(I was going to add this to the "20 hour" topic but thought it deserved its own topic)
I've been playing for some 5 hours which I'd consider a "first impressions" (ironic since many FPS these days only last that long
) so here's a list of the good & bad aspects:
THE "FEELING" OF THE GAME
When I first started the game, I felt that there was something wrong. It took a little while to realise that this was due to a lot of animations feeling jerky: the water, smoke, etc. all felt like more than half its frames were missing. Larian already said they would add a slider to increase the speed for these animation though so hopefully it will get fixed soon. It's a bad first impression since you immediately run into a large stream where it's very obvious.
The controls are very fluent and the engine is very smooth. Your character is very responsive and while the jumping is a bit odd (especially when you try to jump on top of certain items), it's still good enough for me.
The shadows and LOD need some work though - shadows appear when you approach a tree which seems pretty jarring. The same goes with 3D models which get "dumbed down" (i.e. a low-poly version is used to decrease stress on your system) far too quickly. A statue, for example, went from looking good to very poor in just 50 feet.
Also, the grass looks very very odd in places. As if someone glued grass mustaches all over the place. This is caused by using strips of grass as sprites instead of actually make the grass 3D. Nitpicking it may be, but it spoils the otherwise great looking forests.THE COMBAT
I love being a hunter in most games so I went for the bow. You can't manually aim though - you got to wait for the game to put a pointer above an enemy before you can even hope to hit them. This I find a bit disappointing since you can't "lock on" to an enemy. If another enemy moves closer, you'll automatically target him which can become frustrating. Having said that, the combat is pretty fun and if you're creative, you can outsmart your opponents which is always good!
So far, combat is not that hard if you play it smart: don't run ahead but draw them towards you.THE MUSIC, SOUND & SPEECH
The atmosphere of the game is great and while the music is nowhere near the brilliance of that of Divine Divinity, it's more than good enough. While DD's music really added to the game, D2's music really accompanies it. Two different styles but both work.
The sound is good although I get the impression that the ambient noise is of higher quality than a lot of the "action" sounds which sometimes sound muted. I believe this is due to the use of stock sounds while speech and music is, of course, specifically made for the game (the pig sound I recognise of other games and I'm sure there's many others).
The speech is very good although this is no guarantee for the English version of the game! But unlike Oblivion, where every character you meet sounds like it's all the same person doing different voices, this really sounds like every character was voiced by a different person.THE INTERFACE & CONTROLS
The interface is actually very very simple. It's fun to use and despite my limited knowledge of German, the quality of the interface means I can still quickly navigate it AND know what every icon means thanks to mini-clips that show what each skill does. This really is a nice touch.
You don't need many keys to play this game either. Some may find this to be a bad thing since it means not that many options but it's not that bad. I do miss the 'right click' system from DD though. Now I have to press "1" or "2" to use a skill which means moving my hands off the movement keys which is not ideal. They should have let you cycle the skills using the mouse wheel with the right or middle button using the selected skill. In the heat of combat, this would have worked better.ITEMS, GOODIES, LOOT
For me, this is always important. I don't want an RPG where you always pick up the same 5 items. Like in DD, you can pick up tons of different stuff: plants, fruit, gold, gems, weapons, meat, pieces of armour, jewelry, books, spells, etc. The game is not stingy either and with my bow I can easily shoot all crates and barrels from a distance to uncover any nice stuff.
Also important to note: loot is RANDOM. Yes, even in chests and barrels. Not always of course but standard barrels and chests may contain gold first but on a reload, you can suddenly find gems or armour in there! It's a nice tough since it means you never know what you'll get!THE LOCATIONS
This is hard for me to say because I just started out but so far, the game feels a bit too ... cramped. I'm always surrounded by virtual walls - mountains, cliffs, hedges, walls, etc. DD had a large open world to explore but so far, this is a lot more than the first Gothic which suffered from the same problem. I hope I'll get access to a more open world later (in fact, if anyone knows, let me know!)
Having said that, the locations do look good so far.
You can use shrines to travel between points and no, you don't need a scroll this time to use them although I did find a teleporter that asked for a password so I dunno what's up with that yet. But it's good you can use these shrines from the start.
So there you have it. I hope this is of some use to you and I made sure not to spoil anything concerning the actual game