Monday, August 05, 2013

Divinity: Dragon Commander Gameplay Review

I'm playing Divinity: Dragon Commander, a real-time strategy game by Larian Studios.

The game features a story-based or custom campaign mode similar to the Total War series, in that you order units around a large map and play out individual tactical battles. You can build structures and recruit units in each province, in addition to playing cards that grant map-based bonuses or advantages during combat. Diplomatic decisions improve relations with some of the races in the game, eventually granting new cards to play on the map. You can also research new units, unit abilities, and dragon skills. You can only directly lead one battle per turn; the rest are led by generals and the results are based on the number and quality of units involved. You can also enjoy the campaign mode online against other humans, or play a tactical skirmish battle online or against the AI. The tactical battles are similar to Supreme Commander (though simplified, with only one resource), with lots of quickly-produced units on large maps. The interface gives you fairly easy access to your troops and buildings, although the lack of infinite queues makes production more hands-on. The basic units have simple rock-paper-scissors combat resolution, and you can capture nearby buildings quickly, allowing you to produce units in enemy bases. If things get tough, you can take to the battlefield as a dragon (with a jetpack) with direct control, breathing fire on enemies and using spells on friendly units. While this is an intriguing feature, limited unit controls are present and you can’t build units or structures while flying around, an important limitation in a fast-paced game. The AI is very good, efficiently managing a large army and quickly going after vulnerable parts of your defense. While the simplified economy and mechanics lack the depth of other tactical strategy games, Divinity: Dragon Commander does offer a compelling campaign mode and approachable, chaotic battles.