Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition Review
This brand new Divinity: Original Sin 2 package shows Larian Studios know how to polish a diamond.
When we first reviewed Divinity: Original Sin 2 in 2017, we gave it a 9.6 for Amazing. Here’s what we said then:
Divinity: Original Sin 2 may have been designed in the spirit of decades-old RPGs like Baldur’s Gate 2, but that legacy serves only as a foundation for the expansive game Larian has built on top of it. Few other RPGs allow such a wide range of flexibility while also supporting rewarding combat and a powerful story. This will be remembered as one of the greats. – Leif Johnson
Now, the Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition refines and retools some elements of the first game that didn’t quick stick as a free update for owners of the original on PC, and ushers that excellent isometric experience onto consoles for the first time. And that translation to console is skillfully executed, delivering one of the greatest RPGs in recent memory with near-lossless quality.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the most beautiful looking isometric RPGs and that hasn’t changed.
Technically, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the most beautiful looking isometric RPGs and that hasn’t changed. Quality does depend on the power of your box though, with visuals popping on both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro – especially in HDR. While the standard Xbox One and PS4 are no slouches either, there are noticeable dips in framerate in graphically intensive areas, and all consoles infrequently jerk when the big fireworks go off mid-battle. But all things considered, the Xbox One X is consistently the shiniest, best performing console version.
Of the number of positive changes introduced in the Definitive Edition by developer Larian Studios, most will likely go unnoticed unless you’ve invested dozens of hours into the original. Things like fleshed out character stories and interactions, a no-pressure story mode, reworked and brand new fights, character pacing, a new comprehensive arena mode and more round out this Definitive Edition, and I’m most excited to see the largely rewritten third act when I finally get back to it.
But the make-it-or-break-it element of the Definitive Edition on consoles is jamming an entire keyboard’s-worth of features onto the limited buttons of a controller. Fortunately, Divinity: Original Sin 2 on a gamepad is impressively intuitive. Through a series of radial and drop-down menus you’re only ever a few button presses away from doing whatever you want. While there are some few rough edges you don’t find on the PC, I’m still surprised by just how seamless traditionally complex mechanics like dividing your party, organizing your inventory, or managing your action bar perform on Larian’s controller layout, with the area search feature for easy looting being my favorite consideration.
However, as expected, cursor precision on the controller isn’t as spot-on as with a mouse. Larian has included settings to cope – like a tactical camera and character highlights to help differentiate friend from foe – but I still occasionally found myself accidently attacking the ground or buffing an enemy instead of my character. But these one-off inconveniences are the exception to the rule – Divinity Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition works brilliantly on a gamepad.
Fantasy Friend and Foe
That intuitive translation extends to the two-player local, and four-player online cooperative modes as well. Locally, the screens seamlessly split and rejoin based on proximity, and swapping ownership of characters is a breeze. And though I spent over 100 hours playing Divinity 2’s original release all by my lonesome, I can definitely see myself easily making the transition to re-discovering Divinity: Original Sin 2 with good friends in a cooperative setting.
Finally, the new arena is what an armchair strategist like me has been wanting. Divinity Original Sin 2 has one of the best isometric-RPG tactical fighting systems, possibly ever, and it’s a consistent joy to see what kind of explosive or sly strategies you can employ. The arena mode – supporting one-to-four teams of one-to-four characters – is an endless pool of that fun as you craft strategies from the 16 playable characters pulled from Divinity lore. Facing other players online or locally, or just testing my mettle against the AI in increasingly hopeless odds is something I still haven’t grown tired of over a dozen matches later.