Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dragon's Dogma: Hands-On First Impressions

After getting a little hands on time with Dragon's Dogma at PAX East, Rock left feeling even more excited about a game he'd already been greatly anticipating. Now that the demo is out, Rock checks back in to get his grubby mitts on the game one more time before it releases!

Dragon's Dogma is the upcoming open world game from Capcom, seemingly cast in the mold of a western RPG.  Many have referred to it as "Skyrim and Monster Hunter had a baby", and the comparison seems appropriate. As a huge fan of western RPGs, I've been insanely psyched about this game since I first heard about it at the end of 2011. When I heard that it would be playable at PAX East 2012, I just about shat a brick!  The same demo made its way onto our home video consoles this week, and I couldn't wait to jump in!

My posse
The first demo level is the one that I played at PAX East, and takes place before the events of the main game.  This prologue serves as the game's tutorial, teaching me the basics of controlling my character, how to access my inventory, things like that.  The controls are nicely presented onscreen at all times, and they change as context demands, but I never found their presence to be obtrusive or
annoying. I start out in control of a fighter, skilled with a sword and shield.  I'm led along a cliff side by a pawn who is also a fighter. Before long, we're joined by a group of pawns. One is a strider, a light, nimble fighter who uses archery and daggers.  The other is a mage specializing in.....mage-ing.  Some may dismiss the pawns as mere AI simpletons, but they'd be wrong.  The pawns add some really exciting moments to combat- on a few occasions while fighting goblins, one of my pawns would grab a goblin from behind, pinning its arms.  He'd then yell to me, allowing me to come over and finish off the foe that he'd entangled. At other times, our mage would hit enemies with elemental spells, imbue our weapons with flames, or provide magical healing.  All of this is done automatically. Sure, they're still just AI companions, but the scripting controlling them is seriously super effing cool.

Take THAT! Bad Kitty!
We fight our way through more caves, taking on a few waves of goblins, as well as a group of harpies.  Eventually, we make our way to the boss, a Chimera.  This guy is truly a beast- he has the head and body of a lion, a goat's head on top, and a giant snake bringing up the rear.  Each head is capable of different special attacks, for example the snake has some kind of poison breath attack.  As our party attacks the creature, my pawns shout out suggestions such as what sort of attacks we should try or which part of the creature we should focus on.  I was also able to play around a bit with the climbing mechanic that I'd heard so much about. Sure enough, I could climb on pretty much any logical part of the Chimera, hacking away at it as I did.  Furthermore, my pawns were able to jump on, too!  At one point I think there were three or four of us all clinging to the beast, getting our licks in.  Before long, the Chimera fell to our might.

Bring it!
The next portion of the demo was also playable at PAX, but I didn't get a chance, so I was really excited to try it out!  This time I was in control of a Strider type character, and I was really eager to see how well the archery mechanics worked.  My party start out on a hill overlooking a walled city.  It looks like a beautiful, sunny day.  And then we find a large group of goblins camped near our city!  As my group tears into the goblins, there is a darkening and a crash as something large smashes into the ground behind me.  I turn to see that a griffin has landed smack dab in the middle of our little fray! Seeing the opportunity to try out the Strider's melee abilities, I wade in and am surprised as hell.  The dude is a twisting, turning, tornado or twirling, stabbing daggers!  It looks effing awesome!

Sucks to be you!

Before long, the griffin takes flight and I get a chance to test my archery skills.  I use some special abilities, like firing three arrows at once, while our mage sets my weapons on fire.  Know what griffins hate? Fire.  That mofo lights up like a candle and before long, one of my pawns is offering to launch me into the air!  I oblige him and and chucks me straight into the griffin's path, where I grab hold and proceed to stab the crap out of him.  He flies around a bit before finally succumbing to his many wounds. Dammit that was fun!

There's also a dragon....and its dogma....?
The final little piece of the demo is the character customization option.  This basically lets you customize a character and pawn's appearance for the purpose of importing them into the full game when it releases next month.  I messed around with it a bit, and it seems like pretty standard RPG character customization, albeit with just the right amount of Japanese style added in for good measure. Overall the graphics and presentation are just superb! From the dark depths of the catacombs to the sun-drenched hills outside a city, the environments look just wonderful! The character models look great, and everyone's movement and animations appear smooth.

This demo leaves me feeling incredibly excited for Dragon's Dogma!  It releases on May 22nd, so the wait won't be long, luckily!

Rock's ready to...dogmatize some dragons...? What does that even mean..?


  1. Dogmatize some dragons? It means you are telling the dragons who is boss.

    I agree, the pawns do add super awesome, epic combat moments. And to think that there will be many more moments just as awesome or more awesome (like super-duper awesome). Such a teaser... Less than a month.

    1. I don't know why that posted as anonymous. Apparently I was not paying attention.

  2. My pawns are fucking annoying, they don't stop talking and they die on me. But it's awesome when one sends fire from the sky, it's so helpful...