For me (and countless RPG fans), the original Divinity game was like a sack of catnip to a hyperactive kitty. Work, sleep, family…they were all a distant memory until the credits finally rolled. For about the third time.
Well, now the sequel has hit consoles in the form of this ‘definitive edition’. And rather than running off to rehab, I’ve sunk back into this gritty and addictive series for one more hit. However, while I took on the first title on my PC, I played through Divinity 2 Definitive Edition on my PS4. And while it took some serious adjustment to get used to the different control scheme, this is still the same deep and deliciously compelling RPG that I fell in love with years ago.
Another fine mess
The beginning of Divinity 2 is a bit of a baptism of fire. No clearing pesky rats out of cellars or chatting idly to townsfolk in the local drinking establishment. Here, you find yourself trapped on a doomed prison vessel in the wake of a violent murder, just as a terrifying aquatic beast rises from the murky depths to kill everyone on board. Bloody Mondays.
First of course you must choose a main character, from a varied and interesting roster. Your typical rogue elves and boisterous dwarves are joined by some more intriguing individuals, such as Lohse – who finds herself possessed by a dark, demonic force. Or the Red Prince, a royal buffoon who rubs everyone up the wrong way. You can fully customise whoever you choose to suit your particular playing style, shaping them into a wizard, battlemage, warrior or whatever else you fancy.
The entire cast finds themselves stuck on that prison ship as Divinity 2 begins, before they’re dumped on an island full of seedy souls. As with the original game, you have the chance to recruit up to three other members to your team. Each playable character has their own backstory and objectives, and they’re a step up from the arcs in the first Divinity. These plots often intertwine cleverly with the main story and are revealed one shred at a time, keeping you hooked until the final chapter.
Even better, you get the chance to shape any character who joins your clan to a different class, right from the off. This allows you to pick your team based on who you like, rather than their starting skills.
Like a warm hug from a good friend
Divinity 2’s creators clearly come from the ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix’ camp of thinking. This sequel serves up more of the same compulsive gameplay from the first title, with a few little refinements here and there for good measure.
So as before, you’ll spend most of your time exploring various danger-packed environments, all beautifully rendered and crammed with fine details. Missions can be picked up from NPCs, or you can ignore the lot of them and head straight for the golden flag on your map (the location of your main objective). However, if you do skip past all of the optional stuff, you’ll be missing out on all kinds of fun stories, schemes and general craziness. We especially recommend picking up the Pet Pal talent, so you can converse with the many animals inhabiting Divinity 2’s lands. It’s amazing what you can learn from a stray dog or cursed rat.
Even if you do stick with the main mission, you’ll be hooked for some time; Divinity is absolutely massive, and in this Definitive Edition it has a lot of bonus content shoved in too – not to mention complete reworkings of some of the main plots and encounters.
Many quests can be completed by talking, exploring, persuading and sneaking, although you will find yourself occasionally thrust into a battle. These play out almost identically to the original Divinity, with characters taking it in turn to bring the pain onto their foes. The further you get, the better skills and equipment you’ll unlock, until eventually your squad is an unstoppable killing force. As always, it’s good to take a mixture of characters into battle; tanks to soak up damage, along with ranged sourcerers to rain down fiery oblivion from afar. And I still love the rogue, who can now leap straight over foes to get in a critical backstab.
If you’re not a fan of the combat side and simply want to enjoy the ride, Divinity 2 Definitive Edition also offers a Story Mode. This makes things considerably easier during the action bits, so you don’t need to worry about perfecting your build or anything.
The biggest change I noticed from jumping to PC and PS4 was the control scheme. A keyboard and mouse is perfectly suited to this kind of game, where you’re constantly issuing complex commands during combat. With a controller, things take quite a bit longer. You need to push the Y button to call up the skills bar, then scroll to the one you need before carefully zooming and shifting the cursor to the location you need. It’s rather laborious in comparison, so battles feel quite drawn out.
Still, outside of combat, the controller works perfectly. You can quickly navigate around, split your team and search the surrounding area for interesting loot. Basically, the devs have done their best in the transition to consoles, and tried to remove as much frustration as possible.
Divinity 2 Definitive Edition is every RPG fan’s wet dream. This thing is enormous and complex and seriously addictive, with well-crafted characters, compelling plotting and impressively detailed worlds to explore. On console, the combat can be quite laborious, but that’s about where our quibbles end.