I try my hardest to finish every game I start if I really like it. Unfortunately, sometimes I can't: either my game of the year comes out, or people hook me up on some other game that I decide to play immediately... Incomplete titles pile up. I try to remember these games and come back as soon as I get the opportunity because I don't like unfinished adventures.
Divinity: Original Sin II was one of those games. Time and time again people recommended The Source Saga to me, especially DOSII, and I have never heard a bad thing said about this game. A really long time ago I played Divine Divinity, a diablo-ish hack'n'slash, about 8 years ago I picked up Divinity II but didn't like it. All in all, I can't say that my relationship with this franchise was positive or consistent, for that matter. Then I learned that nowadays you can forget all that old nonsense and just jump into Original Sin because OS is the RPG gem of your dreams.
As usual, I decided to start from the start and wasted about 30 hours in Divinity: Original Sin before abandoning it for good. It just wasn't fun. Combat was a suffocating drag with a remarkable potential to be anything but that, I had a fairly mediocre party setup and I couldn't find any way to respec my characters. The plot did not pique my interest either and I decided that was enough. If you don't enjoy the game you're playing - better leave it to someone who would and find a new one.
Having left DOS, I turned to DOSII. The contrast was stunning: the combat was indeed fun and dynamic, the map gained verticality, you could now move almost freely around the battlefield and had more action points per turn. However, the more I played the more the game seemed to be pulling me into some weird kind of emotional swings: I would play several hours and enjoy it wholeheartedly before being thrown into some kind of ultra frustrating episode. Every few hours the game would toss at me something foul: a bug, a weird quest, limitations, an imbalanced fight where my party would get wiped before its first turn. Sometimes the game would just force me into using the atrocious trading interface and I would spend an hour managing my inventory.
Every time I thought: it would be the last time, it would get easier the more I progress, maybe I am to blame and I'm just not playing it right. Alas, the more I played, the more frequent the frustration was, and every time it got worse. I finished Divinity: Original Sin II but in the end I got more negative emotions out of it than positive and the ending - any of them - just felt like a spit in the face. It made me realize that I wasted so many hours ultimately for nothing. I could've played something else.
This post will contain both gameplay and story-related spoilers.
I know that Divinity: Original Sin II is a critical darling and everybody loves this game. If you love it too - that's awesome. I share the unpopular opinion ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I played solo, on classic difficulty. Lohse was the leader of the party, the other three were Fane, the Red Prince and Ifan.
The main issue with the battles in DOSII is simple: you can't prepare for them. You can't see your opponents since they spawn out of thin air as soon as you trigger the battle, or the battle is triggered during dialogue when you don't expect it. It's not much of a problem when you traverse the map but when it's boss battle time it just becomes one of the most frustrating things. Your initiative is always lower so the boss gets the first turn. At this moment your party stands in one spot and waits. By the time you finally get to do anything, your party has been bombarded with mass murder spells and mass melee skills and you'll be lucky if half your party makes it to your first turn. You load up your game and, knowing the enemies' positions, spread out your party so you won't get wiped immediately, and then trigger the fight. This is stupid. I should be in a more or less equal position with a boss and either win or lose based on my strategical decisions. I'm getting destroyed just because the boss always moves first and I have to resort to save-loading.
It always annoyed the living hell out of me but the frustration reached its peak at the end of Lohse's personal quest where you battle the archdemon Adramahlihk and the nurses. I came to talk to him and the dialogue was triggered when my party was standing in the doorway. Adramahlihk always has the first move since his initiative is insane so for 30 seconds I watched him piling up Epidemic of Fire and other mass murder stuff onto my poor melting party.
