before they notice. Have fun!
Divinity: Original Sin photo
Couch co-op clickiness
While playing through the lukewarm Sword Coast Legends last week, I kept telling myself there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Once I finished my slog through the Sword Coast, I could revisit Rivellon in Divinity: O...

Divinity photo

See how Divinity: Original Sin works on consoles

Enhanced Edition coming to PS4 and XB1
Oct 16
// Chris Carter
Divinity: Original Sin was a pretty rad PC game, and now it's coming to consoles. On October 27, it will it the PS4 and Xbox One platforms. If you're curious as to how it will actually play out on consoles, this develope...
Original Sin 2 photo
Original Sin 2

Divinity: Original Sin 2 cleared all of its Kickstarter goals

$2 million raised
Sep 30
// Jordan Devore
In the final days of its Kickstarter, Divinity: Original Sin 2 only had two stretch goals left -- one for a Shapeshifting Mask, the other for a Game Master mode. Both are happening. The crowdfunding campaign came to a close w...
Divinity photo

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is in its final days on Kickstarter

Last call
Sep 28
// Jordan Devore
When we last talked about Divinity: Original Sin 2, it had only just cleared its base goal of $500,000 on Kickstarter. That was last month. Now, with less than two days left in the crowdfunding campaign, Larian Studios is sit...

Fun with stats photo
Fun with stats

Divinity: Original Sin boss asks where all the women at

Sep 08
// Steven Hansen
Okay, some creative license. Larian Studios founder Swen Vincke actually asked a much more proper, "Where are the women?" in his blog post yesterday, trying to explain the discrepancy in how many women seem to be playing Divi...
Divinity: Original Sin 2 photo
Divinity: Original Sin 2

Divinity: Original Sin 2 Kickstarter funded in half a day

Working towards a million
Aug 27
// Chris Carter
Earlier today, the Kickstarter for Divinity: Original Sin 2 debuted, and it's already exceeded it's goal of $500,000. In fact, as of the time of this writing, its catapulted into the $750,000 range, and is eyeing a cool...
Divinity: Original Sin photo
Divinity: Original Sin

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition coming to PC, Xbox One and PS4

Say goodbye to another 100 hours
May 15
// Joe Parlock
People liked that Divinity: Original Sin thing last year, didn’t they? The CRPG won quite a few awards and was positively received here at Destructoid. Now developer Larian and publisher Focus Home Interactive...

