Dragons Dogma and why you really should play it

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Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

One of the most underrated titles I have seen in a long time, and arguably one of the best RPG experiences of this generation - Dragons Dogma is a game that everyone should play. In my opinion it is a perfect blend of Skyrim and Dark Souls rolled into an action packed hybrid. The combat has weight to it like Dark Souls, but not as animation priority heavy which I thought made DS sluggish past a certain point. From the Skyrim side, it has a pretty large world to explore with unique locations and various quests, but I think it’s the exact opposite of what Patrick claimed - unlike Skyrim, the world of Dragons Dogma is filled with loot chests that reward exploration with worthwhile treasure. How many times did you explore a cave in Skyrim only to find a chest with 14 gold in it or the same exact sword with a pathetically weak elemental buff on it? Dragons Dogma has no generic loot. Every piece of equipment is unique. You won’t find 12 different versions of the same sword with different stats. Almost every single time I strayed from my quest to explore a nook or a side path I was rewarded with a chest that had something interesting in it. For the first time in ages I was fully engaged in exploring the world and not using any sort of fast travel.

Reason why you should play Dragons Dogma:

Versatile class system

Dragons Dogma has a very unique vocation (class) system. You earn regular levels that increase your stats like health, stamina, attack defense etc..but you also take on a role, or vocation, that ranks up independently and unlocks new skills and attacks for that particular vocation. You can switch vocations as often as you like - it is even encouraged as class specific passive buffs carry over. For instance, in the warrior vocation you can unlock a passive buff which greatly increases your strength, which will still be available for you to use when you switch over to the Assassin vocation. This allows for great versatility when creating your character and encourages experimentation within the many classes available.

You are presented with a plethora of vocations to choose from, each specializing in distinctly unique forms of combat. There are three primary classes: fighter, strider and mage, which offshoot into hybrids and specializations. Fighters are your typical melee class with shield and sword, but you can also become a powerful Warrior or the magic wielding Mystic Knight - both of which use completely different weapons and attacks. Do you want to engage in melee combat, getting in up close and personal? The Fighter is an agile class that has numerous sword skills like dynamic home-in lunges, shield bashing or concentrated strikes. Feel like you want more power? The Warrior wields gigantic two handed weapons that send small enemies literally flying into the air and can stagger even larger foes. Want cool armor and melee combat but also a bit of magic? The Mystic Knight makes use of a magic shield and runes that both offer unique buffs and enchantments to you and your party as well as provide offensive magical attacks. Mage, Sorcerer, Assassin, Ranger, Strider, Magick Archer.. there is literally a vocation for every playstyle and you’re not locked into one for the entire game which is great in case you want to try something else down the road.

Engaging combat

Hang on tight

The combat is simply amazing. Much like Dark Souls or Skyrim it relies on stamina but unlike either of those games it is fast paced and engaging. The skills you unlock are grandiose in animation and fun to execute. Melee classes have varied forms of lunges, spins, and focused attacks that let you dominate the battlefield. Mages possess spectacular offensive spells, one of my favorites being a literal meteor shower that rains down over the battlefield decimating anything standing in your path - double so impressive when two or more mages cast it simultaneously. When fighting human sized opponents there is great feedback for all your attacks. When a foe is armored or blocking, your weapon will bounce off with a loud clank leaving you open for attack. When your blade makes contact with flesh the opponent will stagger and enter stunlock as you rain down hit after hit on their hapless soon to be corpses. Slashing away at a helpless bandit never gets old.

The real fun begins when you face larger enemies. If you thought fighting giants or even dragons was “epic” in Skyrim then just wait till you face those very same foes in Dragons Dogma. There is a very interesting grappling mechanic in place highly reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus. While not always necessary to fell larger beast, it is advantageous to climb up and over them in order to get into position allowing you to strike at their weak spots for massive damage - like a cyclops eye for example. It is both exhilarating and plain fun to grab onto a raging manticore, trying to crawl up to it’s weak points as it thrashes about trying to shake you loose. In addition all of these creatures have different attack patterns and states. A cyclops can become enraged, swinging their giant club wildly about and will fall over stunned if you shoot at their feet or eyeball. Likewise a drake will circle you from above unless you shoot their wings to bring them crashing down. Just remember to not make the rookie mistake of clinging onto one of these flying beasts too long - unless you have enough stamina to cling on and force them to land, you'll fall a really long way down.

The companions

Playing Dragons Dogma you will never be alone. Joining you on this journey will be your very own Pawn, a special companion shaped and named as you see fit. You will get to choose their vocation and outfit them with equipment. They will learn alongside you and even offer hints along the way. In addition to your own companion, you can hire 2 more player created pawns from a special area called the Rift which allows you to browse player created pawns by level, Gamertag, vocation and so forth. Just like your own pawn, these are companions from other players games’ complete with their own equipment and behavior patterns. As you can hire out other pawns so can others hire out yours, a process through which they gain invaluable knowledge about quests and enemies you haven’t faced yet. You might employ the service of some pawns that completed quests that you haven’t which will prompt them to offer helpful advice along the way such as telling you which way to go when reaching a fork in the road, or giving you helpful hints when exploring dungeons.

