When it comes to open world RPGs, the only game in town for years has been Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series. Now, however, a new contender has emerged from Japan: Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma. Does the Japanese made sword n’ board epic have what it takes to steal a few Elder Scrolls fans? Or is this sword’s edge dull?
Dragon’s Dogma proves a worthy entry to the open world RPG genre due to its fast paced, dynamic gameplay. The player character, called “The Arisen,” is athletic, regardless of what class is chosen: you can grab onto ledges, sprint across vast stretches of terrain, pick up and throw anything not bolted down, and, most impressively, grab onto and climb monsters!
It is the latter ability that is most enjoyable. The larger monsters in the game almost all require the player to leap up, grab on, and climb to various weak spots on the creature’s body. All the while the player has a stamina bar that is draining, so players have to balance their athletics against this meter, or else suffer a few moments where the player can’t move, making them vulnerable to enemy attack.
Helping you out if you do get winded, however, are your “pawns.” The pawns are Dogma’s party system, and also how it implements its online features. Each player has a personal pawn that is always theirs, and two that they “hire.” These hired hands are actually the personal pawns of all the other players that are playing Dragon’s Dogma (pawn data is uploaded to Capcom’s servers whenever you stay at an inn). In this way, every player contributes to every other player’s experience.
One element of that game that is lacking, though, is the story. The plot is somewhat hard to discern, and the localization seems overly fond of the word “aught.” There are some interesting story beats that seem undercooked: particularly involving the Duke. Additionally, characters can be romanced, and this turns out to have an important part in the story, but this is barely, if at all explained; and the only result of correctly “romancing” a character (called “affinity” in the game) is a simple pink glow and a light jingle when they talk to you.
Despite this though, the game offers an epic adventure that took this author well over 50 hours to complete. For hard core completists, there is a new game plus mode to take on after the credits roll, though I wish they had included a “premium adventure” mode (like in the Yakuza games), where you don’t start the story over, but can wander the world and complete all the left over side quests.
As in many games today, there is a bevy of DLC content to purchase, from weapons, armor, and additional quests.
Overall, Dragon’s Dogma is a worthy adversary to Skyrim and is certainly worth playing, especially for the player who is more concerned with gameplay over story. I’d check it out!
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