The lights are on
It's been some time since Capcom has released anything even remotely resembling an RPG. In fact, it's been nearly a decade since we've seen anything from the Breath of Fire series since the painfully short Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter was released. I'll have to admit, my thoughts upon Dragon's Dogma at first glance were less than positive for this game, as my understanding along with many others is that Capcom has forgotten how to make an RPG. I was wrong.
Dragon's Dogma is an action/adventure Open world RPG featuring a combat system that is practically unseen on the Xbox 360. Simply put, the game allows you to mount, and attack large dangerous enemies in real time without the use of a quick-time event. This allows for dynamic action and adrenaline pumping combat when fighting the more frightening enemies in the game. Dragon's Dogma also makes good use of visual and sound and camera effects to make these enormous monsters have an impact on the world, and will make you apprehensive when you first spot a monster you're unfamiliar with. Encouragingly enough, Dragon's Dogma sports a varied monster population ranging from wolves, harpies, snakes, giant bats, and rats who make up the smaller more single minded enemies (at first), to the more creative enemies employing both ranged, melee and tanking enemies like goblins, bandits, saurians and undead who make up the meat of the games combat, and then finally to the brutish and massive beasts such as ogres, cyclopes, chimeras, hydras, griffins, and yes even dragons who can feature mixed tactics and often be long drawn out, strategic and often punishing altercations.
Another interesting addition to Dragon's Dogma is it's take on multiplayer. No, you cannot play with your friends, which is rather maddening at times, but your friends however can pick up your "Pawn" and allow it into their worlds for questing and adventuring. While they aren't what many people want in terms of a team based RPG game, they are an often welcome addition as they are quick, adaptive, and often intelligent depending on how they were brought up by their master. A pawn is quite literally yours to shape as you see fit, and not just how it looks and what class it is. You can shape it's combat sense on whether it will run in and attack the largest enemy possible, or pick off the smaller units in a massive melee to widdle down the enemy force, or even stay at a distance and act as a healer/buffer for the rest of your party; you can even shape it's responses to your actions and how your battles fair.
This is both a blessing and a curse, but nothing on the shoulders of Capcom. You see, if you're not paying attention to the pawn you're hiring you could sadly end up with a mage who believes he's a tank, or a tank who behaves like a ranged combatant would. Also, regreattably often times the pawns will annoy you, especially your hired pawns from your friends, as they will talk almost without end on every tiny thing. Thankfully however you can easily dispose of them by either returning to a rift stone, or my personal favorite way:
As much of this sounds like an action game full of enormous boss battles and so on, let me assure you there are in fact RPG elements, and no, they aren't hidden. The game features a leveling system many of us are grown custom to seeing, which is surprisingly in depth and fun to work with, but it also features a vocation system, which is similar to Final Fantasy 11. The moment you arrive in the game you are given the choice between the games basic vocations mage, strider, or fighter. Which are caster, archer/DPS class, and tank respectively, but there are advanced vocations, such as a warrior or sorcerer, and hybrid vocations as well which combine those other vocations together such as an assassin which is a combination of both a fighter and a strider.
Leveling up a talent in game feels gratifying and often has a visceral effect on the skill you upgraded. One of my favorite strider talents known as Dazzle Hold, starts off with your character throwing a series of small flashbangs into the face of enemies in a cone before you, but after an upgrade, the attack becomes a violent torrent of explosive fire, making me wish there was more than one upgrade to the skills.
Technical issues, and other problems:
Sadly, this game is not without it's share of issues, but as with most open world RPG games small things can be over looked. As mentioned before, the pawns can be often times, irritating and down right stupid, but the camera is also a regrettable hindrance to the intense action in the game, often times getting hung up on terrain or in tight corridors or supplying you with a poor view of the action as your arisen clings for dear life to an ogre's chest as he barrels down a dark corridor, clutching one of your female pawns in hand. But as mentioned before these are easily over looked as the games combat is fun and thrilling.
Another issue that is mentioned quite often, is the sheer lack of story: You are the Arisen, a man/woman who has survived having his heart ripped from his chest by a dragon, only to hunt it to the ends of Gran Soren to get it back. Seriously, that's the story. But the issues with the story can be directed at the development teams inexperience with this genre, as the team that developed Dragon's Dogma is the same team that developed Capcom's Devil May Cry and various Resident Evil games. Or even that Capcom was wanting to make the game feel more like your own adventure, instead of one that is told for you.
If you can over look the lackluster story, talkative pawns, and cramped camera this game is an amazingly deep find, and is very much a sleeper of the Xbox 360. If you're looking for an escape, like I was, from the repetitive shooting of games like Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and Gears of War 3, and are looking for something that takes from Dark Souls and Skyrim and blends it into an intense action game, you will be pleasantly surprised, and will find yourself coming back to it simply to experience the rush of charging at a chimera head on ready to plunge your daggers/sword into it's temple.
Sweet, I'll be checking this one out. Nice read thank you
Seems like a lot of posts and blogs lately have praised this game as a sleeper hit. I'll have to be sure to check it out. Nice write up!