I loaded the save file a couple of times and realized that fighting him after the story-related dialogue makes no sense. Regretfully I spread out my party in the reception area and proceeded to attack the first nurse with my Red Prince until she - and all other nurses - turned hostile. While Adramahlihk was slithering his way to the reception I got rid of several nurses. Since my characters were far away from one another and three of them were hidden behind the walls, the demon could not cast his AoE spells effectively, and I prevailed. Was I satisfied with my victory? I was really rooting for Lohse, I wanted to complete her quest more than any quest in that game. The answer is no. Technically, the quest had no closure, there was no dialogue with Adramahlihk, I just broke into the hospital and killed everybody, that's what I did. People on forums share a dozen ways to kill him: teleport one of the nurses outside and by that trigger the other nurses; get closer and kill Adramahlihk in his human form but not so close he'll turn into a demon; drop Lohse off in the Hall of Echoes so Adramahlihk won't possess her, which apparently makes this fight ridiculously difficult. Just as my approach to the fight with camping my party in the reception area, it doesn't have anything to do with how the fight should unfold. These are just the ways to get you past this headache of a boss fight because that's what it is - a headache. I'm not against a fair challenge. I love fair challenges. But when your party gets stuck in the doorway and you helplessly watch it being destroyed by a boss before you even have a chance to do anything - it's a bad joke. I don't think a player should have to load the game and jump through hoops to try and survive the boss' first move and still have a chance against them. If you have to load the game because the game puts you at a disadvantage for no reason and you have to come up with a sneaky way, abuse a mechanic or use some kind of exploit - it's a bad sign. No even mentioning that it completely breaks the immersion and makes no sense from the plot perspective.
The final battle is the apotheosis of bad design. Final battles where all bosses you've defeated up to this point miraculously come back to life and gang up to beat the shit out of you always felt very, very cheap to me, and this is exactly what happens in DOSII. I spotted the arena from afar and preventively spread out my party so I wouldn't get wiped before my first turn, and then triggered the dialogue using the Red Prince. Alas, the game just teleported everybody together, nullifying whatever tactical plan I was trying to pull, and I was yet again watching a bunch of mass murder spells destroying my party and Lucian swinging his blade like crazy. He had ~ 70 initiative, way more than any of characters had so no chances there. I loaded a couple of times and then decided that I want no part in this circus, I just want to see the credits of this game roll before my eyes. So I googled the possible outcomes and picked the dialogue options necessary for the path of least resistance. Not because that's how I wanted the story to end, by that moment I'd already stopped caring. I just wanted this story to end, period.
One of the most surprising things for me was the uselessness of resurrection scrolls. I admit, I've never seen anything like it in any RPG game I've played before. If you decide to spend 3 action points to resurrect your fallen comrade, be ready for every single enemy to turn their heads and focus on your pal. Even if you teleport their resurrected body into the farthest corner where, in theory, no one should go because it doesn't make sense, your adversaries will drop whatever they were doing and will just tear the resurrected party member apart before you have a chance to heal them or do whatever. I never managed to resurrect anyone successfully, not even one time.
Unlimited freedom to explore and experiment. Go anywhere, talk to anyone, and interact with everything!
Well, that's both really ambitious and wildly untrue. While being one of the major selling points of the game, the "freedom to go anywhere" didn't live up to my most modest expectations. The game is shockingly and later amusingly linear. It's a corridor, and a rather narrow one at that. Because the gap between levels is so wild, you will go not where you want to, but where you won't get killed by a mob one level your superior, and at every moment of your playthrough there is only one such place. You will be stuck inside a cage until you clear it up, level up and make this cage a little bit bigger. The game doesn't care what quests you want to do - you will do exactly those quests that fit your level until you do enough of them you level up. It doesn't matter how many times you replay DOSII, your route will always be the exact same. This is especially noticeable on Reaper's Coast. When you arrive, you are bombarded with dozens of quests all over the area, the map fills with markers, you get really excited. However, you can just as well number these markers because you can only do these quests in a specific order. I was interested in going to Blackpits. Could I do that? Heck no. If I stuck as much as my nose out the permitted area, I would have it bitten off by someone one level ahead without a chance.
You can say that it's typical for an RPG to have level-restricted areas and quests. Yep, that's right. It's just a very rare occurrence that the gap between two levels would be so insurmountable you wouldn't even stand a chance. It is also quite rare to be artificially prevented from exploring the area you gain formal access to. When you arrive on Reaper's Coast, you get dozens of quests you can't do and a big area you can't explore, and it's frustrating. Maybe locations should've been smaller, or the enemies should've scaled with the party. Instead the game just forces you to go in one pre-determined direction completing quests in a pre-determined order.
...the worse the pacing becomes. The game starts out really strong and then spreads unbearably thin the further you progress.
