This past weekend, I reported on my favorite Apple-related game of E3 2012: Larian Studios’ Divinity: Original Sin. But that wasn’t the only game Larian was showing off in their meeting room. The Belgian company was also demoing the forthcoming mash-up of real time strategy, third-person action and card-based gaming: Dragon Commander.
Like Original Sin, Dragon Commander is also part of the Divinity universe, taking place at a time “… when both magic and technology were at their peak.” As Larian explains on the Dragon Commander website, the game “… tells the story of a young Dragon Knight who fights for the survival of Rivellon when his father, the king, is brutally murdered for opposing the teachings of a new religion. Six nations—the elves, the dwarves, the imps, the undead, the lizards and the humans—must set aside their differences and unite to stop Empress Aurora from taking over the world.”
What you really need to know, though, is that you get to control a jetpack-equipped dragon.
The gameplay of Dragon Commander is centered around three phases, for the most part. Off the battlefield, the story presents you with decisions to make. In the demo, The Dwarven King presented his daughter to my character for marriage. My guy’s already married to the Elf Princess, but aligning himself with the dwarves in this manner would give him certain cards that could be used to enhance his capabilities in battle, not to mention key territories from which to launch operations.
However, he’d lose bonuses provided by those who oppose the marriage.
You’ll be faced with many such political decisions, and the most strategic response won’t always be the easiest. You’re not just making blind decisions, however, as you’ll get counsel from your imp adviser, and you can visit the bar to get gossip and learn public opinion.
When you do head off to battle, you’ll first need to make strategic decisions on a Risk-style map. This is where the cards you’ve earned come into play, as you can use them to increase resources, heal units in combat, call in support, and more. The strategic use of cards will be the key to victory.
Your goal is to unite the kingdoms, and there’ll be plenty of fighting before you do. The combat itself is currently all aerial based, with you deploying units and setting up their support in real time. As the battle wages on around you, you finally get to take command of your dragon, zipping around the battlefield to perform pinpoint attacks and provide support where needed. Your dragon can be destroyed, but will respawn after a certain amount of time. If you want/need to respawn instantly, it’ll cost you some gold.
Dragon Commander will have a full single player campaign, and multiplayer will be supported in both co-op campaign and skirmish modes (up to four players). We saw a demo of skirmish mode, and the battle was pretty wild. Don’t think the action segments are dumbed down to support the strategy element; this is intense real-time combat that’s going to thrill both strategy and action gamers.
Larian is hoping for a simultaneous Mac/PC release in the first quarter of 2013. If you’re a serious computer gamer, you should be hoping for that, too.
See TechnologyTell’s full E3 2012 coverage.