Review: Divinity: Original Sin

Sep 08 // Patrick Hancock
Divinity: Original Sin (Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Larian Studios Publisher: Larian StudiosMSRP: $39.99Release Date: June 30, 2014  You kick off Divinity by creating two separate characters, which includes their appearance and character classes. These two avatars then become the stars of the plot and require a bit of actual role-playing. It is possible to control the dialogue options of both characters or set the second character to answer things on their own. When the player answers for both, they can control what type of personality each character has by deciding how they respond to certain situations. Depending on dialogue responses, characters will acquire certain traits. For example, if a character decides a civilian should be harshly punished for something, they might receive the Heartless trait. If the second character is making their own decisions, they may disagree with the player on how to handle a certain situation. If that is the case, an actual rock-paper-scissors match begins between the two. Each victory rewards the winner with a certain amount of points, and the first to 10 points wins the argument. Players can add stat points to increase how many points they get with each victory, making the mini-game easier to win.  When creating characters, players choose from a wealth of character classes that focus on or blend together magic, strength, and stealthy skills and traits. However, just picking a class does not lock a character in to anything. If a player creates a character focused entirely on dealing heavy damage with melee weapons, but then wants to transition into a magic-focused playstyle, they can do so. It's all a matter of allocating skill and stat points upon leveling up, and there is a ton of customization. Each character really is a blank canvas, and players can eventually hire henchmen to take the place of the two other party members to have essentially four blank canvases in the party.  Of course, other party members will also join the player's party to add some flavor to both the plot and gameplay. In many old RPGs, it's the ensemble of characters and their interactions that really captivate players and keep them interested. Unfortunately, Divinity: Original Sin has some rather weak character personalities, which points to the game's lackluster dialogue writing. These characters don't stand out as much as the Minsc and Mortes of the past and are rather forgettable in the long run. [embed]280687:55575:0[/embed] Some of the NPC characters and their respective are quite memorable, at least. As players explore the opening town, they are bound to find a handful of colorful characters that do a wonderful job of setting the tone for the entire game. So while players might not remember the characters they controlled, they will likely remember the dog at the cemetery or the clam on the beach! The plot itself is more on the lighthearted side, which is a theme that persists throughout all the game's aspects. There are certainly some serious and even dark moments, but they always seem to have an extra twinge of humor or color. It's a nice and relaxed plot that never tries to do too much, but does build a gradually bigger sense of scale and urgency as the player progresses. Again, some of the weaker writing tends to shine through, but the plot overall is serviceable. The humor aspect should not be understated. There are some genuinely funny moments written into the game and even more hilarity when playing cooperatively with friends. Hearing your buddy say "oh, uhh, I think I just pissed off every pirate within 100 yards" and then walking over to them only to join a massive pirate slaughter is not something any other game is going to offer.  Gameplay takes place in true turn-based fashion. The order of the turns is determined by speed stats and is displayed to the player during battles. From there, it is up to the player to eliminate all enemies in order to progress. The biggest mechanic at play during battles in Original Sin is the use of the environment to deal out damage and status effects. See those enemies standing in a puddle of blood? Zap the blood with some electricity to hopefully stun all of them! Oh crap, that blood actually led a trail right to your warrior and she's also stunned!  I've actually had this exact situation happen to me many times. It is hard to tell the exact borders of certain puddles, and who exactly is actually standing in it. However, this could be due to my colorblindness affecting me during the nighttime battles, making it harder to see where the puddle ends and the dark ground begins, Other examples include blowing up oil barrels to create large explosions, or even using a spell to cause it to rain, and then freezing the wet enemies solid. It is of the utmost importance to utilize these environmental strategies while in battle, especially in tough battles. In some cases, being crafty with the elements turns what should be a difficult battle into a breeze. It can also make battles feel repetitive, but only if the player chooses to approach each battle in one specific way. Diversifying battle strategies is achievable to a degree, and is bound to happen as players acquire new skills. There's plenty of loot to pick up, use, sell, and craft in Divinity: Original Sin. Everything has a certain amount of weight, but since it is possible to split everything between the four characters, that's hardly ever an issue. Inventory management is a bit of an issue, however, especially for those who tend to pick up everything they see, whether it's a potato or a greatsword. Everything takes up a single square, and that inventory fills of quickly, making it a real hassle to find something in particular. There are various sorting options to help, but they can only do so much. The game features a skippable "tutorial dungeon" that goes over some of the basics of combat, but that's about it in the form of a traditional tutorial. Although Divinity ignores explicitly stating things like how to craft or even put up quest markers on where to do, this doesn't mean that the game does a poor job teaching the player things. In fact, Divinity: Original Sin is easily one of the best learning experiences of recent memory. Crafting recipes are found within the world and written out like a journal. When a player reads it, even if they are unaware crafting is in the game, the player will naturally try to combine ingredients that the recipe mentions and voila! Crafting is discovered. This is essentially how the game treats everything: in-game hints towards objectives or mechanics are given, and then the onus is on the players to actually figure them out. It's great not to have a game force-feed players the mechanics and instead let them discover things on their own. However one mechanic in particular, sneaking, isn't explained very well (or at all) and as such I have no idea how to successfully pickpocket someone without getting caught... As for the difficulty, Divinity: Original Sin will allow players to travel anywhere, but players shouldn't be surprised when they run into a group of enemies that are a few levels higher than them. If that's the case, the options are: put your gameface on and fight or hightail it out of there and come back later. Fighting more powerful enemies is doable, considering the first real victory I had in the game was against enemies two levels higher than me, but it is an extreme challenge. This also means, however, that is is extremely rewarding to accomplish. Divinity: Original Sin also includes multiplayer for two players total. The second player takes over the second created character of the host player, and it's impossible for a player to bring their own character into someone else's game. While this may seem annoying, it helps keep the roleplaying aspect in check and also prevents two players of wildly different levels from playing together. The second player can only, by default, control that one character in battle, but it is possible to have them control one AI character as well, it's just really confusing and obtuse to do so, so not everything always works smoothly in multiplayer. The game has a delightful art style which helps solidify the lighthearted tone set by the plot and writing. When walking around town it is hard not to notice how bright everything is, which helps give a real sense of liveliness to the town. Likewise, the music both in and out of battle is great; it isn’t overpowering but is certainly noticeable and always feels appropriate.  Divinity: Original Sin is an amazing RPG experience. It falls a bit flat on characterization and writing on occasion, but nails just about everything else. It does a great job of compelling players to roleplay their on-screen characters, putting the "RP" back into RPG. This is a game that any fan of the genre will adore, and is sure to suck in new players and teach them what the genre is all about. It's a love letter, and deserves to be loved back.
Divinity: OS review! photo
Always talk to the animals
Remember the first "western RPG" that really made an impression on you? Maybe it was Baldur's Gate, maybe it was Planescape: Torment, or maybe it was Dragon Age: Origins. Regardless, you love that game. It might have fla...