Fort Joy itself is overwhelming. You just started the game, spent some time on the ship and then on the beach picking seashells trying to figure out what's happening and where your place is. Then you enter the Fort and the game instantly pulls you into an hour and a half - if not two hours - of dialogues, NPCs, vendors and questgivers with no action to thin it out. Fort Joy is a hard-to-trod suffocating piece of the game but the island itself, apart from the Fort, is the most functional, the most fleshed out and balanced part of the whole title that shows you the best things DOSII can offer. As soon as you break free from the Fort, you are in for a series of awesome adventures that will jump right at you every step of the way. You'd better enjoy it because there is nothing like it in the later acts.
About those. The other acts drop in quality quite dramatically. Reaper's Coast has so many quests you won't feel like starting any of them because your journal is choke full of entries. You'll get exhausted trying to find tasks that are suitable for your level. Quests are not marked as level-specific in the quest log but they are very much level-dependant so you'll have to try each quest and then drop it if you're getting murdered by mobs. On Reaper's Coast you have a really big main quest that has sub-quests of its own. For some reason, these sub-quests are duplicated as standalone quests as well, even with the same description, so your journal becomes a hot mess of entries some of which are useless duplicates.
Nameless Isle is rather tedious: you hardly get any secondary quests because all of them were spent on Reaper's Coast and Driftwood, and your main quest is essentially to run around a confusingly uniform jungle isle. The main quest tries to make you choose sides and pledge allegiance to either of the conflicting factions but at the same time gives too little information and time to make any rational decision. You can murder everybody and it won't impact anything in the slightest but will rid you of a headache.
Arx in the last act is desolate: you don't have many quests or battles there at all. All secondary quests are pushed to you through their mysterious connection to the main one but it honestly made me yawn. Quests, pieces of the main story and action are so unevenly spread throughout the game; in the second act you can drown in the sea of endless quests and tasks and in the last act you barely have anything to do.
I was quite surprised to see that the game seeks to punish the player if they want some simple quality of life features that are not generally considered to be exploits or cheats. In DOSII you can activate a number of additional features that will significantly improve your experience but if you choose to activate any, you will not be able to get any achievements, period. If you want achievements - suffer. Don't want to suffer? No achievements for you. I am lucky enough to be quite impartial to game achievements but I can imagine people getting really frustrated about this choice.
These reprehensible additional features are just fixes to poorly designed aspects of DOSII. For example, trading remained to be the most tiring and exhausting aspect of the whole game, as it was in DOS. You can't be trading as a party. If one of your party members lacks money to buy a thing, you need to transfer money to him from somebody else. I cannot even fathom how this can be considered a good idea. As in the first installment of the franchise, only your party member with the barter skill can successfully trade; in other words, you need to spend a bunch of time transferring all your things to a single person, clicking each of the items separately, if you don't want to miss out on money. The feature that will render you unable to get achievements forever, will allow your barter person to share their skill with the party so you'll be able to trade with any member getting the prices of the barter guy. A shocking exploit that is basically common sense. I was told that I play RPGs all wrong and LIVING your character is the right way to play. Sorry, if LIVING my character means spending an hour trying to sell some stuff by clicking every item in 3 inventories, I'd rather play all wrong, thank you. Or ignore "barter" stat altogether because I ain't got time for that.
Among the shameful features there is also one that gives all your party members passive Pat Pal trait so everybody can speak to animals. Pet Pal is of the utmost importance and you just need to have at least someone with this talent or you'll miss out on a fair bit of content. If your game is designed in such a way that while having "absolute freedom of character creation" the player is forced to choose a specific talent otherwise they'll have a subpar experience, something is not right here.
Achievements will also be taken from you if you just wish to traverse the map faster. The game with this number of quests inevitably involves a fair bit of running around not only uncharted places but those you've already cleared out. I dropped DOS partly because I could not watch my party casually stroll from point A to point B, it was unbearable. Usually this problem is resolved with a button that speeds up your party in X% increments but Larian Studios chose to make it a spell that you need to cast (and then dispell) and they punish you for it. If I'd left the traverse speed how it was, I would've spent way more time in the game, for sure.
You will also be punished if you want a possibility to respec closer to the beginning of the game. DOSII is a big game without a standard systems of RPG classes, it's quite challenging to nail your character on the first try so the ability to respec should be a common courtesy, not a punishable perk. You can't blame a player who's never played DOS for creating their character in a sub-optimal way because at the time they thought it was a good idea and then realized their character doesn't work with other party members. But no, you'll get punished for this too.
