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Spoilers for Blackpits area in Divinity: Original Sin 2

Butch:

I’ll play soon.

Oh, and planning:

Got a five buck coupon at best buy. Are we agreed that we’re going ahead and preordering Cyberpunk? Cuz if we are I’ll go ahead and do that cuz you know how I am about coupons.

Feminina:

Cyberpunk, eh? All right, I’m in. Order submitted! I don’t have a coupon, but I’ll rake in those Amazon points.

Butch:

It’s on!

OK, played. But this cave doesn’t have much to talk about though, does it? Got into some fights, broke a contraption (“If I break something in a cave, and there’s no one around to see me break it, did I really break it?” was a good line), got into some fights, found a couple of weird pillars that taught me how to make eternal armor and a mask that shapeshifts or something, got into fights, helped a magistar who then tried to kill me, learned that Dallis has a doohickey that’s powerful and can make it so I’m not a sourcerer.

That took over an hour. This game is long.

Still not finished with the cave. I’m anticipating more fights.

You’re WAAAAY ahead of me, aren’t you?

Feminina:

I think you’re almost done with that cave, which was very large. You must have at least gotten some good XP, though!

We are still working on some stuff on Bloodmoon Island, but we took a break to go deal with Hanag (the lightning-hurling lizard) and Alice Alisceon (the fire-hurling witch who wanted to KILL OUR SHINING LIGHTS). Turns out you just need to be about level 15 to survive that hurtling fire. I’m not sure we did it the best way, but…anyway, we dealt with that.

So yeah, we’re a ways ahead, but we’re still on Reaper’s Coast! Same map!

Butch:

It is very large, and, yes, I am getting better gear and am within shouting distance of level 13, which is good.

But man….This game was doing so well and now it’s falling victim to a cheat that games do all too often: the mid game loot dump. There all too often seems to be these interludes in games where the developers seem to be saying “yeah….look. We have some good ideas for the second half, but we didn’t want to dumb them down or weaken the bosses for narrative reasons, but you’re too weak to go straight to all that, so we take a break from our regularly scheduled narrative to let you level/loot up.”

It’s a cheat, and it’s never good for narrative momentum.

And you can sorta tell they know it’s a cheat because they plopped that reveal that Dallis has a thingy in the middle of it. It’s like they did that JUST so when brilliant bloggers call them out on their overt XP dump, they can say “Hey, man! There was story! There was that big reveal that Dallis has a thingy! That took ten seconds…..in the hour and a half we were dumping XP……”

Because yes, I’m sure that’s a plot point, but it hardly justifies the XP fluff around it, especially as none of the XP fluff was related to it at all. It wasn’t like it was some set piece where we see her get the thingy and we try to stop her but NO! it’s too late she escaped for later in the game.

Kinda sloppy, game.

But I’m sure they’ll recover.

Feminina:

Well…I mean, arguably every sidequest is a loot/XP dump, right? If it doesn’t explicitly advance the main plot, what else is it doing? What was Peeper about in the grand scheme, other than a chance to get some XP and (minimal, in my case) loot?

It’s all just stuff to explore, people to fight, loot and XP to collect, all tied together with a great-grandfather’s handaxe or something. I didn’t feel the cave was an exceptionally glaring example of that. But then, this wasn’t the only thing I’ve been able to do in the game for days, so it very likely came across differently.

Butch:

I dunno about that. True, there are “find my grand uncle’s thingy” quests in every game, but those are more annoying filler than they are “OK, do this so you can move on without dying.” Plus, there are a lot of side quests that are really good (even more themey than the usual “save the world from the bad guy” main quest). We often blog far more on (good) side quests. But also, they’re skippable. You didn’t have to do peeper or find uncle’s cheese. How many bandit camps did I happily ignore in ACO (and, conversely, how much bloggage did we get out the blue side quests)?

I think I find this more annoying because it isn’t any of those things. I suppose it’s skippable in the sense that there were other main paths to get the source slots that I am assuming you need, but, at least for me, this was kinda main questy. I went there because I a) needed to find these naughty sourcerers to learn as part of the main quest, b) said naughty sourcerer sent me there and c) did so in one of those game ways that’s really “Dude, go. Like, this is the part of the game you really ought to go there. Please. Pretty please.” You know how games do.

This wasn’t just one of those deals where you’re magpieing and are all “Oh, hey, a cave. Wonder what’s in there. Loot, perhaps. Or baddies. Or both!” This was main important character telling me to go there for main quest shit.

And it wasn’t much more than “Oh, hey, a cave. Loot. Baddies. Both!”

And, yes, good loot. XP heavy baddies. But still.

And you went down another path. For you, it was far more skippable (really was just “Oh, hey, a cave,” right?) cuz Ryker didn’t tell you to go there before he was gonna help you. As I had a different experience with Ryker, this is much more main questy for me than it was for you. Maybe that’s why it’s coming across so differently.

Why DID you end up there, anyway? Just “Oh, hey, a cave” or does someone tell you to go there if Ryker doesn’t?

Feminina:

No, we just went there because “hey, a cave!”

So you’re right, it was way more main-questy for you. We could have ignored the whole thing if we didn’t feel the need to go everywhere and do everything. Which of course we do, so we would never do that, but hypothetically, if we were different people, we could have.

Certainly, what with our Ryker being dead and never having given us any quests, we had no motivation from that quarter.

In our case, it was useful in that it gave us a helpful tip about the shriekers, but you probably already knew that.

Butch:

I did bump into a shrieker! That was random. I didn’t get a tip, no. But I was glad that I didn’t get rid of the cursed helmet that purges shit. Zap!

Can you just vampire them?

That’s pretty interesting that choices we made really affected how we saw this bit. Usually, big maps like this are going to happen no matter what. Kinda bold to make something this big into “hey, look, a cave” so easily.

