In the Play This Next column, Man of Many takes a look at a great new or recently released game that may have slipped under your radar. Given the sheer quality of content available on consoles and the near-limitless potential of PC, it’s easy to overlook an amazing game in favour of the latest hit. For every Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, there’s another game equally worthy of attention, and we make a case for why you should play it and where you can find it.
Last year Divinity: Original Sin 2 was released on PC to great critical and fan acclaim. The single-player and co-op RPG is currently sitting on a healthy 93% Metacritic average. Fast forward 12 months and the lauded title finally makes its way to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the form of a Definitive Edition that’s packed with loads of new features.
We’re talking adjusted story arcs including significant overhauls to the third act, around 150,000 new and rewritten words, redesigned areas and dungeons, improved visual effects and performance, new combat challenges and an overhauled Arena mode to name a few. Best of all, if you’re a PC player who already owns the game, you can upgrade to the Definitive Edition free of charge. Nice!
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is a dark fantasy epic operating in a similar vein to Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, The Witcher and so on. Set in the impressively-realised world of Rivellon, you play as a “sourcerer” who has been arrested, detained and deported to Fort Joy, where you will be ‘cured’ of your source affliction.
Meanwhile, Rivellon is being invaded by monstrous creatures from beyond the Void, which may or may not be your fault. At Fort Joy, You work to form a posse of diverse, yet like-minded prisoners and plot your escape. Ultimately, you wind up on a grand quest travelling along the coast, accruing enough power to hold back the void.
From its overarching plot to save Rivellon to interacting with passing townsfolk, Divinity’s story and world-building are some of the finest you will find in gaming. The plot gets dark, comedic, political and romantic without ever feeling contrived. There’s always something interesting, entertaining or necessary to learn from talking to the hundreds of NPCs and animals scattered throughout the world. Yes. You can even have a yarn with the animals.
And if that’s not immersive enough for you, search desks, bookshelves and occasionally corpses for documents that further expand Divinity’s story and lore. It all depends on how much time you’re willing to dedicate to the one game.
Gameplay is reminiscent of classic isometric RPGs like Baldur’s Gate 2 and Neverwinter Nights, also the more recent Pillars of Eternity. Be sure to zoom-in frequently to appreciate the attention to detail that would otherwise go unnoticed. While you’re free to explore the open world, combat is tactical and turn-based. Each of your four party members has limited action points per turn, meaning planning and strategising during each battle is essential to your success.
Create a character from scratch or select one of the six pre-made characters and alter their appearance to your liking. It’s highly recommended that you choose a pre-made character as each of the six has a backstory and personalised quests. The remaining pre-made characters will fill-out your party later in the game. Interact with them throughout to learn their story and activate personal quests. What’s interesting is party members won’t always see eye-to-eye, meaning what’s good for one character could have a negative impact on another. Just like in real life.
Like all great RPGs, Divinity: Original Sin 2 encourages you to personalise the hell out of every system. Select your armour, skillsets, weapons and upgrade abilities to suit your playstyle. Same goes for dialogue. Charm, persuade, buy or threaten your way out of almost every situation.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 encourages you to think outside of the box. Sure, you can always follow the quest markers. Or maybe your persuade skill is high enough and you can trick a guard into unlocking a door, leading you straight to your objective. Maybe you sneak past them and pick the lock, or perhaps you kill all the guards, steal their keys and walk through. There are multiple ways to complete each task the game throws at you. Some creative solutions feel like you’re cheating the game’s systems, these usually involve the teleportation gloves, but it’s just a testament to the game’s experimental design. Trial and error are key. Just be sure to quick-save before you follow through with any of your bold decisions.
Overall, you’re looking at around 50-60 hours of gameplay, and that can be easily doubled if you want to see everything on offer. Once the credits have rolled, the additional game modes can provide endless entertainment.
Game Master mode bridges the gap between tabletop role-playing and video games. It empowers you and up to four players to tell stories through custom worlds and scenarios of your own creation. Game Master even adds dice rolls for the traditional D&D experience. Arena is the multiplayer mode where you and up to three other players battle in turn-based combat in bite-sized arenas, selecting from a list of predefined heroes.
Divinity 2 isn’t perfect. There are occasional glitches, which are commonplace in RPGs of this scope. Still frustrating though. Hopefully, developer Larian Studios will continue to patch the game over the coming months.
That said, Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is a blast. With the looming release of Marvel’s Spiderman, Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2, Divinity 2 could potentially slip under most console gamer’s radars. That should be considered a crime against humanity. At least add this game to your “to play” pile before you’re caught up in holiday 2018’s big releases. You can thank me later.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is available now on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Man of Many received a copy of the game courtesy of the publisher