Divinity: Dragon Commander: Preview
On the anvils of developers from Friv5Online Games Studio, two projects are currently forged - Divinity: Original Sin and Dragon Commander. And if with the first everything is more or less clear - a classic RPG in the best traditions of Larian - then Dragon Commander raises many puzzling questions. The authors promise some kind of incomprehensible explosive mixture of role-playing, strategy and board-card games. The previews feature dragons with backpacks, skeletal wives and ships hovering above the ground. It is completely incomprehensible to an outside observer how this will all work. Friv5Online Games Studio PR manager Kirill Perevozchikov showed us an early game build and satisfied our curiosity a little.
In fact, everything turned out to be outrageously simple. The Dragon Commander mechanics as a whole are very similar to Total War . There is a global map where we recruit "units", rebuild buildings, make technological improvements, and so on; there is a battle map on which the fate of the war is directly decided.
The color of the game is given by the elaboration of a flying ship - our command center. We are allowed to wander through its various compartments and speak personally with the inhabitants. If in the Total War series, the solution of diplomatic tasks or the receipt of some side tasks was carried out within the framework of the global map, then in Dragon Commander all everyday worries are visualized. Here all the talent found its use.Larian 's role-playing game: charismatic characters, interesting dialogue and difficult moral dilemmas - Dragon Commander has all of this in abundance.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The protagonist of the game is the Fiery Knight, who is destined to defeat the powerful evil lady Aurora, who once greatly harmed the father of our adventurer. But first, we have to conquer Rivellon, torn apart by feudal contradictions. All there is to accomplish such daunting tasks is a small plot of land, the ability to transform into a dragon and a ship soaring in the sky, on which our advisers, generals and other cute creatures live.
It is these guys who make us enter into dialogues with great curiosity and pleasure. Each of our advisors, representing a particular race, embodies some kind of satirical image. So, the gnomes here personify the bourgeois, looking for financial benefits in everything; lizards are advanced liberals; elves are concerned about the state of the environment; the undead suffer from religious fanaticism; and the imps just want to blow it up. During each new move, they are ready to communicate something new, give a fresh joke or set some difficult diplomatic task.
For example, the question of legalizing marijuana. "Grass" can be used for medicinal purposes, but its use is ambiguous from the point of view of morality. Each of our advisers speaks out on the issue and defends their own position reasonably. In this case, only the undead are conservative. We have three options - submit the decision to the majority, pass a new law or reject it. The choice will not only increase or decrease your authority in the eyes of representatives of a particular race, but also affect further events - in the future, a character may appear who will whine about the fact that drugs have ruined his life.
In general, it is very pleasant to be distracted from the direct conduct of the war by chatting with the crew members and solving such problems in Dragon Commander. What is even worth the opportunity to choose a bride! Each of the advisers, wishing to intermarry with the great Flame Knight, offers his own daughter to us as a wife. The development of a relationship with a girl is a separate storyline in the game. The favorite of the public, according to Cyril, has become a representative of the undead - a female skeleton, dreaming of acquiring beautiful human flesh. We are free to fulfill the dream of our beloved, to collect individual body parts from all the lands of Rivellon and glue them into a kind of Frankenstein. Or you can choose a different path and turn your spouse into a robot.
We did not follow the lead of the majority and chose a lizard as our wife. The lady turned out to be with character: having informed that love joys were nothing compared to reading books, she advised us to find a concubine, because we should not expect female attention from her. In general, one passage to get acquainted with all the plot twists and turns is clearly not enough. And it's not just that you really want to have a romance with a representative of a new species: each next war for Rivellon will differ significantly from the previous one - the global map and the set of quests that our comrades-in-arms are ready to offer change.
Love is love, but diplomatic calculations are in the foreground. Each area of the map belongs to a particular race, and the higher the popularity of the Flame Knight in the eyes of this or that people, the more money we get in one move.
And there is something to spend money on. On each land plot, you can erect one of the available buildings, choosing the specialization of the area - for example, building barracks and riveting troops or making the land a stronghold of science, accelerating the development of technology. The latter, as in Total War , will lead us from a stick-digging state to the highest forms of "units".
The skills of the dragon, which is directly involved in the battle, are also subject to "pumping". We are given four types of fire-breathing creatures to choose from, the skills of each of which are focused on a specific battle tactics - there is a loner relying on his own strength, and there is a collectively-minded "birdie" that heals or strengthens the main troops.
It is also important to develop diplomatic relations with the generals sitting in the bar of our ship. Before the start of any battle, we can select the auto battle option and delegate the conduct of hostilities to one of the commanders. The success of the battle in this case will depend on the general's disposition towards us - if he is fanatically loyal to the Knight, he will be able to emerge victorious from the most hopeless situation.
But trusting the outcome of a war to someone is not the way of a true Flame Knight. Before the start of the battle, we are asked to choose several dragon skills that we are going to use, as well as to make a set of five cards. The latter are small bonuses in the form of additional units, increased attack speed, and so on. Cards are issued randomly on each turn, as well as for completing various quests. In multiplayer battles, by the way, the enemy will be able to see only three of those that you use - the other two will be a secret for him, which opens up scope for strategic tricks.
Before launching a tactical battle map, the game will assess your chances of success. In the proposed build, this system did not work very accurately - with almost identical armies on both sides, according to the computer, our chances were zero. Nevertheless, we decided to challenge fate.
The global map disappears, and we find ourselves in front of a battle screen. Its interface is made in the traditional RTS style. As for the graphics, although Kirill constantly apologized for the unsightly appearance, explaining it with the dampness of the build, the landscapes, models and animation looked very nice.
Our first task is to seize platforms for the construction of buildings scattered across different parts of the map in the shortest possible time. The enemy is doing the same, so the fastest will get a tactical advantage. We can build turrets or barracks in which "units" are created right on the battlefield. Thus, the tactical part of the game comes down to capturing and defending key points. Here, the ability to transform into a dragon, which plays the role of fire support from the air, is useful. In this mode, we distract from the control of the main troops and direct the actions of the Flame Knight from the third person.
In our case, the enemy had some quantitative and qualitative superiority, so he managed to quickly seize the advantage on the map. However, further he showed the height of military thought - instead of creating a large army and crushing our last stronghold, the enemy riveted "units" and sent them in a single copy to death. The turrets fired at them without any problems, giving us the opportunity to gather our own troops and launch a counteroffensive. Artificial intelligence acted artlessly and straightforwardly. However, we were assured that all problems in the final version will be eradicated.
Despite some flaws, Dragon Commander looks very decent. Friv5Online Games Studio tried to transfer all its experience gained over a considerable period of RPG creation to strategy soil. We did not manage to evaluate all the possibilities and charms of the project due to the lack of time and the oddities of AI, but what concerns diplomacy, characters, dialogues and corporate "Larian" humor, it is done at a height.