Last year, Larian Studios released Divinity II: Ego Draconis on the Xbox 360 and PC. The game was a deviation from the traditional Diablo-esque overhead camera system used in most western RPGs, it used a third person view instead of the usual top down camera seen in its predecessor Divine Divinity, which was released back in 2002. However, as seen in our review of the title from last year, the game suffered from a number of glitches, overall poor controls and other minor issues which plagued the better attributes of the game. With Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga, Larian Studios has revamped Ego Draconis in an attempt to remedy these problems, but has their work paid off?
Divinity II takes place in Rivellon, the same land featured in Divine Divinity. Players are introduced to the world as a up-and-coming Dragon Slayer: a group of individuals dedicated to eliminating the last remaining Dragons that plague Rivellon. After battling their first dragon and proving their worth, players find out that an even greater threat looms over the entire world, and so players are forced to seek out aid to fight and destroy this ancient evil.
As is common for many western RPGs, players start off the game creating either a male or female character. Unfortunately, the available choices for each gender are excruciatingly slim, with only a fair number of different hair styles, colors and voices to choose from. The same customization system from Ego Draconis returns, which is unfortunate considering it was one of the more pressing issues with the original game.
After creating your character, you're brought to the initial starting town where the game throws the player into the storyline in media res and eventually explains everything as the game progresses. After gaining the powers of the Dragon Knights, players are asked to pick from a selection of different classes, ranging from the swordsman to the archer and even a magician.
While this doesn't sound like much of an issue initially, Divinity II does nothing to explain the finer aspects of each class outside of generic hints and tips. One could guess that the developers assumed that players already had knowledge of prior Western RPGs and would view the in-game explanations for the skills and magic for the finer details if necessary. The issue with this approach is that newcomers to the genre will feel overwhelmed and lost in the genre-centric explanations and will be forced to read through the game's instruction manual and various online guides to get caught up with Divinity II's impressively massive magic and skill trees. While Divinity II doesn't include a detailed in-game help system, Dragon Knight Saga has added tips as new abilities are accessed occasionally throughout the game, so once you understand the basic progression, it becomes much less of a chore.One of the key combat issues in the original game, the targeting system, has been greatly overhauled in Dragon Knight Saga. In Ego Draconis, players would have to manually select their targets every time the preceding target was killed. Dragon Knight Saga does away with this restriction by targeting the nearest enemy. For melee classes, this means one can merely spam attacks, easily defeating packs of enemies so long as their health remains.
This change also applies to ranged classes such as magicians and archers, although the only way of dodging attacks remains in the form of strafing from one side to another. This becomes more of an issue in the expansion pack included with the game, Flames of Vengeance, which does away with the dragon transformations found in the original game as most of your time will be spent evading attacks. However, the targeting change has not applied to talking to townspeople and gathering items and unless you are positioned at exactly the right angle, talking or gathering items is impossible. This becomes a bother in some of the game's later dungeons and the more heated moments when monsters are swarming around you as you try to collect the fallen loot or in the towns when some non-playable characters move around too quickly for you to target.
Dragon Knight Saga also fails to fix the questing structure found in Ego Draconis which forced players to bum around the map hoping to progress the storyline due to the game's extremely rudimentary quest markers. While players can mark their own landmarks on the game's maps, this really should be handled by the game itself like in other high-profile western RPGs such as Mass Effect and Fallout: New Vegas. Divinity II doesn't include off-the-beaten-path quests either, which is disappointing since the game's environments outside the towns are quite detailed and breathtaking at times.
One key issue outside of the control modifications was the graphics and the numerous bugs found in Ego Draconis, which at times would completely lock up and crash the game. While there hasn't been an immense overhaul in the graphical department the graphics are far less muddled and the draw distance is somewhat greater than before, which helps when one is trying to map out the extremely expansive and vast areas found in Rivellon. Most of the noticeable bugs from Ego Draconis have been rectified in this re-release, although those with a keen eye will notice some minor visual inconsistencies that are still present. Overall, the graphical changes won't sway those who found major faults in Ego Draconis, but those who could stomach them outside the original game-breaking bugs will find that it's rather nice.
As stated previously, Divinity II: Dragon Knight Saga includes the expansion pack Flames of Vengeance. Flames of vengeance picks up from where the first game left off and has the player explore the city of Aleroth, the final area in the original story. Larian Studios has packed the city with a number of various quests, but a great of deal of them require travelling from one area of the city to another in rudimentary fetch quests. It wouldn't be all that bad if the locations weren't place on the opposite sides of the city from whence you start.
Flames of Vengeance removes the ability to transform into your Dragon Form, so each of the expansion's battles are relegated to attacking enemies head-on. Thankfully the bosses strewn throughout have just the right amount of balance. You won't die unless you make a fatal mistake.
The Xbox 360 version of Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga is a noticeably improved version over Divinity II: Ego Draconis in almost every aspect. The graphics have been improved, the major game-breaking bugs have been removed and the controls feel less like a quick port of the PC version and much more at home in a console due to the change in the auto-aim system. However, this is a game that still appeals mostly to the hardcore and veteran western RPG crowd with little to no explanation of the game's core mechanics to newcomers. Those who enjoyed Ego Draconis even with its faults or are experienced western RPG players who haven't yet tried Divinity II will feel right at home with the vastly improved original section of the game and the Flames of Vengeance expansion pack. Everyone else might want to try out the game first, as Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga might not be your cup of tea.
|Larian Studios went back and fixed a lot of the game-breaking bugs.|
|The character interaction is still as good as it was in Ego Draconis.|
|Those who enjoyed the main game will enjoy the Flames of Vengeance expansion.|
|The graphics still could use some work.|
|Needs more work on the non-battle targeting systems.|
|Doesn't do much to appeal to newcomers to the genre.|