Dragons. Dragons never change. Fire breathing, environment destroying, scale shedding dragons. It’s a well known fact that the insertion of dragons into an IP makes it up to 63% better according to scientists*. Think Harry Potter, Elder Scrolls or even Game of Thrones and you’ll likely nod your head in agreement. That’s why when Scalebound, announced back in 2014, showed off dragons in all of their Platinum Games intensity and beauty, people were chomping at the bit to get their hands on it.
At this year’s gamescom Platinum Games gave us a look at the upcoming Xbox One exclusive Scalebound. But rather than showing us the combat (something which has been seen previously) the presentation was all about dragons and how they they are crucial part of the adventure.
The first thing we were told is that there are three types of dragon that inhabit the world of the awful but accurately named Draconis. When you first start your play through in Scalebound, your initial companion will be the Rex dragon; the one that has been used as the cover star and in all of the marketing. This is essentially the all round dragon, combining strong but not overly powerful attacks and defence. The Rex dragon is also joined roaming the world of Draconis by the Tank Dragon, essentially a slow and armoured heavy-set dragon, and the Wyvern, a flying dragon that gives Drew, our headphone wearing protagonist, an aerial advantage.
Don’t go into Scalebound expecting a black and white selection between three dragon types though. As your progress through the story, you’ll slowly start to evolve and morph your dragon, breeding different types together to create your ultimate dragon at dragon shrines located all over the map. What this results in is the creation of a dragon wielding characteristics and aesthetics from each variety. If your Wyvern needs some more protection, mix it with a Tank, likewise if you think your Rex should have wings.
What’s more, you can also add elemental buffs to your dragon to help in combat. Things like adding an ice tail, or fire breath all add to the customisation of your tamed beast and can be altered depending on you battle preferences. During these battles as well as completing story and side quests will earn you currency which you can spend on your dragon. Obviously. You can add armour to protect a particularly weak part of your uniquely bred dragon’s body, but in true RPG style it can take damage and has to be repaired.
Perhaps the most interesting dragon-based feature we learnt from our brief time with Platinum Games was the DragonLink battle feature. This is used in battle when Drew connects with his dragon giving the ability to control it in battle. In this instance, Drew is frozen on the spot and the camera goes into first person mode where you command your lizard-like companion. It’s not as simple as it looks though and the guys from Platinum tell us that Drew can still sustain damage in DragonLink making it a much more tactical affair. The more competent a player becomes, they can also begin to combine DragonLink with the attacks of Drew himself resulting in spectacular combos that are Platinum Games’ bread and butter.
Scalebound looks set to combine the speed and intensity of a Platinum’s game creation, while also introducing a fantasy and more RPG-like elements. Though it seems to have been in the making for longer than you may have wanted, there’s reason to be excited at the sheer scale of depth there is on offer. And after all, when there’s a dragon involved, it can only be a good thing, right!?
*Not all these facts are entirely true.