by Davneet Minhas
previewed on PC
Humans vs Dragons vs Human-Dragon
Many years have gone by since war descended upon the lands of Rivellon. Dragons inexplicably ignited the conflict with humans by attacking the Divine One, shattering a peaceful coexistence. In retaliation, humans founded the Dragon Slayers, an order endowed with supernatural abilities, dedicated to eradicating the world of the vile lizards.
Divinity 2 – Ego Draconis follows an initiate of the Dragon Slayers as he works his way through the ranks. Unfortunately, the main character’s progression is interrupted by a curse. Instead of becoming a Dragon Slayer, the hero transforms into a Dragon Knight, gaining the ability to morph into a dragon at will.
Of course being able to turn into a dragon, while a seemingly excellent ability, presents a moral quandary for someone who has dedicated his life to killing the flying beasts. Former allies and friends turn on the main character, as the convoluted situation forces him to bridge the gap between two opposing forces and stop a greater evil from orchestrating the destruction of both humans and dragons.
In developing their third-person role-playing game, Larian Studios has created an open world, designed to allow the player to go anywhere, whenever he or she desires. Bright and pleasant medieval fantasy settings, such as countryside villages, sweeping fjords, and dense forests populate the land.
As the protagonist evolves throughout the game, the world follows suit, succumbing to the evil influence of dragons. Those bright and pleasant settings become increasingly sinister.
Play as a Dragon
Outside of the story and open world, Divinity 2’s combat seems to be fairly straightforward. Short range weapons, long range weapons and magical attacks are all present in a real time action oriented system, with a tactical flair provided by the ability to pause the game and the inclusion of undead pets, available through a bit of necromancy. The player also has access to alchemy, weapon enchantments and even a personal tower with servants, useful for respites between bouts of exploration.
Of course the most intriguing gameplay feature is the protagonist’s ability to transform into a dragon at will. While playing as a dragon certainly has its advantages, like being able to cross large open spaces and destroy massive structures, it also has its drawbacks. Certain areas such as small dungeons and villages are simply inaccessible to massive creatures. Players must decide when it is and is not appropriate to turn into a dragon.
The moral quandaries in Divinity 2 are not restricted to human-dragon relationships. Developer Larian Studios has placed an emphasis on consequence-driven choice in developing the game. There are no “right” or “wrong” actions; there exists no karma meter to reflect your morality. The game presents the player with various options, each with a differing outcome.
In a simple example, a woman asks the protagonist to deliver a note to the local blacksmith. She intriguingly asks the protagonist to not tell her husband. Such a rudimentary task can result in 20 different outcomes, varying from straightforward delivery to blackmail to death.
The player’s ability to read minds further complicates quest completion. Mind reading allows the protagonist to gather more information, discern secret locations, find special objects, etc. There is, however, a drawback: reading minds costs experience. The player can spend valuable XP on reading another character’s mind only to discover nothing of value.
Wait and See
Divinity 2 – Ego Draconis offers a number of features, some clichéd and others original, in an attempt to provide an immersive and story-driven gaming experience. Whether or not those original and intriguing features are able to outweigh the seemingly generic setting and combat will be evident when the game is released for PC and Xbox360 in January 2010.