Published on September 14th, 2018 | by Nathan Misa
Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition Review
Summary: One of the best RPGs ever created makes it to consoles with a staggering amount of gareat new content.
A new RPG classic
In the modern gaming landscape, a Definitive Edition usually amounts to a year-later re-release with all DLC and patches to-date. This is not the case for Larian Studios, who have significantly raised the bar for Divinity: Original Sin II – Definitive Edition when it comes to value.
Divinity: Original Sin II received critical and commercial acclaim with its original PC-only release last year for its deep and interactive role-playing systems, isometric turn-based gameplay and well-written story, with few criticisms – a lack of content for a particular companion, a disjointed third act, and so on.
Larian Studios could have easily just released the usual ‘GOTY’ edition and patient console fans who have waited a year would still eagerly jump back into Rivellon, but with plenty of feedback and enough time on their hands, they have completely revamped sections of the game to address these criticisms, backed by dozens of hours worth of fresh content to experience for new and old players to enjoy.
To my delight and detriment, having so much additional content and features added to already extensive RPG package has meant Divinity: Original Sin II has once again taken over my spare time. It’s a one-of-a-kind RPG that’s utterly absorbing, immersive and entertaining in nearly every aspect – its characters, world-building, quests, combat, and many gameplay systems.
The sheer amount of new stuff added and quality-of-life improvements made is astounding. There’s a new tutorial and difficulty mode for players who preference the story over gameplay, a new physics engine and over 130,000 extra words of additional fully voiced dialogue in a game already filled with multi-layered characters and quests. On top of this, Larian re-wrote several portions of the game based on fan feedback, particularly the third Act and the storyline of dwarven companion Beast, and fine-tuned combat encounters further, giving long-term fans another reason to jump back in.
It’s not just story or gameplay elements that have received an overhaul, either. The clunky and confusing inventory menu and quest journal have been revamped so it’s a lot easier to know what you need to do next. Considering the amount of items and quests to keep track of, it’s no small feat.
For those unfamiliar, Divinity: Original Sin II – Definitive Edition puts you in the role of one of six pre-made characters, or ‘Origins’, with the option to create your own characters from the ground-up, customising their name, gender, race, abilities and ‘tags’ – traits that determine your unique dialogue options and how certain NPCs in the world react to your actions or presence.
As a avid RPG fan who usually likes creating my own custom avatar, this game is one of the few times I’ve preferred to play as and with pre-made characters. Selecting an Origin lets you experience unique quests, conversations and situations throughout the game only possible because you’re playing through their point-of-view, ensuring a crazy amount of replayability for future playthroughs.
The main cast and their personal quests are hands-down some of the best written and most interesting fantasy caricatures in the RPG genre. I chose to play as the arrogant Red Prince, tempering his snobby tendencies from his noble lizard lineage by choosing the path of redemption (he can also be played as an arse) alongside murderous lizard assassin Sebille and undead crackpot scholar Fane.
Your character leads a party of four throughout the story, set in the grimdark fantasy hellhole that is Rivellon, filled with pesky humans, cannibalistic elves, walking talking lizards and many more clever twists on the genre. Murderous magic hunters called Magisters have captured your party and hundreds more magic users, or ‘Sourcerers’ for violent rehabilitation at Fort Joy, and what follows is easily a 50+ hour adventure that revolves around ascension to godhood. Unlike the first game, the story is played straight with more emphasis on complex twists and delivers an epic main plot that does an amazing job of getting you invested with your character’s journey from start to finish.
The sequel’s dramatic tonal shift from jovial, not-so-serious murder mystery in the first game to grimdark journey to godhood won’t be for everyone, but I personally enjoyed the change. Larian’s trademark black comedy humour is still there, but the quality of the lore, quests and world-building has significantly improved thanks to the writers taking things a little more seriously. Backed by extensive (and much better) voice acting compared to the original and a narrator whose storytelling prowess makes the game feel like a tabletop adventure of yore, Divinity: Original Sin II has more than made up for the first game’s narrative short-comings.
One amazing feature the sequel carries over in full is multiplayer. You can play as both your character and companions fully solo – or with up to three real players. Like the first game, there’s full couch-co-op split-screen available. The sheer fun I had ruining my partner’s interactions with NPCs by moving random in-world objectives to trap them during conversations is reason alone to play with friends. The controls also feel well optimised to suit gamepads, and while it’s a bit slower to navigate the massive inventory and equipment systems than on PC, it still works well.
Aside from the fantastic narrative, characters and multiplayer, the core turn-based RPG combat gameplay in Divinity: Original Sin II – Definitive Edition is as solid as ever. Almost every battle in the game feels hand-crafted rather than random, with a staggering amount of ways to approach fights. The series has stood out for its complex, highly interactive environmental combat mechanics, which lets you combine magical and natural elements such as fire, ice, electricity, poison, teleportation and telekenis to manipulate the environment and devastate foes with the right timing and tactical placement. Strategy is necessary to win on higher difficulty levels, but rushing in with sword and board, or having your rogues and archers take out the enemy the traditional way is completely viable.
Visually, the Definitive Edition looks and runs fantastic on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Larian Studios clearly put in a lot of work to ensure the console release was well optimised and not just a standard PC port; the revamped physics engine, snazzier environmental effects and more detailed textures all made it over intact, on top of High Dynamic Range (HDR) and 4K resolution output on PlayStation 4 Pro (dynamic) and Xbox One X (native), though the console framerate is limited to a solid 30fps.
The Final Verdict
Divinity: Original Sin II – Definitive Edition is the best way for PC, PS4 and Xbox One players to experience Larian Studios’ masterpiece. The transition to consoles has been a smooth one, and PC players who own the original get rewarded with a free upgrade – meaning there’s no excuse to not jump into Rivellon for another playthrough. The Definitive Edition adds so much more content and quality-of-live improvements to an already great base game, it’s a must-play for isometric RPG aficionados everywhere who value a crazy amount of complexity, interactivity and replayability in their role-play.
Primary Format – Games – Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Game Genre – Role-playing game
Rating – MA15+
Game Developer – Larian Studios
Game Publisher – Bandai Namco Entertainment