Scattered Thoughts: Dragon's Dogma

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Posted by Rorie (2857 posts) -

I haven't written much here lately! Mostly I've been busy being sick over the last six weeks or so. I've never been sick for this long before! Probably the wasting disease or consumption or maybe just a general sense of malaise. Getting better now, but still coughing more than I should be. We'll see how things go.

i like games

Anyway, I've been meaning to write more in this blog, but I generally tend to set out to write something short, and then it balloons to some crazy-long thing that I have to have saved in Google Drive because I'm afraid of losing it all. I somehow have 1,500 words on GTA V's sense of humor that hasn't cohered into anything worth reading, for example. But maybe if I just type stuff directly into the field I can post more often with less stress. We'll see.

A lot of my gaming time lately has been spent in Dragon's Dogma, which I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to play by various people. I got it for "free" from PS+, and that's my kind of price when it comes to buying a game! I had tried it a while back on the Xbox, but was playing Dark Souls at the time and had a hard time shifting back and forth between the control schemes - the lack of a lock-on feature made it a bit difficult to shift between games, although that was mitigated somewhat when I found out about Blink Strike. I mostly played through the game as either a fighter, mystic knight, or assassin, which was fine, since Blink Strike and Tusk Toss were by far my most-used abilities.

Once I got the hang of it, the combat quickly became second nature, and refreshingly enough your AI teammates aren't complete idiots. They're not great, of course, and you spend a lot of time reviving them in tougher boss fights, but hey: at least the game lets you revive them for free. One thing that I noticed, though, is that a significant number of players have no idea what to do with their pawns. Browsing the online lists, there are more than a few people that never assign their pawns any skills (like, at all), have starter-level equipment on them, or otherwise just seem unable to grasp the idea of there being a party member you should be paying attention to. It's not an uncomplicated system, to be fair, but it's still odd to see people unable to grasp such a core concept in a game. They probably should've offered some kind of auto-pawn system that would assign your main pawn a selection of skills to complement your own, or even giving you a one-button solution to make your party a healer/mage/bow/warrior setup. Like everyone else who's ever played a D&D PC game, I wouldn't touch such a system, but these days it probably would've made it a bit more accessible to a more general audience (like, e.g., the people who randomly downloaded it because it was free).

hellhounds!

There's definitely a weird difficulty curve, though; wandering off the main roads into a pack of bandits early in the game feels like a real challenge, but since there's no enemy scaling, by the time you hit level 40 or so, you mostly wander around steamrolling everything you come across. Come to think of it, I died fairly rarely; I didn't realize that I didn't have to fight the ogre in Lure of the Abyss, who stomped me a couple of times, and an archer in the Bluemoon Tower managed to hit me with a knockback arrow that sent me down a big flight of stairs. And there was a room full of Hellhounds in the Everfall that was complete bullshit.

I suppose there's a sense of satisfaction to murdering ogres and gryphons that were almost impossible earlier in the game, but I can't help but feel that just a leeeetle bit of scaling, even if only on the huge enemies, would've made the combat later in the game more threatening. (Please hold your death threats.) Perhaps I should've just bumped it up to hard difficulty, assuming that's even possible. But for the most part combat's really fun and probably worth the price of admission alone.

That story...well, it feels like the kind of thing where a team was given a mandate to make a game about killing a big old dragon, then smoked a bunch of pot and decided to write a super-weird epilogue about the nature of existence and tack it on. It's weird, and not entirely satisfying as a conclusion to the story, but I give these guys a lot of credit for boldness, at least. I would've liked to see more Dark Souls-ish implied backstory, but it didn't feel like there was much of that, leading to some weird unanswered questions. What's the deal with pawns? What was up with the Duke's wife? What exactly is the Everfall? Etc. Maybe the unanswered questions are meant to reflect your status as a woefully underinformed Arisen, but still.

what is death i do not know

I haven't felt all that compelled to delve into the DLC all that much, although it's nice to know that there are some challenges waiting for me if I choose to do so. I got thoroughly rolled by Death on my first visit, and then I later ran into a room with a Gorechimera and a Chimera, so that...was fun. Maybe I'll try to tackle it a bit over the holidays.

A few caveats: the crafting and item system seems a bit...overdesigned. I picked up pretty much everything I came across, but outside of pure curative items, you mostly seem capable of making a bunch of random, weird junk that you don't really need. (And having random quests suddenly deliver 60 skulls or seven-pound armor sets into your inventory and weigh you down was also a bit silly.) Is there really a point to carrying around blindness or sleep cures when you can simply have a healer with high-priority Halidom in the party?

