Larian Studios took everyone with a surprise when they released the first Divinity Original Sin. It was during the peak of the Kickstarter craze and the game was partly funded through Kickstarter. The end product was a critically acclaimed turn-based RPG with great storytelling and exceptional writing. They have now managed to surpass their previous best work with the sequel to Divinity Original Sin and then improved it even further with a free update that is essentially the definitive way to experience the game.
Those who mostly game on PC will be already familiar with Divinity Original Sin 2, as it launched in late 2017 for PC. The game has been finally brought to the current generation consoles including PS4 and Xbox One with an update that terms it as the definitive edition. According to the developers, this free update adds almost 30 hours of new content, makes plenty of quality of life change, and revamp the third act which faced some criticism by the fans. As a result, this has ended up being an improved iteration of one of the best RPG released this generation.
We have already covered the original release of Divinity Original Sin 2, so this review will go into detail about the console specific changes made to deal with the transition to a different control scheme. As a CRPG that was originally designed for PC, Divinity Original Sin 2 holds up surprisingly well on Xbox One X. It has now added support for HDR which has transformed the look of the game. Fire and other post-processing effects look far more vibrant. The background and environment dazzle with its colorful look, and the characters look great despite the limitations of the top-down view.
At the start of the game, you can either pick from a pre-defined set of characters with their own attributes and skills or create a custom character from scratch. There are a total of 6 unique type of characters and you can even add your own variation to them. These characters are not just player avatars but will be given their own motivation and backstory in the beginning so you can feel a better attachment to them. The story takes place several thousand years after the events of the first game in the world of Rivellon so even if you haven’t played it, the narrative is easy to get into for newcomers.
The story was surprisingly good as your character is essentially an outcast in this world. They get labeled as a “Sourcerer” who can wield the power of Source. This can allow them to create rifts in the Void, which is a place that separates demons from this world. The game begins with the capture of those creatures who can wield its power. After capture, they get fitted with collars suppressing their ability to use magic and then sent to a prison colony to contain their power. The opening deals with the escape from this prison and sets up the rest of the narrative nicely.
Despite the efforts of the developers, it is understandable that the UI is incredibly confusing for those who have never played a CRPG, or the original game in this case. It offers the player many choices and the way to approach each of them feels limited due to the gamepad’s restriction. It worked better on PC because you could use many of the keyboard shortcuts or mouse controls to quickly give commands, but in the case of consoles, the controls feel a bit slow, however, this is something that usually happens with games relying heavily on multiple forms of controls or shortcuts.
Thankfully there is a new user-friendly tutorial right in the beginning that will walk you through the basics like picking up objects, searching around the environment or fighting enemies. It is a fairly basic tutorial but gives the player a better idea of what to expect from the game’s combat and exploration mechanics. Even if the tutorial is a good step forward, there is still so much to learn in Divinity Original 2. You have a multitude of abilities and attack moves along with skills that you can use in various situations. Figuring it out is difficult and slow in the start but it is also half of the fun.
There is so much content crammed in this definitive release of Divinity Original Sin 2. Multiplayer support includes 4 players local and online co-op. I still prefer to experience an RPG alone the first time but for those who have a partner to play through the game, it is good to have a choice. The story follows the formula of a pen and paper RPG. I am not a fan of this type of design in most games but here in Divinity Original Sin 2, it works because of the writing which is engaging and thoughtful, so it grabs your attention. The character attributes also play a role in how a conversation plays out and might give you more options to persuade in a conversation.
I was a fan of the exploration and the choice-based story but there was one thing that didn’t manage to grab much of my attention. It wasn’t that great for the original PC release but I feel like the combat is even worse now that the controls feel restricted. It is a turn-based combat system that uses action points or AP as they call it. You can see the turn order of your party and the enemy at the top of the screen and then decide the best course of action. Elemental attacks will play a key role during the combat. You can also use the environment to your advantage, e.g. casting fire in an area which has oil to deal more damage, or shocking the water. There are plenty of ways to experiment here and It is fun to figure out and use the environment to your advantage.
Performing an action on consoles will take you more time than on PC. There is a hot bar to add shortcuts for some of the tasks but there is a limit to how many things you can put on it at a time, so you will have to scroll to a different page with shoulder buttons. This comes as an extra hurdle along with the need for a button press just to read every description. The other issue is with the text size, which still feels a little too small despite playing the game on a 4K screen. It makes it harder to enjoy the lore and read an item or ability description. I did like how the shoulder trigger resulted in a dial menu that lets you easily go into equipment or inventory. The ability to save anywhere aside from the autosave and the quick load feels like a much-needed feature that is present in the console release.
This is a fantastic port of an already amazing RPG that suffers from some physical limitations of the controls, but still, the alternative offered here do a good enough job that the experience won’t be ruined that much. As I tested this game on an Xbox One X, it looks sharp and clear on the screen due to the native 4K resolution, and with the great HDR implementation, this is easily the best looking top-down RPG on consoles.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition Review (Xbox One)
Game Reviewed on: Xbox One
Game description: The eagerly anticipated sequel to the award-winning RPG. Gather your party. Master deep, tactical combat. Join up to 3 other players - but know that only one of you will have the chance to become a God.
Final Score - 9/109/10
Leave it to Larian Studios to make an already amazing game into an even better product. Divinity Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition is the epitome of a western role-playing game that will claim this place for a long time.