When I sat down to play Divinity: Original Sin 2 on the Xbox for this article, I figured I’d check out the new tutorial area, maybe make it inside Fort Joy (the first major area) and call it a day. Before I knew it, I was borderline finished with the entire first act!
This game is brilliant, through and through. Now that it’s on consoles, there are no more excuses for you not to check out the best RPG of the past year.
As I mentioned, the started area now has a “tutorial deck” (it’s on a boat) that teaches players the very basics of world interaction and combat. While I never really had an issue with learning the ropes in the original, this definitely eases players into everything in a much smoother way. For example, players are now forced to move boxes around in order to advance, which is something that I’d guess many either ignored or didn’t even know about.
After the tutorial deck, the prologue plays out as normal. Evidently, they’ve re-recorded a bazillion lines of dialogue and made sure that players encounter some of the background lore about a certain someone in the third act. For those playing for the first time, the entire narrative experience should be much more streamlined without you even knowing it!
Another improvement is the journal. Again, I never had much of an issue with the original version — it was vague, sure, but I thought that was sort of the point. Regardless, with how quests are now tracked in the journal, I can’t imagine someone getting confused. It still doesn’t track every little detail, but again, that’s sort of the idea. Players need to have an eye (and memory) for some pertinent details from the conversations.
I had never played the original game on console, or with a controller, so I definitely had my reservations. I knew the combat would be fine — it’s turn-based and slow enough that there’s no need for the precision of a mouse. I was concerned about menu navigation, as that was sometimes even a hassle on PC. Luckily, Larian Studios has done a solid job at transitioning the pages of menus to be controller-friendly. It’s definitely slower and can be clunky at first, but as with all good things, it just takes some time to get used to it.
Selecting characters to control and menu pages to explore are mapped to radial dials, and damn if I didn’t always choose the wrong radial dial for what I wanted. It took me a bit to feel comfortable moving from character to character when spending skill points or equipping new gear — you need to use the same radial dial that you use to swap characters when moving around the map. To be fair, I had the same issue on PC, as I expected some sort of “next character” button on the top left and right of the menu screen. I feel like menu navigation should have also been part of that tutorial deck.
I was also concerned with reading the metric fuck-ton of text present in the game. I sit a good ten feet away from my screen, and some console games are nigh-unreadable with their font styles. Luckily, Divinity: Original Sin 2 has greatly increased the size of the text, and the fonts and backgrounds are always very simple. The end result is that everything is quite easy-to-read, which is great, because reading really is such a huge part of this game.
When starting anew on Xbox, I chose the “Story Mode” difficulty level. It’s an easier version of the game that eliminates the need for fleeing skills and resurrection scrolls. Resurrection has become its own ability (which everyone is equipped with), removing the economy aspect of death. For newcomers to the genre, this is probably the way to go; reviving dead teammates can become quite the hassle in the early goings of Divinity: Original Sin 2. It’s also great for those playing through the story again and just don’t want to be bothered by that whole aspect of the game (e.g. me).
Unfortunately, the “Game Master” mode, which allowed players to create their own campaigns and act as a dungeon master of sorts, is excluded from the console version. As someone who didn’t particularly play around with it, I’m not losing sleep over its exclusion, but I’m sure others will be upset. To be fair, I’m not sure that it would be reasonable to explore that mode on a controller. It would be neat if they brought some player-made maps from the Steam Workshop available to download on consoles, though I’m not sure how manageable that would be.
While I can’t necessarily recommend a double-dip (unless you just really prefer playing games on console), this is an RPG that any fan of the genre needs to play. Even if you’ve previously completed it on PC, I’d recommend starting up a new campaign. It’s not drastically different, but you’ll likely encounter a new way to tackle many of the quests and battles that it’ll feel like a brand new game.