Divinity: Dragon Commander’s Coolest Feature: Political Marriages

You get to play as a guy who can transform into a dragon in Divinity: Dragon Commander, and that gives you an active way to participate in its aerial real-time strategy battles. Okay, that sounds cool. Oh, and the dragon wears a jetpack? Hmmmm.

But as I sat through the hands-off demo for Larian Studios’ RTS addition to the Divinity series, it wasn’t the ability to jet around blowing stuff up that intrigued me: it was the fact that you could marry an undead zombie woman to gain the loyalty of her people.

Dragon Commander is an RTS, sure, and the primary goal of the player is to retake the world being forced into a monotheistic religion. Most of the world is already under the heel of the heathens (read: non-polytheists, I guess). That means our hero has to take it back a chunk at a time. He’s a prince who is commander of his country’s military forces and also a dragon knight, which means he is literally a dragon and a knight. There are multiple continents in the world, where various kinds of people live, and you can ally with them as you liberate them to gain strength in their areas of the world.

Actually thinking about the people you’re conquering or un-conquering is a big part of Dragon Commander. Gaining enough loyalty with one faction can cause the people to go into open revolt against your enemies, which cripples their presence in those areas and makes it harder for them to draw resources. Of course, piss off the wrong dignitary or offend the cultural sensibilities of a nation, and they could revolt against you, too.

That’s where the political marriages come in. You can actually marry people in Dragon Commander, and those characters appear along with other military advisers and ambassadors on your flagship. Marrying for the loyalty of a country can be a big boost, but it also means you can’t marry someone else from another country — until you decide to do that, ditching your first wife, and probably pissing off all manner of allies. What’s even cooler about it is that these political alliances have cultural repercussions: The imp nation thinks philandering is cool, for example, while the undead nation is a bit more conservative and sees you hopping from bed to bed as reprehensible. The political wheeling and dealing can result in “cards,” which you can play for various affects at different times during the game.

And then there’s the actual combat, which has players defending islands with resource-farming factories from incoming enemy attacks. Combat is as much about assigning units in an RTS fashion, which is done from a top-down perspective, as it is about strapping a jetpack on and taking the fight to the enemy from a third-person viewpoint as a dragon. Strategy is important, but the dragon is a tide-turner that can attack important targets or fulfill a number of combat roles, like acting as a distraction. Oh, and the jetpack lets you slow down time.

Dragon Commander will also include a pretty robust multiplayer mode that allows two players to square off with one another in fast-paced action-RTS hyrbid matches, and each gets a dragon of his or her own to command (but without the time-slowing capabilities). Spawn limits on your dragon incentives playing safe, and anti-dragon defenses and upgrades are key to surviving any battle. From what we saw during the demo, though, Dragon Commander’s multiplayer fights are going to be fast-paced, intense affairs that don’t last long. It doesn’t take too much for a few well-placed attacks on an open flank to take down an enemy base.

Still, though, the most intriguing thing to me about Dragon Commander wasn’t its RTS elements, but the way those elements were combined with so many others — specifically, the political strategy portions and the third-person action portions. Right now Dragon Commander sounds like an interesting title with a lot of cool attributes working together to make something fairly unique among RTS and action titles.

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