Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition - XBSX Review

Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition by developer and publisher Crate EntertainmentMicrosoft Xbox Series X review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

From Grim Dawn’s original release that I was more than happy to cover on my own, to the first major expansion of the Ashes of Malmouth that I was happy to cover as a member of this site, to the final expansion that's been on my backlog, Grim Dawn by Crate Entertainment is a Hack & Slash adventure RPG that I've found myself drawn back to over and over and the latest return is no different. So from the PC over to its first console release, here is Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition both for the Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

Taking it from the top, Grim Dawn is an apocalyptic level event that saw the world change bringing humanity to its knees with one foot through death's door against monstrous foes known as the Aetherials and another known as the Chthonians. Finding yourself at the end of a noose after being taken over by an Aetherial, the Aetherial leaves your body before death saving both it and yourself as you massage the bruises on your neck. No longer quite human but back in control of your actions, you set out in the world to help the people of various communities against the dangers looming outside of their walls.

While there have been several stellar Hack & Slash adventures before it such as Diablo, Titan's Quest, Torchlight and others, Grim Dawn took a much darker approach while also adding layers of robust character customization. Where Grim Dawn started to shine in the dark world we found ourselves in is that you could pick more than one class and then weren't bound by that class when it came to what kinds of gear you could equip and which skills you wanted to develop. This easily allowed for a variety of builds to be developed and tried out alone or with a friend without having to worry that two people selected identical classes as they could be used in completely different manners.

So with all of the choices to go about this adventure, the Definitive Edition takes this a step further as it includes the three expansion classes letting a person start this adventure from scratch with all of the additions and refinements over the years. From the Inquisitor and Necromancer from the Ashes of Malmouth to the Oathkeeper of the Forgotten God's, the choice and the combinations of these classes truly let you play this adventure as you see fit whether solo or in co-op.

On a side note, for players already familiar with the core of Grim Dawn or even the first expansion the Ashes of Malmouth, after the first boss an NPC will show up at any of the main towns to guide you to the newest content if you simply wanted to skip ahead. For everyone else wanting to wait and go through the rest first, there’s no issue with this as the NPC won’t disappear if you tell them that you’re not ready. They’ll just keep shadowing you until you are.

Speaking of where you are though, Grim Dawn’s world makes it rather easy to figure out where you are at all times. Split between a world map with portal locations and then a more local map that you can either lock into place or rotate around, it’s never hard to figure out your objectives as you move forward. What I’ve also always loved about this is that locking the map isn’t just locking the mini-map, it locks the bigger one as well, creating a consistency that most developers never think about as one rotates and the other stands still. Either both rotate, or neither rotate.

Getting into the good part though, the combat is fun and it’s satisfying. Generally on your own unless you have a partner along for the ride or a few “pets” which now include some rather not so cuddly undead, you’ll be hacking, slashing and blowing up anything that stands in your way. Swords, hammers, cannons, pistols, fire trails, traps, and so much more are all at your disposal. Taking it a step future, as mentioned earlier you can mix and match these classes so to take the latest Oathkeeper along with the Necromancer that I haven't tried out yet having opted for the Inquisitor last time, I ran about the battle field head first and throwing my shield all while commanding the forces of the undead to cover me from the enemies that I wasn’t currently smacking in the face.

While the core mechanics have not changed, including the ability to restore health from a ration / food pool between battles instead of using potions, the transition over to the consoles was a fairly decent one. Responsive controls to move around, attack enemies and use skills, where things could be a bit “odd” at times were the more mouse-like cursor controls while moving your gear around within your inventory. Sometimes this was just too sensitive making you fly right past where you meant to put something. It’s a minor detail at best and with how well the rest worked? Small price to pay.

In regards to these controls though, if there was one thing that I would have really liked to see it would have been full use of all the potential controller keys to be bound do as some buttons were left untouched leaving you with slots in the quick bar inaccessible short of opening up the menu and using your mouse cursor to click on these. It was ok if these were activation skills that when used take a percentage of your total mana to stay on, but you had to make sure to do this long before leaving town or rushing back into a battle after dying as that can happen rather quickly.

The only other issue that I could potentially see for various people, and at times of the day even myself, is that the font is super tiny on the bigger screens with no way to enlarge it. Sitting right in front of the screen it reads fine but from across the living room while most NPCs are not voiced? It could be hard on the eyes especially at the end of a long day where you already sit in front of a screen. Other than this though? That’s about all I have to complain about as everything else is super responsive with no lag even when you’re wrecking havoc and it looks like there’s at least fifty plus enemies on screen.


Launching at a great time of the year right before the holidays where people may not still be getting together because of the latest twists and turns of the pandemic, Grim Dawn is a great excuse to get together with others for some online co-op to tackle the forces of evil from the safety and comfort of your own living rooms. With plenty of classes to try and combine and loads of content between Grim Dawn, the Ashes of Malmouth and the Forgotten Gods, the console edition of Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition is a good choice.

Score: 8 / 10



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