Platinum Games is a name we associate with a special brand of over-the-top absurdity, crafting expertly-tuned action masterpieces like Bayonetta, Vanquish, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. After a series of unfortunate missteps with recent games like Star Fox Zero and TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan, Platinum has an opportunity to reemerge as the undisputed king of hyper-kinetic, ridiculously-scaled action. While the finished product is still a year away from release, what we've played of Scalebound (most recently at Gamescom 2016) shows a Platinum Games operating in peak form, taking its larger-than-life expertise to new, dragon-enabled heights.
Originally announced at E3 2014, Scalebound represents the logical evolution of Platinum's own attempts at outdoing itself, while simultaneously embracing a new direction. It's the studio's first action-RPG, combining dragons, explosions, loot, co-op multiplayer, and gargantuan beasts in a way that only Platinum can. Despite an upcoming 2017 release, details on how everything will work have been trickling out slowly over the last two years, and we've compiled everything you need to know about this explosive game right here.
Scalebound's story follows regular ol' Drew as he finds himself in a dragon-filled fantasy world
Drew was just a normal kid with a sweet pair of Beats headphones until he ended up in the magical world of Draconis. Now, he's found his soul inextricably linked with a dragon named Thuban - as well as the owner of a newly-acquired dragon arm where his normal human one used to be, and the ability to transform into a scaly dragon/human hybrid. Together, they will roam the land, acquire loot, and take down monstrous beasts for skill points and profit.
Scalebound's gameplay combines RPG elements with Platinum's signature over-the-top action
Scalebound marks a bit of a departure for Platinum Games, a studio typically associated with relentlessly flashy combos and massive, screen-filling bosses. Don't worry, Scalebound will still have plenty of those, but it trades some of the immediacy of its high-octane combat for the wider customizability (and lots of tiny numbers) typically found in an action-RPG.
You'll work in conjunction with your dragon buddy Thuban, pointing him in the direction of whatever needs blasting while using your own attacks to make short work of smaller enemies or set up traps to ensnare larger ones. You can lay mines and shoot them with your bow and arrow to help cripple larger beasts, or get in close with a few swipes of your sword, with your potential rewards determined by whether you or your dragon lands the final blow - having Drew take out an enemy nets you cash in addition to experience points, while allowing Thuban to do the work only gets you experience. You'll also find additional gear as you take down enemies and explore Scalebound's quasi-open worlds.
There's a bit more interplay between man and dragon than simply pointing it at stuff to eat. You can use your dragon as a means of conveyance, allowing you to call your buddy over to fly you around or launch you toward an enemy's weak spot. You can also make use of ability called 'Dragon Link', which lets you take direct control of Thuban for combat on a massive scale. Using Dragon Link roots Drew wherever he's standing, though, which means you'll need to keep an eye on incoming attacks - if either Drew or Thuban dies, it's game over.
Scalebound's dragon is a fully customizable flying battletank
In addition to finding new weapons and upgrading Drew's abilities, you'll also be able to fully upgrade, mod, and customize your dragon Thuban. There are three 'types' of dragon, and they basically range between speedy but weak, heavy but slow, and a well-balanced middle ground between the two. Based on the upgrades you choose, you can modify your dragon to favor one style over the other two or as a blend between the three options, altering its appearance and customizing its effectiveness to your own style as a player. Once you're done with the basics, you can throw on whatever stat-boosting armor you like, giving you another opportunity to make Thuban uniquely yours.
Scalebound's multiplayer allows up to four player co-op
Scalebound isn't just a single-player affair. A brief video at E3 2016 showed four players coming together (each with their own dragon) to take down a massive spider boss. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of information out there about how multiplayer will work, whether you'll be able to drop-in and run around with your friends in Scalebound's open-world, or if it's structured more like Monster Hunter, with a hub area sending you to individual mission locations.
Scalebound trailer shows just how big the bosses really are
That same E3 2016 video showing off co-op play also boasts what director Hideki Kamiya describes as "the biggest Platinum boss fight ever", and you really need to watch it to fully grasp what Kamiya means by 'big' here. Video games are no stranger to screen-filling monsters, but this giant spider thing is large enough to make even your hulking dragon look puny by comparison. Drew navigates a series of platforms floating on an underground lake, using his dragon to launch himself toward the monstrous enemy to blast off bits of its undulating appendages. The sense of scale is impressive, as Drew's three online buds maneuver around on their own to perform their own concerted assault.
Scalebound has been hiding a fundamental gameplay system from us. But know that I've seen it, I'm very excited indeed
Hideki Kamiya reveals "Platinum's biggest ever boss fight" as part of Scalebound
That Xbox One dragon game Scalebound gets delayed to 2017
Scalebound is a totally unknown quantity - and that's why it's so exciting