At PAX Prime, Larian Studios showed Divinity: Original Sin II for the first time, and we saw a quick overview of the sequel’s new features. At PAX East this weekend, the developers were back to show off more of the game--specifically, combat.
The demo featured the player versus player arena. I chose three characters to take on the three enemies picked by studio founder Swen Vincke. The actual map was fairly tiny, but that meant that both sides got into it within the first two turns.
Similar to combat in Divinity: Original Sin, each character you control has a set amount of action points available to move or use skills and abilities. Each character also has its own turn, and it alternates between each player, so you’ll have to plan ahead.
There are various ways to turn the tide of combat in your favor. By moving higher ledges or platforms, you can gain a height advantage over foes, which allows you to deal more damage. Those who prefer magical attacks can also combine various abilities to help allies or hinder enemies. At one point, Vincke trapped one of my characters--a Warrior--in a large area of fire. Then, he summoned a blob-like companion named “Margaret” next to me. For the coup de grâce, Vincke shot Margaret, who burst into a cloud of poison. That cloud covered me and the surrounding area, which was still on fire from the previous attack. Now, I had two problems.
However, I could still claw my way out of the nasty situation. With my mage, I cast a Bless spell on my Warrior’s surrounding area, which turned the hostile fire into a Blessed flame that healed any character in the affected area. But it didn’t stay safe for long, as Vincke’s mage cast a Curse spell on the healing flame to revert it to its original state.
One element that Vincke pointed out were the small silver puddles called Source surfaces. If one of your characters stands on the special puddle, you can gain Source points, which are used for specific skills. However, there are limited Source surfaces available in the area, so both sides will need to move fast in order to get it. In addition, there’s a single chest in the area that contains various abilities and items. You’re not just fighting for bragging rights, but also for extra loot.
Obviously, the foundation of the Divinity: Original Sin II’s combat is based on its predecessor, but these small changes enhance the importance of strategy and tactics in combat. Larian Studios still has quite some time before release (the initial release date is set for December 2016, but Vincke said it will come out "when it's done"), but this small glimpse shows that Divinity: Original Sin II could be even better than the original title.