The stat growth system also seems pretty silly, in that different classes get different skill allotments at level-up, requiring min-maxers to plan far ahead to get the best skill levels at max level. Granted, that's a bit of a silly goal, considering that I really doubt there's much in the game that can even scratch you when you hit level 200, but at the same time, level-up systems that require you to jump through hoops to obtain maximum efficiency are a bit of a bête noire for me (FFXIII-2 had a similar issue). An incredibly minor thing, to be sure.

All in all, I like this game. It's good and fun to play. More than anything, though, it makes me really excited to see what's going to be happening with the next generation of open-world games. Graphics aren't the only thing to worry about, but I'm hoping that a game like this is going to be truly jaw-dropping when the sequel rolls out for the PS4 and XBONE.

Staff
#1 Edited by jimmyfenix (3852 posts) -

They hold the advantage!

#2 Posted by Guesty_01 (339 posts) -

It's weak to fire!

#3 Posted by Cloneslayer (1626 posts) -

"What is death I do no know" may be the best caption on this site.

#4 Edited by tamriilin (94 posts) -

Hey, @rorie... THEY'RE MASTERWORKS ALL, YOU CAN'T GO WRONG.

Also, there is a pretty huge dungeon in Dark Arisen that's extremely challenging even for near-max level players. It's intense as fuck.

#5 Posted by Fattony12000 (7281 posts) -

Dog.

Ma.

#6 Posted by BilboBagDames (15 posts) -

GOBLINS!

#7 Edited by alcor741 (78 posts) -

I'm sorry, but this is all I could think about.

#8 Posted by Demoskinos (14751 posts) -

@rorie: Yeah, the difficulty scaling is weird. It starts out REALLY hard then sort of mellows out. Believe me though there is still challenge to be had. I have a level 137 character who can still get horribly pummeled by some of the creatures in Bitter Black Island the expansion area. The area right before the final boss the 2nd time you run the dungeon is filled with multiple dragons among other things. i.e. Death himself if you're unlucky enough.

Glad to hear you got some enjoyment out of it. over the course of playing through the game nearly 5 times on two different platforms I've put 400+ hours into the game and its quirkiness has wormed its way into my heart as one of my favorite games this gen. I'm glad you gave it a shot. =)

#9 Posted by automatontribe (198 posts) -

I have have the dark arisen version lying at home. I played the game once and thought it was garbage...maybe I should give it a second chance. Maybe.

#10 Posted by asherwise1 (1 posts) -

I'm hoping Deep Down keeps the Dark Souls/Dragon's Dogma gameplay going strong on PS4!

#11 Posted by joshwent (2164 posts) -

This disgustingly one-sided journalism is ruining video games.

Fhew! That's better.

#12 Edited by DeadpanCakes (838 posts) -

Fire works well!!! Aught!!

That is all I remember about the writing from that game

#13 Posted by Axel_IX (73 posts) -
#14 Posted by how92 (23 posts) -

I've been playing Dragon's Dogma for a bit and now to see that they don't explain why these pawns (slaves) are all too willing to serve me bothers me even more. My moral compass doesn't know what to do. They also won't shut up but ah well I guess. Also keep the cute puppy pictures coming, they are the best.

#15 Edited by Depth (355 posts) -

Bitterblack isles is super good, you'll have a good use for those wakestones.

#16 Posted by Slag (4236 posts) -

Dragon's DOGma

KnowhatI'msayin?

Think all your observations are fair, Scaling is probably the largest flaw in the game.

I will say I never had that problem with finding well built pawns, but I haven't played in a while so maybe the influx of + players have diluted the quality a bit.

#17 Posted by Rorie (2857 posts) -
Staff
#18 Posted by The_Vein (281 posts) -

I remember Patrick complaining about the lack of a fast travel in this game, but I really, really enjoyed rounding up my pawns and setting out on a journey from the capital to wherever, hoping to beat nightfall. I realize I'm in the minority, but I like games where just going from place to place can be part of the adventure.

#19 Posted by GalacticPunt (1040 posts) -

So many people have uploaded pawns without gear and no skills? In other words, they're not masterworks all and you can go wrong.

#20 Edited by Yojimbo (46 posts) -

test comment

#21 Posted by Mento (2505 posts) -

Dragon's Dogma seems like a game that rewards patience. Which is a diplomatic way of saying that I packed it in after about 15-20 hours because of all the uneventful walking I was doing. (It did lead to one of my favorite Twitter exchanges though.) I heard you get access to more Portcrystals eventually, but...

