One of the worst feelings as a games journalist is being bad at the game you're being shown. There's just that moment where you and the developer showing you the game share an unspoken, awkward silence. A realization that things aren't quite going to plan.
This is how my demo with Divinity: Original Sin 2 was. I'm sorry, Swen Vincke. Yeah, I failed in front of Larian Studios' founder.
Today, Larian Studios has updated the Steam Early Access version of Divinity: Original Sin 2, adding the Polymorph and Summoning schools of magic to the game. Both skills were Kickstarter stretch goals during the funding campaign and Larian is making good on their promises. There's even a new trailer to show off the new abilities.
The Polymorph school allows you to transform yourself and your opponents for a combat advantage. Cast one spell and you'll grow magnificent wings that allow you to fly around the battlefield. Cast another and you'll gain bull horns, letting you charge enemies with reckless abandon. You can also turn enemies into chickens, taking them out of the fight temporarily. Polymorph, like other Divinity abilities can be used in and out of combat to explore the world around you.
The Summoning school is more straightforward, but still very malleable. The school allows players to summon an Incarnate and Totems; the Incarnate is a tiny goblin that you can control as a member of your party, while Totems are stationary creations that simply attack the closest foe.
Summons take the element of the surface they're summoned on. Bring your Incarnate to life on a burning surface to create a fire elemental, or poison the ground and summon a Totem to create a poison totem. The Summoner also has Dimensional Bolt, a basic attack spell that randomly summons an element from the void, giving you potential fertile ground for your Incarnate and Totems. The Summoner is all about the strategic setup.
My demo took place shortly after the end of the game's first Act, which finds you on a ship after escaping Fort Joy. The objective of the encounter is to protect an NPC while she summons the power to teleport the ship and the party out of the situation. Easy enough, I think. Unfortunately, I end up whiffing this battle hard.
I spend so much time floating around on my main character with angel wings that the enemy ranger stuns The Red Prince, one of my heavier fighters. Sven is there, trying to give me helpful tips and make sure I finish this fight. I send my rogue to backstab the undead attacking the objective NPC, while moving my ranger to higher ground. An attack pushes my ranger off the high ground into the fire; I rush to heal them, but it's not enough. My rogue is dealing solid damage to the attackers, but it's also not enough. I fail to protect the NPC and she dies.
With her death, the antagonist of the fight teleports to her location and absorbs the Source in her wake. This gives him enough power cast large-scale destruction spells one after another, eventually leading to the death of my entire party. I can feel Sven's disappointment in my abilities. Very sad.
We're not done yet though. We reload the game and I'm brought back to Fort Joy, the game's starting region. Here, Sven turns me loose on the game. You begin shipwrecked outside of the Fort. From there, you can head into the ghettos of the Fort and begin to build your party from prisoners like yourself. After meeting the Red Prince and an enchanter named Lohse, I decide it's time to fight something.
Outside of the fort, I find a warrior named Migo, who seems to be eating people? This is a fight worthy of my divine justice, I think. (Really should've minded my own business. Maybe those people wanted to be eaten.)
Little did I know that Migo was a murderous monster with high armor who hits like a tank and can poison your entire party. It's here that Sven's disappointment turns into something resembling humor; he knows I probably won't win this fight, but I'm having fun trying at least. I take two shots at Migo; the second time I use my Summoner abilities to set up a series of Fire Totems and a Wood Incarnate before attacking. I still get my butt handed to me and then my demo is over.
I am joyful, because I got to play more Divinity Original Sin 2. I am demoralized, because my showing in front of Sven wasn't the best. It's all good though. With today's update the Summoner and Polymorph join the Early Access version of the game, giving me a chance to beef up my skills for the next time I meet Sven. Next time, I will not fail.