I love Divinity: Original Sin 2. It is one of my favorite games and one of the best RPGs ever released. Its depth, scope, and intricacy make for an enriching experience. However, it can also make it a tough game to start. Even after playing the first Original Sin multiple times, it took me a handful of attempted playthroughs to find my footing in the sequel and start figuring out what was changed and how it worked. So, if you’ve had difficulty getting through the game or even just getting started, this guide should have everything you need to know to get going.
Before you Begin
Consider Your Race
Every race in Original Sin 2 comes with various customization options and unique talents and abilities. This makes certain races work better for certain classes or builds, but they all can work with any class. So, unless you’re planning on doing a higher-difficulty playthrough where min-maxing is required, I suggest just picking what seems fun.
Dwarves work especially well for Knights and Fighters, but they work well for any melee-focused build. This is because their Sturdy talent increases their maximum vitality by 10% and their chance of dodging by 5%. Their second talent, Dwarven Guile, increases their Sneak by 1. Dwarves also come with the Metamorph ability, which restores some of their Physical armor and cleanses them of the Bleed, Burn, Cripple, and Poison status effects. Playing a Dwarf is especially fun because there are multiple situations throughout the game where playing a Dwarf will tie into events in interesting ways.
I always recommend having an Elf character for new players. This is because they start with the Corpse Eater talent. This allows them to eat parts of their bodies, sometimes learning new skills and always getting additional lore or story beats that add to the world. Elves also start with the Ancestral Knowledge talent, giving them a one-point increase to Loremaster and having the Flesh Sacrifice ability, which lets them boost their damage by lowering their Constitution.
Humans are great options for any build that prefers to go early in combat encounters, like casters. This is because they come with the Ingenious talent, increasing their initiative by two and having a 5% higher chance to get criticals. Humans also come with the Thrifty talent that increases their Bartering by one, and the Encourage ability, which can be cast to boost their stats and heal them a little bit.
Lizards are the most unique race in Original Sin 2 aesthetically. They have long tails, brightly shaded skin, and females even have elegant head fins. They also are a generalist race, but one that excels slightly more when it comes to magic-based builds. Their talents include Spellsong, increasing their Persuasion by one, and Sophisticated, which increases their resistance to fire and poison by 10%. Finally, their unique ability is Dragon’s Blaze, allowing them to breathe a cone of fire damage in any direction.
The Undead race is a variant of the other four races. This introduces some interesting new foils to gameplay but brings more things to consider, so I don’t suggest playing with an undead character until you have some experience. This is because Undead characters are unable to heal in traditional ways. Instead, they are healed by poison, which requires some serious alterations to one’s gameplay to accommodate. Players also have to hide the identity of undead characters, but they are able to craft a mask that allows them to take on the appearance of a living version of the other races, even gaining their benefits.
Pick Your Class
Selecting a character’s starting class determines their starting equipment and skills, giving them a predisposition toward particular builds and playstyles. Players are able to tweak all the elements of classes when creating them, but experienced players should only do that.
The Battlemage class is a close-ranged caster that combines the abilities of warfare and Aerotheurgy. This allows them to quickly get into optimal positions before crippling and damaging nearby enemies at the start of the battle.
Clerics and melee combatants dabble in the ability to heal their allies and sap away the life of their enemies for their benefit. They are an exceptionally hardy class and are a perfect option for any new player that wants to experiment using a more complicated class that won’t fall apart if they make a mistake or two.
Conjurers are a mage class that starts invested in the Summoning skill. Their focus, when first created, is to summon minions that they are then able to control during battle. They can buff their minion to change its abilities and even have it take on the element of any surface that it is summoned on. This makes them a great starting mage class as it helps weigh battles in the player’s favor by giving them more units in play.
Enchanters are a mage class that mixes support with crowd control. They put a high emphasis on combining water and electricity to stun swathes of enemies and keep them from doing anything you don’t want them to do. However, their mastery of the Hydrophist skill also includes healing options, allowing them to support their allies as well.
The Fighter class comes with a start in Warfare and Geomancy skills. They start in a great position to be built into tanks that wield a shield and one-handed weapon while knocking down enemies to keep them stunned and using Geomancy spells to boost their defenses.
