The orcs of Tanoroth are on the march, wielding magic never seen before: bloody, deadly, reality‐bending. The free nations of Rivellon are about to fall beneath their blades. Yet there are two unlikely heroes who can resist this savage magic: a condemned warrior released from his chains and a mystic heroine restored to life. Will they be strong enough to cope with the sins of their past? And will they be strong enough to counter the even greater threat that hides behind the marching orcs?
Single Player Campaign, Drop In/Out Multiplayer
You start the game with two avatars in your party. Let's call them Roderick and Scarlett for now. Obviously when starting the game you can name and customize them. And yes, you can also play this game with two men or two women, it doesn't always have to be man/woman.
Roderick and Scarlett are the true heroes of this tale, and they'll always be in your party, but should you feel the need for reinforcements, you can recruit two extra party members.
Except in a few special circumstances, your party doesn't need to stay together. Sometimes the g ame will ask you to gather your party first, usually only when going from zone to zone, but our zones are very big (think Divine Divinity big).
But in one zone, including its houses, cellars, and dungeons, it means that you can control Scarlett to explore an underground cave while Roderick buys some fresh fish on the market. (Each hero's henchman will follow his master.)
Because Divinity: Original Sin features a turn-based combat system, this can lead to pretty interesting situations.
For instance: you switch to Scarlett, and in the cave, she encounters a friendly community of unfortunate ghosts, and has lengthy conversations with them, trying to understand why their souls aren't floating towards the Hall Of Echoes.
You switch to Roderick and, shopping around, realize he doesn't have enough gold to pay for his fish. So you try your hand at stealing. Lacking the necessary skills and talents for conducting successful theft, another shopper catches Roderick in the act and calls for the guards. Roderick is a bit short of temper and he's also on a mission to save Rivellon: there's no way he's going to put up with such foolery as going to jail, so he resists arrest and draws his sword.
Turn-based combat starts on the market, and several guards, as well as some market-goers that feel up to it, join the fight. Roderick has a high initiative, and in your first turn, you manage to conjure an earth elemental to even the odds a bit before any of the guards can even make their move. But there are a lot of guards...
Oops. Now what?
At this moment, you could decide that Roderick needs help from Scarlett, and switch to Scarlett. You coul d guide her out of the black cove, accross the beach, over the hills and into Cyseal. Then when she would get close enough to the fight, she would automatically become part of combat.Or, you could switch to Scarlett to continue exploring the cave.
While you switch to Scarlett and control her, Roderick and his combat will still be "paused in his turn", awaiting your commands.
Let's keep Roderick stuck in time for a while, and just keep on exploring. As Scarlett ventures deeper into the cave, she stumbles upon a whole bunch of angry undead who attack you on sight. (Why are the ghosts friendly? Why are these guys unfriendly? If only you had talked to more ghosts...)
1.21 Gigawatts if you think about it
This means that now we have a situation in which both Roderick and Scarlett are in different turn-based combat situations at different locations in the world. You can do these fights one after the other, or you can jump from fight to fight by just clicking on their avatar icons (or using shortcut keys).
And should you ever manage to get the enemies from both fights close enough to one another, then the two combats would merge into one big combat.
Now imagine that at this moment in time, in real life, your friend Helen comes in, asking you what you're doing. You obviously say that you are playing the coolest RPG you've played in a long time and ask her if she wants to give it a go. (If you've chosen a duo pack tier in this Kickstarter, you can give her one of your copies!)
Helen joins your game. You, as the host, can specify some options before she joins, and you choose to give her control over Scarlett for example, while you continue playing w ith Roderick.
Being new to the game, Helen immediately tries clicking everywhere, resulting in her using up all of her mana and getting surrounded by three ugly skeleton miners. You yell, "Wait, it's not an action RPG!"
Seeing that if you let Helen continue, you'll probably have to pay the price of having to resurrect Scarlett, you decide to abandon the fight with the guards and you use your teleporter pyramid.
