Capcom has finally decided to attempt making a game that is in the hardcore RPG genre with both a hybrid of Western and Japanese gameplay styles. Dragon’s Dogma is a blend of each styles that Capcom has been known for over the years. The result of this crossbreed hardcore RPG offers some very exceptional aspects that have not been done much in various RPGs of the past.
Dragon’s Dogma takes place in Gransys, a province divided in the eastern region of the Liogran Peninsula. It’s covered in lush fields, dense forests, and rolling plains. The land is filled with dungeons to explore, adventures to be had, stories to be told, and most of all, mythical monsters to be slain. Coupled with dark and menacing nights when monsters prowl, Gransys is just an extremely small part of a world unlike any before it. The story in Dragon’s Dogma begins far into the past. A dragon will surface and commence destruction and horror over the populace of Gransys. A chosen warrior, known as the Arisen, comes forth to combat the evil dragon and slay it to bring peace back to their world.
Years later, after the introduction of the game, your character, a simple person from a fishing town, is attacked by the new emerging dragon. The dragon rips out your heart, and takes it for his own. Even without this essential organ, you are in some way still alive and well. You are now Arisen. With that new title, you also gain some new abilities. The Arisen can now control and summon warriors called pawns to aid you in your struggle. By utilizing your newfound powers, you take up arms with your pawn, and begin the long journey to slay the dragon and get your heart back.
Dragon’s Dogma is a real time role playing game that not only relies on the player being skilled with the control scheme, but also at the preparation and allocation of skills and abilities of a RPG. Dragon’s Dogma is very complex in both the combat and also the exploration of the world. The game definitely has a western RPG feel when it comes to combat. Dragon’s Dogma contains a lot of action that is very fast paced. The gameplay can be fairly difficult if you are not prepared for the upcoming battles. Your character has both a light and heavy attack as well as up to three special stamina based abilities mapped to the face buttons depending on which bumper (RB or LB) you hold. Managing your stamina is of the most significant task in Dragon’s Dogma. If you run completely out of stamina, you will be out of action for a short while as you catch your breath. This will leave you wide open for attacks unless one of your pawns comes to help you out. You have to plan your fights and play strategically if you want to win.
The pawn system is exceptional. You create your very own pawn that will always be with you. You chose how they look, what their vocation will be and even how they will act in combat. These pawns are all AI controlled. They learn and level up during each battle. Once they learn a new type of enemy they will try to figure out their weaknesses to be more effective next time they battle the same type of enemy. Although Dragon’s Dogma is a single player game, you can summon other players’ pawns by going to a rift stone in towns and camps. The game allows you to have up to three pawns at once, for the party size of four including you. Choosing the right pawn for the quest at hand is an immense deal strategically. You have to spend rift points to recruit pawns at rift stones. These points are earned by completing quests.
The leveling system in Dragon’s Dogma has some distinctive pieces as well. By gaining experience, your base stats such as hit points, stamina, etc. will increase. You must rank up your vocation in order to unlock new skills and abilities. Using your skills and abilities in combat will help you do this. When you rank up, you learn new skills at inns by spending the discipline points you earned in battle. You can change your vocation at any time as long as you have the points to expend. Your main pawn can only be a full vocation but your main character can take on multiple vocations that can be a combination of two classes. Each vocation possess unique abilities and moves.
Dragon’s Dogma also features a whole crafting and equipment improvement piece that allows you to create potions, attack items, new weapons and armor, and also many other useful objects. This feature lets you combine almost everything in your inventory to create something of use. The possibilities are endless and complex. The game is massive in scale of the combat and the overall gameplay. The world in Dragon’s Dogma is so huge, which you end up walking a whole lot. There are many shortcuts across the vast lands that do allow you to skip monster encounters on the path. There are many mini boss fights on your travels to quests. These play out a lot like Shadow of the Colossus. You can climb them and attack certain weak spots for the most damage. Each of these battles feels as impressive as they are enjoyable to take on.
Travelling through the same areas become repetitive because you will start to see the same enemies respawn in the same locations after you go back to town to heal. Dragon’s Dogma has a gripping personality where the game does not tell you what to do. You have to figure it out and discover for yourself. Hardcore players will definitely enjoy the challenge, but casual players will not like the fact of the game not holding your hand through every quest. The combat is simple to begin with, but once you rank up your vocation, things can become very complex. If the game gets a little boring, just change up a vocation and learn a new way to play the game.
The graphics of the game are decent enough for the vast size of the landscapes. Sometimes the textures, characters, and even the enemies will have to load in as you run up to them. Some parts of the game feel almost as if you were playing online and having to wait on the connection to the server for the game to load in textures, lots of pop-ins. There is also an occasional slow down when there is a lot of stuff happening on the screen such as tons of spells being cast at once. This is very easy to overlook though. The sound is superb and you can really appreciate the environmental and enemy clips when traversing at night time making you think twice about waiting till daylight to finish the quest. The music is also top notch as well as the magic sound effects. Each spell has its own tune that makes playing a mage especially entertaining. The voice acting is average, but good enough to not knock it.
Dragon’s Dogma feels like a mixture of Dark Souls and Skyrim, which isn’t a bad thing. The pawn system is ellent, and the way your party members learn how to handle different situations works well and keeps most of the encounters seem new. The crafting and equipment management can also keep players busy for hours. Exploring the world is fascinating as it is challenging. The hardcore RPG players that will take their time and play it how the developers intended will have a fantastic time with Dragon’s Dogma. Casual gamers or fans of general RPG’s will probably want to skip this hardcore game. It is as excellent as it is difficult.