Divinity doing well photo
Divinity doing well

The crowdfunding worked: Divinity: Original Sin sells over 160,000

All thanks to the Cow Simulator mod
Jul 07
// Steven Hansen
Following a near one million dollar Kickstarter campaign and a stint in Early Access, Divinity: Original Sin formally released last week. It had already sold 160,000 copies as of last Thursday, according to Eurogame...
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Divinity: Original Sin is available now on Steam

How 'bout remembering your divinity?
Jul 02
// Brittany Vincent
After missing several release dates, Divinity: Original Sin is finally on Steam as of June 30. This game is the fifth entry in the Divinity series and was created using Larian Studio's own in-house custom engine. After severa...
Divinity: Original Sin photo
Divinity: Original Sin

Divinity: Original Sin has some moo-ving mod tools for players

Cow Simulator 2014 has all the prime cuts
Jun 28
// Brittany Vincent
If you've ever noticed a distinct lack of cows while playing Divinity, do I have good news for you! The Belgian-developed RPG will feature a mod that allows you to play Cow Simulator 2014, an example of what you can create w...

Divinity: Original Sin now coming spring 2014

Extra time will be spent implementing Early Access feedback
Feb 24
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Larian Studios will be pushing back the release of Divinity: Original Sin to later this spring. The title was supposed to be released this week, but instead the studio will be using the extra time to implement feedback recei...

