Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition doesn’t just patch last summer’s role-playing PC hit and port it to consoles. It adds a whole new layer to one of the best RPGs on the market.
Unfortunately, while the new content should be a huge bonus for PC gamers (who, if they bought the original title, will get this one for free), players won’t find the game quite as accessible or as pleasant on consoles.
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Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition releases today for PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC from developer Larian Studios and Focus Home Interactive/Maximum Games for $60.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition can take close to 100 hours to play, depending on what you choose to do and who you choose to talk with. I’ll update this review when I’m satisfied I’ve seen the extent of the story (again).
What you’ll like (so far)
Finally: Visit Rivellon with friends
D:OS begged for a co-op option in the first version, and Larian has done a bang-up job of implementing it here for two players, both on the couch and online.
For starters, you’ll enjoy the intelligent split screen for local co-op. Wander too far from your partner and the screen will automatically split.
You can do anything you like independently — one person can tackle a fight accompanied by some NPC buddies from your party, and the other can sell things in town, for example. Does your friend need help? Head back and you can join the battle in progress, the split screen dissolving when you’re in range.
The Enhanced Edition’s multiplayer treatment includes everything almost I love about co-op RPGs. Friendly fire from area-of-effect spells. The ability to steal your buddy’s loot — both before and (using an ability, unfortunately with their permission) after they pick it up. The ability to force your friend into combat by luring enemies back to their vicinity.
Ha. Perhaps I have solved the mystery of why some of my friends refuse to play co-op with me any more.
Regardless, when you’re not busy griefing your party, you can work together to achieve some seriously cool effects. Perhaps your friend makes it rain on enemies and you make it freeze, for example. Or one of you baits melee mobs into water, and the other stuns them with electricity.
It works the same way for story: I truly enjoyed not having to micromanage the game’s NPCs alone. Having a partner to, say, go steal an object while I distracted the crowd with a terrible, terrible rendition of a dramatic theater play, was truly rewarding.
Players can smoothly drop in and out of a game in progress, and I found it easy to invite friends.
A city full of voices
The original D:OS provided voice acting for selected dialogue. Here, let me fix that: “quote-unquote acting.” The success of the first may have paid for the addition of talent to the second: British actors Alix Wilton Regan and Alec Newman join the voiceover cast and do a very nice job.
Larian added more than 69,000 lines of voice-acted dialogue to the game. Everyone talks now. Pass through a town and unnamed citizens have voiced responses to every spoken option you choose, and a good number of them talk to you, each other, aloud, or to anyone nearby.
It doesn’t just add length and depth to the story; frankly, I’m one of those people who tends to speed-read through conversational options. It also contributes to the immersive feel of Rivellon — the concept that all these folks have something to do when they’re not talking to you.
A full 360 beautiful degrees of vision
While the Enhanced Edition keeps the isometric view of the original, it also adds a movable camera. This is priceless not only for the increased ability it gives you to survey the scenery, but also for fixing some of the camera-angle wonkiness that used to make focusing on some of the game’s puzzles truly difficult.
The original’s helpful selectively disappearing walls and structures still remain. If you walk behind something based on where the camera is located, the game will fade out that portion of the wall to show you your feet.
But having the additional camera freedom is a pleasure.
That same tremendous gameplay
So far, the Enhanced Edition has offered the terrific interactive environment and complex spell interactions of the original plus a fine layer of polish. D:OS has always given players a multitude of ways to skin its cats. The addition of new skills just enhances that.
In a very early-game example, you’ll find a ship on fire at the first town you come to. You can help to put it out, but you’ll have to figure out how. Drop any one of a dozen spells, items, or abilities on it to quench the flames. I splooshed it out with a water balloon, but you might use a water spell or a rain scroll.
Want to open a locked door? You can beat it down, pick the lock, find the key, or throw spells at it. Just be careful you don’t burn the house down.
What you won’t like (so far)
I have to do what again?
D:OS was unforgiving in its original PC incarnation, and it’s only gotten worse here. While those helpful tutorial moments do pop up as they did on the original PC game, parts of the enhanced console edition are substantially harder simply because you can’t point and click at anything you’d like on screen.
Take one moment early in the game when I and a role-playing comrade at GamesBeat were stuck in a snippet of an alternate setting, probably no more than a hundred game yards long. To return, all we needed to do was to use one of the game’s Waypoints — an item that turned out to be on the game menu, not included inside the console UI.
It took us 20 minutes to figure this out. We ran repeatedly around the area, tried every last dialogue option of the NPCs present, and clicked on everything worth clicking on.
Between us, we have more than 60 years of RPG experience, but it wasn’t the first or the last time we got caught flat-footed. One time, I electrocuted every member of our party because both they and the enemies were standing in water. (Shhh. My playing partner didn’t notice that one.)
I don’t mind that Divinity asks you to figure things out or that it’s hard. That’s part of the fun. But I do sincerely miss the little things that the PC version offered to make figuring things out substantially more intuitive: tooltips, for example.
Console controls can be clunky
D:OS offers a ton of moving parts, and the Enhanced Edition deepens an already-vast experience with new abilities and new options. From a gameplay perspective, this makes the game even better.
But from a control perspective, it sometimes makes simple actions unnecessarily difficult. Everything is bound to buttons, but at some point, the game runs out of button combinations to use. Some things require manually navigating through choices every time you want to use them.
Larian attempted to compensate for some of the troubles. They implement a multi-item “inspect” feature very well here, for example, to allow you to hunt through piles of boxes or crates fairly quickly instead of laboriously d-sticking over each one.
But almost nothing in the Enhanced Edition feels as easy on a console as it does on a PC. I didn’t find that surprising, but it still disappoints. That’s a shame, because the idea of crashing on a comfortable couch to play a game this long should attract a lot of players.
Some bugs make their way into co-op play
Larian has fixed a multitude of bugs in the PC version as a result of player feedback, and I’ll be curious to see whether they take that approach with console updates as well. Co-op play in particular, perhaps because they just recently introduced it to the game, displays its share of glitches.
Try sneaking around, for example, and you may find that one person or the other can’t see the flashlight-style lighting that indicates where your opponents are looking. Dialogue options still depend on whether you, personally, are the character holding the quest item, which may not be a bug but sure annoys me.
On at least one occasion, combat didn’t trigger for my co-op buddy even when he was standing next to me, leaving him unable to help as I was ground to dust. (Or so he said, anyway.)
Solo gameplay (thus far) seems to avoid similar problems.
Conclusion (so far)
Last year’s deep, organic, interactive, and occasionally funny Divinity: Original Sin made PC RPG players very happy, and this year’s Enhanced Edition will definitely do the same. If you haven’t played it yet, snap it up immediately on that platform.
If you’re a console player, you should be aware that a little control wonkiness and some extra, unnecessary difficulty await you.
That said, those problems shouldn’t be enough to scare you away from a tremendous RPG. Even with its faults, Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition offers the best console co-op RPG action this side of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II.
The rating for this review will come when I’m done with the story, but the gameplay alone will earn a very high score.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition comes out October 27 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The publisher provided GamesBeat with a copy of the PS4 game for the purposes of this review.
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