Divinity 2: Ego Draconis Impressions: I Am Dragon

Journey back into the magical land of Rivellon in Divinity 2: Ego Draconis, Larian Studios PC and Xbox 360 follow-up to their poorly-title action roleplaying game Divine Divinity.

Ego Draconis takes place a couple of years after the last game, and a war between dragons and humans is in full swing. While the two races once lived in harmony, mistrust and fear have blossomed, and an order of Dragon Slayers is now tasked with hunting down and slaying the massive beasts. Your player starts as one of these dragon slayers, but an ironic twist in the story soon has you joining the ranks of the legendary Dragon Knights, humans with the power to transform themselves into dragons at will.

I sat in on a demonstration of the game at E3 2009, and everything started well enough. The PC in publisher DTP's tiny booth launched the game smoothly, and the graphics were crisp, smooth, and vibrant. Intrigued, I leaned in closer, only to have the PC sputter, stutter, and die.

Then my demo pilot switched to the Xbox 360 version, where the graphics were noticeable darker and the frame rate nowhere near as smooth. Now I know which version I'll be picking up.

Ego Draconis is a 3D action roleplaying game, much like Fable or Gothic, only with a twist. After a certain part in the story, the player gains the ability to transform into a dragon, covering long stretches of terrain in minutes, while having to face off against much larger foes.

The character-driven section of the game is rather nice. All NPCs in the game are fully voiced and animated using motion capture, giving the world a very lifelike feel.

While on foot, the player engages in combat, leveling skills from several different classes - mage, warrior, and ranger, to name a few. While there is a main story to follow, players can also embark on quests, with every quest having some sort of impact on the story down the line, even if you don't accept it. For instance, refuse to help a soldier kill a few goblins, and later you'll find that soldier dead in the goblin camp, having gone it alone. And boy if his lootable armor isn't nice...

The high level of polish didn't quite carry over into the dragon section of the game, unfortunately, with much of the character of the title falling away once the player transforms, losing some detail in order to affect a sense of scale, no pun intended. In order to keep the player from moving too far in dragon form, certain areas are warded by dragon-proof walls, which are as transparent a means to keep the player's power in check as they are actually see-through. If humans have so much power over dragons, why bother with the war in the first place?

The game also features a Dragon Tower, where players can store their items, send NPCs out into the world in search of crafting materials, and even seek the aid of a necromancer to help build a summonable monster out of parts you gather during your travels.

Divinity 2: Ego Draconis is a truly ambitious sequel to the 2002 action roleplaying game. Developer Larian Studios is looking to far outdo themselves in terms of storytelling, scope, and quality...let's hope that they are up to the task. I'd love to see what the dragon portion of the title looks like on the PC instead of the 360. Perhaps the polish the game lacks on the console is made up for on PC.

I'd also like to see Venetica, but I'm not bitter. No, no.

Divinity II: Ego Draconis is due out later this year for the Xbox 360 and PC.

Divinity 2: Ego Draconis Impressions: I Am Dragon