Review: Divinity: Dragon Commander

Aug 10 // Patrick Hancock
Divinity: Dragon Commander (PC)Developer: Larian StudiosPublisher: Larian Studios Release Date: August 6, 2013MSRP: $39.99  The single-player mode in Divinity: Dragon Commander sets up a decent plot about a being who can transform into a dragon who is disputing with its other, equally crazy siblings. The story portrayed through the cutscenes is certainly well told, but serves as more or less a justification to go from one map to the next. Though the tutorials don't do much to explain this, Divinity: Dragon Commander is a mix of boardgame-style territory control (a la Risk) and real-time strategy (RTS) battles. The majority of a "match" will have players moving pieces around a game board in an attempt to control and dominate as much of the map as possible. The biggest problem is that the tutorial doesn't even attempt to explain any of this. After watching the multitude of tutorial videos, it's easy to assume that the game is only an RTS game, as it doesn't touch on any of the mechanics associated with the boardgame portions of a match. When first confronted with the board, some tooltips are displayed to help explain things, but they are incredibly insufficient. The tutorials for the RTS elements are also insufficient, as is the case with just about every non-interactive tutorial. There is a "Training Ground" that allows players to screw around as they please, but it does little in the way of actively teaching anything. [embed]259314:49940:0[/embed] The boardgame portions of the game take place in turns and require a "big picture" type of thinking in order to play effectively. Two types of resources are up for grabs: gold and resource points. Occupying various areas on the map will add to the amount of resources gained per turn, the exact amount being displayed on the territory itself. When a battle occurs, the player has the option to choose a specific general, each with their own playstyle, to auto-simulate the battle and play the odds, or they can control the Dragon Commander and head into battle themselves. The battles play out like many other real-time strategy games, but with one twist: the player can take control of a jetpack dragon and partake in the battle themselves. Doing so is somewhat limited; there are a couple of minutes in the beginning of the match in which the dragon cannot be spawned (it takes resources, which you don’t yet have, to spawn the dragon), and there is a brief period after death in which the dragon cannot be spawned. The dragon has specific abilities at its disposal as well, each with its own separate cooldown. There are also three different dragons to choose from, each with their own abilities and playstyle. Playing as a dragon is like playing a third-person shooter; it's very action-oriented. When doing so, however, it is important not to forget about the troops on the ground. Battles will be fought in tandem, as the player commands the dragon in the sky while their troops march beneath them into battle. There are limited army commands while in dragon mode, so it is possible to command an army while simultaneously breathing fire on enemy scum. Mastering these army commands is a hugely effective way to get a leg up on an opponent, since it's incredibly easy to forget about a ground army while soaring through the air and toasting fools. Playing as a dragon against the AI can feel a bit unfair at times, as it takes a battle with a statistical 30% chance of victory and turns it on its head due to the enemy being disadvantaged and dragonless. It makes the single-player campaign a bit of a breeze on normal difficulty, so long as the player knows when and how to use their dragon. If multiple battles break out in the same turn, however, the player-controlled dragon commander can only be used in one of them, leaving the other two up to the AI and auto-complete. It's a nice caveat to give AI opponents a break from the one-sided dragon battles. As for the non-dragon RTS mechanics, battles consist of vying for resources called Recruits. Recruits are gained over time as long as the player has Recruitment Centers built on top of certain locations around the map. These locations are neutral in the beginning of the map, and need to be captured by having at least one unit nearby. The beginning of the match is incredibly important as players have limited units and must try to capture and hold as many build locations as possible, both for Recruitment Centers and unit-producing buildings. Since there are only so many locations that can hold buildings, players must decide which type of buildings to build and where to construct them. Most maps have at least some water, allowing for boats to be built and used, taking the battle from the land to the sea. Structures can also be built on the boardgame-style map after owning a territory.  