I think the issue was that I was playing Xenoblade around the same time, which while generally better in every respect anyway, had a very much appreciated (if not necessarily congruent) instantaneous fast travel system. XC really bends over backwards to accommodate the spoiled Western CRPG types, letting you save anywhere and change the time of day instanter in case a quest sponsor was on a weird schedule. Playing Dragon's Dogma right after (or right before, or concurrently, I forget) was hard to adjust to.

Moderator
#22 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3226 posts) -

I just started playing Dragon's Dogma the other week. Think I'm being killed by those bandits you mentioned..

One thing you forgot to mention were all the capes and cloaks.

Easily the Cloaks of the Generation game.

#23 Edited by NeoCalypso (156 posts) -

@the_vein: That lack of fast traveling that he spoke of so long ago has been made completely moot in Dark Arisen anyway. It's not only much faster to get portcrystals, but ferrycrystals have dropped in price by 90% from 20k to only 2k(and only 1k if you buy them whenever Fornival has em in stock)

#24 Posted by HH (609 posts) -

yeah too many players leave the default faces on their pawns too, i'm just never gonna pick a dude with the default face. finding good pawns can be hard, but once you get an experienced, well-geared, and slick looking pawn you can just hang on to them. i haven't touched the game in a while, but the party i had by the end was pretty awesome, knew most of the weaknesses of most of the enemies and it didn't even matter that it became too easy, it was just good to watch them in action.

i solo'd through a chunk of the early game, and at that point the crafting and inventory became a lot more relevant, but even then, sure, the level of detail is a bit much.

#25 Posted by Xeiphyer (5602 posts) -

There's aught over there!

#26 Posted by jiggajoe14 (665 posts) -

@joshwent said:

This disgustingly one-sided journalism is ruining video games.

Fhew! That's better.

KEEP YOUR FELINISM OFF MY GIANT BOMB!

#27 Posted by cloudymusic (1103 posts) -

I'm really looking forward to checking this game out soon. Thanks, PlayStation Plus!

#28 Posted by RVonE (4623 posts) -

HARPIES

#29 Edited by Jonny_Anonymous (1001 posts) -

Damn, Unproff Friday is about to start but I shall read this later

#30 Posted by Skyrider (345 posts) -

I picked this up a couple of weeks ago and think it's pretty darn rad. I can't speak to the pawns that other players have made since I must play in offline mode (the store just happened to have one copy left and it was for the 360, for which I have no wireless dongle), but if people really do just ignore their main pawn, that's pretty sad to hear. Granted, I haven't changed the vocation for my main pawn from wizard even once (she's level 43 now) and I'm sure that means I'm missing out stat-wise, but seriously guys, finding a decent wizard amongst the generic pawns for offline mode takes forever.

#31 Posted by cooljammer00 (1632 posts) -

You should probably go to the doctor, @rorie

#32 Edited by csl316 (8412 posts) -

I've been sitting on Dark Arisen for a while, now it's just a matter of finding some time to get into the damn thing.

The pictures.... they do everything.

#33 Posted by Mycroft_Ampersand (76 posts) -

@the_vein said:

I remember Patrick complaining about the lack of a fast travel in this game, but I really, really enjoyed rounding up my pawns and setting out on a journey from the capital to wherever, hoping to beat nightfall. I realize I'm in the minority, but I like games where just going from place to place can be part of the adventure.

I spent a lot of time towards the beginning of the game just wandering around all over the map before I ever really got into any of the quests past escorting the hydra head to the capital. Plus night in that game was actually really crazy, just having that tiny lantern light and a chimera jump out of the darkness within the first few hours of the game was pretty surprising.

#34 Posted by gabha (355 posts) -

Couldn't disagree more on the level scaling bit, I've come to hate that with passion these days. The theory that "you'll always be having a changeling" translates into " You'll never feel like you're making combat progress".

I know you said it's only for a little bit, but my experience has been that I"m now on level 48 and I"m still not one-shotting the enemies I fought on level 1. That's always been my ultimate goal in RPGs past and I've missed it this generation.

#35 Posted by Redhotchilimist (202 posts) -

I was really surprised by how the best character in this game was the dragon. Nice to hear your thoughts on it. Definitely agree about the scaling, but they certainly try to rectify the problem in Dark Arisen. I was running from enemies left and right in that place, and I don't believe I'll ever have the patience to go after Death.

#36 Posted by GasparNolasco (363 posts) -

I love DD so much!

