Dragon Commander: First Looks
Just before GamesCom started, Larian Studios announced their latest game named Dragon Commander. A game set in the Divinity universe - but as Swen Vincke stated while talking to him: “It is not an RPG”.
Then what is it? If it is not an RPG, why bother mentioning it at RPGWatch, let alone a create a complete article? There are several reasons for that. First of all Larian Studios is cool! Secondly, Swen is great to chat with and last but not least, Dragon Commander might have more than sufficient RPG elements in it to warrant this article - or actually two as we will have an interview as well.
Note that the screenshots in this article are actually shots made of a screen.
Dragon Commander is a mix of role playing, strategy and dragon combat in a steampunk setting. It tells the story of one of the first dragon knights. A story that unfolds during the game.
In the presentation we started at the main ship, which is your hub throughout the game. In this hub there are several people living you can interact with and each of them has their own story arc. The game plays in turns and after each turn you have to make your decisions about a lot of things, both complicated and simple. Decisions about who to romance, what strategy to follow, what to research, who to fight and many other things.
|The central hub|
Swen gave one example to show how this works. One of the people living on your ship is making lame bone jokes about your princess. You tell him that she is the queen and should be treated with respect, after which he says to rest assured and make no bones about it. Once you visit your bedroom it becomes clear why he makes these jokes: your princess appears to be an undead princess. A small oversight you forgot to check when you bought her.
Still she comes with many advantages; she brought an army, technology, magic and other things that can be at your disposal - or not - depending on what you decide. There are multiple princesses in the game that you can marry to get the bonuses they are offering. Sometimes you might even decide you don’t want a princess anymore and throw her off the ship - or maybe you decide to start a harem.
|Making lame bone jokes||Your princess with the apples|
Your princess can offer you something but there is no free ride: she wants something from you as well. This particular princess has the desire to become alive again and she wants to form a nation of the dead to start researching how she can achieve her goal. To accomplish this, she wants to have the city of Deepspire. However, there are dwarves living over there. So, you can choose to give her what she wants but she will then ask you to remove the dwarves from Deepspire. Doing so will make her happy, but not the dwarves - and not giving her what she wants makes her unhappy but not the dwarves.
Unsure what to do, you can go to your Imp advisor Edmund who will tell you that if you grant the wish of the princess you will get an army of the undead, which is good to have. If you favor the dwarves you will gain access to even higher technology than you have right now, which is good as well. You cannot have both so you will have to take one of the two options. You either invest in the technology tree or you invest in the armies. In this demo the choice was made to give the princess what she wants, maybe because her apples were so irresistible. Our boney princess is very happy about that and she will give you a card that can be used in the strategy part of the game. Using that card will make the undead armies fight on your side in the next mission.
|The imp advisor||You have won a card|
The card is added to your deck of cards, which is filled with cards you collect throughout the game. These cards can be used whenever you feel it is opportune to use them. There are many types of cards, cards that give you access to extra technology, cards for extra dragon upgrades, cards that change things at the side of the enemy, cards that allow you to steal the princess of the enemy and many more. The list of cards is not finalized at this point and if they think of anything that is fun and will work in the game they will make a card of it.
In the strategy mode you have a turn based map in which you can move your enemy troops. You can also buy units, invest in different types of technology or magic trees and you can play your cards.
Once you made all your decisions you can end your turn, after which you will have to decide which combat to participate in and under which general you want to deploy your troops. There are multiple generals to choose from, each with their own story arc, strengths and weaknesses. Once you’ve made your choices the fight can begin.
|Combat decisions to make||An overview of the battlefield|
While in combat you will play as a dragon. A dragon equipped with a jetpack and armaments allowing you to toughen the dragon. It is also possible to give him the fantasy equivalent of sidewinders to increase his power even further.
Dragon combat in Divinity 2 just didn’t work. It was fun for a short time, but after a while it got boring. In Dragon Commander it looks like they have solved that problem. The dragon is equipped with a jetpack. If you use it time is slowed down, which gives the dragon the ability to navigate around incoming projectiles and manage large amounts of enemies even though the fights can be very dynamic. The jetpack also allows the dragon to rapidly navigate to a point on the map with a high velocity of 200 meters a second over a map with a size of 20 square kilometers.
|A dragon at high speed is difficult to capture|
During combat you can give orders to your generals to attack certain troops or ships of the enemy. You can stick with giving orders or you can participate in the battles that are not going the way you like. Even if you are underpowered but very skilled as a dragon you can try to change the battle by counting on your dragon power.
At the moment there is not something like a tactical map or overview, nor were there any ground troops and thus ground combat, but both will be added to the game at a later stage.
Swen mentioned that he always loved Cinemaware games like Defender of the Crown and that he wanted to make something like that: this is where some of the ideas come from. In addition to that they’ve added their RPG knowledge to it including some very non-linear branching. Furthermore, they have made a board game of Dragon Commander which they have played for quite some time and which gives them lots of ideas of what might and might not work.
The demo of Dragon Commander looked good, but the game is far from being complete. It might see a release in 2012 - then again, it might not. The concept of the game is very interesting and if they can manage to get everything integrated in the right way this will be one very fun dragon game to play.
Information aboutDivinity: Dragon Commander
Developer: Larian Studios
SP/MP: Single + MP
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released: 2013-08-06
· Publisher: Larian Studios