E3 2012: Divinity: Dragon Commander Preview

Divinity: Dragon Commander is a new extension of the popular fantasy universe of the Divinity series into a full blown strategy title with a mix of turn based and real time components, if you are versed with Divinity then you may be interested to know that the game takes place many years before Divine Divinity when the world is at the height of technology and magic, and as a young Dragon Knight you are attempting to save Rivellon from the ashes.

As with all old world fantasy titles, the once great Empire of Rivellon has been forced into a corner by an ominous evil, however this time it's a religion; the One Religion, the very one that slew your father for going against them. The root of our story is a tale of revenge, and as with previous Divinity games the story is held in high regard, just as high as a nice dry humour which you will find interspersed into the countless conversations to be had with others aboard your ship.

The first strategic element in the game is found with battle cards, these can be gained through simple diplomacy and battle, and can be used before battles as modifiers or buffs for respect at integral points in the game, they can be used when on the tactical turn based map which acts similarly to Risk or Crusader Kings in sending your troops and such to other continents.

Your tactical map like in any good command base is found in the war room of your ship; The Raven, here you can converse with important folk in the world to help unlock interesting battle cards, similarly you've got the bar that serves the same purpose, and the Bedroom where you can find your princess, but we'll get to that in a bit.

When you're ready to jump into a real time battle you can do so at your leisure from the tactical map ensuring to play any battle cards that you may deem useful, real time battles are your standard affair, we were not taken into length of the different types of buildings or defences, but to be honest the main focus of the real time battles was placed on the dragon that you can command like you're just out of Panzer Dragoon.

With control of the dragon you have full reign of the map to fly around, and the ability to shoot enemy units out of the sky, now of course your little dragon cannot simply gun down everything before him or we'd have no use for strategy, however it acts in a similar way to the use of Skye and her arsenal in the first person tower defense Sanctum. Suddenly that lone ship can be picked off without have to send your whole battalion of troops to its location, oh yeah and did I mention that the dragon wears a jetpack, so he can travel very very fast!

Whilst the dragons are a fantastic feature in the game, their use really came into its own with a multiplayer demonstration where sudden intense battles can rage between both players' dragons, there is however only one dragon available at a time, and with a hefty price tag and cooldown you'll quickly ensure not to take him into the thick of battle too often.

What is perhaps the most interesting feature of the game is the political schmoozing that will take place, the world is inhabited by six civilised nations; the Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Undead, Imps and Lizards, occasionally the ambassadors of these councils of nations will show up at your ship; be it the War room to discuss important matters, or in the Bar to talk about your latest decisions or rumours going around.

Decisions made in the war room have the potential to affect the current states under your control and that of others, for instance in the snippet of the main campaign that we saw, the Prince was married to an Elven princess which put the Elven race in very high favour, however after conquering a state of Dwarven territory the Dwarven councillor comes to your war room to offer a marriage proposal between yourself and the Dwarf princess, accepting this marriage will put your Elven territories into revolt, and make many of the Dwarven territories ripe for the taking.

These same moves can be taken for each of the six races including the Undead Race, yes the Undead have a delectable Princess, however being obviously inherently religious, if you go pulling any moves on her as our presentation did with the Elves and Dwarves, the race as a whole is likely to disown you! However what makes the princesses such an interesting device in the game is that each one can be shaped according to the diplomatic decisions that you make at certain events, want a slutty Elf, or an almost cybernetic Undead princess, well you can make them that way if you want it thanks to the deep flow of events that can affect both the relations between nations or your life in the bedroom!

The mix of real time and turn based action definitely seems to be a current trend with PC gaming, and the presence of playing cards puts a spin on what other developers are creating not to mention there's nothing as bad-ass as controlling a dragon in a tense battle in the sky.

From what we saw of the game, there can only be more good to come, whilst it looks as though it will be very difficult to balance the power of your dragons to stop you from ending battles with him alone, the overall concept of the game is fantastic, and we can't wait to see more of it. Divinity: Dragon Commander is scheduled for a release during the 1st Quarter of 2013 for Windows PC.


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