It has huge flaws in many levels, but it's so good that you keep playing it despite said flaws.

That make me that much more excited to know they are working on a sequel. I hope it fixes some of the issues -- but to tell the truth I'd love just to have the exact same thing in a new world, just so I could marvel exploring it all again.

#37 Posted by HatKing (5882 posts) -

@joshwent said:

This disgustingly one-sided journalism is ruining video games.

Fhew! That's better.

You have the entire rest of the internet for that bullshit.

#38 Posted by two_socks (230 posts) -

Glad to read you liked it! More people should play Dragon's Dogma! It's pretty good!

#39 Posted by Humanity (9048 posts) -

@geraltitude: customization as a whole really reigns supreme. When my pawn was a Mage I gave her wonderfully sexist lace robes with plenty of uncovered skin ..for ease of casting! When she was a warrior I decked her out in full metal plate. Ahh the choices!

#40 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11613 posts) -

You didn't enjoy the batshit insanity that was the ending of that game? That's the best part! Well, besides the generally excellent combat. Good to know you enjoyed it. There may be aught of use here.

#41 Edited by BoringK (261 posts) -

I gave it a spin a few months ago. (Of course, I bought Dark Arisen for 360 before it went free on PS+. SIGH.) I sunk a handful of hours into it but the combat didn't hook me like I hoped it would, considering how many people said that was the game's strong suit. I found the crafting/item and stat systems overwhelming as well, but knowing that the difficulty curve lessens as the game goes on makes returning to it a little more tempting. Also, it sounds like I knew what to do with my pawn more than a lot players did.

AUGHT

#42 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3791 posts) -

I agree with a lot of your assessment. Dragons Dogma has incredible combat but really has a lot to go in almost all its other areas.... yet it still has a ton of potential! I really really hope they do a sequel because with additions around its combat and refinement of what's there it would be really special.

#43 Posted by Oni (2098 posts) -

All roads lead to Grand Soren.

#44 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

Bitterblack remains challenging even at max lvl (200), so if you're in it for the challenge, I suggest you spend ample time there.

Here's how I did it. I beat the game once without touching on Bitterblack. That put me at about lvl 50. Then I restarted in hardmode and played a crapload of Bitterblack. By the way, if you beat Bitterblack once, that's just the beginning. The second time through it's all new spawn patterns, which are a whole lot more challenging, and the final boss assumes his ultimate form - only then you've beaten the game. If you put enough time into it, Bitterblack kinda feels like the 3rd person Diablo that never was. Bossruns for high tier loot et all.

From your blog I can't quite glean if you've properly finished the core game yet either. Have you ascended to being God, or not?

P.S. To beat Death, equip enough Sleep Resist to be immune. Everytime he casts his AoE sleep, it's your turn to retaliate for his dastardly disposal of your pawns.

#45 Edited by probablytuna (3610 posts) -

I should give this game a try...... Sometime next year.

#46 Edited by Humanity (9048 posts) -
#47 Posted by pweidman (2322 posts) -

The Isle is where DD:DA really starts to get amazing, and after you make your first run through things get much more challenging. You will need all the potions and stones etc. Rorie. Also, while you're right that many pawns are not given much attention, there are some truly awesome ones to rent out there(on 360 at least). When you find out what fully leveled gear and weapons found on the Isle are superior, and what spells and/or skills you want on your healers/fighters/striders, shopping for the right ones becomes a meta and a pleasure, at least for me it was. :) Also, getting rents and gifts for your main is a nice bonus.

I really hope Capcom's next Dogma game follows the vibe set up by the Bitterblack Isle expansion. So great, and I think I liked that part of DA as much as Dark Souls.

#48 Posted by Nentisys (888 posts) -

I really wish the pawns would just SHUT UP

#49 Edited by crusader8463 (14419 posts) -

I kept waiting for this game to go on sale but after it never dropping below $40 before it was systematically going into out of stock at every online store I just gave in and picked it up. Been sitting next to me for a week now and I keep wanting to throw it into my PS3 and start in on it but for some reason long RPGs like that always scare me off of starting them because of the commitment that will be needed to play them to completion. I think today will be the day I give in and fire it up. *Fingers crossed*

FUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK! I just checked out of curiosity and sure-e-fucking-nough it's now only $24 after I bought the damn thing after giving up on waiting for a price drop for the better part of a year. Fucking god damn that pisses me off to no end and it happens every god damn time!

#50 Posted by Nekroskop (2786 posts) -

More like Dragons DOGMAN!

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