Although my main area of coverage is RPGs, and although Larian Studios’ upcoming Divinity: Dragon Commander is arguably an RTS first and foremost, I feel compelled to comment on it…and not just because it ties into the story of their excellent Divinity series of RPGs. It’s an interesting, genre-bending game that everyone — not just RTS fans — should pay attention to.
Yes, at it’s core, it’s an RTS…a massive, 3D RTS that will feature battles that sprawl across massive landscapes. Loosely speaking, it’s a fantasy title, set early on within the canon of the Divinity series. Of course, since the technological status of society seems to degrade as time goes on (due to some as-yet unexplained cataclysm), that means that Dragon Commander features an odd mixture of steampunk-inspired units…including flying craft and tanks. But: fret not! The fantasy elements are still there.
Units in the game fall into three broad categories: land, sea, and air, and combat in the game is structured on a “rock, paper, scissors” model. I’m not sure exactly which unit category corresponds to which combat category, and Larian are being coy on the matter, but they did offer this little nugget of information:
If you have only land units, and the other guy has air and sea, you probably have a problem. Unless your dragon happens to pack the right skills…
The titular dragon commander is you, the player. Actually, it’s your alternate form, if you want to get technical about it. You play as the son — Larian didn’t have the budget to develop all the necessary permutations of assets and plot to support you playing as a female character — of one of the legendary Dragon Knights of the Divinity series, able to transform from human to dragon more or less on a whim. And not just any dragon, mind you; your dragon also has, at his disposal, a time-distorting jetpack and an arsenal of highly customizable powers.
In other words, it’s an RTS that also allows you to dive directly into battles, controlling an epic unit firsthand to turn the tide of combat.
Naturally, as is the case for any good RTS, there are tech trees to research and evolve your way along, as well as broader strategic elements — think Civilization-lite — that allow you a wide degree of freedom in choosing the theatre of battle and which allow you to manage matters back at home. You’ll have generals to consult with, advisors that will bring you news of the concerns and troubles facing your people and allies…and you’ll even have princess to woo and wed, thereby not only bolstering your relationship with certain advisors and the people they represent, but also gaining a valuable ally whose actions you can inform and influence to reap further benefit.
In addition to this, the game pays homage to its roots as a card-driven board game, and in fact you will actually be able to accumulate and play cards in the game to give yourself all manner of bonuses. (It’s about at this point that you should be thinking that this game…isn’t exactly a run-of-the-mill RTS offering.)
And on top of that, Larian Studios are layering what will hopefully be a rich plot that fits keenly into the Divinity mythos. Multiplayer combat — online or over a LAN — is also supported.
And again: your player-character in the game can transform into a jetpack-wearing dragon who can mix it up with entire armies on the battlefield. Is there really anything more you need to know?
Actually, yes, there is: when does it come out?