Of all the things that Divinity II: Ego Draconis promised, I was most attracted by the shape shifting into a dragon bit. In all RPGs, dragons are hunted for their claws, skin, bones and pretty much any other body part, as a highest class trophy in general. So the opportunity to be a proud flying lizard, raining death on my enemies from above, was very tempting and actually unique in modern age RPGs, so I loved it, just like I did in the remastered version, named the Dragon Knight Saga. Long story short, the Larian folks took Ego Draconis, performed a thorough autopsy and improved the sloppier parts, adding an expansion pack into the mix – Flames of Vengeance – which was a huge must, since the ending of Ego Draconis was disappointing… to say the least.
For those tempted by the Dragon Knight Saga
If you’ve never played Divinity II, DKS is the game for you, especially since it includes the above-mentioned add-on. And like almost any other RPG, everything starts with customizing the looks of your hero, plus distributing some points for skills and attributes.
From this point of view, Divinity II won’t limit you to a specific class. You can be warrior, mage, archer or all in one because the skill tree is completely open for all combinations. Thus, you get a higher replay value, because you’ll likely be tempted to try as a ranger – mage a second time, after the first playthrough as a warrior. The attributes are the classic ones – Strength, Spirit (Mana), Intelligence, Vitality and Dexterity. The skill tree covers the classes, plus options for the weapon mix (one sword, sword + shield, dual wield, etc.), increasing the inventory, Wisdom (more experience) or Mindread, the ability that allows us to read the thoughts of the NPCs.
Afterwards, you are thrown without much fuss into the world of the warriors who kill dragons for a living as a novice that has to go through a special transformation to become a Dragon Slayer. All is fine and dandy until a dragon, the last of his kind, throws you off path and transforms you into a Dragon Knight. Obviously, this more or less desired change will turn you into the Slayers’ mightiest enemy; add to this all the monsters that come with a fantasy world and you’ll definitely be busy for dozens of hours solving quests.
The world is big, ready to be explored, and the game thankfully won’t hold your hand too much. Beginners might be a little confused for a while, but things get clear fast; just like Ego Draconis, DKS keeps the difficulty high, even on Easy, so you have to back down and wait to gain a few more levels to kill a fancy boss. The cherry on top is the dragon transformation, but that happens a bit more down the line. After that though, I just spent hours flying around for the sheer pleasure of the open sky, not being bound anymore to just simply walking. Of course, you also get quests in dragon form and a special set of abilities. The gameplay as a dragon is a little better than it was it the predecessor, but it remains arcade and hard to master at first, especially when it comes to fights.
However, the dragon form comes with more advantages than a pair of wings. The hero has access to a battle tower where he can improve or modify his skills (for the right amount of money), create potions or a minion to help him in battle. All these actions are done through a mage/smith/necromancer/trainer, all recruited during the game, via a series of quests where the right choice depends on how much you want to use Mindread. I say want because reading minds costs you experience, so you will gain levels more slowly. On the other hand, this actions ha big advantages, because it will unveil new missions or vital clues so solve other quests you already have.
Just like in the original game, the dragon has limited actions in certain areas, marked by a force field. If you fly into those areas, you’ll get the Load screen and you’d better save as often as possible. Autosave is done rarely, so you must rely on classic saves and on Quick Save for crowded fights. Anyway, as a dragon you get huge satisfaction from killing everything from the air while the monsters can’t do a thing; guaranteed barbecue, especially with the missions that ask you to destroy flying fortresses (you’ll have to deactivate the force fields in human form first though).
Vengeance for the whacky ending
Strictly speaking about the add-on, Flames of Vengeance is much more limited in scope, with most of the action taking place in Aleroth, the main city that you also get to visit in Ego Draconis. Now, the city is once more under siege and the upper part is protected by a magic shield. The hero must rid the city of the monstrous invasion and the flying fortresses, plus some other secondary quests that reward you with good loot and experience.
While most of the missions cling to the “kill X, bring me Y things” pattern, there are also notable ideas. The best example is the Seahorse Salad mission, with vegetables and a witch, where the veggies are more than meets the eye. Of course, the quest can be solved no matter your decision and the way to end it has the same difficulty path. On the other hand, I really hated to look at all the walls for levers to activate or repeat the same action 5 times to see (and kill) some ghosts which were invisible in the dark. Something that actually conflicts with the magic essence of the hero, who is able to see the spirits of the dead.