Overall, the additional features are band-aids slapped onto either poorly working functionality or poor design. These things should be baseline. Speeding up your party, some personal traits impacting the whole party, like barter, all of that is just basic common sense. Introducing quality of life features and then robbing people of achievements if they choose to have them in the game that is 100+ hours long is a really impressive move.
DOSII is full of situations where you are either unsure on where to go and what to do or encounter bugs and questionable design decisions that make you jump through hoops for no reason. On the Fort Joy island I wanted to collect a set of Braccus Rex armor; unfortunately, the gloves shot out of the sarcophagus and plummeted through the floor never to be seen again. After having been collecting the Devourer Set for 4 acts, the final boss battle triggered prematurely when I did not have the helmet. As a result, the helmet that I found much later, didn't scale with the set and remained basic. Wiki says that the fight with the dragon is only triggered when you have the entire set on hand because the entire set will scale depending on your decisions during the fight. Alas, as soon as I found the 4th piece, the quest completed itself and I had a portal to the dragon in front of me. I was positive I somehow missed the helm, sold it or just lost it but no. When I finally obtained the helmet it didn't scale and remained as is but at that point I was happy it counted as a set piece at all.
On Reaper's Coast my biggest headache was Hannag. I needed her for my main quest; I found her in the ruins where she was fighting a group of magisters. I had no opportunity to side with anybody, they just ignored my party altogether, no dialogue triggered for me. I teleported to Hannag and she ran away splattering lava all around, killing my party members but not turning hostile. I teleported once more. She killed herself, spawned a bunch of Voidwoken, came back to life, died again and my quest was failed. I was super confused and could not for the life of me understand what I was doing wrong. Then I just forcefully attacked magisters, like I did nurses in the fight with Adramahlihk. It made magisters hostile and Hannag friendly so I finally could proceed with the quest. I would expect some dialogue where I'd be asked to pick a side, something that did not feel like trying to break the game to get the quest working.
You also can't turn Alexandar's head to Sallow Man if you're Lohse because the fight will start immediately: Sallow Man and Adramahlihk are not friends. It's kinda cool but if someone else gives the head, Sallow Man withholds a rare staff as a reward telling you that only your party leader can have it. My party leader was Lohse. She can't have it because the fight starts as soon as Sallow Man sees her. And no, Sallow Man does not drop the staff upon death. Yeah.
DOSII hardly has any immersion to offer and however much it has is broken every few minutes because of things that are either not working as they should or are just designed to annoy you and make you suffer. It's like you're constantly jumping hurdles with no reason to be jumping them.
Surprisingly, many questlines that expand well beyond one act and sometimes occupy your attention almost the entirety of the game, do not lead anywhere. This is too bad because I play cRRGs for stories, worldbuilding and emotional attachment to characters.
Sir Lora is a DLC character, a squirrel knight riding an undead cat. You meet him at the very start of the game and he accompanies you until the very end. For 4 acts he will be telling you about the Great Acorn, Knights of Drey and the coming Apocalypse that you need to stop. From time to time he will give you items but those will be exceptionally useless. He always game me either recipes I already knew, spellbooks I already had or didn't need, and the like. I was sure he'll have his own quest but the journal kept silent despite the fact that sir Lora kept telling me about the end on the world and ensured that I'll help him save it.
The most difficult part was to keep sir Lora alive. He is not a party member, you can't control him or even select him and move somewhere. Despite his rather clever AI he kept triggering traps, standing on fire surfaces and overall getting in dangerous situations. I was determined enough to replay the longest and most tedious battles if in the aftermath I discovered that sir Lora died as collateral damage. I was adamant that his long quest would certainly lead to something, I couldn't just let him die!
Isbeil fight was the last stretch. Your whole party is put into the stone pit where you get splashed with poison, then with fire, probably something else happens. The first move was Lohse's: she had all teleportation spells but she also was the party leader and sir Lora is invisibly attached to the leader. As soon as I teleported sir Lora from the pit of death somewhere above ground, the game would instantly teleport him back because Lohse was still in the pit. Sir Lora simply could not survive until someone else from my party got a move. I reloaded several times and couldn't save him anyway whatever I tried. In the end the situation seemed so absurd to me I decided I couldn't care less.
