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Divinity: Original Sin already won accolades when the open-world fantasy RPG launched last fall on PC, but Larian Studios promises a new Enhanced Edition will have a substantial amount of new content, couch co-op, three new modes, new styles of play, complete dialog voice acting, new post-ending content, story changes, a mid-game revamp, a thousand player-suggested improvements, and probably a partridge in a pear tree.
We might be making that last one up. Maybe. (Send us your screen shots.)
What we’re not making up: The new version will be available from Larian and publishers Focus Home Interactive on consoles. Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition will arrive “when it’s ready, we’re hoping this year” on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, MacOS, Linux, and SteamOS.
If you already own the game, you’ll get the new one free as a separate, new title in your Steam or Good Old Games list. The company’s still working on figuring out how to do that for Mac owners on the App Store. If you don’t own it yet, they’re not talking about the price, but we all can make educated guesses.
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We chatted with Larian founder Swen Vincke about the details. The new edition will be announced later today.
“There’s quite a lot actually. We took in our hands the entire game, and just threw out everything we didn’t like, and then looked at where there were still holes, and added content in there,” he said. The new stuff:
Local co-op with automatic split screen
“It’s really something we had ambitions for from the very beginning,” Vincke said. “It does something you don’t see a lot any more — in fact, I’ve never seen it in a console game before — where it goes into split screen when you’re going on separate parts of the world.
“If you’ve played Original Sin, you know you can go anywhere you want separately from your party member, so you can still do that on console. It’s really cool to see.”
Three new modes
The game will add three new modes, two of which Vincke discussed in our interview. The new Hardcore Mode won’t just turn up monster health or damage, he said.
“We announced in the past that we were going to put into a hardcore more that pretty much replaced, by hand, every single encounter. And that’s exactly what we’ve done,” he said. “We’ll talk about it more in the coming months, where we’ll show exactly how far we went with it. But we went really far.”
On the flip side, the new Explorer Mode is designed to help players that haven’t experienced an RPG before. It’s not that combat is easier, he said; it’s not. Instead, some game mechanics have been toned down to make it easier to figure out how to progress, and more obvious where to go.
“I’ll give you one example,” he said. “There’s all those secrets in the game. There’s a lot of things that you can find. One of the things that you need to find your way is perception. You’re going to have a perception bonus, so that’s going to help you find some of the secrets easier — that kind of thing. There’s no health changes to combat, but monsters will abstain from petrifying you, for instance.
“It’s not really an easy mode, but it takes the harshness that the world can be away, and that makes it a little more obvious for people to get into.”
New styles of play
Larian isn’t ready to discuss these, Vincke said. Really. No details. No examples.
Okay, maybe just a few.
“You could play Original Sin as a wizard focusing on fire or water. We’re adding new possibilities there,” he said. “That goes for the way you can handle weapons, skills, and so forth. We’ve also changed quite a lot in how the stealth system worked. There’s been of lot of changes that have been done — thousands of entries.”
The best part of those changes is that almost all of them were suggested by fans. It’s a tactic the developers have used since the beginning.
“Pretty much everything was fan-based or community-based. We were looking at what was not working or was working,” he said. “We had more time; we had more breathing room. We spent a year on this, working with a lot of people. If you spend a year on a game that’s already there, you can really do a lot of things.”
One target: the game’s middle
“One big thing that we’ve done was that the mid-game lagged a little bit,” Vincke said. “There were quite a lot of issues on the character development system in the middle of the game. We spent a lot of attention there, fixing things there, and that obviously had impact on how things were done.”
Those changes affected the entire game, he said. “We added new styles of playing, so we had to support that within the content point of view also.”
One of the team’s priorities was to improve the overall story, especially in that part of the game.
“Original Sin was heavily appreciated for systemics and the way it allowed you to explore the world and try things out, like with a pen and paper game, but the story was a little bit more in the background,” he said. “A large part of the emphasis we’ve put on everything in the Enhanced Edition is to bring that story more forward.”
For one thing, it caused the team to rewrite much of the game’s dialog, which in turn led Larian to include voice acting in it.
“Part of the story changes that we have done had us reworking the dialog, so we strengthened that where we thought it was weak, and then all of that was voiced,” Vincke said. “We’ve been recording voices since late December last year, and we’re still recording now.
“It’s cool. It adds a lot to the game. It makes it very different. You’re much more in the story.”
Oh, and there’s the end, too
The team didn’t just work on the middle, Vincke said. They didn’t like the very end, so they fixed that too.
“One of the big things that we didn’t appreciate ourselves was everything from pretty much the ending onwards. So we spent a lot of time on that also, changing a lot,” he said. “Only 5 percent of the world will play that part, but it was important we got that sorted out.”
Releasing in 2015, Larian hopes
Vincke says the company will have a playable version of the new Enhanced Edition at the Electronic Entertainment Expo next month.
“They’ll see that we’re already very far ahead with the buildup of the Enhanced Edition, so it’s really going to be a matter of when we’re ready with all the extra little bells and whistles that need to be on top of it,” he said. “The classic answer is going to be ‘When it’s ready.’ We’re hoping this year. But I can’t say an exact date yet.”
Obviously the company hopes for a favorable reception. But Vincke definitely doesn’t expect people to complain about the amount of new content in the new edition.
“I think we’re a much more enhanced edition than other enhanced editions, to be fair.”
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