Inquisitors are another close-ranged caster class that uses Warfare and Necromancy skills to charge into battle and keep themselves alive. I prefer to use them to finish off enemies weakened or left vulnerable by other party members, but they can also be built to chase down dangerous enemies and cripple them with status effects before they can deal too much damage.
Knights are melee-focused combatants that wield a two-handed weapon to maximize their damage. They start with Opportunist talent, which allows them to take free attacks of opportunity when enemies try to move away from them during combat. Their open starting position allows them to be molded through character development in countless ways. This makes them a good option for players who are looking to explore the game’s mechanics and experiment with their options.
The Metamorph class starts with a heavy focus on teh Polymorph skill. The Polymorph skill is great to add to other skill builds but suffers when trying to support an entire class independently. This makes Metamorphs a decent starting point for experienced players with more outlandish ideas of where to take the class. Still, it makes it very unsuitable for new or moderately experienced players because of how weak it starts and difficult it is to build on top of.
The Ranger is a bow-wielding damage class with a few support abilities that can heal allies or allow them to recover energy faster. They also increase their luck, meaning they will find better loot when searching for items or dead enemies. They are a really good starting class, however, because of their high physical damage and straightforward playstyle. I also highly recommend taking the Polymorph skill as they level up, allowing them to reach better vantage points and increase their abilities with ease.
Rogues are a melee class that focuses on getting behind enemies to take advantage of Original Sin 2‘s backstab mechanic. They can deal incredible amounts of physical damage during their turns, and they can take advantage of stealth for gathering information outside of battle or to start encounters with a critical surprise attack.
Shadowblades play almost identically to Rogues, but they start with points in the Polymorph skill. This makes them a great option for a second playthrough if you’ve enjoyed playing a Rogue before or a fun option if you have some experience in other CRPGs or the first Divinity.
The Wayfarer brings more magical abilities to the Ranger class by starting with a point in the Geomancy skill. This can help set up some fun fire combos, but it does make it a tough class to play. They are intended to be played as a more tanky ranged, which is complicated to play around.
Witches are difficult to utilize because they are a mage who prefers close combat. They start with Geomancy and Necromancy, giving themselves the tools necessary to keep themselves alive while healing through damaging enemies. They also specialize in causing enemies to bleed, which can be very effective at killing them once their magic armor is depleted.
The Wizard class focuses on Pyrokinetic and Geomancy skills. However, they use Geomancy to set up explosive fire interactions rather than for its defensive properties. This allows them to deal incredible amounts of damage, and you can see them helping cover the physical damage needs of your party through their offensive Geomancy skills.
Settings to Consider
One of the first decisions when starting a new game of Original Sin 2 is the difficulty you wish to play. There are four different options, and each offers a different experience.
- Explorer Mode: This mode is an easier option that emphasizes fully exploring one’s environment and using clever thinking to solve problems. It is more forgiving as damage numbers go and encourage players to experiment with trying new things and using elemental interactions.
- Classic Mode: This is the game’s default difficulty mode and the one I suggest starting on unless you are entirely new to the genre. It can be rather challenging and requires players to use everything at their disposal and make smart decisions throughout their playthrough.
- Tactician Mode: This is Original Sin 2‘s hard mode that experienced players should only attempt. It requires exact play and comes in two variants: Regular and Honour. Both feature the same level of difficulty, but on Honour, mode players have a single save file that is deleted if their party is ever entirely wiped out.
- Story Mode: This is the game’s easiest difficulty level. It trivializes combat for players more interested in exploring the world and experiencing the story, so they don’t have to worry about making strong builds or getting stuck on difficulty spikes.
After the game’s release, the developers added small packs of new content that they called Gift Bags. Each can be toggled on or off during your playthrough to add new options and tailor the experience. I would recommend only using most of them on subsequent players, but it is also important to note that enabling them disables achievements and trophies for that playthrough.
The First Day
The first part of Original Sin 2 is a lengthy tutorial on a ship where your character is imprisoned and transported to a jail known as Fort Joy. While this section seems straightforward at first, you should make sure to spend a decent amount of time here to get as much out of it as possible.
Talk to Everyone
One of the main purposes of this section is to introduce the player to the various characters that can be added to their party. Since you can customize each class and playstyle, you’ll mostly be picking based on their personality. So, talk with each of them thoroughly to get a real feel for who they are as a character.