The buildings have a variety of effects: some will increase the amount of gold or research points per turn, others will generate cards. Cards are strategic advantages that can be played before battles or on territories themselves. Some cards will reduce the amount of units on a territory while others will add units to the player's side during a battle or reduce the effectiveness of a specific type of unit on the enemy's team. The RTS controls do feel a bit clunky when compared to the standards of the genre. Intermediate tactics like control groups can be utilized, but most units move way too slowly to micromanage effectively. In addition, the camera is constantly shifting position when going back and forth between RTS and dragon mode and it can be quite frustrating to constantly have to re-adjust the camera. The true highlight of the single-player campaign is what happens in between turns, aboard a ship called the Raven. This is where the diplomatic elements come into play, as a group of five diplomats will constantly bug the player with proposals and recommendations as to how to run a country. Each diplomat represents a specific race: Undead, Elves, Dwarves, Lizards, or Imps. Making certain decisions will alter how each race feels about the player, so balancing the favor of each race becomes quite the juggling act. The Raven is also where players will spend their research points. These points, accrued each turn, can be spent on new units and unit abilities or on new dragon abilities. Deciding where to spend research points is no easy feat, as doing so can drastically alter a playstyle. One player might want to spend heavily on their dragon, making each player-controlled battle that much easier, while someone else might want to focus on their army and let their AI generals auto-simulate the battles. A good amount of humor is peppered throughout these interactions. One turn you may be asked to legalize an Elven herb with "healing properties" for medical use and the next you may have to pick a wife in order to form a political marriage with one of the races. There are plenty of goofy situations and decisions to be made, which are only made funnier by the fact that the council is completely serious about these proposals. A lot of polish has gone into the interactions that take place aboard the Raven. Most of the dialogue is well written and can be genuinely funny instead of relying on cheap jokes for laughs. I continually found myself spending more and more time talking to the NPC characters simply because I wanted to read more of their dialogue. It is, of course, also possible to take the battles online against honest-to-goodness humans. The Raven doesn't make an appearance in any multiplayer mode, since chances are people would spend forever in between turns, but its absence is made up by the presence of dragon-on-dragon battles. There are two game modes: Campaign and Skirmish, the latter of which is a single battle in the RTS-style of gameplay, without the boardgame map. The former is just like single-player but without the Raven. The dragon battles are the clear highlight of multiplayer. Battles are no longer instantly won once the player decides to command their dragon, because the enemy player can do the same thing and fight back. The strategy shifts dramatically when a player knows that a dragon can emerge at just about any moment. Anti-air units are way more valuable as most of them, when grouped up, can take out a dragon pretty quickly. The dogfights, er, dragonfights, that can happen in the air are intense and are a true test of a player's focus, as it's even easier to forget about a ground army when using skills and dodging. Each area and NPC looks unique and beautiful, both in terms of technical graphics power and character design. A pretty big issue for some players, though, is the lack of a colorblind mode, as the default colors of the single-player campaign are red and green. This issue persists on both the overworld map as well as mid-battle. During the battle, enemy units are labeled when far away from the camera with a red icon, but the icon goes away as they get closer for some strange reason, reverting back to the reliance on color differentiation. This is less of an issue in multiplayer, since players can choose their color. The voice work of Divinity: Dragon Commander deserves special mention. With so many different characters aboard the Raven, the voice acting was immediately a cause for concern for me. Luckily, each character performs well and it is a joy to talk to each and every one. Sure, no one character's voice actor stands out as particularly amazing, but the sheer virtue of not having a single character grate on the nerves is not to be understated. Divinity: Dragon Commander is a prime example of a game being bigger than the sum of its parts. The RTS elements are a bit rough, but at least it's possible to control a dragon with a freaking jetpack to blow stuff up, while the boardgame-esque territory map requires players to think of the big picture. Talking to the colorful cast of NPCs aboard the Raven in between turns in single-player was easily one of my favorite non-dragon parts of the game and really highlights the writing and wit that the Divinity series has come to be known for. The tutorial needs a lot of work and the game isn't very friendly to colorblind players, but Divinity: Dragon Commander will certainly unleash the dragon strategist in all of us.
Dragon Commander review photo
Dragon dragon, rock the dragon
Dragons and jetpacks, Civilization and StarCraft. Mix'em all together and what do you get? Divinity: Dragon Commander. Okay, it's a bit more complicated than that, but those are certainly the core elements at play when discus...

