Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is an amazing game in pretty much every way a game can be amazing, but it can also be an opaque, punishing experience if you’re unfamiliar with the series or even the genre. It’s a hardcore RPG where pretty much every choice matters, and mastering the game’s multitude of systems is key in not even thriving but simply surviving. And that can be really annoying if, like me, you’ve been thirsty for a meaningful role-playing experience on console but you just don’t know what the heck you’re doing.
The problem that I’ve found is that while there are a ton of guides out there with a bunch of really useful information, there aren’t that many that make their lessons easy-to-understand for new players like myself. Most are about putting together builds that really only apply to later in the game, when just getting past the first act can be a trial in and of itself.
So here are a few tips for Divinity: Original Sin 2 (and RPGs in general) newbies like myself that will hopefully save you from a few headaches early on in the game.
The earlier parts of Divinity: Original Sin 2 that take place in and around Fort Joy will already pit you against enemies that are stronger than you. It’s just a fact of life as a Sourcerer. Not even are their attacks usually stronger than (or, at the very least, on par with) the damage you can dish out, but they’re literally programmed to know how the game works. You won’t have such a luxury, and the best you can hope for is outlasting them in a fight.
One way you can do that is by finding and equipping shields on your characters. Sure, higher-damage two-handed weapons might tempt you to equip them at first, but all you’re doing is making it easier for enemies to kill you, at least until you can find some proper armor and can additionally stack your characters with healing skills.
Not only will most shields buff both your physical and magical armor, but they’ll also give you access to the Shields Up skill. This handy skill will replenish your armor, preventing enemies from dipping into your vitality (or HP). While some enemies will use this ability, some will use skills to regenerate one shield or the other, and most won’t even be able to restore their shields at all, giving you a clear advantage in the battle of attrition that is Original Sin 2’s combat.
It took me forever to realize that, if you can talk to someone, you can probably trade with them. Gold is pretty easy to come by early in the game, even without pickpocketing or stealing, but equipment isn’t, so trading with NPCs is the best way to kit out your crew early on.
Trading is simple. Just initiate a conversation with an NPC and press Y (on Xbox One) or whatever the corresponding button is. (If you’re a dummy like me, you won’t notice the small prompt at the bottom of the dialogue window that tells you this.) From here, you can gain easy access to better gear, weapons, and skills, as well as healing potions and other useful items.
Once I realized I could trade with pretty much everyone, not just shop owners, it completely opened up the game. I traded up to some nifty duds and pretty soon I was able to withstand punishment from pretty much everyone around Fort Joy.
A friend to animals
There are a lot of animals in Divinity: Original Sin 2, both friendly and not-so-friendly, and you can talk with any of them—rats, dogs, squirrels, giant fire slugs, you name it. But unless you have the Pet Pal talent, you won’t have any idea what they’re saying.
Fortunately, you’ll get a talent point pretty early on in the game, and I highly recommend unlocking Pet Pal as soon as you can. Not every animal will have something interesting to say, but a handful will actually tip you off to quests or treasure that can come in quite handy during the early hours of the game. Plus, the actual dialogue is pretty hilarious and true to the spirit of each animal, thanks to the game’s amazing writers. If you’re hoping to feel the full breadth of Original Sin 2’s dynamic and historically rich world, you’ll want Pet Pal.
Yeah, I’ve got skills
More likely than not, you’ll quickly regret the decisions you make in regards to assigning classes, abilities, and attributes once you realize what they actually do. Attributes give your characters overall buffs like a higher health pool and better initiative, and the game’s usually good at telling you what those are, whereas combat abilities have a higher significance when it comes to actually dealing damage. This system can be confusing at first and, if you’re like me, lead you to make some pretty dumb decisions as to where you’re assigning your points.
The good news is that once you escape from Fort Joy, you can respec your character however you want, anytime you want. You’re never tied to any particular class, so go nuts.
The problem with this, however, is that you can’t transfer skills to another character.
Skills are basically the abilities that you use in combat and in the world, and their usefulness depends on how many points you’ve put into their corresponding combat abilities. If you want to be good at casting lightning spells, you’re going to need points in Aerothurge. If you want to be an ice master, Hydrosophist is your bag. The more points you put in these combat abilities, the better those skills will become.
The problem is that you might run into a situation where you decided to focus one character on a different combat ability, but because skills are consumable, another character might have already learned that incredibly useful skill.
This isn’t the end of the world, since you can always buy that skill from an NPC somewhere, but skills can be expensive, especially early on in the game, and it’s best not to waste them. That’s why I’d suggest not going crazy with assigning new skills you buy or pick up until you have a chance to respec your party to your liking. That’s when you can go nuts.
Sleep on it
This might be the most important tip in this entire article:
Whatever you do, get a bedroll.
A bedroll is a reusable item that you can find early in the game, either by looting it, stealing it, or buying it from a random NPC, and it will be the best investment you make all game.
Using a bedroll will completely heal your party and restore everyone’s shields without having to use a skill or a consumable healing item (which you should save for battle). Sure, you can go ahead and use restoration on every single character, but that takes forever whereas a bedroll heals all members of your party, granted they’re standing nearby, instantly.
The only thing that a bedroll isn’t good for is healing during combat, as you won’t be able to use it when you’re in the middle of a fight. That’s why it’s a good idea to hold onto whatever healing items you might have, in case you need them to survive in the heat of battle.
Otherwise, the basics of the game’s combat are pretty self-explanatory—armor types, environmental combat, etc.—so I won’t go into that, and the tutorial does a decent job of covering these points. Hopefully, though, the tips I’ve given in this guide will help you avoid some of the headache-inducing annoyances I experienced as a complete dummy through the first few hours of this expansive, complex, frustrating, beautiful game.
We’ll have more coverage of Divinty: Original Sin 2 Deluxe Edition, including a closer look at how the game manages to translate so well to a console experience, in the days to come.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition launches on August 31st for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.