You should also explore the ship you start on as much as possible. Getting through the tutorial itself is easy and doesn’t take too much time, but there are numerous secrets and details on the ship that can be missed if you go to fast. There is a whole side quest to play through and a lot of information about the game’s world leading up to the main story that is handy to know.
The First Week
Original Sin 2 is split up into large maps of segments of the world for players to explore and interact with. The first of these is Fort Joy, which will take up most of your first week of playing. Fort Joy serves as a template for the areas to come later in the playthrough, so taking the time to understand it well will pay off well.
Test Out Playstyles
As you explore Fort Joy, you will find the other prisoners that were on your boat scattered around. This allows you to talk to them and convince them to join your party. If you don’t have them join your party right away, they will stay where they are, allowing you to return and have them join later if you want. This can be a useful way to test different classes and party compositions if you weren’t sure what to pick when first building your party.
Fort Joy is a massive area with many layers and hidden areas. To make sure you get the full picture of your options in the area and see everything it offers, make sure to explore everywhere. Even if exploring somewhere doesn’t give you any new gear or a special narrative beat, it will reward you with experience, which is very important with how low the maximum level is in the game.
There are numerous decisions that you’ll need to make throughout the story at Fort Joy that will have an impact on the story moving forward. With that in mind, consider every decision and situation carefully. Even if it seems like you need to approach an objective one way, you may not have to, and there is likely another option hidden elsewhere on the island.
Understanding Core Mechanics
Damage and Combat
While much of Original Sin 2 involves exploration, dialogue trees, and solving complicated quests, a solid portion of the experience is spent in combat. So, it is essential to understand how its many systems work. Combat is played over turns decided by how quickly every character reacts to the start of combat.
The first important part of combat to understand is Original Sin 2‘s unique damage system. On top of every character’s hit points, they have both physical and magical armor. This system adds an absorbing layer to combat, as characters can only be afflicted with physical or magical status effects when they don’t have any of the associated type of armor.
It is also critical to understand status effects thoroughly so that you can counteract them when used against you and afflict them on your enemies as effectively as possible. Status effects can be either positive or negative, but positive ones aren’t blocked by armor.
Adverse status effects tend to either prevent players from moving, debuff their abilities, or deal damage over time. They can also interact with one another, encouraging players to think strategically about chaining together skills. For example, a powerful combination is chilling enemies or getting them wet before hitting them with cold damage to freeze them. This allows them to control the movements and efforts of enemies, leaving them much more vulnerable to your subsequent abilities.
On the other hand, positive status effects focus on healing allies, cleansing adverse status effects, buffing their abilities, or giving them entirely new abilities. These are best used to boost the abilities of your party members to prepare them for being put into challenging situations or augment their performance in their role in the party. Otherwise, they can also react and counter debuff effects from your enemies.
Another essential part of combat in Original Sin 2 is managing the elements present on the battlefield. There are various elements that can naturally occur on battlefields, while others are introduced to the environment through skills and abilities.
In the case of electricity, it can be conducted with any liquid substance. This includes water or blood, even steam clouds. On the other hand, fire can ignite oil to create burning surfaces or cause poison to explode. Elemental surfaces can also be interacted with through various talents to build characters. Elemental Affinity decreases the cost of abilities when characters are standing on a surface of the same element, and Leech heals characters when they are standing on blood, for example.
Elemental interactions create a great layer on top of the more standard combat elements in Original Sin 2. It pushes players to consider their environment more closely and expands their creative sandbox with more options to consider and take advantage of.
Making a Party
After you make your character, you’ll be ready to start meeting potential party members and having them join you. When you invite a character to join you on your journey, you can change their default class, allowing them to fulfill any role or class the player wants.
With that in mind, there are some guidelines that I’ve found work well for medium-difficulty levels and as a general foundation for new players. When it comes to making a solid party, there are certain roles that you should fill with your class choices. The first is a tank. This character should be a hardy class wielding a one-handed weapon and shield while wearing heavy armor. Geomancy is also a very useful skill for them, as their main job will be taking damage, so others don’t have to, and Geomancy is the best skill in the game for rebuilding their physical armor.
The second role you will need to fill is some level of support. Making a character solely focused on healing and buffing your allies can be difficult to do well, so I recommend having them deal a fair share of damage on top of replenishing ally armor and hit points. The final two party slots that you have open are largely up to you. However, they should both focus primarily on dealing damage to enemies. You also need to ensure that you have physical and magical damage covered well so you can focus on whichever enemy has less.
