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Divinity: Original Sin – Ten Tips for New Players
After two months and over 50 hours I’m finally reaching the end game for Divinity: Original Sin. I can safely say it’s my current Game of the Year and many of my fellow Leviathyn writers feel similarly. Divinity is an old-school tactical RPG and although it makes some wonderful advancements in the genre and utilizes many modern conveniences, it can still be a daunting game to tackle. Making assumptions on the game flow and mechanics can be a big mistake; to that end I’ve compiled a list of ten helpful tips for new players wanting to jump into Larian’s masterpiece and be better prepared in their journey around Rivellon.
1) There are only two party members available to recruit, both in the first town (and you’ll want to get them ASAP unless you’re playing with Lone Wolf). Madora is a two-handed tank with Men-at-Arms while Jahan is an Air/Water mage. They have fun personalities and chime in at several points during the story, allowing for some additional roleplaying opportunities. However as soon as you acquire the second star stone and unlock the Hall of Heroes you can recruit from a large pool of heroes at varying levels to customize your party. Technically this means you can switch out your party for particularly tough battles as different needs arise, but a well-rounded party should be able to tackle any challenge.
2) Leveling up is incredibly slow; save those points. To give you an idea, I’m approaching the 60 hour mark and my party is level 14. In the early levels you receive only a single ability point, and you need more than 1 point to increase a skill beyond 1. Attribute points are gained every other level, while Talents (like Feats in D&D or Perks in Fallout) are very rare and gained only every four levels after Level 3. The best talents require a certain amount of attribute points in a skill, so it’s very useful to save them until you have the right amount (with some exceptions, Pet Pal should definitely be taken by someone early on to open up lots of quests).
3) Do as much of the main quest and side quests in Cyseal as you can. Arriving in Cyseal is a bit like the Citadel in Mass Effect – you’ll want to hang around for quite awhile before leaving. The starter town is large and full of things to do. Talk to everyone. These quests are designed to get your party those crucial first few levels in the beginning so you can stand a chance against the undead surrounding the town.
4) The initial area surrounding the town of Cyseal is enormous, and you’ll spend your first 20-30 hours exploring it. Like Fallout New Vegas, Divinity allows you to explore most areas but will gleefully punish you for wandering into places that are much higher level than you’re prepared for. The guards at each exit in Cyseal give you hints as to where you should go – Start by going west toward the Lighthouse then work your way East around the town in a clockwise fashion. Around the time you’re fighting in the North, you should go down to the beach in the Southwest and tackle the Black Cove.
5) Pay attention to the level of enemies in a new area. With so little leveling in the game, levels mean everything in terms of enemy strength and a good indicator if you’ve wandered into an area you’re not quite ready for yet. The game rarely gates you out of areas, opting instead to put a relatively easy fight with the typical enemy type around the “entrance” of an area, giving you a good idea if you’re able to survive going deeper in. Basically if an enemy is more than 1 level above your party, you probably need to go back and find another area or do some more side quests.
6) Most of the enemies in the early game are undead. Which means they’re immune to poison and resistant to piercing attacks. Your warriors will have a better time with crushing weapons and your mages should be successful with fire until you reach the Charred-Bone Skeletons on the East side of the map. Fire magic in general is very useful with both an early AOE attack and summon, and the burning status effect does a nice chunk of damage – just watch out for friendly fire.
7) Summon spells are your best friend throughout your adventure. Each elemental magic skill (and witchcraft) gains access to at least one summon spell and they’re all incredibly useful. Summons typically have 0-1 skills but they act as an additional target on the field and usually have plenty of action points to make themselves useful. Use the right elemental for the job – a Fire Elemental will be completely immune to fire attacks – summon him against fire-based enemies and have him just stand there to absorb blows while your party does the damage.
8) Save your money for skill books. Unlike just about every RPG out there, you do not gain new skills from leveling up in Divinity. Instead you purchase additional ranks in a skill which net you skill slots. New skills must be purchased from vendors and are expensive. Sell all the loot you don’t want and get comfortable with stealing gold cups and paintings from as many houses as you can in Cyseal and you should have enough to get the skills you want when you want them. Note that which skills you can buy are related to your party’s level, so check back often (and buy those summons).
9) Pick one Blacksmith, one Loremaster, one Crafter. I never bothered much with blacksmithing as I found plenty of great rare and magical items in my adventuring, but you’ll want at least one point in the skill (and a Blacksmith’s hammer) to keep your own equipment repaired. Loremaster acts as a permanent, free Scroll of Identify provided you’ve got a magnifying glass (swipe one from a house in town). You shouldn’t have to put many points into it as many items come with +Loremaster skill bonuses. Finally crafting is useful for utilizing all the flowers and mushrooms you find to make potions, as well as making your own magic scrolls. Healing potions aren’t terribly common so it’s worth putting some points into crafting – pick a character that has some points to spare. Note that there isn’t a specific crafting menu – simply drag an herb onto an empty potion flask in your inventory to begin the process (if your skill is high enough). Find recipe books or just use this guide.
10) Quicksave like crazy. Like any RPG (or game in general) you should take liberal advantage of the quicksave feature. Especially in Divinity when digging up a certain grave will blow up your entire party. Quicksave before each fight (and during if you wish to play the numbers game) and definitely save before talking to a named NPC as you never know when you’ll engage in the silly rock, paper, scissors dialogue minigame that could be the difference between a completed or failed quest. I found it incredibly aggravating to talk to a new NPC, get locked into a “dialogue battle,” and fail a quest and realize I hadn’t saved recent enough to try it again.