The Divinity Universe Expands with Dragon Commander and Divinity: Original Sin

Dragons with jetpacks. Elemental mishaps. Expect all this and more in Larian Studios' upcoming Divinity duo.

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There's nothing more awesome than a dragon--except for maybe a dragon in a jetpack. Still not convinced? Then how about a dragon in a jetpack in a board game/real-time strategy/action hybrid with religiously devout skeletons and dwarves wearing gold-rimmed hats?

Maybe that got your attention, then.

Divinity: Dragon Commander is one of two upcoming games from Larian Studios set in the Divinity universe. If you're a longtime PC gamer, then you probably know this series, which started with Divine Divinity in 2002. But Dragon Commander is not a role-playing game, though it does have elements of RPGs. Rather, it is a hybrid game, much of which takes place on an overhead tactical map that gives you an overhead view of the kingdoms you long to control, as well as within your very own command center.

At your base, you engage in dialogue with various advisors and make choices based on their suggestions and attitudes. For instance, you might get an opportunity to divorce your elven bride and marry a dwarven princess instead. Doing so will strengthen your ties with the dwarven faction, but the undead counselor won't be so pleased: by marrying for political reasons, you insult the sanctity of marriage. You can see the results of your decisions on the tactical map. Your decisions could lead to revolts in certain lands, meaning that you would no longer be able to produce units there. In this case, you can be certain to annoy the elves, who will rise up in anger.

Once you enter battle, your choices boil down to this: what is the best way to crush my enemy? This is where the RTS game comes into play. As in most similar games, you build structures to support your army and send units into battle, in this case floating artillery bases, imposing airships, and other fantastical steampunk offenses that you send soaring through the sky from your floating island base. What makes Dragon Commander different is that you can enter battle as a fire-breathing dragon (you yourself are a dragon knight) and spew flames at the foes that dare challenge your superiority. Your wings might give you speed and lift, but when you need an extra boost, you can activate your jetpack and go flying through the air at high velocity. That jetpack also allows you to slow down time and evade incoming bullets.

Such battles occur in both single-player and multiplayer modes. In either case, Dragon Commander's colorful, tech-meets-magic visuals are striking at this early stage. Character designs in particular show lots of little touches, from the fox skin wrapped around a dwarf's neck, to the way a princess's dress strap falls daintily from her shoulder. Meanwhile, the jagged ears of your imp counselor looks as if they could cut through tin. Battles themselves light up the screen with dazzling blue plasma fire and giant explosions. It all looks so pretty.

If you'd rather the franchise stick to its role-playing roots, well, there's a game for you as well: Divinity: Original Sin. Divinity II took the series in a somewhat different direction with its third-person adventuring, while Original Sin returns to the isometric view associated with Divine Divinity. It is not a complete return to the ways of old, however: combat is turn-based, and up to three other players can join you on your questing in the world of Rivellon. One nice touch you don't see often: should one player enter combat, his teammates can still explore without being stuck waiting for the encounter to finish.

Once you're engaged in battle, you aren't limited to the usual attacks, skills, and magical abilities you might have expected. You have normal combat abilities, of course, but the environment plays a big role. Let's say a big mech is standing right next to a puddle. You can start your assault by making it rain in order to enlarge the puddle, so that your foe then stands in a nice shallow pool of water. Then, your teammate hurls lightning into the puddle, electrifying and stunning the robot so you can damage it without repercussions. Or perhaps there are oil barrels nearby. Pick one up and drop it in the middle of a group of swordsman, so that your companion can ignite it with a flaming arrow, killing multiple enemies in one turn.

Divinity: Original Sin isn't all about battle, however. Story is an important part of the game, even when you're playing with others. Dialogue will give you opportunities to make decisions, though your co-op partner is free to disagree. Should there be a dialogue conflict, a die roll will determine the outcome, taking into account attributes like strength (intimidate your teammate!) or charisma (charm the pants off him.) And let it be said that some of that dialogue handles mature themes: the demo we saw featured a woman who spent a salacious night with a dashing gentleman, only to discover he was no man--but a beast in disguise.

Throughout the course of Original Sin, you will have the opportunity to alter the flow of the story, using your wiles to avoid battle, or slaughtering suicide bombers before they have a chance to blow you up along with them. You can also affect your relationships with other characters by messing around with their belongings while they watch (you can pick up various items and move them around if you enjoy watching the non-player characters react to your shenanigans), or even stealing them. After all, the apple you see sitting on that poor woman's table might be handy if you need a health boost. And if she gets too bothered by your disregard for her property, and gets in your face about it, you can just strike her down.

Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Dragon Commander are very much the products of a studio that clearly loves PC games, and doesn't want to abandon the passions that made its previous adventures so interesting. Only time will tell just how these experiences turn out, but you can count on at least one thing: dragons. Dragons in jetpacks, no less. That mental image alone should keep these two games on your radar until their releases in 2013.

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Discussion

58 comments
megakick
megakick

Well at the very least its way more interesting then the RTS I know of LOL.

Cataclysmm
Cataclysmm

a dragon with a jet pack,now that,s something you don't see everyday. 

p_k_r_
p_k_r_

Wow, this is definitely something fresh on the PC scene. As someone below said, the devs are ACTUALLY taking a risk by trying out something new. That alone warrants these two games attention, seriously - when was the last time a studio tried thinking outside the box? 

thrice00
thrice00

Dragons and jet packs ?!?!?!?!??!?!

Blackened_Halo
Blackened_Halo

I was surprised by turn-based combat, i mean in a positive sense :)) It looks amazing, i love Diviny Divinity and Beyond Divinity, so I cant wait to play it :)

GarGx1
GarGx1

Original sin looks pretty good, not sure if Dragon Commander is my cup of tea though.

MADPADDY
MADPADDY

Original Sin has some potential just hope they keep it as a full RPG and dont try and mix it with other formats.

VercettiTommyy
VercettiTommyy

I'm interested in Original Sin , and while a return to the roots is a nice touch, I would have prefered it as a 3rd person  action-rpg just like Divinity 2 , which was a really great game.

Knoar
Knoar

I'm excited for both of these games.  Much respect to this company for not selling out like almost everyone else.

Vektor_basic
Vektor_basic

Original Sin for me, thank you very much!

velimirius
velimirius

Cant wait for Original Sin, looks like real oldschool RPG :)

Bakutakamine
Bakutakamine

These guys are taking risks. I appreciate that. There hasn't been a nonindie turn based RPG in years, crazy stuff. Hopefully these both turn out good so i can have many hours of fun.

kakotan
kakotan

i loved their last game but i think this is a wrong wrong kind of  path to take in this game, they should have just stuck to a new action rpg like the last game :/ but it looks pretty , just not my stle 8)

 

bemushroomed
bemushroomed

Looks great, big fan of Divine Divinity and i love turn based combat.

zintarr
zintarr

I love the games these guys make!

Whitebloodsun
Whitebloodsun

"Feminist" will said that Dragon Commander is sexist. lol

That said, I will be buying both of this game. They all looks awesome!!!

Slash_out
Slash_out

I loved all the divinity games.

I'm definitively getting those two.

Can't wait.

lindallison
lindallison

Wow Divinity isn't my favorite series or anything but you have to respect that the developers are going TURN BASED in the third game of an ARPG series.  I mean that's the total opposite of what usually happens, maybe combat will actually be interesting this time...

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

PASS..........

Divinity II sucked so hard.......NO, seriously Divinity makes Dragon Age II look good by comparison, at least DA2 is playable to some extent, just not enjoyable.

I wanna see something like Planescape Torment or Neverwinter Nights......Maybe i should track down a copy of NWN2.......

Madball357
Madball357

FINALLY a proper RPG!! Haven't seen one of those for years! Original Sin, Wasteland 2, Age of Decadence, Legend of Grimrock... things are looking good.

blutosan
blutosan

Fantasy sci-fi RTS?  I'm interested!

 

by the way:

I won't be divorcing my hot elven bride for a dwarven princess.  The Kingdom will burn down before I make that call.

ronnet
ronnet

I never finished Divinity II, the story didn't interest me and once I reach the dragon form neither did the gameplay. These don't look like their my kind of games either. I'd have prefered something that really builds upon the original game.

0morte
0morte

so damn interesting for 1 single fact, new ideas

Peter_Eater
Peter_Eater

I don't know if I love this or hate it...

IndySandbagTrik
IndySandbagTrik

Original Sin looks great - Divine Divinity and DKS are in my top 10 rpgs of all time.

Morbissus
Morbissus

Looks weak... Go back to Divine Divinity- open world exploration & hack n slash please.

RyuRanVII
RyuRanVII

Two fantastic games with substance at E3 and yet all the spotlights were on pseudo-interactive movies. Sad...

lulababy
lulababy

Great to see a company doing something different !!! I love LARIAN. It refreshing to see someone stick to their guns and provide mature gaming and go a different route than the rest. By Mature I dont just only mean violence ,sex and guns , I mean respect for gamers by not holding their hand in a game like they are little kids. Ego Draconis was an incredible game made by and for mature audience. Graphics ,Story and Music were amazing!!!

Cant wait for those 2 to come out.

