Today I bring you a review that is a long time coming. Not only is Divinity Original Sin 2 the best game I played last year, but it could be one of the best RPGs and turn-based systems ever made.
Shocking, right? Well, hear me out.
How I Got into Divinity Original Sin 2
I know Larian had this game in early access for over a year. After enjoying several of their games—Divine Divinity, Divinity Original Sin 1, and Divinity II: Developers Cut—I would not consider myself a stranger to their content. Although I did not back the second DOS on Kickstarter, I was thrilled when the game finally launched in September 2017.
In October 2017, I applied for a job with Larian Studios. To do some of their written tasks, I needed a better understanding of the game. So I broke one of my rules with video games. I bought it straight away and started playing. Originally, I was playing to understood how to do my tests. Then I enjoyed it. Then I sat scratching my head.
I actually loved turn-based combat.
I will be fair here. The hardest choice I had in 2017 was picking what games to play after this game. Nothing—NOTHING!—comes close to Divinity Original Sin 2. For the record, I do not have a Ps4 or Xbox One, and only recently got a Switch in 2018, so there may be games in which I am not aware, and this was certainly the case for 2017.
A love letter to Dungeons and Dragons role players, this game really packs a punch. It is a pinnacle and a legend to RPGs in general. This game not just wins my GOTY 2017, it might be in the running for my favorite RPG of all time. Yes, even beating Morrowind, Skyrim, and The Witcher 3. Kingdom Come Deliverance is also in that elite tier of games I love playing, but Divinity Original Sin 2 is just a monster, begging to be played.
It offers a massive campaign with memorable characters, interesting role-playing options, and excellent systemic combat. Countless options are also available to tweak your combat style. Want an undead lizard who can summon and turn people into chickens? Fucking sold! Want a warrior tank who can conjure fire? Yes. Loads of options and the game is huge. Act 1, which is the tutorial island, took me 25 hours to finish, and I still did not complete several quests. Because you can finish them in different ways, this game offers the chance to replay from the beginning without getting bored. I’m now 110 hours into my first play-through and have only reached the last Act of the game. Even now, it’s still giving me thrills in the combat.
People talk a lot about gameplay loops when discussing good games. Divinity Original Sin has such satisfying combat that it is a loop that keeps me going for hours. I cannot get bored of the combat system, and the many ways you can exploit it with its dozens of mechanics. Cheesing difficult fights is not just doable but urged. The combat involves a magic/physical armor system that was seen with some controversy from the original DOS, forcing you to make decisions in your team building, but I like how it urges strategy. At times, it can lead to unfair fights, but even the ones where I got stuck were enjoyable. I simply returned another time when I had a better idea of how to deal with it. The game does not hold your hand; they give you a sandbox of tools and leave you to scrabble in the dirt.
The environments are beautiful, and the soundtrack is solid. That alone would put it at the top of my list, but then Larian added offline and online co-op, a PVP arena mode, a game master mode, which might be the greatest throwback to the Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper games. I haven’t played online much yet, but once I’ve finished the game, I plan on playing again. Because of the modding community, there is a lot to adjust for different experiences. I will be making a good go into a new play-through with higher difficulties. In my opinion, the story isn’t really the point of the game; instead, it is that stunning game-play loop. The freedom in this game is almost unparalleled.
The game is punishingly difficult at times, it does have some bugs and glitches, and I’ve heard the final act of the game has a weird pacing that has thrown many off. But that does not take anything away from this behemoth of a game. At £29.99, it is the best value game in years. It is also the only game I’ve played since Witcher 3 that I can give a genuine 10/10 mark. Is it a 10/10 game? Probably not objectively. I know it has flaws. It won’t be for everyone, but I will say it again. DOS 2 has one of the best gameplay loops of any video game out there on the market.