1. Divinity: Original Sin 2
RELEASED 2017 | LAST POSITION 3
Phil: Larian’s RPG was already brilliant, but it was last year’s free Definitive Edition update that prompted us to bump it up to the top spot. It tightens up this massive, sprawling adventure with an expanded and improved final act, and also brings some much needed quality of life improvements—the changes to the quest journal alone make a world of difference.
Wes: I really fell in love with Original Sin 2 when the helmet I’d been wearing for several hours turned into a demon. Or, well, the demon had been sealed in the helmet, but I’d inadvertently released it in the middle of a fight which was already going badly before a freaking demon joined in. He was not on my side.
Shit like that is constantly going wrong in Original Sin 2, and rolling with every small disaster and trying to recover from it is such a joy. I’m standing in fire and close to dying, but if I use a precious Source point, I can bless that fire and make it heal me. An enemy has a giant health pool, but if my friend can just knock off their last few points of armour, I can use a polymorph spell to swap their massive HP with my own. Each battle is a puzzle with a hundred different solutions.
And then there are moments where your friend casually turns a knob and accidentally poisons an entire city, killing every last NPC and ending every unfinished quest inside it. Those are the moments when I decide to reload the last save. But that’s a choice. I could’ve easily stuck with it, and my experience with Original Sin 2’s story would’ve been dramatically different. Divinity exemplifies the best of PC gaming because it has the nuanced characters and writing and clever quests of a great RPG, and a staggering degree of choice in how you experience those things, or choose not to. The rare game to fully, wholeheartedly embrace you breaking it whenever you want. Also, consider this: You can turn your enemies into chickens.
Jody: You can talk to chickens as well. Heck, you can do quests for them. Being able to talk to animals is the best ability in any game that allows for it, but Original Sin 2 goes all out with the Pet Pals talent. You can get clues from rats, help a sad dog, and have an argument with a crab.
Tom: Divinity: Original Sin 2’s worldbuilding is underrated as well. Larian doesn’t have the weight of the Forgotten Realms behind it. The game manages to sell a somewhat derivative medieval-era fantasy world with a bit of flair and humour. It starts with the race choices. You can be an arrogant lizard that’s good at persuasion and digging, or play as an undead character who needs to hide their terrifying face from view. They can pick locks with their bony fingers too. I love that evocative attention to detail. It helps to fill the gaps in a world you’re viewing from twenty feet in the air.
Fraser: The campaign is great, the battles are amazing, but there’s also this portal to an infinite number of player-created scenarios and mods. Original Sin 2’s GM mode captures the spirit of tabletop roleplaying, but with the convenience of a PC and some fairly easy to use tools. In 30 minutes I was able to cobble together a wee quest where a group of adventurers had to confront the Pork King, a pig with a crown, and his court of poultry. Playing the main campaign in co-op similarly feels like a tabletop game given digital life, especially when you end up murdering the person your mate was just about to get a quest from. It’s rare for Original Sin 2 to stop you from trying to do something stupid.
Phil: It wasn’t until my second playthrough that I realised just how many options you have—how neatly the story and interactions are tied together. Case in point: I’m in a resistance camp attempting to help three injured soldiers. They’re long past the point where potions could cure what ails them. If I want them to live, I’ll need to use healing magic, but no one in my party has the restoration spell. In most other RPGs that would be a problem. In Original Sin 2, it’s an opportunity for an elaborate workaround. My main character is specced for summoning. Summoners have a spell that lets them call forth an elemental that matches the surface they’re summoned to. And water elementals do have the restoration spell. I use a rain scroll that was collecting dust in my inventory to create some nearby puddles, and use one to raise the needed elemental. Original Sin 2 rewards your ingenuity.