Larian’s magical RPG gets its Source code buffed.
Divinity:OriginalSin2 gets Definitive.
On the face of it, the idea that Divinity: Original Sin II might need an update seems absurd. Larian’s RPG follow-up was so dazzling, so ambitious, so gosh-darned generous the first time around, that it feels petty to complain about the odd rough edge here and the odd poorly balanced combat scenario there.
The truth, however, is that’s understating things a bit. Although massively outweighed by its scope and depth, Original Sin II was quite a flawed game. Its open-ended adventure was often hard to parse, with a confusing quest system and a lack of player guidance. Its long and winding road could also be ferociously tough, partly because it was easy to wander into a fight you were unprepared for, and partly because some of its encounters were harder than a golem’s kidney stone.
It’s such issues the newly released Definitive Edition seeks to address, making this huge and beautifully crafted RPG that little bit easier to enjoy. For now, let’s focus on the more general updates, which reveal themselves right from the start menu.
As I mentioned, Original Sin II was criticised for its stern challenge. Even the game’s easy mode – known as Explorer mode – could prove demanding at times. To address this, Larian has introduced a new Story difficulty level. This lowers enemy stats while increasing those of your party. But it also makes two more specific changes.
Firstly, it grants the player the Resurrect skill, letting you revive dead party members at any time, rather than having to purchase resurrect scrolls. In addition, it adds a Flee skill, that lets players escape from combat scenarios without having to reload the game – handy if you wander into a fight that’s too high level for you.
Regardless of what difficulty you choose to play the game on, Larian has introduced several quality-of-life improvements. A new tutorial deck has been added to the ship you begin your adventure on, designed to guide you through the systems before launching you into the game proper (experienced players can skip this by climbing a ladder).
In addition, the Definitive Edition substantially alters the UI, most notably the journal. In the vanilla game, the journal was, frankly, not fit for purpose. Its layout was poorly arranged, listed in a diary format that prioritised what you had done over what you had to do. Any information is provided about current quests was often cryptic and hard to parse.
Bundle of Joy
The Definitive Edition reorganises the journal, breaking down each quest in a clearer fashion. For example, the game’s prologue involves escaping from a prison called Fort Joy, which you can approach in multiple ways. Previously, the player was largely left to figure this out. Now, however, the journal notes down each route you uncover as a new path, and links it clearly to the relevant quest. Not only does this make progressing easier, it also explicates the wide range of quest solutions Original Sin II offers. It even has the subquest ‘Follow Your Own Path’, indicating that the set quests aren’t the only ways to escape from Fort Joy.
Clarity and consistency of challenge were by far Original Sin II’s biggest shortcomings, and the Definitive Edition does a lot to address these. But there’s new content, too. Larian has added over 100,000 lines of dialogue, and re-recorded large chunks of the existing dialogue, particularly in areas where the tone felt a little off.
In particular, Larian has focused on updating the final third of the game, which takes place in the city of Arx. Arx was regarded as the weakest of OSII’s acts, featuring fewer quests and being less well interconnected. There are far too many changes to mention here. But broadly, Larian has iterated upon the entire third act, going through it step-by-step and adding new NPCs, locations, events and quests. This includes a huge battle with the kraken that appears in Arx harbour, and much greater detail added to the pilgrim camp you pass through on your way to the city.
All-told, the Definitive Edition is a thorough update to an already-superb game. There’s one downside, though. Existing saves are not compatible with the Definitive Edition, so if you want to explore the renovated Arx in all its glory, you’ll need to clear another 70 hours in your gaming schedule. Looking at it another way, however, it’s an excuse to roll up a new party in the best roleplaying game since The Witcher 3.
All-told, the Definitive Edition is a thorough update