It’s no secret that Divinity: Original Sin is getting the highly prestigious IncGamers seal of “this is a bloody great game,” as well as similar accolades from the many, many players keeping it atop Steam’s best seller list. But while the open, sandbox-like nature of the RPG is an intrinsic delight for some, others might need a bit of guidance to get up and running.
None of these tips are going to spoil precisely how to solve a quest or anything like that, they’re more along the lines of useful pointers and clarification of some aspects of gameplay to help you get along with Original Sin.
Stay Classy: I don’t have any ultra-specific class advice to impart because I haven’t experimented enough with all the different permutations there. As a general rule though, most classes seem to interact pretty well with one another so I don’t think you ever need to worry about making huge mistakes. Just go with what sounds like a choice that’ll suit your style of play. Don’t get too paralysed by the character creation screen. If you do change your mind early on, it’s relatively easy to (say) branch a magic user into other “schools.”
Fitting In: The two additional companions you can recruit in Original Sin are a tank-ey warrior lady who’s good with two-handed weaponry and a water/air mage who can cover the “puddles/electricity” tactic. You also gain the ability to hire henchmen in basically every class and form quite early in the game, so you don’t have to plan your own selections around the two talking companions. Keep in mind though that henchmen are silent and have no dialogue.
Education 101: Do the tutorial dungeon. No, seriously. It’s the cave you encounter a short time after starting the game. You’ll get an in-game scene where some guys run off with a magic stone. The tutorial teaches useful basics like “fire will blow up poison” and “hey, you can move boxes and barrels around like this.” It’s helpful stuff to pay attention to, because those basics can blossom into more elaborate ideas and tactics later on.
Make Yourself at Home: When you get to the town of Cyseal (just after the post-tutorial fight with some orcs on the beach) stick around there to level up for a bit. You’ll want to be around level three before venturing out into the wild. There are quite a few side-quests in town besides the main murder investigation (and pursuing that storyline as far as possible will net you some nice experience as well.) Talk to any named NPCs, as chances are they’ll have something for you to do. If you have the Pet Pal trait, talk to animals too.
Key Decisions: If you think you have an appropriate key to a locked door and it doesn’t seem to be working, make sure you’re controlling the character who actually picked the key up. Original Sin doesn’t pool keys (which, to be honest, is actually a bit annoying,) so you need to use the person holding it.
Grave Tidings: If you need some level two enemies to beat up for some added experience, there’s a hidden tunnel in the graveyard (dig up the biggest mound of dirt with the nearby shovel.) Go south in this tunnel where the road forks (north will lead you to a bucket and a well outside of town,) and you’ll emerge out inside the abandoned Cyseal general store. This place is full of artwork to steal and sell, plus a bit of other loot. You can leave by moving one of the paintings to reveal a door switch.
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The Secret Ingredient is Crime: Speaking of stealing, do this all the time. Put aside any moral disagreements you may have and claim that five-fingered discount everywhere. If you’re low on money steal plates, steal goblets and steal artwork. You’ll make a decent amount of cash from selling (or bartering) these to various vendors. NPCs can be easily distracted by talking to them with one of your party members (making them face away from whatever you want to nab,) giving you the perfect window of opportunity. Hold ALT to highlight stuff of interest in the nearby area. This helps when looking for smaller objects like keys.
Skill Shopping: Merchants change their wares (like skillbooks) whenever you level up. So if you don’t like their selection, check back a bit later. If you’re looking for a particular flavour of skillbook, here’s where to find them in Cyseal: Arhu (wizard cat upstairs at Legion HQ) sells Earth and Fire, Aureus (commander of the Legion, just downstairs from Arhu) sells Man-At-Arms stuff. At the marketplace you can find Cyreth, who sells Air and Water spells, and Fletcher who’ll sort you out for Expert Marksman. For Scoundrel and Witchcraft skills, head to the Inn and go upstairs to chat with Shareth. They’re fairly expensive, but by now you’re rich with stolen art gold, right?