Well, as it turns out, if sir Lora dies he continues to travel with you as a spirit and it changes nothing. He does not even acknowledge that he died, there is no dialogue, nothing. More than that, some wikis and forums recommend killing him so that you would have easier time travelling: as a spirit he does not trigger traps, does not get lost or get stuck.
At the end it became obvious that sir Lora's quest doesn't lead anywhere. At all. Before the final battle he says that he's finally finished his ultimate spell that can save the world and will go forward to take a better position. After that he unbinds himself from the party leader and just disappears into thin air. In the epilogue he can be found on the ship where he'll tell you he stopped the Great Acorn and prevented the end of the world. Welp, I wish I was able to see that.
A ton of dialogue, figuring out a quest that was not even a quest, trying to keep him alive - all for what?.. It would've been better if he just stayed a cute silent pet.
In party-based RPGs the most interesting quests for me are the quests of my companions. Nothing sparks my curiosity as much as personal stories of people that I spend many hours with. Unfortunately, in DOSII establishing friendship - or even romantic relationship - is a question of time rather than actions on your part. Yes, if you turn down your companion and openly refuse to help them, they will be upset and can even leave your party. Apart from that, whatever you do and however you behave in the world and with other characters does not seem to influence their opinion on you. When your companions speak out on what you should do and you pick a side, those opposing your decision will just shrug it off and you'll face zero consequences. Your conversations weirdly consist of monologues you say in turns; your companions are preoccupied with their own personal quests and don't give a damn about whatever is happening outside of their small bubble: even their story-rich backgrounds don't provide any food for thought or additional interactions.
After some major twist happens you can discuss it with your friends but the "discussion" is just them saying something like "Bad things are bad" or "I am for the good and against the bad" in turns, which is neither a discussion nor a conversation. Even romantic relationships are not well designed: at one point you will just be offered a bunch of dialogue options "Sleep with A, B or C" regardless of what kind of relationships you were trying to nurture prior.
Some personal quests don't lead anywhere. Traditionally, quests have some kind of beginning (What does this character want?), then the middle (How do they try to reach their goal?) and then the end (Where is this character now in regards to where they started?). This logical structure was very much present in two quests out of four in my party. Lohse was possessed by a demon and was searching to be rid of him; she conducted some research, made new friends and with their help fought the demon and defeated him, freeing herself. This is a solid engaging story, I've no problems with it.
The same goes for the Red Prince. He wanted to fulfill the prophecy and usher dragons into the world -> he searched for the Red Princess -> he found the Princess, they had dragons and there came the new age. No questions asked.
Ifan, on the other hand, does not seem to have a solid quest of his own; instead, he has a number of smaller quests that are not necessarily connected. When you meet him, he seems to have a solid story like Lohse and the Red Prince: he wants to kill Alexandar. Then you meet the guy who gives Ifan a crossbow as a murder weapon. After you kill Alexandar, the quest is completed. That's all, folks! In Driftwood a boy delivers a note to Ifan and you get the quest to meet other Lone Wolves. So, Ifan has two quests? Or is it the same one? After you clear the Wolves' hideout, the quest is closed. Or not! Later you can learn that Lucian deceived Ifan into nuking the elves who raised him and now Ifan is hellbent on revenge. For the record, your journal does not reflect half of this stuff, his quests just kind of randomly appear where you don't expect them and finishing one quest does not at all hint at any kind of continuation. Next 2 acts Ifan is swallowed by emotional mumbo jumbo but you can actually persuade him not to kill Alexandar and by that abandon his hateful ways. However, if in the end of the game you don't let him kill Lucian, he will be mad. Ifan will sever all ties with you no matter were you friends, lovers or his own mother, and leave you forever. His personal quest is woefully inconsistent: he is driven by vengeance - then not - but in the end still driven by vengeance. This story has little to no logic, his set of quests is like a grocery list where you are required to go and buy bread, milk, an owl's feather and a doorknob.
Fane, despite his enormous potential and the most interesting background out of all of the characters, can't boast a decent personal quest either. His initial purpose is as small and easily achievable as Ifan's: he searches for his Mask of the Shapeshifter and his FaceRipper. All these items can be obtained on the Fort Joy island. Then he tells you that he wants to learn what became of his people: well, seems like a long and epic quest to me. Onward! Unfortunately, for this quest to progress you don't need to do anything. Just move forward, progress as usual and you will complete this quest effortlessly. Since the game is very linear and you can't really skip places, you will find the temple where Aeterna will spill out all the info. After that Fane's quest will be closed forever. But! Here and there you will be finding tidbits of what seems to be the continuation of his personal quest: conversation, revelations, info, dialogues with Voidwoken. If Fane is not your leader, his quest does not lead to anything. If he is - you will have two additional options when accepting Divinity but if you chose either of them everybody will hate you forever. Yep.
