These things happen…
Recently, I have been looking to expand my video gaming experience and have been trying new things. Kid Lee, a gamer, streamer, and friend, randomly suggested I try something called Divinity: Original Sin 2. I did a quick Goggle search and found out that this game, the sequel to a 2014 game called– wait for it– Divinity: Original Sin, is an extremely dense and deep Role Playing Game (RPG) in the tradition of tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons. Original Sin is often compared to Baldur’s Gate, a video RPG which is itself based in D&D. There are many examples of RPG video games, and every game I have ever dabbled in has had a roleplay component, now that I think about it! I have been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic for close on six years and that has an RPG component (you play as someone else, a character, and play their story, trying to make decisions consistent with the character and have adventures as that character.)
But, as I said, this game is like a tabletop RPG, and if you would have told me a year ago that I would be seeking something like this out, I would have chuckled. I have never, ever, played D&D, or anything like it, until very recently. The last couple of months, however, I been involved in a virtual tabletop campaign of the Star Wars Saga Edition RPG with some friends. They are teaching me (slowly) how the systems work and I am gaining a little appreciation for this nerdiest of pastimes. Our characters have elaborate back-stories and we have been thrust together by circumstance (and a skillful game master) into adventures. Combat is is done in turn, rolling dice to attack, rather than a free-for-all fray (we persuade, cajole, sneak, and steal using dice too) and we work with complex character sheets and deal damage using our skills and action point allotments. At least I think that’s what we are doing, I am regularly lost.
So, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is like that, (minus dice-rolling) but in a video game that you can play by yourself or with friends. And from everything I am reading, it’s one of the best of its kind ever made, so I coughed up the $45 USD and took the plunge.
First off: It’s really pretty cool. I have only spent a few (okay, several) hours in game and that was not enough to even think about leaving the starting area, but the NPCs (the computer-generated people and animals you meet in game) are interesting, my character’s story is intriguing, and I like how much there is to do and explore. Here is a nice video from Dave at Game Spot that shows you what makes DOS2 so special.
Secondly: There is a HUGE learning curve here. Probably even more so for an uninitiated would-be gamer such as myself. But really, I think anyone would have a lot to learn in this game. To start with, there are fourteen classes, six species and then tons of abilities, stats, attributes, something called tags that define how others in the world will relate to you, and more. One tip I read a couple times and took to heart was, start with a premade character, called an Origin character. This character has some of those things already defined, though you can change them and customize their appearance. The main reason it is advised to start with an Origin toon is that they have rich backstories and get some interesting quests and dialogue based on that. Be aware that you still need to choose the class you will play- examples are battlemage, metamorph, cleric, wizard, knight, and enchanter. But even those are so customisable that you can make your own absolutely unique creation.
Thirdly, and related to point two; There is not a lot in the way of tutorials or ingame help. There are tooltip popups but a lot of stuff I think you have to learn by doing and by way of the mighty Google. I have found some good player-created guides for getting started, though most of them assume more knowledge in mechanics than I have. This leads me to–
Fourthly, I decided to make a little video guide. I think there are probably others like me who have no clue what’s going on and need a little more guidance, especially at the outset. So I made a quick intro to the game, which is the short video below. I will add to the playlist on my YouTube channel as I make more.
If you are interested in more, you can spend 30 minutes in the character creator with me as I attempt to explain stuff I don’t understand in the video below. I give some tips and we check it out.
Some beginner tips I have learned in my eight hours so far:
Write down any tooltips you see, they might not come back up and I could not find a list or help guide.
Start by exploring your user interface (UI). If you can’t find something in text form on your UI, chances are it’s hiding in a little icon you think is just a pretty decoration. The Heads-Up-Display will change depending on what’s going on and there is a lot of stuff in there to understand.
Consider starting with an “Origin” character rather than a totally customised toon. It’s really hard in a game this complex to grasp how all the skills and attributes work together, especially when you are first starting out, and you could end up messing up your stats from the get-go. Stick with the premade attributes and everything. Also, the origin characters have fully realised back stories and more quest choices as you go along (according to the guides out there from people who have actually left the starting area!)
Take your time with– well, with everything. This is not a speedrun kind of game. There is a ton to explore and who really knows what will happen if you miss something? I don’t! Be patient. If you are like me and can’t control your character movement so well at first (okay, eight hours in and I still run into walls) it’s okay. No one is watching. Just keep trying.
Pick up a bedroll in the very first area. You can use it for out of combat health regeneration and it doesn’t get used up.
Holding down left ALT will show you all the items you can pick up and explore in your area. I am still trying to figure out which stuff has actual use and what is just weighing me down, but I guess I can always chuck it in the bin later, right?
If you get stuck trying to figure out how to do an action, escape to the main menu and look at the Options> Gameplay menu. This will show you the keybinds for common actions and you can change them, or reset to defaults here. Or, you know, just see what they are.
Some guides I have found useful in getting started:
A helpful site that has guides and info for beginners (click this one for sure!) and more experienced players is Fextralife. Here is one of their videos that I watched a couple times, trying to understand all the things! It shows where you can get some items early on that you would never even know about, like the gloves of teleportation.
Tips for Playing Divinity: Original Sin 2 by Nathan Grayson at Kotaku has some good pointers for getting the most out of your first few hours, including how to assemble your party. Oh yeah, did I mention that you get a grip of cool companions?
If you are looking to understand how custom builds work and get some suggestions for which skills pair well together, check out this guide from Tyler Wide at PC Gamer.
I hope you find some of these beginner tips helpful, or that I have made you curious to check out this amazing RPG world for yourself!
If you have tips or questions (heaven help you if you have questions!) then put them in the comment section!