A Flicker of Hope
You guys remember Sword Coast Legends, right? Yeah, unfortunately I still do too. There’s a lot that Wizards of the Coast can learn from their last foray into D&D video games. One of the key takeaways is that they need to actually trust a developer with a proven track record (like Beamdog) to make a game for them, or find a franchise that already exists and use it to promote the D&D product – like they just did with Larian Studios. I’m not sure who approached who here, I’m just really glad it happened.
By all means Divinity: Original Sin is not a D&D game. It’s not a D&D game in the exact same way Lord of the Rings is not a D&D movie. Although it’s absolutely one of the best “D&D movies”. Same goes for these video games like Pillars of Eternity and Divinity: Original Sin, just to name a recent few.
When it comes to WotC’s digital offerings, they have Microsoft syndrome as far as I’m concerned – a long history of alternating hits and misses. Let’s not discuss those though, we should be focusing on the future. Larian Studios is one dev that has some serious longevity and clout in our community for being dedicated to their craft. Not only that but they’re known to continually over deliver on their goals.
SCL was so out of touch with what D&D actually is beyond a collection of races, classes, and “there is a DM and they do things”. Luckily for WotC, the folks behind Divnity are actually big fans of tabletop RPGs, and it shows.
Why This Is A Big Deal
In case you skipped my link to the video up there, the gist of it is: during Larian’s recent unveil of the GM’ing system to be included with Divinity 2, they stopped by the WotC offices and ran a demo of the GM features for some of the staff using Phandelver as an example. In case you’re not sure what that is, it’s the adventure that comes in the 5e starter box, and it’s really well done. Obviously the video is all a bit cheesy and scripted, but it did show one very core thing that we actually care about – the tools. These features are actually tailored to helping GM’s digitally run games, not some competitive GM vs Players quasi-adversarial ‘GM versus the player’ shit-show with locked in pre-generated dungeon environments like we saw in SCL.
The GM tools shown off in the video, even in all of their brevity already boast impressive features that SCL didn’t have, like the ability to quickly drop between scenes, custom viginettes, collaborative dialogue, etc.
Even better, the custom dialogue mechanics work with the already existing mechanics from Divinity where every player gets to chip in and decide the outcome of a particular scenario / dialogue. How cool is that?! I’m sure there’s a bunch more that we haven’t even seen yet.
I’m not going to lie you guys, I saw that video and bought in hook, line, and sinker and used my remaining steam credit to snag a copy of Divinity 2 while it’s still in early access. I’m assuming launch price will go up a bit, but the game is already worth the money in my opinion having played a few hours. Maybe I’m dead wrong and this will be a total crapstorm like SCL was, but there’s quite a bit more substance behind not only the game, but the people making it.
If you guys haven’t checked it out yet, here’s a link to the game on Steam. Maybe I’ll stream it and we can get together for some first impressions? Anyway, until next time!