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E3 2015 – Divinity: Original Sin Preview – Splitting Sins

Divinity: Original Sin was a well-received game in the PC world last year. From developer Larian Studios, you’d be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of the game until now, as it hasn’t seen release on PlayStation systems to this point. The game did well enough to warrant a port over to consoles, and we took a look at the game running on the PS4 while at E3. Read our impressions and be as surprised as we were about Divinity’s co-op features.

Divine Camera

One of the largest changes made to Divinity is that the camera is no longer locked at 45 degrees from the horizon. You have complete control over where you want the camera behind your characters using the right analog stick. This changes the game from an isometric RPG to a truly third-person RPG. We were quickly introduced to the game’s environmental reactions when the player lit a poisonous patch of ground on fire, then extended the fire with oil, put the fire out with water, then finally froze the ground with ice. The player started to run across the now frozen ground, but slipped on the ice. The AI characters opted to walk slowly across the ice, which the player then did and crossed safely. Soon, the sun came out and started to melt the ice. This short span of time showed us that the world of Divinity is reactive and ever-changing.

Next, we approached a group of enemies, and were introduced to the combat system. Combat in Divinity is a strictly turn-based affair. There are no loading screens between battles, either. One second you’re roaming around, and the next you’re fighting. Each character has different skill sets, and you do sometimes have to move to get closer in order to attack. New to the PS4 port is the ability to dual-wield, basically any weapon with any other. We were able to see new Master skills, which are new, more powerful skills available at higher levels, to give players something to look forward to at later stages in the game.

Divinity: Original Sin has a very high attention to detail. Every animal that you run across has something to say. New to this version is that every line is voiced. Larian Studios let us know that they started recording over 88,000 lines of dialog for this release in January, and finally finished recording just a few weeks prior to E3. There are branching dialogs, which can unlock different ways to finish quests, such as joining a cult in order to destroy it from within.

Split Like No Other

Perhaps the coolest thing we saw during this demo was the game’s automatic split-screen. Being on a console, Larian Studios imagined that people would want to play multiplayer not just online, but also on the same console. Since you can have an in-game party size of four, each player controls two. You can freely switch between the two, and even swap which player controls who. The slickest part occurs when one player leaves another. Instead of locking players to an invisible rectangle, the screen automatically splits vertically. I saw this and immediately wished that Diablo III did it.

Each player is granted full access to the game, from dialog to key decisions. If at a certain point in the dialog each player makes a different decision, then a debate is triggered. By playing a couple of games of rock-paper-scissors, the ultimate decision that the players make is decided. It’s a cool way to handle players deciding differently, and the consequences of those decisions affecting the story in a way that would otherwise make no sense.

Divinity: Original Sin had a lush, colorful look to it, and while the camera was zoomed out, small details such as animals or cracks on the ground could be seen pretty clearly. Most impressively, in split screen mode the game did not stutter or appear to decrease visual fidelity, no matter where any of the player characters are located. We even saw one player jailbreak another by teleportation, clear across the world. Divinity: Original Sin appears to be ready to show some RPG fun to console gamers who may have felt too limited by Diablo III’s multiplayer.