Friendly Faces: Your two main companions are Madora and Jahan (Larian plans to add more, but for now you have these two.) Madora can be found wandering around the ground floor of the King Crab Inn, while Jahan lurks around the library above the Mayor’s residence. Make sure you’ve recruited both of these people before planning any serious enterprises. If you don’t fancy either of them, recruit some henchmen from the Hall of Heroes instead, as soon as you’re able to do so. You’ll really need that party of four. If you’re really intent on forging on as a duo, take the “Lone Wolf” trait on both of your two main characters to get a stat boost to (somewhat) make up for the missing party members.
Nap Time: You can use beds to rest and heal back up, as long as they’re unowned/unoccupied. Some of the empty houses on the outskirts of Cyseal are useful for this. It’s also possible to use spells outside of combat, so taking a few seconds to cast healing on people works as well.
Bath Time: The easiest way to get into the Mayor’s bathroom/living area is to use the magical teleport pyramid. You’ll know when you have it.
Sallying Forth: When you’re level 3 (or near enough) and have a party of four, you’re ready to leave town. Head out of the West (or North-West-ish) gate. Make sure it’s the gate in town and not the harbour one. If you find yourself on an orc-infested beach, you went the wrong way. This game is kind of like Dark Souls in that it is just about possible to deviate from the “intended” path, but the North-West-ish gate in Cyseal is the Undead Burg equivalent. Leaving by the other routes is like doing the Graveyard first. Out in the West you’ll find level 3 undead enemies that you should be able to cope with.
Tactical Retreat: It’s fine to run away from a fight and come back later. Level differences mean a lot in Original Sin. If you find yourself going up against a group just one level higher, you’re in trouble. Two levels and you may as well flee, unless you have iron-clad tactics. Try to fight guys at your level if you can, especially while you get used to combat’s finer (or dirtier) tricks.
No Hoarding, Please: Don’t be afraid to use consumable items like scrolls in fights. I know, it can be tough to force yourself to do this. I’m a hoarder of this kind of thing in RPGs too, but really USE THAT STUFF. If you’re in a fight thinking “hmm, some fire would be great right about now” and you have a relevant scroll, just use it. You probably won’t get a better chance. Enemy encounters don’t respawn and you’ll find quite a few one-shot scrolls lying around the place (they’re also craftable, although I haven’t figured out all the intricacies of that just yet.)
Just Rewards: Speaking of enemies not respawning, if too many of your guys die during a fight they won’t get the experience for kills. This can be a problem if you fall too far “behind” the expected experience level the Original Sin thinks you’ll have. If a couple of people fall during a major fight, it’s probably wise to re-load a save just to make sure they get the experience points they deserve.
A Lovely Bowl of Ghoul-ash: The first boss you’re likely to run into (especially if you follow this guide) is the Ghoul at the Lighthouse in the North-West corner of the map. He’s kind of a dick, but you can take a tasty chunk off his health by blowing up the barrels of oil/ooze that are near him. If possible, keep him controlled with a freeze or stun of some kind, because he can call his were-doggies back from the dead. And that’s not enjoyable if it happens too often.
Set Everything on Fire: Combat in this game is about controlling the environment and exploiting enemy weakness. Always be thinking about crowd control. What are the biggest threats to your group, and how can they be nullified? Original Sin gives you plenty of options for stunning, freezing or knocking down foes. Use them. Also, be aware of your surroundings. Make use of handy barrels and try to distract or bottleneck the enemy by using summoned help (the Giant Spider summon in the Geomancer/Earth skill-set is a good one.) Remember, you can cast spells out of combat, so it’s possible to get some “free” hits in before you initiate.
This Bit Took Me Far Too Long: Finally, when you’re looking for legionnaires after the quest “Arhu’s Failed Experiment,” they’re (well, he) is in the prison. Trust me, this is helpful to know. I definitely didn’t waste about an hour trying to find him.
With these tips and pointers in mind, you should be well equipped to deal with most of what Cyseal can throw at you and get a decent start in Divinity: Original Sin.