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Divinity: Original Sin hands-on preview – Complexity and depth come to consoles

Many developers have tried over the years to bring PC-style games to consoles. Sometimes it works stunningly well, but other times we end up with a weird, difficult to control mess that feels less like the original game and more like a funhouse mirror version of it.

We had the chance to try out Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition this week at E3, and it’s looking much more like the former.

If you’re not a PC gamer or maybe missed Divinity: Original Sin last year, it’s an overhead fantasy RPG in the style of games like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment. Like these games, it’s a deep, complex game with lots of time spent in menus and paused turns deciding which tactic, choice, item, or skill tree is best suited to the situation or character.

The gameplay that defines titles like Divinity is usually thought of as being a mouse-driven experience, but developer Larian Studios is doing a great job so far of making the game easy to navigate with a dual analog controller.

I’m not going to pretend it’s intuitive: it’ll take a second to pick up, and a tutorial is going to be necessary to get rolling. Once I was rolling, though, I didn’t feel like I was missing the mouse at all.

The biggest new element, as the game makes the transition from PC to console, is the introduction of local cooperative play. In my session, this worked pretty much flawlessly. Divinity definitely starts along the classic RPG lines of having a four-character party of characters with various classes, but from there it throws you into a game very well suited to cooperative play. The characters of your party don’t necessarily have to be in the same place or even working on the same quest. Before I had the chance to pick up the controller, I watched as the developer had one character get himself intentionally thrown in jail, while another ended up in a much-too-difficult battle. Yet another was off in town doing this or that.

The four characters can be distributed in any configuration you like between the two players. If someone is more interested in magic than melee, they can handle spell casting characters. If you’re playing with someone less experienced they can just take care of one character until they get a good handle on that one.

If the two of you do decide to split up, as soon as you get to opposite edges of the screen you’ll pop into split-screen mode so that players can do their own thing. It’s a bit disorienting when the screens re-join, but it didn’t interfere with my ability to enjoy what was going on.

For those familiar with the experience, it’s now possible to make irreversible decisions the other player has no control over during these split-up times, so the two players can guide the experience without consulting the other if they want. It’s still possible to stay together and give an NPC different answers to a question, which can lead to an argument between the characters, ultimately settled by Rock Paper Scissors.

Larian is also trying to make this new “Enhanced Edition” really live up to its name.

The game has new quests, new abilities, new skill trees – everything you’d expect. But it also is now completely voice acted. According to Larian co-founder Swen Vincke, the process of getting all the voice work ready for the game started in January and just finally ended about a week ago. In other words, there’s quite a bit of it.

Other elements have also been reworked based on player feedback, ways players have exploited the game or found new ways to handle it. In some cases it’s removing an exploit, but in many others it’s modifying the quest to allow players to take advantage of the systems in place.

Finally, significant portions of the sound and graphics have been reworked, as well as a new ending for the game.

Oh, and PC owners? You get this one for free. The only caveat is that the game is different enough that your saves from the original will not carry over.

Larian doesn’t have a release date yet, but hopes to have Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition out on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One before the end of the year.


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Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...


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