Reviews: Divinity Dragon Commander

Interesting concept, flawed execution

Divinity: Dragon Commander is an interesting hybrid. It has RTS, Grand Strategy, RPG and shooter elements in it.

It offers everything, which is one of it's main flaws. While it does everything, it doesn't excel at anything. However, the way this all comes together makes it somehow work. At no point do you feel "I need more this" than other.

Strongest part of the game is the cast interaction onboard your command ship, Raven. Ranging from personal drama of your generals, to small scale political incidents by politicians to deciding national policies all the way to your personal love life. This is one of the most interesting aspects of the game and despite the binary nature of the decision, the sheer amount of branching is sure to keep you interested. Especially when it comes to your queen, who all have their branching story lines.

The weakest part of the game, is the RTS section. While there is depth to be found, it sufers from the weak UI. There is no auto-cast, which makes certain units near useless, as they require micromanagment. Management, which you can't do due to UI. Most battles end with one side achieving early dominance and then grinding the opponent down. Of course, when this happens to you, the dragon form you can take can change the course of the battle. AI tends to rely on zerg rush, though it can some times surprise you.

Strategy portion is your standard, build units on the map, move them, build structures and research tech. Nothing complex, but it has certain depth to it once you get a hang of it. Main issue is the AI.

Indeed, flying as a dragon is fun, even if it makes managing your army harder. Some people complain of the shit limit you have, but I believe it is a good way to counter the power of the dragon. Furthermore, it only counts in term of firing rate. I found that my not clicking as fast as I can, and instead simply holding the mouse button, I could keep up steady firing rate which lead to my breath weapon cool down faster than it would heat. This is useful, since you can do quick initial damage barrage and then steady shooting.

Overall, the game excels at nothing, but it goes above average at everything. While the story campaign is relatively short, it is enjoyable. There is a lot more to write, but the word count looms in the horizon. I recommend this game for everyone.

Ambition sunk by its own concept

First the good: the game's story is interesting. The political aspect takes inspiration from the real world and tends to avoid the "Black / White" aspect that often permeates some games. Your subjects have different priorities and its impossible to make everyone happy - someone will dislike something. It makes it a fine game of balance. The NP Cs vary from interesting to cardboard cllche.

What sinks the game is the UI in the RTS phase. Units have individual abilities that one might want to trigger, but selecting individual units to tell them to use their powers is a pain, and impossible to do in dragon form. For one units are hard to tell apart, all looking like blooming bits of colored light with some sort of zeppelin in the middle, which makes figuring out whats going on a pain. Differentiating a Shaman from a Warlock is harder than it needs to be. The dragon form itself is a wasted opportunity, with a primary weapon that overheats and takes several seconds before you can fire it, is unable to dodge attacks (Projectiles home and will do 90 degree turns to ensure they hit you) and can't give anything but the most basic orders to your troop. (Those being "select guys around me in a vaguely defined radius, or all my troops across the entire map and tell them to move somewhere"). Hotkeys for squads you might have created don't work as the numbers key are re-assigned to your abilities in Dragon form. Thus the mode that is supposed to be your ace in the hole, and indeed, is the cover of the game, becomes a liability as it barely can do anything and makes your poor control over your troops even worst. This is compounded the AI of course not having any of the limitations you face, because AI don't use the UI obviously. It can control its troops fine, micromanage their abilities without issues (Turrets are useless againt the AI as he can intantneously trigger the basic trooper's capture power, turning your own turrets against you, while you fumble around trying to select only troopers and his the B key before clicking on your target), making the AI a very tough opponent even on lower difficulty settings, not because it's clever (it's not, the AI is in itself terrible and predictable) but because it's not hindered the way the player is, able to use its units without issues.

I am a big fan of the previous Divinity titles, but this one is one to avoid