Divinity: Original Sin II – Definitive Edition E3 Impression 2
For a newcomer to Larian Studios’ Divinity: Original Sin II like myself, now is the perfect time to become immersed in the epic RPG. After speaking with Michael Douse, Director of Publishing at Larian Studios, we know that not only is the former PC-exclusive making its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this summer, but the studio, who was always planning a console release somewhere down the line, has used the extra time since its 2017 release as well as critical feedback to implement a number of tweaks and improvements that console gamers will be happy about.
For a game that most players experienced using a keyboard-and-mouse control scheme, the move to traditional gamepads has been surprisingly well-implemented. With the pull of a trigger, radial menus pop up to allow access to the inventory, character stats, game options, and so on. The isometric view lets players move characters with one thumb stick, the camera with the other, and contextually interact with highlighted objects by, while holding down a button on the controller brings up a full list of interaction choices, for example choosing between moving or opening a box.
Of course, there have been more improvements beyond the mandatory control scheme adaptation. Veteran Divinity: Original Sin players will be happy to hear that the balance between magical and physical armor has been greatly adjusted, making late-game encounters with powerful enemies more manageable. New fights and individual story beats have been added throughout the campaign. Further, the development team, being unhappy with aspects of the game’s final act, has had sections of it rewritten and revoiced entirely.
Though it’s called the Definitive Edition, the console game, like its PC counterpart, will not have any DLC released nor a Collector’s Edition, which the PC version did have. Instead, it will include the aforementioned tweaks and changes, as well as two-player split-screen couch co-op, and an online four-player mode. One of the few concessions made because of the jump to console controllers is the removal of Game Master mode, which let one player act as a dungeon master and run a group of friends through an original adventure (though Michael did make the concession of turning this into a “not yet,” with absolutely no implied future promise).
Playing a game like Divinity: Original Sin II on a crowded convention show floor blindly makes it a difficult one to gauge; the game is so text-heavy, both on a narrative and tutorial level, and the play window so limited that one often simply fast-forwards through the text to experience some gameplay. Let alone the fact that a few minutes isn’t enough to even scratch the surface of what kind of story may be on offer here. As my character came to onboard a ship heading for distant shores, wearing a slave collar that heralded her impending future as one of misery and despair, I was immediately thrust right into the middle of what seemed to be an engaging tale.
The graphics were crisp and the controller interface extremely intuitive, and luckily I had a guide with me pointing me in the right direction, so it was easy to jump right in. More than that, I appreciated the fact that combat was turn-based, lending a sense of order to what could otherwise become a mess of menu-laden chaos. Choosing Sebille, one of the game’s pre-made character builds, making her a witch, and equipping her with a deadly dagger looted from my would-be captors, even a newbie like me was able to lend a hand in combat once our group of two had escaped their below-decks imprisonment. We chose this as a good time to put an end to things, but even that brief stint was enough to leave me with a good impression, making sure I’ll return when Xbox One and PlayStation 4 receive the game on August 31, 2018.