Scalebound Will Have Cross-Play; Drew Can Actually Control Thuban Directly
PlatinumGames' guru Hideki Kamiya and Creative Producer JP Kellams were available at Gamescom 2016 to talk about Scalebound. The big new tidbit is that main character Drew is actually able to directly control his dragon companion, Thuban; we had previously witnessed the AI working on its own, but that's just one of the ways to play the game.
Since Drew and Thuban share a life force (when one of them dies so does the other, though the reason for this is still unknown), they can also activate a so-called Dragon Link. Game of Thrones fans may liken this to Bran Stark's mind control of Hodor, though the difference is that you'll still see everything from Drew's perspective; yes, that means you won't be flying around as Thuban.
This tool can be quite powerful, as it gives you the opportunity to directly control the dragon's mighty abilities. However, just like Bran Drew is also very much vulnerable to attacks during Dragon Link. It's a neat tactical option, but also one that has to be used wisely.
The developers then compared Dragon Link to combos in previous titles by PlatinumGames, though with a different flavor (given Thuban's size they aren't as flashy as in Bayonetta or Devil May Cry). For example, they showed Thuban knocking down a huge enemy, which allowed Drew to easily target its weak spots (after exiting Dragon Link mode).
Another important point of the presentation was Thuban's customization. According to the developers, there's basically an unlimited amount of different setups you can come up with via Dragon Morphing: you can change Thuban's tank version so that it will attack faster (though that will have drawbacks in terms of defense), for instance, or you could make its wyvern version a little more resistant at the expense of some of its default agility. However, keep in mind that while the appearance during gameplay may change, during cutscenes it will default to the look we've seen in all the promotional material so far (including the image above), which is the "rex" type. Dragon customization can be done at the Dragon Shrine with gems, but Thuban can also wear armor to get defensive and even offensive bonuses.
Finally, I made sure to clarify one rather important tidbit of information. During E3 2016, Scalebound was officially announced as an Xbox Play Anywhere title; some websites took that as confirmation of cross-play functionality between PC and Xbox One users, but that was never explicitly stated by anyone from Microsoft or PlatinumGames at E3 2016. Even the fact sheet didn't contain any indication about this, whereas Gears of War 4 and Sea of Thieves made that crystal-clear.
That left me wondering if perhaps cross-play was not planned for Scalebound; after all, not each and every Xbox Play Anywhere game supports cross-play as well as cross-buy/shared progress. However, I inquired and the reply was positive: you're going to be playing with your friends regardless of the platform they own.
It's hard to predict how great Scalebound will end up being, as we only watched a video of the game during the presentation and I haven't seen it among the playable titles in the public area. If the leaked release date (late April 2017) is correct, there's still plenty of time for PlatinumGames to polish their first open world action RPG.
As someone who's fond of the premise and setting, I have my fingers crossed.