Dragon Commander photo
Dragon Commander

Dragon Commander testers get uber micro in competition

And yes, the dragons are wearing jetpacks
Jul 16
// Darren Nakamura
For a long while now, we've seen how Divinity: Dragon Commander is mashing up real-time strategy, role-playing game elements, and directly controlled aerial combat featuring jetpack dragons. It's certainly a unique combinati...
Dragon Commander photo
Dragon Commander

Let's watch 27 minutes of Divinity: Dragon Commander

This game is going to be a time sink
Jun 26
// Jordan Devore
Come for the jetpack-wearing dragon, stay for the combination of real-time strategy with base building, aerial combat, and overarching political role-playing. If it was not already clear before this extended gameplay walkthr...

Jim and Larian are playing Divinity: Original Sin now!

Check us out on one of those live streaming things
Apr 25
// Jim Sterling
I'm online with Larian Studios right now, playing Divinity: Original Sin, the game that's got less than a day to meet its final stretch goal on Kickstarter.  We've put this together as an unplanned last-minute thing and I'm looking forward to giving it a good ol' look and maybe stabbing something with a sword. Enjoy!
Divinity photo

Divinity: Original Sin reaches $500,000 stretch goal

Devs show off new area, The Black Cove
Apr 16
// Jason Cabral
I haven't played much of the Divinity series, but Divinity: Original Sin has certainly caught my interest, as well as the interest of many of long-time fans. Just yesterday, Larian Studios met its Kickstarter stretch goal fo...

Divinity: Dragon Commander gets fiery new trailer

Also, a new website
Feb 27
// Jim Sterling
It's been a while since Larian Studios had anything to show for Divinity: Dragon Commander, but it's resurfaced with a new trailer reintroducing us to a world of strategy, action, politics, and dragons wearing jetpacks. Oh y...

Larian holds GOG's first 'pay what you want' sale

To deal is divine
Oct 10
// Jim Sterling
Larian Studios, developer of the Divinity series and the highly promising Dragon Commander, is teaming up with to hold the service's first ever "pay what you want" sale. You get three Divinity games for any price you ...

E3: First look at Divinity: Original Sin

Jun 05 // Jim Sterling
Fans of Divine Divinity have a lot to look forward to with Original Sin, as Larian is intent on finishing what it started with Rivellon's original story. I was told that the studio felt it had to abandon Divinity II's style and return to its roots in order to provide the experience that it almost got right with Divine Divinity, but never quite perfected. Original Sin is an effort to achieve perfection, and the effort is hard to miss.  Those players simply glancing could easily mistake Original Sin for a Diablo-style hack n' slasher, but the differences are made abundant within seconds. For a start, the ability to rearrange the environment is back, with barrels, tables, and chairs all ready to be chucked about with some simple mouse clicks. While good for a laugh, there is a lot to strategy to be had with this feature. Item combination also plays an integral role. Dozens of items can be collected and used in inventive ways -- for instance, you can combine a poisoned mushroom with your sword to create a poisoned weapon, or mix an apple and a potion to create a detox potion. Homes and dungeons are full of these bits of rubbish, and experimenting with them ought to yield some fun results.  Up to four players can adventure cooperatively, and will each take part in dialog with NPCs, able to agree, disagree, and disrupt the conversation. They can also work together in some very unique ways. For instance, one player can try to pick up items in an NPC's home, lowering their trust and causing them to tail the player suspiciously. Meanwhile, the rest of the group can use the distraction to rob the poor NPC blind. Little touches like that make the difference between a shoehorned multiplayer mode and a true co-op experience.  Dialog feels dynamic and can be used to both instigate as well as avoid conflict. One group of suicide bombers can be convinced to blow themselves up, but if the co-op players don't all agree, they can ruin the plan and go against whatever resolution the others might be planning. There's a lot of scope for potential outcomes with the dialog, and I hope Larian expands on it further as time goes on.  As one might expect, the battles are no less strategic. Turn-based conflicts were decided upon in order to emphasize the need for strategy, and otherwise difficult fights can be made far easier with a little forward planning. One presented scenario involved a room with a giant skeletal robot, and healing shaman, a gang of skeleton warriors and suicide bombers. One player snuck around the group while the other shot an oil barrel with a fireball. The barrel exploded, causing the suicide bombers to blow up and take out half the opposition. Then he shot an electric bolt at a puddle near the skeletal robot, but the puddle was too small to reach it. Cue the second player, who cast a spell that made it rain, extending the reach of the puddle and bringing it to the enemy's foot, which was then stunned by the current running through the water.  Needless to say, I was quite impressed.  Original Sin will also ship with a full editor (extensively pictured in our attached gallery) featuring all the tools -- tools built for designers rather than programmers. Users will be able to build their own worlds, dialog, and quests in order to share them online. Which is very nice.  Using the environment to one's advantage, truly working together, and dominating opponents by playing smart is what Original Sin is all about, and it seems to be a cocktail of ambitions that will pay off. Original Sin is exciting me, and I am going to keep my fingers crossed for what should be a beautifully designed, tactically satisfying, and bizarrely amusing little PC game. Make sure to remember it!

