Larian visited the Eurogamer office to show me the new and improved Definitive Edition of Divinity: Original Sin 2 last week. To do this the developer ran two versions of the game - old and new - side by side to highlight the differences. On one screen we had DOS2 as it exists now, played on a gaming laptop; and on the other screen we had the Definitive Edition of DOS2 played on an Xbox One X dev kit. The difference was striking.
It wasn't a Digital Foundry-style controlled test, with the laptop fans wheezing and picture coming through an older 1080p screen, but it got the point across. The Xbox One X version, running in 4K resolution and with high dynamic range enabled, was brighter, crisper and more vibrant. It was smoother and more responsive too, and will apparently run native 4K30 on Xbox One X, and dynamic checkerboard 4K30 on PS4 Pro.
The reasons for the differences run deeper than hardware. The physics engine has been changed for the Definitive Edition and numerous improvements have been made, making the game up to four times faster in certain areas. The fire effect, for example - which spreads across a lot of environments a lot of the time - has been changed for one more economical and arguably better looking too. It's a similar story for many of the game's 'surfaces', and textures have been improved as well.
These improvements will not be bound to console, of course, but available as a free update for existing owners of DOS2 on PC. They'll also help the base PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game achieve 1080p30 performance even during split-screen play.
Making console versions was the impetus Larian needed to rectify various issues it had - and the community had - with Divinity: Original Sin 2. The area which copped the most flak was Act 3, the final act, as well as companion Beast's story arc, so it's these areas primarily improved.
Broadly, because I don't want to spoil things, Larian has given them another pass, lavishing the kind of care and attention seen elsewhere in the game. Story arcs have been beefed out, level design altered and dialogue added (a whopping 250,000 words have been re-recorded, Larian said). There's more to do and it's more interesting and nuanced.
Act 3 might be the focus - most of the eight new fights are located there - but the middle of Act 2 has had love too, plus there's an expanded tutorial area (another ship deck) to gently initiate absolute tactical RPG beginners, more likely on console, to the game. The new, easier, Story difficulty level makes fights less challenging, and introduces a guaranteed Flee option and Resurrection skill (not just scrolls).
There are some very welcome usability changes. The most notable is the reworked journal, which used to confusingly clump lore and quests together. Now they're separate and the journal far more coherent as a result.
There's party inventory management to display four companions' bags side by side, rather than individually, and you can send multiple items to a companion at once, saving a lot of time if you buy and sell through a high-Bartering-skill companion.
In total there are around 45-pages of design doc changes, including the notable changes to the DOS2 PvP Arena announced last week. Many of these will be itty-bitty balance changes you probably won't even notice but have been grating on Larian's nerves since launch (elemental resistances and armour values, for instance).
In short, the Definitive Edition of Divinity: Original Sin 2 not only brings the acclaimed role-playing game to console in sparkling clarity, it revitalises it for those of you who missed it - or simply want to play it again - on PC. August 31st can't come quick enough.
Incidentally, you can already see the game running in 4K and HDR on Xbox One X via the Game Preview three-hour demo.