After spending many grueling hours digging deep into the finer points of Dragon's Dogma, fearless Rock has finally finished it! Here now are his unadulterated feelings on this quite unique RPG.
"Well, that was...interesting..." That was my prevailing thought after seeing the end of Dragon's Dogma. Don't worry, no spoilers! I'd heard for a couple weeks that the game got really weird in its last act and I thought I was prepared, but damn... It's not a bad ending, just and ending that I didn't see until it was right on top of me. So how was the rest of the game? Let's get into it!
When I last wrote about Dragon's Dogma, I was only a few hours into it and just beginning to explore the world outside the little village of Cassardis. And I learned something about Capcom- they don't make very compelling open worlds in their games. Let me get a bit more specific. The world of Gransys is absolutely gorgeous! Truly, one of the most beautiful game worlds I've seen and the main city of Gran Soren is just stunning. Not only is the world visually pleasing, it's also convincing, almost as though (minus monsters) such a place could have once existed on Earth. The only problem? Gransys is not a very interesting place to explore.
|The world is damn pretty. Too bad about it being kind of dull....|
Over the approximately 65 hours I put into the game, I visited many of the same places a bunch of times, and having to hoof it back and forth to the same damned forest five or six times in a row can be a bit grating. There are a ton of quests to do, and there's a pretty good variety here, so that helps lessen the sting a bit. To compare to Skyrim, that world is so interesting, it takes almost nothing to compel me to explore, and the world is always filled with provocative things to do. I really didn't feel obliged to explore Gransys because it is, quite frankly, not very interesting a place to be. I can put it best by saying that I wanted to want to explore, but nothing actually made me want to.
It's a good thing, then, that the fighting is absolutely outstanding! Keep in mind that a lot of Devil May Cry veterans worked on this game, so to me it wasn't really a surprise that the combat is as good as it is. It's not nearly as fast paced or combo driven as DMC's, but I definitely had a lot of fun figuring out which of the Strider's attacks worked best for me. There are plenty of combat skills to choose from, and you can change your vocation at any time with minimal cost, so you're really encouraged to try out different vocations and get a feel for what you like. Throughout my playthrough, I ended up maxing out two vocations, Strider and Magick Archer. As mentioned previously, the Strider is your classic dual dagger wielding, arrow launching, nimble as hell ass kicker. Think Legolas and you're almost there. The Magick Archer is basically just a souped up Strider, with devastating special attacks like one which paints up to ten targets and fires magical seeking arrows at all of them, or one that fires electrically charged arrows that richochet around the environment. Some of the fights can become a bit bland later on, as you end up fighting the same groups of bandits in the same places, which gets pretty tiresome. Things really get spiced up when you have a big monster encounter, though! These can range from ogres, griffons, chimeras, cockatrices, and cyclopses. These beasts require a bit more strategy and finesse if you want to bring them down, and this is where your pawns can really show you their usefulness.
|Oh you are SO fucked!|
The pawns are just such an interesting take on AI companions. You'll create your main pawn at the same time you create your character, and you're given all the same customization tools as well, so there's a lot of variation possible. This pawn will stay with you for the duration of the game, but you'll be able to recruit up to two more pawns whenever you like by using Rift Stones found throughout the game. Here you can search for new pawns by pretty much any criteria: level, gender, vocation, etc. There are a lot of ways to make sure that you find exactly what you're looking for. The cool thing to remember is that most of these pawns are the main pawns created by other players! Which means that your pawn is hireable too. So when you hire someone else's pawns, they bring all of their experience and knowledge with them, allowing you to learn more about areas you've never been to or creatures you haven't fought yet. And when you rest at an inn, your pawn will come back from being hired out and will bring back whatever he learned. When they're not hired out, you'll find many pawns just wandering the world as free agents. This was cool to me, as I'd occasionally bump into pawns I'd hired before, and I always enjoyed checking them out to see how they'd leveled up or what sweet new gear they had.
|In case you were wondering, yes, you can climb him and stab him in the eye.|
There is also a pretty huge crafting system, but it honestly feels a little bloated. I mean, is it really necessary to have four different ways to make the same item? There are dozens of items for you to find, and most of the ingredients you'll find are used for one of three things- making curative items, making better ingredients for better curative items, or they're used for upgrading your party's equipment. That's it. I was kind of let down to learn that I wouldn't be able to create new weapons or armor, as that sort of stuff is only available from merchants or as rare finds in chests. The whole crafting system just feels a little unnecessarily cumbersome, and I would have preferred to not use it at all.
So what exactly are we working toward here? Well if you'll recall from my Second Impressions article, that jerk face dragon ripped out my heart, ate it, and then cursed me so I'd come after him. I won't go into details about how all that wraps up, but I will say that holy fucking shit that got weird! Seriously, just about the weirdest ending to such a serious game. Fuck! Just be prepared. Dragon's Dogma is best described as polarizing. On one hand, you have Capcom trying to branch out and try something new. The vocation system is amazing. The combat and RPG elements are boat loads of fun, and the world itself is just gorgeous. On the other hand, that same open world has little depth and isn't very interesting or fun to explore. Still, I had a ton of fun and I'm really happy to see Capcom trying new things. I'm insanely excited to see what Capcom does with this property.