After the fight, you both return to the ghost village in the cave, and notice a ghost who is talking to himself. When you talk to him, you discover that he's experiencing a dilemma. He asks you (a very fictive example in order not to introduce any spoilers) if you think it'd be okay if he tells a friend that his wife cheated on him, even if now the two of them seem to be doing just fine.
The problem is that his friend asked him about a suspicion he has, and now the ghost doesn't know what to do. You immediately pick Roderick's reply: the truth should be told, no matter the consequences! Your friend Helen disagrees and Scarlett picks: "Old wounds should not be opened and besides, it's up to the wife to tell his friend. If they are going to be ghosts for a long time, best not make their time together even more miserable."
In disagreement, the game lets both Scarlett and Roderick decide how they'll handle this discussion.
Scarlett for instance tries to REASON with Roderick whereas Roderick decides that he might give INTIMIDATION a go. Not only do the character's stats come in play, the context of the disagreement also plays in along. In this particular situation, reasoning works better, and Scarlett ends up winning the discussion. (In the background, the game rolled against strength, persuasion and intelligence stats to decide who would win, also taking into account the nature of the situation. The same system is used when talking to NPCs, and trying to change their minds: for instance, a certain NPC may not be easy to intimidate, but may very susceptible to CHARM.)
Teleporter pyramids are handy little things. There are two of them and they allow the user to teleport to wherever the other pyramid is. Because Divinity: Original Sin allows you throw around everything that looks like it can be thrown around (provided you have enough strength), you can for instance drop your pyramid at one location and then always teleport to that location using the other pyramid. Or, you can just keep one in each of your hero's pockets, allowing them to teleport back and forth.
Roderick mate rializes just next to Scarlett and joins the fight. His presence is exactly what is needed and together you easily win the fight. Although that ghoul was particularly nasty, with his poisonous fumes...
Personal traits and talents
Now what happens next depends on us making the "personal traits and talents" stretchgoal in our Kickstarter campaign, but let's be optimistic and imagine that we do. The following example is purely illustrative, so don't take it as an example that will be in the game. We hope it will be of course.
Because of the choices Scarlett and Roderick made, Scarlett gains a point in "Empathy" whereas Roderick gains a point in "Righteousness". Since this is not the first time Roderick went for the "Righ teous" answer, the game decides it is time to award Roderick the "Righteous" personality trait, which means that from now on demons and other infernal scum will not be able to affect Roderick's mind because of the strength of his principles, i.e. his resistance to mind-control increases.
Had Scarlett and Roderick agreed, and if this would be the nth time that they agreed, then they might actually have gained a point in "party spirit", which would boost the bonuses they'd receive when fighting together instead of alone.
Now because we have this cooperative multiplayer mode and we had to ensure that this particular gameplay element was going to be fun, it means it's deeply integrated into the core gameplay.
That allowed us to do something in single player that you haven't seen before (we think). Other than customizing the looks and stats of your party members, you can also customize their personality. That means that if you're playing alone, and you don't want to roleplay both characters, the party member you're not controlling at the time of initiating a dialogue might actually disagree with the choices you make, just like in the example where we had two players control the party members.
Imagine that this would be Ultima VII, and you would have Duprez (a known womanizer) in your party. In our system, whenever the option to flirt would pop up, you could rest assured that Duprez would go for it, even if you might think it'd be a bad idea. If he'd win the discussion, you'd have to deal with the consequences, adding to the fun and potentially showing you a part of the game you'd otherwise not see, because you'd instincti vely have answered otherwise.
Obviously, it's also possible to make the AI shut up or always follow your lead, but we do advise trying out the AI personalities - you'll find it adds to your gameplay experience.
Of course, what's fun too is to roleplay both characters, like we did in the video of update #4. In any case, we're not going to force you to use the cooperative dialog system, but we think you'll enjoy it and agree with us that it's a powerful gameplay mechanic that actually should be present in any RPG that has a party.
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