First announced at E3 2014, Scalebound is a different kind of experience for Platinum Games, a developer that normally focuses on fast-paced action games, such as Bayonetta. With this RPG’s mix of fantasy and modernity, it caught the attention of several fans, though one question has been unanswered until now: How does your dragon complement the gameplay, and what is its role? At Gamescom, creative producer J.P. Kellams and Platinum Games’ Hideki Kamiya pulled back the curtain and told us what we can expect from dragons in Scalebound.
Scalebound follows the headphone-wearing teenager Drew and his dragon Thuban, and what Platinum Games unveiled today is that you can directly control the dragon in battle. When you aren’t in control of him, he is under the A.I.’s direction. Because of the strong bond between Drew and his dragon, the two can merge their consciousness through Dragon Link, which allows Drew to direct Thuban in combat. When this is activated, the camera switches to Drew’s over-the-shoulder perspective, and he is unable to move while he directs Thuban. Because of the resulting immobility, this function should be used strategically, so that you don’t end up finding yourself in a vulnerable position.
Each time you defeat an enemy, you gather gems, and these are used to upgrade and morph your fire-breathing companion at dragon shrines around the world. Shown for the first time at Gamescom, your dragon is customizable in many ways. Scalebound offers three base dragon types, and each of these can be interchangeable through morphing. The two-legged Rex type is a basic, all-around dragon that has a good balance of speed and combat skills, the tank dragon is slower in speed but conjures powerful attacks while being able to sustain large amounts of damage, and the Wyvern is incredibly quick while excelling at air attacks but is weaker on the ground. At dragon shrines, you can morph and customize these different types into your own beast, interchanging different qualities from each breed. These will add aesthetic changes, too. For example, as you morph your dragon, you’ll see its body type adapt to your selections.
Next, depending on what parts you have in your possession, you can add in attack buffs for your dragon into five different slots. For example, you can customize your dragon to have an ice tail. These tap into the special, elemental attacks that unleash during berserker mode. Additionally, your dragon can also wear armor, and these are bought with currency that is retrieved when you defeat certain quests, enemies, or open chests. Once again, five areas on your dragon can be allotted armor, and these can be damaged in battle, so keep an eye for repairs.
“The goal that we have for this system, is that eventually you’re going to arrive at the perfect dragon for you,” Kellams says. “When you’re playing in multiplayer, it’s very likely that your dragon and my dragon will be totally different.”
As for the relationship between Thuban and Drew, while they have a magical bond between them, they don’t always get along. Kamiya mentions through his translator during the presentation that they will often “butt heads” as they are both young and very close in terms of mental age. Scalebound releases on Xbox One and PC next year.