Larian is so Eurocentric , It great. Its not americanised, moronic take on things which I find abhorrent in games recently. Many european game makers have folded lately. Its good to see someone doing things their own way and being successful.  

damodar_thade
damodar_thade

Dragons with jetpacks... nah think i'll just hop between DA and SW:BF where neither of those 2 things coexist thankfully. Plus the last divinity was painfully bad.

Ayondil
Ayondil

Loved the video, looking really forward to Original Sin, might become the best for me in a decade. Finally a story and world design that emerges me.

Shiftfallout
Shiftfallout

Just being isometric isnt good enough. In fact that doesnt matter. What matters is the gameplay, the vast world, the quests and story, items and ability to take over a house and make it yours, storing items you find in the world and dropping them, moving them around to create your own space ala Morrowind. If this turns into another Dungeon Siege 3 then just write it off as a stupid sequel made for a newer audience with a much smaller attention span.

cr3zy
cr3zy

Loved Divine Divinity and this looks much more like it! Not too sure about the turn-based combat tho, I would probably prefer hacknslash like in the original.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

Divinity: Original Sin back to its root,

 

Isometric RPG FTW

 

 

Raze_Larian
Raze_Larian

 @rafail1997 Release estimates are Q1 and Q2 of 2013 for Dragon Commander and Original Sin, respectively. There will be demos for both, but probably not significantly before the releases. There might be a playable demo at a games convention before then, or something.

 

Larian is self publishing these games, so have more freedom on the release dates than they would otherwise. For example, they are currently at least considering adding a co-op multiplayer mode to Dragon Commander. According to a forum post adding another multiplayer mode would be relatively easy, but presumably would require more testing and balancing:

http://www.larian.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=456074&an=

kJHGl
kJHGl

 @MJ12-Conspiracy You're clearly talking about a different game then. Divinity 2 didn't have recycled areas and it didn't have a story with massive plot holes. Granted the ending wasn't amazing and the combat wasn't fluid or unique but at least the ending made sense with the story and at least combat made sense in the setting and allowed the player to follow five different classes.

 

Divinity 2 also had a proper dialogue system (a dialogue tree) rather than dumbed down dialogue wheel and the quests all had multiple solutions and conclusions. It's clear you didn't play much of Divinity 2 if you're saying that it sucked harder than Dragon Age 2 (an average game) and most people agree that Divinity 2 (especially the re-released Dragon Knight Saga which contains a better camera and the expansion which has more akin with a traditional RPG than the main game does) was a great RPG with a few flaws.

 

Keep in mind that Divinity 2 was made by a small company and yet it still turned out better than half the RPG's being released nowadays which are dumbed down and simply generic.

 

Divinity: Original Sin isn't anything like Divinity 2 though. It's more like the first game in the series (Divine Divinity) which played like an action-RPG (it actually played a bit like Diablo in that you have skills and your basic attack but you can pause the game too) but had the role playing of a CRPG. It also had a isometric camera.

 

"I wanna see something like Planescape Torment or Neverwinter Nights"

 

Well that's kinda of what Divinity: Original Sin is. I recommend you play the first game in the series (Divine Divinity) before you dismiss this game. Gamespot themselves would recommend it to you considering they gave it a score of 8.6...

 

http://uk.gamespot.com/divine-divinity/

MADPADDY
MADPADDY

 @ronnet Totally agree Div two was great until the dragon shooter bits lost interest after that and never finished it.There was some great ideas like the building ya own pet etc,but it lost its way at some point and stopped feeling like an RPG and more of a RTS/RPG.

dwelfusius
dwelfusius

 @ronnet erm..how is this not building on DD?Except for the TB combat, I'm playing DD for the third time and a wholo lot of things I adore in that game, i see traces from in this demo, to an even bigger extent..but you have it your way

BludshedX
BludshedX

 @Ladiesman17 I would have preferred a classic 2D sprite engine with gorgeously detailed hand-drawn textures and sprites, but win some lose some.

 

Baldur's Gate meets Fallout with a super easy game editor made by the same guys that made Divine Divinity... it's like a defibrillator to the heart of the CRPG genre.... Awesome!

cipo89
cipo89

 @Henrique2324 People don't have to be Japanese to make these games you know...

Raze_Larian
Raze_Larian

@Henrique2324  They are Belgian. The turn based combat came from a desire to do something like the first Fallout games.

Raze_Larian
Raze_Larian

 @RAHBRT  There will be demos released, which should help you decide.

Both games are using a new engine (the original previews of Dragon Commander used a modified version of the engine from Divinity 2 Dragon Knight Saga).

naomha1
naomha1

 @Raze_Larian I like the idea behind it. Kind of reminds me a little of Temple of Elemental Evil, which was a fantastic game, and also turn based. I've been a huge fan of the Divinity series and will def be keeping an eye on this one as well.