First: It is impossible to say I am doing a full review of Divinity Original Sin 2 on the grounds that I am nowhere near done with it, despite being 33 hours of play time in.
Second: As far as I can tell the biggest sin so far is that it made me stay up until 4 AM, twice.
Ready for another late night...
And that should set the tone for this review. Basically, if you played the first one and liked it, go buy the sequel. If you missed the first one, buy that one and start there.
If I had one complaint about the first game it was that the story started in one direction and, after about 10 hours, took a massive left turn. Spoiler alert if you missed it:
In Divinity: Original Sin you show up to investigate a murder. You question people, kill some evil bastards, and generally do the whole Judge Dread "I AM THE LAW" routine... which frankly is awesome. Then you get teleported to some astral plane like location and are told "oh BT Dubbs, the UNIVERSE is ending and only you can save it." What? I'm just an overglorified beat cop and I have to save THE WHOLE UNIVERSE? At this point the murder plot is kind of left behind, which is frankly sad because I'd honestly prefer a more relate-able murder mystery than saving the universe from The Void. That's just me.
And then you go on to do that, or at least delay its demise for another cycle. GG, roll credits.
Surprise surprise, that cycle has come around again! Welcome to Divinity 2. The story is more cohesive, I feel. You're a Sourcerer (because you use Source magic, its not a typo) and captured and for "your own safety" are shackled with a device that stops you from using the source, which calls the Voidwoken... which is basically bad news.
Say Hello to Dr. Heals Good and his Skeleton Band!
So what do you do? Break out of prison, remove the collar, and begin yet another quest to save the universe and ascend to godhood. We'll see how the story evolves, but so far it is hitting all the right buttons of having a large area to explore and little direction. This means two critical points for RPG gamers.
First: It means there's more than one way to solve many of the quests and puzzles.
Second: More important, it lets you screw yourself.
This second point is VITAL to a good RPG in my opinion. While I appreciate the Final Fantasy model of "keep up on the level treadmill and you can't lose," it ultimately bores me to death these days. In Divinity I have been in multiple situations already where my options were based around doing what is "right" vs. doing what is easy. What is right may involve you getting into a fight you can't win. And yes, if you knew that fight was coming you could have level treadmilled and won, but on a first playthrough you're kinda stuck.
As far as mechanical changes Divinity Original Sin 2 is more or less the same as #1. You create a variety of surfaces and chain reactions of elements and abilities. It adds in a couple new skill types (Polymorph and Summoning) and a new mechanic around Blessed and Cursed surfaces, which are basically exactly what they sound like; good and worse versions of earlier surfaces.
They also added in starting as pre-set "plot" characters with their own questlines and stories, which adds some interesting replay points to the game as well as a unique ability for each, however, you can still create a custom character.
On the communications side, nothing is built in for multiplayer, but they do allow you to have "roleplay" conversations during plot points, allowing your characters to talk among themselves and voice their opinions. In a full 4 player game this could be quite fun!
My ONLY real gripe with Sin 2 is they could have made multiplayer more flexible for those of us who want to create full custom parties.
A friend and I are running the whole game co-op, with 4 custom characters - two for each of us. We opted to be all undead for the lols, but otherwise aren't gaming the system much beyond making what sounds like fun. Here's the problem:
In order to do this I had to open THREE instances of the game and have my friend connect once. He then told me what to create for him. It bogged down my gaming rig something serious. Then I save it, close the other two instances, and transfer control of his characters to him. That's needlessly complicated. I understand that the devs wanted us to play with 1 created and 1 pre-made NPC each, but I can NOT be the only one who wanted a full custom group... and this seems like a pretty unnecessary set of hoops we had to jump through.
However, once that hoop is jumped the game is pretty damn fantastic. We've run into one game-stopping bug so far, which we avoided in a re-load, but otherwise have not seen anything overtly broken... other than using Rupture Tendons, which causes the enemy to take damage as they move and then turning them into a chicken, which causes them to run an ungodly distance. And that is the kind of broken I want to see in every game!
Cluck Cluck Mother...!