Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition will go down as one of the best RPGs of the generation. Rather than rest on their laurels and deliver a simple port to Xbox and PlayStation 4, Larian Studios have delivered massive updates, fixes, and quality of life improvements that make the Definitive Edition the perfect entry point for console gamers trying the game for the first time and PC diehards who missed the original release. D:OS2 was already a great RPG and now it’s even better. This is our review of Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition.
It was just short of a year ago that Catherine originally reviewed the game for our site. She goes over the ins and outs of the game and I would highly encourage you to give it a read to go over the basics. In this review, I’ll be focusing on what’s new to the Definitive Edition and what stood out to me as a console player.
If you’re completely new to the series, Divinity is a turn-based RPG steeped in the computer games of yore. The camera angle is isometric, perfect for the tactical and strategic elemental combat the series is known for. You’ll spend as much time exploring and getting to know the people of the world as you will slaying enemies, though, and in doing so discover one of the most engrossing long-form stories I’ve played in years. Since the world and its people react to your choices and even the characters you’re using to make them, you’ll find yourself quick saving and reloading and even starting all over again just to see how differently things can play out.
I was a huge fan of the original Divinity: Original Sin, but when it made its jump to console, something was lost in translation. The game was still a blast to play but its presentation suffered with huge dialogue boxes that took up too much of the screen, stripping you from the beautiful world they had created. It was easy for new players to feel overwhelmed, too, especially on console where players were less familiar with the mechanics of classic CRPGs.
With OS2, Larian has completely rectified this issue. Dialogue boxes now take up much less space, leaving you free to take in the scene unfolding before you. Getting your head wrapped around the events of the game’s introduction – and up to speed with the game’s mechanics – is also much easier thanks to an all-new tutorial deck on the prison barge you find yourself on upon waking. The opening sequences are gripping and mysterious; it had been long enough since playing the PC version that I had to get reacquainted with the controls and the new deck allowed me to focus on the story and action instead of puzzling out mechanics.
I played the game on Xbox One, and Larian did a great job of translating the experience to console. The UI has been refined for controller with easy access to all of your skills, menus, and journal. Original Sin 2 is the kind of RPG where you’ll be spending a good amount of time inside the UI reading tooltips and books, scouring your quest journal and managing the separate inventories for your party. There is simply a lot going on, so it’s especially impressive to see that they’ve done such a good job managing it.
This would be the work of any good port, but Larian made it their mission to address the issues their community brought forth and to expand the game on top of them. The journal has been fixed to make it clearer what you should be working toward at any given time. Fights have been re-balanced and adjusted and the rewards tweaked. Beginning at Act II, Larian reworked the gold and experience curves, altering the overall difficulty progression.
Perhaps most meaningfully, they’ve gone back and near completely reworked Act III and the epilogue. The City of Arx content has undergone significant rewrites with hours upon hours of re-recorded dialogue and made it more responsive to the decisions you’ve made throughout the campaign and to provide better closure to a number of story threads that they found lacking in the original release. A concern they’ve addressed, according to Larian, is that players were often unclear at the motivations of the villain or even themselves as a party and this week’s release is an answer to those concerns.
I wouldn’t know about the original release, having spent a total of two hours exploring the opening isle. What I do know is that my play-through felt clear and reactive to the things I was doing. I can’t speak to specific changes they’ve made outside of what they’ve shared in the development process, but I’d venture to say they were successful since I didn’t share the issues they were responding to. Playing through, the game felt cohesive even beyond the original Divinity: Original Sin.
The Definitive Edition also brings with it a brand new Story Mode. Unlike similarly-titled modes in other games, Story Mode doesn’t completely remove combat, it just makes it more forgiving. A constant criticism from series newcomers is just how difficult combat can be and I’d venture to say they’re right. Take a wrong turn into territory you’re not ready for and you’re likely to find yourself splayed on the ground in an oily, smoldering heap. In Story Mode, a mistake won’t end your play-through and will allow you to make significantly faster progress through the main campaign. It makes for a good way to begin your adventure and, as you come to grips with the game’s systems, you’re free to bump up the challenge whenever you like.
Combat in Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the most compelling and engrossing aspects of the entire game. Larian took the excellent elemental combat from Original Sin and added layers of strategy on top. Elevation is now a factor, making party placement and the use of terrain more important than ever before. Resistances are now broken into subcategories to make armor choice and party development more strategic. It adds a compelling layer of choices as you advance and try new equipment. Enemies can also pull off more advanced tactics than ever before, which is both frustrating and hilarious.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition joins the sparse ranks of games offering split-screen multiplayer. Being able to take on the campaign with your friends over the internet was always a key feature but being able to sit near a friend, work together and double-cross each other, makes for some of the most memorable RPG gameplay in years. Multiplayer is surprisingly free-form which makes it all the more open to exploitation with your friends.
If you’re into PVP, the Battle Arena is also open right off the bat allowing your to pit your turn-based merits against other players and AI.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition has become my favorite RPG of this console generation. It’s more than a simple port. Not only has Larian “consoleified” the experience far better than I thought possible, they’ve also reworked and enriched the base game to make it not only an excellent RPG but one of the best money can buy. It’s a large, sprawling game filled with people to meet, places to explore, and battles to puzzle out. If you missed the original release or have simply stepped away since launch, there’s never been a better time to dive in and see all that Rivellon has to offer – by yourself or with friends.
The code used for this review was provided by BANDAI NAMCO PR.
Compare to: Pillars of Eternity, Divinity: Original Sin, Baldur’s Gate