In what has seemingly become an annual tradition, I find myself writing yet another review for Larian Studios Divinity: Original Sin 2. This will be my third review in as many years, this time on Nintendo’s hybrid console. Does the rule of three apply here? Will this entry complete a troika of excellence? Or has Larian been unable to translate their epic to the very small screen?
I will not trek down the same path in my third review as all of the core game, story, and mechanics remain unchanged from the Definitive Edition release on Xbox, PS4 and PC from last year. For a more detailed review of the core game, please read my previous reviews (which will be linked at the bottom of the page). But if you are completely new to Larian’s RPG opus, here are the Cliff Notes; Divinity Original Sin 2 is a party-based fantasy RPG. It boasts one of, if not the best narrative of any western RPG ever produced, and a complex turn-based combat system utilising a robust yet flexible system of interactive environmental, magic, and elemental systems. It is also the most open story-driven game I have ever played, where freedom of choice is at the forefront of every interaction, be it a conversation, combat, how you choose to tackle a quest, or how you explore the world. Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition empowers player agency more than any game I have ever played.
The Switch version of DOS2 is essentially the same version I played on the PS4 in 2018. It takes the core game released in 2017 and expands and improves it across all aspects of the title by introducing a more friendly opening for new players, a deeper and more satisfying end, and a host of tweaks, improvements, additions, bug fixes, as well as a controller friendly control and interaction scheme. The transition to Switch retains all of these improvements. The only real difference is the obviously lower resolution and less detailed textures. But to be fair when playing in handheld, I didn’t really notice those changes. It was only when I loaded up the PC version that I saw just how much has been pared back to allow the game to run as smoothly as possibly on Nintendo’s system.
Perhaps the most impressive part of this port and its most obvious flaw is that the complex physics and effects from the overlapping environmental combat systems seem to be completely intact. Fires spread, oil barrels explode, steam rises from evaporating water sources which can be turned into poisoned clouds, or a healing mist, or any number of other interesting and powerful effects you choose. I feared the Switch port would collapse under the weight of these systems. I am happy to say it does not collapse, but it does struggle.
Performance on the Switch, for the most part, is solid. It maintains a consistent 30 fps throughout, except when combat gets intense. The sheer number of animated foes, effects, and particles stretch the Switch’s hardware to its very limits. It was never severe enough for me to become frustrated by it, but it was noticeable and unfortunate even it if it was not unexpected. As far as negatives go, this is the big one. Another is that the game is not available on either the New Zealand or Australian stores, so at least for the time being you will need a US, or other supported territory profile to buy the game. It is a frustrating and unnecessary omission that I do not understand. I also still struggle somewhat with using a controller to navigate the game’s menus, but I do not think this is an issue with the quality of the console versions, but more to do with my 350+ hours playing the PC version and my familiarity and comfort with that control scheme.
Speaking of PC, the Switch version does something very cool indeed. You can now take your PC progress on the go! Larian has added a fantastic cross-save system that allows your progress to be painlessly transferred between your PC and Switch. It was an unexpected but very welcome addition, but it has literally taken over my life. When I picked up the Switch version I was about 20 hours deep in my fifth playthrough, and rather than needing to start again for the review I just copied my progress over and continued playing on the go, during lunch-breaks, work breaks, between meetings, on the train, during rest stops while riding my motorcycle, in bed when I should be sleeping, and again in the morning when I should be getting ready for work, on the loo, I even took the bus to work once just so I could get some more time rather than taking my bike, which is about the only place I can’t actually play the game now. I think I have a problem. Maybe the game should come with a warning, and a large external battery to keep your Switch juiced. I love DOS2 on the Switch; I actually prefer it to the PS4 version. It feels good and plays well when you’re out and about, and I can think of no game I would rather play on Nintendo’s impressive little console.
Regardless of the platform, one thing remains true; Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition is an exceptional RPG experience.
+ Exceptional combat.
+ Plays well docked and handheld.
+ Allows you to take the best RPG ever made with you wherever you go.
- Console controls still not ideal.
- You will likely keep running out of battery as this game becomes an obsession.
- Is not on the NZ or AUS Nintendo eShop yet.