Before E3, Larian Studios announced Divinity: Original Sin, a return to the isometric roots of Divine Divinity after the third-person action RPG that was Divinity II. The team was on hand to demo the game, showcasing its new co-op dialog options, turn-based tactical combat, and bug-eyed skeletons with comical bombs strapped to their backs.  In case you were wondering, I'm all about it.

E3: Jetpack dragons & skeleton boobs in Dragon Commander

Jun 05 // Jim Sterling
Set a thousand years before the events of Divine Divinity, Dragon Commander takes players to the earliest seen point in Rivellon's history. The land is being swept up by a new religion dedicated to the One God, a religion that has murdered the player's father and helped kickstart a journey of revenge and conquest.  Dragon Commander consists of multiple stages of play, each one appearing to be well crafted. From the player's main airship, the Raven, various political and social activities can be undertaken. Advisers will suggest new courses of action, which can be followed or ignored at will, and ambassadors from other kingdoms can appear to offer various alliances. A princess from one of the kingdoms can be married and visited in the bedroom for advice, and each marriage will affect the realm in various ways. In the demo, the player divorced his elven bride and married a dwarven one, causing various provinces to rise up in rebellion but gaining the trust of the dwarf faction.  Undertaking political schemes can reward the hero with cards. Cards can be played in battles to create advantageous conditions -- for instance, deciding to put prisoners to work in the army can yield a reinforcements card, which can be played in a battle to bulk up troop numbers. Of course, these cards are sometimes be gained at a cost -- the aforementioned prisoners are a threat to the general population, and could rob, rape, and murder while battling under the player's banner.  Rivellon is represented by a large, Risk-like map, which contains information on the various rival kingdoms, as well as the separate provinces that make them up. While there is a lot of information, it looks rather straightforward and is fairly intuitive.  Things get more intense during battle sequences, where players not only get to command troops in real-time, but may also take dragon form and lend a personal hand. Dragons may be equipped with all sorts of devices, most notably the jetpack -- which might seem superfluous, but is useful for control and speed boosts. Battles consist of constantly zooming in and out of the action -- pulling back and sending troops, jumping in to help them out, and pulling out again to build defenses and other useful structures. The battles are what really show off Larian's new engine, which looks incredibly beautiful. The studio said it got sick of wrestling with Gamebryo so a new engine powers Dragon Commander, one that does the ever-pleasant art style justice at last. The vibrant color scheme doesn't hurt either.  I was impressed with what I saw, and Dragon Commander remains a personal highlight of the show so far. It does so much, and does it well, and has ticked pretty much every box I could hope for. There will also be multiplayer, but the team is focused primarily on story, which is always good to hear. Given that Larian's trademark weird humor is featured in full effect, I definitely want that narrative-driven experience.  Dragon Commander is a game that roleplaying, strategy, and action fans would do well to keep an eye on. 

Three things sold me on Divinity: Dragon Commander the moment I first saw a demo of it. If it pleases the court, I should like to list those three things, as they all bear an important role in furthering my excitement for Lar...


Divinity: Original Sin announced, goes proper old school

May 29
// Jim Sterling
Larian Studios has announced the next entry in the Divinity series, Divinity: Original Sin. Interestingly, the game abandons the third-person "action" feel of Divinity II, instead returning to an isometric perspective in a ga...

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