The main quest suffers from the same flaw: it starts out as something solid and consistent and then uncontrollably falls apart the further you progress. For a while I fluttered myself that I do understand who the villain is and where I'm supposed to go but the conversations before the final battle left me adrift. The plot gets increasingly confusing.
In DOS nobody can actually die. I have a feeling that Larian Studios were able to come up with only a certain number of characters and have to reuse them ad infinitum because for some reason they cannot create new ones. If you've got tired from the endless mentions of Braccus Rex in DOS and DOSII, get ready because Braccus Rex managed to escaped death on more than one occasion including that episode where you killed him yourself in DOS. Yes, he is here yet again because Tarquin resurrected him by the fine art on necromancy, why not. I can't fathom why people in this universe would fear death at all as it seems any necromancer can just bring anybody to life again.
Braccus Rex is here not for any purpose really but just to join the hoard of bosses that will jump at you in the final battle. For the whole game he does absolutely nothing, he appears a couple times under a hood and with a different name, and then, in the final episode, he drops his cloak and shouts that he is THE BRACCUS REX and he'll show everyone who's boss.
The same thing happens to Lucian. Yes, he is alive, he just kind of chose to sit in his crypt for many years while people thought he was dead. He and Dallis (who's not actually Dallis) have a plan that they furiously stick to but only for a moment. Then they are suddenly ready to be friends with you and furiously stick to whatever plan YOU have, forgetting that they've been in your way for 4 acts and did everything in their power to put as much hurdles on your path as possible.
There are a lot of competing factions but some of them you'll never encounter in full. When you unravel the mystery behind Fane's people disappearance and learn about the God King who is so powerful he recruited Braccus Rex as his pawn, you eagerly anticipate the day you actually meet him. That won't happen. God King will talk to you twice as a voice in an empty room, tell the latest news and then disappear forever. Despite the fact that there is a ton of NPCs tied directly to him, you never meet the God King, never battle him and never explore the Sworn faction. At the end of my playthrough the Red Princess remained Sworn to the God King and it didn't appear to be of any importance. She's the mother of dragons though, surely the fact that she is enslaved by the evil mastermind should matter?..
Dallis is against Lucian for the duration of the whole game until she suddenly joins him. Both of them then join you and offer you Divinity - Divinity they've spent the whole game keeping from your reach. It feels like they got really tired - just like me - and in the defining moment they just don't care what happens to Divinity and who will have it. Here, do whatever you want, we don't care.
The final battle is a farce. It's EPIC for the sake of being epic, not because it makes sense. Because it doesn't. The first phase consists of Lucian, Dallis and Vrideman - aka Braccus Rex - beating you to a pulp with a group of their henchmen. As soon as you lower Dallis' health Braccus Rex sheds his cloak and the second phase begins. Braccus Rex requests God King's help: we'll never know how they got to be allies, how Braccus got to be allies with anybody. He doesn't make sense in general in this game so let's not dwell too long on it. Then Kraken shows up and summons all bosses you've defeated up to this point in previous acts: Sallow Man, Isbeil and Linder Kemm. How does Kraken resurrect them with his spit? Because no one can actually die in this franchise, that's how. Let's count heads: Lucian, Dallis, Braccus Rex, Kraken, Sallow Man, Isbeil and Linder Kemm are all simultaneously on the arena, including some petty magisters and other guys of wavering importance. Dallis on her next move for some reason turns into a dragon. Why can she do that? Why in 100 hours of playing this game I never met anybody who could do that? Well, it doesn't matter because it's EPIC.
I reloaded the game a couple of times and then realized that I could bear it no longer. I googled the dialogue options that would let me ally with Dallis and Lucian promising to do whatever they want, and we beat up Braccus pretty fast. Great news though! Your alliance with the two of them does not mean anything important: you get the same options when obtaining Divinity as you do when you go against Dallis and Lucian. As it was said, they just don't care anymore, do whatever you want.
