Divinity: Original Sin II Brings Its Tactical Combat to PVP and It's Great

Divinity: Original Sin II Brings Its Tactical Combat to PVP and It's Great

Arena PVP is a perfect fit for Divinity: Original Sin II's combat system.

The first Divinity: Original Sin had an excellent combat system, where elemental skills and abilities combined and clashed to interesting effect. You could rain on an opponent's parade and then cast an ice spell to freeze them in their tracks. Need a breather? Bring fire and water spells together to create a steam cloud. You could use a teleportation spell to rejigger the battlefield to your liking. Half of the fun of Divinity: Original Sin was finding the right skill combos and planning elaborate traps using them.

The ground itself is trying to kill you in Divinity: Original Sin II.

Larian isn't a studio to relax though, so they've expanded on the games' combat this time around. There's a new armor/magic armor system. Physical skills deplete armor, while magical attacks destroy your magic armor. Some characters have one or both, depending on where their affinities lie. The armor protects you from debilitating effects like Fear, so getting rid of your opponents' armor should be your first step.

Divinity: Original Sin II now takes height into account for spells and abilities. Your attack range is increased if you're doing so from high ground, giving you a tactical advantage. If you want to win, get up high!

Another tactical change is the ability to cast certain effects on the ground. Bless, Blessed Earth, and Nature's Curse were spells that were available in the first game, but they were target-only or aura abilities. Now, you can choose to cast them on an area instead. If those areas intersect with other fields like fire or poison, they force modified effects upon anyone who treads upon that magical ground.

I was shown the new combat system in Divinity: Original Sin II's new PVP arena. The arena is 2v2 combat: I chose a Ranger and Warrior as my pair against Larian creative director Sven Vincke. We were thrown into a relatively small arena map, with the opposing side only a few moves away.

Original Sin II's combat is all about movement and line of sight. You want the high ground to increase your attack range, but you don't want to stand out in the open too long. A Mage's Teleport or Rogue's Cloak and Dagger become important skills for getting into the right position to set up combos or get in some solid opening shots.

Original Sin II features a new Source skill system, where certain abilities only work if you've collected Source points from silver glowing pools around the battlefield. But you can't just make a beeline for the Source pools. Where you're walking is important, because a number of spells have negative ground effects that smart players can use to entrap and manage their foes.

My Ranger shot a fire arrow into a poison barrel near Vincke's Rogue, dousing the area in green, poison mist. He could've just moved out of the affected region, but instead he blessed the poison ground, turning it into a healing stream. Larian's eye for detail is apparent here: when the poison ground is blessed, plants and flowers curl up from the dirt to denote the healing properties. A lengthy PVP battle eventually becomes a game of finding the places on the map that aren't on fire, ice, or poison.

And the combos that made Original Sin great still work great in Original Sin II's PVP. Vincke blew up around barrel near me, spreading fire on the ground. He then cursed the ground to do additional damage, which I countered with my own blessing. Finally, he used an ability called Phoenix Charge to make his warrior immune to fire damage, so he could wade in and finish my hurt Ranger off. I ran away, but the previous attacks had stripped my armor, so he cast fear on my Ranger, taking him out of the battle temporarily. This back-and-forth and exploitation of weakness is a key facet of Original Sin II and the arena PVP mode.

In the end, my canny intelligence and strategy handed me the battle. (Also, I think Vincke was going easy on me.) All those fans who wanted PVP in the first Original Sin, I can tell you that it's as awesome as you imagined. Combined with the new combat changes, Original Sin II's PVP takes the tactical options of the first game and puts a human behind your opponents. It's a great mode that expands a sequel looking to outdo the magnificent original.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

Related articles

For Honor Preview: A Whole New Sword Game

Jaz plays Ubisoft's upcoming sword fighting game, and talks to creative director Jason Vandenberghe about how it was developed.

Dragon Quest VIII 3DS Preview: New Characters, New Dungeons, New Challenges, Black Sabrecats

Though Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the Nintendo 3DS isn't a ground-up overhaul the way Dragon Quest VII 3DS is, there's still tons of new stuff to get excited about.

Will Final Fantasy XV's Big Twist Ruin The Game?

Early details about about FFXV's endgame have emerged, to much consternation.

Final Fantasy XV Travel Diary, Final Day: Stray Thoughts and Observations

There's still plenty to see and do in Duscae, but it's time to close the book on this massive RPG (until November 29).

You may also like

The Console Wars Are Almost as Dumb as Actual Wars

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Phil Spencer says tribalism could drive him out of the industry.

Cuphead's Delicious Last Course Pushed Back Until It's Ready

The final sip will need to steep a while longer.

Super Mario Maker Support on Wii U is Coming to an End Next Year

That means it'll also be removed from the eShop soon.

Microsoft Is Working to "Identify and Resolve" Performance Issues in Xbox Series X Games

A Microsoft spokesperson says that developers are "just now scratching the surface" of what the new Xbox consoles can do.