Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition Review
When Divinity: Original Sin 2 first arrived last year, we praised it for its high quality in spite of its enormous scope. Arriving as a free new update for owners of the original title or as a retail version for Xbox One and Playstation 4 owners, Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is an even more polished and tenderly developed version of an already fantastic title. While the first game also came to consoles following its initial PC release, it felt a bit rough around the edges; menus were a chore to navigate and even movement felt unresponsive and sluggish. Larian Studios have poured their heart, then, into making sure this iteration is the absolute best a CRPG can play on a console, and I’d be hard-pressed to disagree.
The original Divinity: Original Sin 2 was immediately heralded as an RPG fan’s dream come true. In true Larian fashion, the game plays out like an elaborate campaign of Dungeons & Dragons, only instead of railroading players, the DM follows the “yes, and” rule of improv at every turn. Creativity is not only highly encouraged, but necessary to take advantage of every facet of the game’s mechanics in order to overcome an initially steep difficulty curve. Teleport spells can be abused to retrieve chests from far off cliff-sides, choke points can funnel enemies into deadly soups of elemental surfaces, and exploding barrels can be hoarded and dropped at will for an effective solution to most any problem.
The experimentation and player freedom of Divinity will always be my favorite aspect of it. It truly feels like a game where you can roleplay, instead of just playing a backstory-laden protagonist according to the game’s strictly serious narrative. How you choose to take on quests free-form in both dialogue and mechanics, and persuasion (coupled with other skills) is an invaluable tool for solving problems nonviolently. If you’re so inclined, even talking to animals can give way to entire storylines, quests, and hints about the world. There’s a remarkable amount of depth in even the sidest of side NPCs, and there are plenty of surprises waiting for players willing to exhaust the voice boxes of everyone in town.
Speaking of speaking, alongside the newly revamped console controls (which I’ll get to in a minute), Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition features over 100,000 words of new or re-recorded dialogue. While much is used to address some complaints with the end-game narrative, I was shocked to find new lines and minor alterations as early as the first act. Overall, this new dialogue helps flesh out the already lush world even further, and gives more foreshadowing to later events. The events of Divinity: Original Sin 2 can be confusing, to say the least. These changes work wonders in streamlining the story, and the Journal has also been neatly organized and greatly parsed down from its previous iteration, meaning following along is easier than ever.
Now, to the meat and potatoes of this edition: how does it play on consoles? While I did experiment with a controller on the original PC release, it felt less-than-ideal to navigate menus and (especially) inventories. These problems have been largely addressed, with inventories being laid out side-by-side instead of as a scrolling list. The saving grace of this system, and perhaps the best addition in the entire release, is the “select multiple” option when navigating your bags. If I want to send every elemental arrowhead and hand grenade in the game to my ranger, I can just swoop them up in one broad stroke and plop them into their inventory. Genius.
Things are slightly less ideal when navigating the battlefield, however. There was a distinct lack of what I’ll call “hit highlights,” for lack of a better term. For example, if my warrior was about to absolutely decimate everyone within a 3 meter radius, and my mage was 2.999 meters away, the game wasn’t too keen on making it clear. I recall the PC release having a distinct highlight for everyone in the way of a queued attack, and I wish this made its way to the new release. The frequency of when I went full-ham on a squishy spell-slinger a gnat’s diameter within my attack radius was embarrassingly high.
Other than this minor quibble, Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition plays like an absolute dream on PlayStation 4. Camera panning is smooth as butter (something I can’t say about the PC version) and movement feels responsive and tight. This is good too, because rather than rely on pathfinding to navigate a proverbial labyrinth of cursed fire and miasma, you’ll be doing it all yourself. When zooming in, the world’s details shine to life, and there’s an overhead view for better planning attacks like backstabs or group attacks.
Somehow, the world of Divinity feels even more engaging when traveling in real time. It may be a little more difficult to select items from the ground, but walking into a new dungeon or town instead of just clicking it feels more engaging and mysterious. Plus, there’s an area search function, much like the first game. Just hold down X to search an increasing radius automatically, and choose items from a menu you’d like to interact with. Each time I found myself craving a new control option, I found an equivalent with enough fiddling. A new tutorial opens the game, and demonstrates these new features splendidly.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is more Divinity. It’s bigger, better, more polished, and runs as smooth as butter. No amount of necrofire tanked the framerate, and once I got the hang of the controls I never found myself wanting for a mouse. If you’ve been waiting to experience a CRPG on a console, look no further.
This review is based on the Playstation 4 version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Larian Studios.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition may be the best representation of a CRPG on consoles to date, and is by far one of the best role-playing experiences currently available on any platform. Larian have outdone themselves yet again, and their love shines through every outmatched encounter, every failed persuasion, and every dead Magister.