Divinity: Original Sin II Review

Dan Webb

I remember a while ago there used to be RPGs and non-RPGs, and that was it. As the games industry has grown though we’ve seen RPGs seep into action games, first-person shooters and the like, but similarly, the RPG genre itself has evolved and spawned a load of sub-genres. Now we have JRPGs, ARPGs and more recently we’ve seen the resurrection of CRPGs, with the ‘C’ standing for classic. You know, like Baldur’s Gate, Wasteland, Pillars of Eternity and the new kid on the block, Divinity: Original Sin. The truth is these genres have existed since the early days of video games, but now they get fancy sub-genres. Look how far we’ve come, folks!

Divinity: Original Sin might be one of the youngest of the esteemed CRPG sub-genre, but it’s quickly becoming one of the most accomplished. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is no different to its predecessor in that regard, but perhaps it doesn’t learn enough from the mistakes of its forebear.

To those completely new to the series – heck, even the genre – what can you expect? Well, if you’re not familiar with the Pillars of Eternity, etc. format, the best way to describe it is as Diablo meets Dragon Age: Origins – with the tactical combat. In short, it’s a turn-based, action-adventure role-playing game that throws you into the shoes of a fully-customisable adventurer who has to get to grips with a world chock-full of evil and rise up to become a hero – or an anti-hero. The world is ripe for exploration, full of interesting lore and dynamic characters. With your crew of rag-tag companions, there’s hours upon hours of quality content in here, if you can master the game’s various nuances and intricacies.

Let’s get the obvious out the way here: Divinity: Original Sin 2: Enhanced Edition is a truly, brutally tricky game. It requires careful thought, battles require careful planning and players going into it should prepare themselves for failure. The game’s biggest issue is quite clearly the its balance: explorer difficulty is too easy, while classic is too hard. There’s no in-between. And when I say too hard, I would say I probably actually mean that the game is not balanced at all. On classic I found myself constantly under-levelled for a lot of encounters – and as was the case in the original, if you’re a few levels below an enemy, you stand no chance whatsoever – meaning I had to do whatever I could to level up, making side-quests just as important as the main quests.

Early on it’s particularly brutal, because thanks to the whole you-need-a-resurrection-scroll-to-bring-back-downed-members-of-your-party-and-early-on-they’re-super-expensive, everything is a slog. You pretty much have to scrounge for every bit of XP and gold. The game actually forces you into cheesing certain situations, which is not the sign of a well-balanced game. The fact that enemies the same level as you have twice as much health, physical armour and magic armour can be a tad demoralising – especially when you're outnumbered too! It takes a bloody age to level up as well which means that progression is slow. Sooooo slow. At the 50-hour mark I was a level 14. That’s about three and a half hours per level. Per. Level! So, if you screw up your build – and it’s really, really easy to do so in Divinity: Original Sin 2 – you might have to restart your game and go back to the drawing board. My advice? Don’t make a jack-of-all-trades, it just doesn’t work.

If you can get past the difficulty of classic – or are comfortable breezing through on explorer – then there is truly a great game here – heck, if you really get the hang of it, there are hard modes as well called Tactician and Honour which will truly put you to the test. The combat is a good example of how deep the game can actually be, and if you’re in a fair fight it can be truly gripping and tense from the first arrow to the last throw of magic. There’s a ton of spells and skills on offer, the options available in the heat of battle are wide and expansive and there’s tons of status effects and ways to get an upper hand throughout that will keep you on your toes, whether that’s using cover, getting to the high-ground, setting traps or using elements in the environment to flip the battle in your favour.

The battles can play out completely differently depending on your build as well, so there’s a ton of replayability here – especially considering you can only have a party of four and there are six main characters who all have rich backstories and are interesting characters to boot. From a combat perspective, though, the options are pretty much endless, which is what makes Divinity: OS 2 so enjoyable. There are some weird selection issues due to the camera and occasionally busy screens, a stick drift bug on consoles, (we had the same issue with three different controllers!) and some issues with line-of-sight on the odd occasion, but other than that, the combat is a complete joy.

In fact, all of the RPG mechanics in Divinity: Original Sin 2 are more than enough to satiate the appetite of even the most hardcore RPG fan. There are crafting options galore, some great-looking armour and weapons – each with their own stat boosts – that keeps you thinking, and the usual runes, inventory management and a ton of different skill trees and perks to assign to your party to truly customise your experience. It’s deep, has stats up the wazoo, and not just pointless stats either, everything carries its own weight in gold. There’s even some truly great puzzles and riddles to solve throughout, and a few really cleverly thought out set-pieces to boot too. All the pieces come together to form a wonderfully woven tapestry of classic RPG tropes that have existed since the dawn of the genre, but with a more modern feeling and twist. And if playing solo isn’t your bag either, you can either play with a friend or jump into the game’s Arena Mode to get your mitts bloody.

Divinity: OS 2 isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. There are numerous bugs littered throughout – whether it be items getting stuck in the environment, companion’s bodies disappearing under the map meaning you can’t resurrect them or bugged missions you can’t complete – and some questionable design decisions – like constantly being thrown in jail in the opening act for removing a prison collar from yourself… an actual in-game quest, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a bloody good effort at creating a memorable CRPG experience.

So, if you’re hankering for an inviting world with a solid narrative, populated by a whole host of alluring characters, then Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is the game for you. It’s got everything you want from a CRPG, from deep combat to even deeper stats systems that run throughout. Yes, the balance is all over the place, but if you’re after a challenge, then Classic difficulty (and beyond) will offer you that. If you’re not after that and just want to enjoy a rich CRPG experience, then whack it on Explorer difficulty and just soak up the rich world that Larian has created.

Divinity: Original Sin II

Divinity Original Sin 2: Definitive Edition is a fine installment in the Divinity series and despite a few odd design decisions and the balance being completely out of whack, it’s still a truly memorable and enjoyable experience.

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The voice-acting is spot-on, the original score is stunning and the narrator is a phenomenal touch – more games, especially CRPGs, should do this!


On the high-end consoles, the game looks great, while it looks a bit muddy on the standard consoles.


The combat is chock full of options to sink your teeth into and the hotbar makes quickly choosing skills and spells relatively easy.


The difficulty balance is all over the place, but if you can get past that there is a wonderful game here with plenty of lore, interesting characters and a smattering of choice and consequence.


It’s an achievement list you will love or hate, that’s for sure. There are a lot – and I mean a lot! – of missable achievements, but they’re really cool ones for achievements off the beaten path, so we’re cool with that. It’s probably going to be one of the hardest RPG 1,000s for this year… good luck with Honour mode!!

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