Dragon’s Dogma – The Good and the Bad

So, I got CapCom’s Dragon’s Dogma for my birthday, and for the last month(ish) I’ve been steadily working my way through it until I reached the end. Which was a few days ago.
Now, it’s a pretty fun game. Medieval/fantasy games have never really appealed to me that much, and I’ve never really enjoyed them either. I still don’t understand what all the hoo-hah was about Skyrim was about…

But, when it was first announced, DD caught my eye, because a lot of the things shown and talked about grasped my easily swayed attention. I liked the idea of. Climbing up monsters to get to weak points (I know, Shadow of the  Colossus) and the idea of the Pawns system seemed very cool and intriguing.

The Good Points

The Pawn System

The Pawn system was a pretty cool idea, in my opinion. Basically, if you don’t know, you can make a Pawn who serves as your main companion throughout the story of DD. and using these special stones, you can go into a hub-type place, and hire other peoples’ pawns as secondary companions. Other, real, people. They can also hire yours into their games. Doing this will allow your pawn to gain knowledge about quests, different areas and monsters that they fight. When they return to your world they can pass this knowledge onto you. For example, if your pawn completes a quest that you haven’t done yet, they will be able to lead you to the correct places and show you what to do to continue the quest. Pretty neat, huh?

Combat and ‘Vocation’ Choices

The combat in DD is pretty fast paced, to say the least. Each different class, or ‘Vocation’ has their own standard attacks for each of their useable weapons, but they also get their own specific skills which can often make fights much more interesting. For example, Fighters [the standard warrior class] has the ability “Springboard”. This allows for them to use their shield as a device to launch a companion skyward. This is great for help with climbing or reaching high up enemies.

‘Vocations’ are what the jobs are called in DD, and there are nine of them. The first three that you have available from the start are Fighter, Strider and Mage. Mage is straightforward, so I’m not going to waste time explaining it. Fighters are the standard warrior classes. Users of swords and shields. Striders are DD’s version of an archer. They use daggers and shortbows. Soon enough you can have the option of changing to a Warrior, Ranger or Sorcerer. These are essentially just upgraded versions of the first three. The warrior loses his shield, but gets the use of long/greatswords and giant warhammers. Rangers upgrade to a longbow, and Sorcerers lose their healing spells in exchange for spells that remove debuffs. There are three other, more exotic, classes available, that only the player can use. They are combination classes, forming the Mystic Knight [fighter/mage], Magick Archer [strider/mage] and the Assassin [fighter/strider]. The Mystic Knight and Magick Archers gain the use of Staffs and some offensive spells, while also being able to use Maces and Magick Bows, respectively. Assassin combines the fighter and strider classes to allow a combination of sword and bow, or daggers and shield.

These points were my favourite things about DD, coupled with the grabbing and climbing of monsters small and large alike. Nothing is more entertaining than seeing an enraged Chimera trying to shake you off its back.

The Bad Points

The Initial Difficulty

Initially, the game makes itself seem incredibly difficult. Up to around level 20, a lot of monsters and enemies seem able to kill your character in 2-4 hits. Couple this with not having access to better items, and it becomes tedious and infuriating for the first couple of hours. This is partially what makes the Bandit enemies an annoyance. “Human” enemies in the game [bandits, knights etc.] can learn any skill that the player can. This can lead to bandit archers being able to shoot volleys of high powered arrows at yourself and your companions, constantly knocking you down for their friends to finish you off. Towards the second half of the game you start seeing bandit Mages and Magick Archers. And don’t even attempt to fight a large monster like a Cyclops or a Chimera, because it would be a wasted effort.

The Variety of Enemies [Not counting large beasts]

For most of the game, the most encountered enemies [during the day] will probably be either goblins, wolves, bandits or harpies. During the night, skeletons and undead will appear. While these enemies have their own, sub-species [if you will], I found that it got a little boring always just encountering yet another group of bandits, or flock of harpies [Do harpies count as flocks?]. Sure they start to change as the game progesses, wolves turn into direwolves, and then near the end, into hellhounds. Harpies turn to snow harpies and then succubi. The main variety of enemies came from the large “boss” beasts that roamed around,  such as the Cyclopes, the Chimeras, the Griffins etc. There was even a Cockatrice once.

No co-op

This was kind of a major thing for me. Like most people [I imagine] I have much more fun on games when I can play with a friend. I think DD would have been a lot more enjoyable in certain scenarios if playing with a live companion. Times with the “boss” beasts when you could strategise, make tactics to split up, cause distractions et cetera. How could they do it, though. I figured the best way to do it would to incorporate a drop-in/drop-out scenario [Kind of like Borderlands] where the second player would just take control of your main pawn. Sure, this would lead to some dispute about what the pawn looks like, but at least we’d start having a more enjoyable experience.


In Conclusion

Those were my main good and bad points of DD. Overall, I thought it was a pretty amazing game, the story was not half-bad, and the gameplay was great. The large beasts were amazing, and the sizes of some of them was fairly intimidating [I’m looking right at you, Dragon]. Would I recommend it to friends. 100% yes. I think everyone should give Dragon’s Dogma a go, even if they’re just renting it for a few days.


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July 2012
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