PC Gamer: Divinity: Original Sin 2 Comes Close to Ultima 7
Richard Cobbett should be well-enough known to Ultima fans; if you find yourself reading an article about Ultima in the mainstream gaming press, chances are Cobbett is the author thereof. And that’s certainly the case for this PC Gamer article:
I know it’s an unfair comparison, because it’s not really Ultima 7 the Divinity series is going up against, but the legend of Ultima 7–the Platonic ideal of the open world RPG that was established back in 1992. I was thirteen when I not simply played it but got blown away by it. That huge open world. That freedom. The fact that you could bake bread and eat it. It was both a design and technical milestone in an era where 256 colours were still a novelty. The villain could talk to you. In real speech! You could blow up the world with Armageddon!
Never mind that games like Minecraft have long since surpassed its scripted, largely sign-posted crafting, or that the combat was dreadful, or that the world isn’t actually THAT big if you take a step back. No game will never supplant my love of Ultima 7 because no matter how much tech or how much brilliance you put it in it, it will never fill my soul with the magic that those chunky VGA sprites and a few speech files did back then. The same goes for many longtime RPG players, who hold Ultima 7 in high esteem – perhaps even Vincke himself. And no, you’ll never experience that same feeling now, if you play Ultima 7 in a world with the likes of Planescape: Torment and Skyrim and Dragon Age. You missed it. Sorry.
At the same time, Ultima 7 doesn’t just cast a shadow. In being that illusion of a perfect RPG, even if in practice it’s far from it, it offers a great guiding light for Divinity as a whole–highlighting both how far it’s come, and where the issues still are. Again, it’s come a hell of a long way. As much as I hate to say it, Divinity: Original Sin 2… deep breath… is a better game than Ultima 7 in pretty much every way, from the depth of its world simulation to its raw mechanics and combat and character building. Certainly, as a standalone adventure.
But what more might it be? What else has Ultima 7 to teach?
I won’t excerpt more; you’ll want to click on through to read the rest of it.
It’s not a short article; Cobbett goes into considerable detail about various features and follies of both Ultima 7 and Divinity: Original Sin 2. His main contention would seem to be that Original Sin 2 fails to live up to Ultima 7 mainly due to being the second entry in a game series, rather than the seventh; the depth of storytelling in Divinity, the sense of history, and the social relevance of its plot points just aren’t up to the standard of Ultima 7.
Still, his overall conclusion — teased in the title of his article — is that Divinity: Original Sin 2 does very well by the legacy of Ultima 7, which is high enough praise for any game.