"As a newcomer to the series, I was scared when I finally got my hands on the game, but Larian Studios have put a lot of time and effort into some excellent quality of life changes to make sure the game isn't as overwhelming as its initial release."
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a masterpiece; just take it from us.
. Dubbed one of the best games of 2017, it blew everyone away with its outstandingly dense world and rich lore, inspiring players to interact with everyone and adventure for hundreds and hundreds of hours. Larian Studios, however, are perfectionists, and they wanted to bring this amazing experience to everyone as well as make some much-needed enhancements to ensure the game was accessible to new players and fresh for old eyes. Divinity: Original Sin 2 — Definitive Edition is just that.
At Bandai Namco's E3 showcase, the team were clearly enthusiastic, inviting the crowd to "go on an adventure" with them. While the core game is still the same, this Definitive Edition has not lost any of its lustre in its transition to consoles. It looks and sounds gorgeous, and the world of Rivellon is full of colour and character. The team walked us through the beginning of our journey, showing us the character creation screen and introducing us to the Origin characters: characters who have purpose in the story, but who you are also able to control and experience their adventure for yourself. There are 6 of these, and the 5 you don't choose will still be present within the game, and still have their own stories to share.
As a newcomer to the series, I was scared when I finally got my hands on the game, but Larian Studios have put a lot of time and effort into some excellent quality of life changes to make sure the game isn't as overwhelming as its initial release. The demo build took us through the first section of the game. After picking my character, the Red Prince — a fire-breathing, hot-headed lizard — my partner and I awoke on a ship bound for Fort Joy. With no idea of where we were going, we scoped around the ship, talking to characters and making decisions. Although it was a lot to absorb in only half an hour, this was where I started to see where Larian Studios had made tweaks to enhance the overall experience.
The first, and most important change is the user interface. With any console port of a PC game, the controls need to be accessible, and the team have achieved this by tidying up the interface. The turn-based combat helps with this, allowing players to adjust their character's skill set while also giving advance players the chance to come up with the best strategy for beating their enemies. It's up to you whether you prefer to overwhelm them with sheer force, or take advantage of elements in the environment. One common complaint with Divinity: Original Sin 2 was that the controls were a little bit awkward, and while this is still an issue in the Xbox One version I tested, the relaxed pace of the battles and the story allowed me to ease in over time.
Apart from the controls and UI, the game's menus also received some welcome tweaks. The Journal, where your quests are stored, has been completely rewritten to ensure each objective is clearly explained. In other old-school RPGs, I found myself easily getting lost or relying on vague hints to find out what I needed to do next, but this simplicity allowed me to breeze across maps and find each quest objective easily. It makes the game so much more accessible and highlights the amount of work Larian Studios have put into this enhanced port, even in such small areas.
If you're a returning player and are worried there won't be anything new to experience, think again — many of the game's scenarios have been entirely rewritten. One particular bone of contention for players were the sections set in the city of Arx, and this entire section of the game has been completely overhauled to address player feedback; no small feat for a game that contains over 1 million words. This section of the game contains over 40 hours of gameplay alone, so there's more than enough for everyone to sink their teeth into and re-experience. And Fort Joy, once a tutorial level poised to be completed within half-an-hour, has been built upon and improved to extend over 20 hours.
Larian Studios told us at the event that there are over 45 pages of patch notes to go with Divinity: Original Sin 2 — Definitive Edition, and going by the plethora of small tweaks I've seen, I can absolutely believe it. The team are a dedicated and passionate bunch who have crafted a wonderful game and want everyone to revel in the world of Rivellon. This version of Divinity: Original Sin 2 looks likely to do that: from the combat, to the script and the story to the world, there's no corner that hasn't been improved upon, and I've become hugely excited for this game. If you're looking for a deep, dense adventure at the end of the summer holiday, pick up the Definitive Edition of this game on August 31st — you're in for a treat.