So was there some other bigass place that you wandered to cuz main quest? Am I gonna stumble on something and I’ll be all “Man, this sure is big for a place that doesn’t really have a quest associated with it?”

Feminina:

Yeah, I still had one charge left on the purging wand! And then, perhaps much like you, I thought “hey, the image for that is kind of like the Source vampirism one, maybe we can just vampire them.”

If your helmet doesn’t have limited charges, it won’t be a big deal for you, but I was kind of concerned that I had no more charges left on that wand, and this was an important thought for me.

“How the hell are we supposed to get by shriekers now?” I had thought to myself. “I mean, should it ever happen that we encountered any more, which is of course by no means assured!”

Good times. Good times.

As for your question, we ran into some people that have major bearing on the Prince’s story, but that will mean very little to you, but I can’t think of anyplace we’ve been that you’ll get to and find meaningless. I mean, the reason this cave was mostly just a cave for us was that we hadn’t gotten a quest for Ryker, so if you accept all the quests anyone offers (as most people normally do), you’ll get those stories.

Also, come to think of it, we were exploring the black pits for those paladins, and the cave is part of the black pits, so probably it wouldn’t have counted as completely explored unless we went in there, so…yeah, now that I think of it, we did have to go there, although only for those paladins whose bearing on the whole situation I’m still vague on.

Likely skippable.

Though, clearly, Ryker’s quest is also skippable, so we’re maybe in pretty much the same boat after all.

Butch:

Speaking of things I very much hope are skippable……

Uh….

This shit here.

So dealt with the magistar and shit in the bigassed oil cave and got to Atlantis I mean the animus no the temple. I found the tablet I need (good) and then opened the sarcophagus (not good), and had a conversation with someone very rude, my head thing started talking to it and they were both rude, then it killed the ever living fuck out of me which is just TERRIBLY rude.

I’m still level 12. There is no earthly way I can beat this thing and its awful ice dogs.

So I’m gonna metagame. Do you have to kill this thing in this skippable cave? Can I take my tablet and run? Run far away? Because I very much can’t kill this thing, but I also do not want to have to schlepp back here at some point.

What is this thing all about? Give me the cliff notes so I can move on.

Feminina:

Oh lord those ice dogs. That thing.

Uh…I think she didn’t tell us anything critical? I mean, we got an interesting perspective on the whole gods/ascension thing from that conversation, and there was some loot, but I don’t remember part of the loot being the magic key that will allow you to get to the next stage of the game, or anything. I think it was just some information, plus loot. Probably skippable, especially since you got the information already. She doesn’t tell you anything else after you defeat her, so everything she had to say, you’re good on.

Also, if you feel like coming back later when you’re her level: charm arrows. I think we were 14 when we fought her. We managed it on the second try, with a lot of healing.

Butch:

Ooo! Charm arrows!

I have one of those! Just one, though. Just. One.

I…got information? I didn’t understand it. Head thing wanted to make a deal with her/it, to basically kill everyone and team up with her and eat everyone’s source or something. But I can’t tell gods and eternals and shit apart. It all sounded important and ominous.

And deadly.

At least it isn’t a “must do this cuz essential thing” deal. Cuz no way I can do it. I didn’t even get one shot in. Didn’t dent anyone or anything. Nada.

Feminina:

Yeah, we did it the second time by having everyone stand right behind her except for the one who was talking to her, and then as soon as the fight started we just went after her. And healed a lot. And resurrected. Charm arrows are good on the dog things, though. It was still a tough fight.

And I really think the only thing we learned from the conversation was basically that this Eternal being has been around since before the gods were gods (for Eternity, perhaps, based on the name), and scorns the gods and their creations. It was just a kind of “there’s a larger perspective here” kind of moment.

We had Gannibog talk to it, and at one point his dwarf god, Duna (now inhabiting him, not unlike Lohse’s thing inhabits her) got so angry it seized control to argue with the Eternal. And she/it sneered at Duna and mocked him for relying on these ‘rotting source vats’ that are mortal creatures, and it was all very rude. As you said.

But again, I don’t know that we learned anything specifically relevant to a particular part of the story–more that it’s interesting background on the story’s universe. Who the gods are, why they created their mortal followers (according to the Eternal, solely to funnel Source to them), etc. Heady theological material for the characters to ponder, no doubt, but not an “OK, now we know that when we meet this creature we must do that thing” or anything.

Butch:

Phew. I’mm’a take my tablet and skedaddle.

I just can’t be bothered. These blackpits are hard.

Feminina:

Plus, there’s a waypoint down there, so if it DOES turn out you have to kill her later, you can always hop back after you’re tougher. But as far as I know so far, you’re fine to just take the tablet and go.

Butch:

Like, right there? I found a waypoint about half way through, which is better than nothing, but it’ll still be a pain in the ass.

Game needs more waypoints.

Feminina:

No, not right there–the halfway through one was the only one we found. But, you know, at least it’s there in the cave.

And yeah, there’s often a fair bit of walking to get to places.

Butch:

Oh something else just occurred to me that I forgot about because of the overwhelming futility:

I met this chicken who was all “There’s a terrible bird! It makes this noise! It doesn’t even swoop down to see the bodies!”

The hell was that about? I was expecting a terrible monster but no.

Feminina:

Uh…I don’t know, man! That’s not a chicken I’ve met.

And believe me, I’m very diligent about talking to animals I meet. I don’t always remember Spirit Vision, but by the trembling gods, I talk to animals.

I’ll run around after them like a ninny: “wait up, squirrel! Wait up! I want to talk to you!”

Then it says something like “I’m looking for nuts. Bye!”

Glad I learned about that.

Butch:

Well, it was called a “canary,” but admitted to me it was just a chicken.

Canaries are too hard to animate.