Outside of combat, it is also very useful to have a character that is good at dealing with social situations, commonly referred to as a face. This will ensure that you always have a decent shot of picking whichever dialogue option you agree with the most. I suggest giving one party member the Pet Pal talent for your first playthrough. This will allow them to speak with animals, which can help guide you in a ton of quests throughout the game.
One of the best features of Original Sin 2 is its full support of up to four-player multiplayer. This can be done locally or online and adds a lot to the game’s experience. It gives you other players to help you strategize and bounce build ideas off of, and it also opens up the possibilities for roleplay. Players can act completely independently of each other throughout the game, and when big decisions must be made, they can even choose different sides in conflicts. This leads to really genuine and fantastic gameplay experiences that I can’t recommend experiencing yourself enough. Playing through Original Sin 2 by myself made me love the game, but playing it with friends made it a unique experience I will never forget.
General Tips We Wish We Knew
Don’t Forget to Shop
While you will get a lot of good loot from enemies and chests worldwide, shopping is a critical part of Original Sin 2. There are a lot of unique items that merchants will sell, and it is the main method of gaining new skills as well. You will have plenty of money, so don’t forget to stop at merchants and upgrade your party’s loadouts whenever you can.
Take Your Time
Original Sin 2 is a massive game, so take your time with it. It is easy to move on too quickly from areas and end up underpowered for what you’re trying to do, and there is a lot of cool content that is easy to miss. Be patient and thorough so that you don’t miss anything.
This game has voice acting, but reading is still very important. Books you’ll find worldwide are rarely very long, and reading them will help flesh out the world so that you can understand everything happening in the game. It is also critical to read everything when leveling up and building your character, and I don’t just mean the options available to you. Many skills and talents have prerequisites, so reading them ahead of time can help you know what direction to take your character in so you don’t waste any level-ups.
What to Avoid
With how difficult Original Sin 2 is, it can be easy to want to follow a build guide on your first playthrough to ensure your characters are powerful. However, I highly advise against that on your first playthrough. Builds made by the community tend to be extremely powerful, so they can be used on the highest difficulties and will trivialize combat if used on lower difficulties. Following guides will also prevent you from figuring out personal builds and becoming deeply familiar with the game’s systems, which is a big part of the experience.
Getting Caught Up on Order
It is natural to want to finish a quest once you start it. That is how I tend to approach RPGs, but it is not a viable way to try and play Original Sin 2. In this game, quests get very tangled together and complicated, so you should get used to having a log full of them and having to address them when you get the option through general progression rather than just focusing on one at a time.
It is also likely that as you play, you will encounter difficulty spikes and have to try some encounters multiple times. When this happens, it is important not to get too stubborn. If you try to beat the fight and fail, try considering a different approach with the new information you gathered from your previous attempt. If you still can’t beat it after a few tries, don’t be afraid to load an older save to level up once or get some new gear to make it a fairer fight.
Long-Term Goals to Keep in Mind
As you play through Original Sin 2 , keep the larger picture in your mind. Of course, this means progressing through the main quest line, but it also means building your characters and learning about your party members. Each party member has a quest that you should make sure to keep an eye on so that you can learn as much about them as possible. You’ll also want to make sure you don’t forget about your various builds so that your characters continually get more powerful and none fall behind the others in performance.
Question: Do you Need to Play Divinity: Original Sin Before the Sequel?
Answer: No, the two games’ stories aren’t connected. Playing the original will give you more idea of the world they are set in, but doing so is unnecessary.
Question: What is a Good Starter Class in Divinity: Original Sin 2?
Answer: I recommend using the Conjurer if you’re starting and aren’t sure what class is good for you. Its ability to bring another creature to the battle for you helps weigh battles in your favor, which gives players the space to learn the ropes.
Question: How Long is Divinity: Original Sin 2?
Answer: On average, if you play straight through the game, it will take around 60 hours to complete. If you try to see everything the game offers, you should expect it to take closer to 150.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of those rare games that really offers an experience that no other title can. While its early learning curve and dense mechanical systems can make getting into it difficult, it is more than worth the upfront effort. It rewards those who see it through with a great world to explore, deep combat that is as satisfying as it is trying, fantastic characters to learn about, and the opportunity to do it all with your friends.
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