Reviews

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition brings CRPG depth to consoles

When Lucious reviewed Divinity: Original Sin a year ago, he remarked that the game felt like there were a lot of patches and adjustments being made post-launch. He felt like there were a few rough edges, and that developer Larian wasn’t quite ‘done’ with the world they were looking to create. He also lavished heavy praise on the cooperative nature of the turn-based CRPG, calling it a “blissful purgatory.” Now, a year later, we see the release of Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, complete with over 1000 updates, balances, and adjustments to the original product. Sometimes time proves us right more than anything else.

Rather than rehash everything Lucious had to say in his review, I’m going to focus on the improvements in this “Enhanced Edition,” as well as the efficacy of those adjustments as they translate to a console controller. You might recall that I declared Diablo III’s Ultimate Edition the “King of Couch Co-Op” when I checked it out this time last year — Divinity: Original Sin would have a tough task ahead of it.

The game works very well in single player.

The game works very well in single player.

In point of fact, the game received over 13,000 updates (no, that isn’t a typo) since its launch a year ago — “Enhanced” hardly covers it. Adding new skills like wands, grenades, and dual wielding, new skills for friend and foe, rebalancing combat across the entire enterprise, and rebuilt quests just scratch the surface. Enemy encounters are rebalanced, the loot table has been reworked to ensure you find far less vendor trash past the intro areas of the game, your inventory can be sorted, and reworked UI elements are around every corner.

To accommodate a console controller, a radial menu not unlike what we saw in Diablo III or Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut makes an appearance. The left trigger handles party selection, and the right trigger allows you to access pretty much everything else. Inventory, skills, logs, and more can be reached with far less effort than I anticipated, given the complexity of the PC product. I was surprised at how easy of a translation it was, but I had a great idea in mind on how to truly test it — put it in the hands of somebody who has never even played an easy RPG, much less one of this level of depth. Surprisingly, Seth had little trouble with the interface, and after a few minutes was effective in combat, throwing barrels on traps, and ninja-looting equipment like a pro.

An online level of co-op, played from the couch.

An online level of co-op, played from the couch.

Graphically, DOSEE looks like the PC version pumped all the way to Ultra settings, but it isn’t a 1:1 port. Larian put in new lighting systems, literally hundreds of new animations, monster variations, and rebuilt textures everywhere. It seems like they touched every aspect of the game in one way or another over the last twelve months, bringing the whole world to life — something that felt lacking in the original release. The game runs seamlessly at 1080p and 30fps, and does so without wavering — impressive given all of the improvements brought to the table.

If the graphics received attention, the audio department got the royal treatment. Original Sin felt like tackling a novel with reams of lore awaiting you at every interaction. Now, every NPC is fully voiced, their dialogue elements brought to life. Voice talent including Alix Wilton Regan (Mass Effect, Forza Horizon, Dragon Age: Inquisition) and Alec Newman (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Killzone 3, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate) join a solid cast of actors and actresses to voice the mountains of text — 69,000 lines of it, in fact. For those keeping score, yes, that is more than Fallout 4.

Beyond these changes, there are some changes to the difficulty levels in Original Sin. A new mode entitled “Explorer” replaces the original easy difficulty, restricting the AI from using any sort of crowd-control spells, with the exception of boss encounters. Hard difficulty becomes “Tactician,” granting additional skills, powers, grenades, potions, and more to foes, bumping the difficulty well into the painful range. “Honour” is not for the faint of heart, offering the same sort of engagement level as Tactician, but with permadeath attached. You get one save, and it’s deleted in the case of a full party wipe. On an RPG this long, that’s quite the consequence!

Go ahead and cast the spell. What could go wrong?

Go ahead and cast the spell. What could go wrong?

Larian wasn’t keen on just retooling the mechanics of the game. They have also dug deep into the story elements of Original Sin, reworking several quests and balancing them. They also added an additional ending, new quests, and expanding the world with several new regions, but it’ll take me at least another 100 hours before I can really dig into that aspect of Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition. That said, so far so good.

If there is one aspect I was glad to see corrected, it was a somewhat painful inventory problem. If Player 1 has a key, and Player 2 is at the door to be unlocked, the key is now teleported into the pockets of Player 2, citing “magic pockets.” It sounds like such a minor thing, but in a game with split screen co-op, it is important.

While we are on the topic of split-screen co-op, it is very rarely done this well. Two players, at any time, can completely diverge from one another and continue on their own. This means one player can gather quests while the other sells vendor trash, each without disturbing the other. The only time this really becomes an issue is when both players decide to talk to NPCs. The voices begin to overlap and make it very difficult to distinguish what’s going on on either side of the screen. Each player has direct control over the camera, allowing them to rotate it 360 degrees. When the two players come together, the screen seamlessly melds back together and the AI-controlled camera takes over, creating a more cinematic feel.

The splitscreen experience really is seamless.

The splitscreen experience really is seamless.

If there is one persistent aspect of the Divinity series I’ve always enjoyed, it is the interplay of elements. If you throw down a barrel of oil, you can then set it on fire. Casting a rain spell on enemies has an incredible effect when a lightning spell is hurled their way.

It isn’t all sunshine and roses in DOSEE. The PC version is of the highest order, and there are only so many buttons on a PS4 controller. This means you’ll eventually have to start slogging through menus to find what you need. Given that this is a turn-based title, it’s not a huge threat, but it does slow the action down a little bit. When the environment requires a mouse-level of precision, you can press L3 and sweep the environment, but it is a solid reminder that nothing replaces mouse and keyboard. Despite the incredible amount of voice talent, there is also a great deal of voice repetition going on in the world as NPCs chatter about their day — unfortunately common for RPGs nowadays.

All of this said, the game joins a very short list of RPGs of this caliber that have made a successful transition to the console world. The UI changes are well-executed and translate a deep RPG into something accessible to the console market. If you own the PC version, you’ll get all of these enhancements for free. If you don’t have a gaming rig capable of handling it, or just want to enjoy the couch or online co-op with friends, it’s hard to argue with this fresh approach for the Divinity franchise. Welcome to the console world, Larian!

90

Excellent

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition

Review Guidelines

With over 13,000 changes to the base product, a graphical overhaul, and a bevy of UI additions, Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition improves on the original release in every way. There are a few hiccups in translation, but they are minor bumps in the road for this incredible RPG.

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