I watched all three endings and not a single one seemed satisfying to me. I get it that bittersweet endings are the fashion now and having a good ending even if it's logical and expected is a sign of poor taste. I've nothing against it, I love bitter endings and drama. You know what I love more? When those endings are logically conditioned and not just "all is well and then SUDDENLY not well for no apparent reason, just for it not to be all too well". That's what we have here.
I always thought that "I don't like this type of humour" is a questionable criticism but I finally can relate. I don't like Larian Studios' humour. Of course, it's very subjective, like any opinion, but it seems to me that the devs purposefully wanted to break immersion every chance they could possibly get. In one of the endings you get this: "Driftwood was consumed by famine and then everybody died in a Voidwoken attack. At least the famine problem was solved!" HILARIOUS. Is that Driftwood where I spent 50 hours completing a hoard of quests? Nice to know it has such a cohesive and logically backed up future. Why did the famine occur then and not earlier? Did all the fish get infected? Wasn't it already? Did the new Divine abandon Driftwood when they were uniting all the lands to fight the Voidwoken? What the hell happened?
These funny jokes with poor timing annoyed the heck out of me for the entirety of the game. Let's take Justinia, the dwarf queen. Before you meet her every dwarf you speak to will tell you that she is an unyielding diehard fighter that will do everything in her power to ensure a decent future for her people. When I met her for the second time after I've killed Isbeil, she escaped her prison, took back her axe, chopped a group of guards into pieces and was ready to take on Isbeil for her treason. That's the character I was introduced to: a strong, charismatic, iron-willed leader. In two endings out of three she rules the dwarfs for two more years and then her lover stabs her to death with a mutton fork. I think that was the moment something snapped inside of me and I decided to write this post. Because that was a spit in my face. What lover. What mutton fork. How can this happen in relation to a character I was introduced to during the game?..
Almost all characters received similar treatment: in different endings they are pulled in different direction with little to none regard to where they were during the actual game. Saheila, the elven seer, either leads her people into peaceful future or rallies her armies to war and becomes the harbinger of doom. Her mother either joins her, tries to contain her or rallies the elven armies against her. I feel like the destinies of locations and characters were randomly pulled out of a hat.
Divinity: Original Sin II ended up to be one of the worst games of all time for me; a weird mix of exciting and annoying kept me hopeful and that's why I didn't drop it sooner but chose to go all the way. Swinging back and forth between a great time and a really bad time, I finished it for the sake of finishing it.
So, why was I recommended this game so many times? Partly because it's really fun to play in co-op. Co-op does not really contribute to immersion and the fun you have with friends often outshines the negative impressions you might have on the game. DOSII might be a really cool co-op experience especially considering that not many RPGs are ready to offer you co-op.
However, the main reason people were so ecstatic about DOSII was really simple. None of them completed it. Not one person among those I asked left the first island and most certainly not went all the way through Reaper's Coast. They were stuck in permanent honeymoon blissfully unaware that the game goes only downhill from there, both story and gameplay-wise.
Of course, there will be people who'll tell me that I played it all wrong. If I had this or that build, I wouldn't have had problems with bosses spawning from thin air. If there is only one way to play DOSII with comfort while it's preaching freedom of choice - something is wrong. I've been playing RPGs for a very long time and not a single one I played frustrated me this badly.
Recently I was asked if I think that Pillars of Eternity is better than DOSII. Sure. Pillars of Eternity franchise has its weaknesses but it is very consistent. Its worldbuilding is coherent, building relationships with companions is a gradual process that requires patience, effort and care and the immersion is never broken, certainly not with stand-up comedy about mutton forks. You understand how the world works and your place in it. I'll take any Pillars of Eternity game over any DOS game any day. Of course, Pillars are not as sparkly, flashy and dynamic as DOSII is but PoE is a solid experience that does not suffer from being so hyperactive it'll lead to gameplay and story degradation.
Previously when I saw negative reviews on singleplayer games on Steam where the reviewer's put a lot of hours into the game I was always confused. It seemed funny. If you didn't like the game, why did you continue to play it? Couldn't you just drop it and move on to other games if this one was not fun? But now I understand. I know now that you can continue playing hoping for the best, seeing the potential and waiting for it to unravel, giving endless second chances - and even after dozens of hours realize that it was not worth it. Sad, but it happens.
Playtime - 108hrs