The Rift

The most exciting part is that these AI companions are not incredibly stupid. In fact I dare to say they are the most helpful computer controlled players I have ever encountered in a videogame. Support mages will buff your weapons with appropriate enemy debilitating magic and heal you in the middle of combat. Melee characters will draw aggro and hold down adversaries for you to deliver the final deadly blow. Sorcerers will rain down destructive spells that can bring down even the mightiest beasts in mere seconds. The pawns will also shout out enemy weaknesses, gather loot that you’ve missed, give you directions, or even bring fallen allies for you to revive. I was never frustrated or angry with my pawns and in fact owe them my life and a great many victories. Unlike other games, the brunt of the combat won’t always rest solely on your shoulders with these AI companions running around. Quite often I’d be busy trying to scale some large beast to hack at their weak point, when my mages would annihilate them with spells before I had a chance to even get in position. The entire pawn system is quite ingenious and something I've never seen anywhere before.

I could go on and on about how great this game is but in truth my reasons for wanting you to play it are rather selfish. I want everyone to get Dragons Dogma and play it because I want them to make another one. Because this game is so incredibly detailed and unique that it’s a crime that no one is talking about it.

As a final tease I’ll just say that while the story is largely enjoyable if not a little straightforward throughout the majority of the game, the final two hours go completely off the rails in this glorious way that only a Japanese developed title could - just when you think you’re done, there is literally two more hours of gameplay that just make your jaw drop.

Dragons Dogma, catch it!

Taken from Google the Dragons Dogma -> Dark Arisen change log:

Player

-Various attacks and skills for all weapons have been rebalanced for all weapons.

Enemies

-Made the Ur-Dragon corpse's collision boundary smaller so players can now pick up drop items more easily

-Undead enemies will now come out of the ground with higher defense stats (super armor mode)

-When Saurians die after being knocked down, they will now use a special death animation for when they are on the ground.

-Goblin Shamans will appear in the Witchwood.

-Eliminators will appear on the Tainted Mountain.

-Pyre Saurians will appear on the Tainted Mountain.

-Golden Knights and Silver Knights will appear in the Everfall (before the destruction of Gran Soren).

-Gorecyclopes (condemned type) will appear in the Shadow Fort.

-Living Armor will appear in the Catacombs.

-Wyverns (strong type) will appear at Bluemoon Tower.

-Wyrms (strong type) will appear at the Watergod's Altar.

-Drakes (strong type) will appear in the Everfall after the destruction of Gran Soren.

Pawns

-Adjusted how often pawns will talk by spacing out less important lines; in effect, making them seem to talk less.

-Adjusted and balanced the equipment and skills of all of the high-level pawns that are available to a player when they're playing offline.

-Adjusted how much it costs to hire a pawn that is higher-leveled than yourself down to a more realistic scale.

-Added a Monthly ranking to the pawn's Top Ranked section.

NPCs

-You will not gain Affinity with Assalam simply by talking to him anymore.

Items & Equipment

-Adjusted how much Ferrystones cost and how much they sell for. (Purchase price: 20000 >5000 | Sell price: 3500>1250)

-Adjusted how much Premium Rings and Premium Earrings cost. (Purchase price: 1,500,000>150,000 Rift Crystals | Purchase price 3,000,000>300,000 Rift Crystals)

-Tweaked stat increases for weapon upgrades (increases weaker upgrades, decreases ones that were too strong). Tweaks affect 68 different weapons.

-Dramatically increased base stats for 12 weapons obtainable by defeating the Dragon.

-Improved base stats for 10 Magick Bows

World

-A Portcrystal that allows players to return to Cassardis has been added just outside Cassardis's gate

-A character/warp point that allows players to travel between Bitterblack Isle and Cassardis has been added to Cassardis's pier.

-Added a removable Portcrystal to the following areas: The Gran Soren Everfall (before a certain plot point. . . .), The Shadow Fort, The Witchwood, Hillfigure Knoll.

#1 Posted by flasaltine (1684 posts) -

I played the demo and the framerate was terrible, so no. I would play it if it was on PC.

#2 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11918 posts) -

I endorse this blog, although I disagree that no one has talked about it. I've talked about it multiple times.

If I wanted to be snarky, I could mention reasons why one might not want to play Dragon's Dogma, like the constant walking through areas you've been through far too many times (alleviated somewhat in Dark Arisen) or the incessant inane chatter of your pawns, but I think that it's an unique enough game that anyone with the slightest bit of interest should check it out and figure out for themselves.

#3 Edited by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@arbitrarywater: Normally I always fast travel but I found myself walking towards the end of the game. I just liked the combat a lot.

What I really love is the static level system of enemies. I hate adaptive levels as you never feel like you're achieving anything. Getting your ass kicked by a bunch of bandits by the road at level 10, only to go back to the same road when you're level 30 and completely destroying them feels incredibly satisfying.

@flacracker I never had any real issues with the framerate and I play PC games too. Visually it can be a bit lacking in detail at times but there are also a lot of neat little graphical touches that make up for it.

#4 Posted by gogosox82 (424 posts) -

Totally agree. I can't believe I missed out on this last year. This game is so addicting. The combat is great. The class system is really interesting and fun to play around and the exploration is so fun and rewarding. I only have three complaints.

One: The story is pretty generic fantasy stuff until the end and then it becomes awesome. Why make us play 30 hours to get to the good stuff of the story?

Two: The questing system is really bad. I mean, unless you consult a wiki,you have no idea when you accept a quest whether or not the quest is timed (ie it will fail after a certain period of time or will fail because you accepted another quest). I hope for the next DD, they make the quest system a little better implemented so that its clear that this quest will fail if I don't do it in a certain time period or will fail if I take another quest. I suppose you could argue that it adds replayability but I just found it more annoying than thinking else that I failed a quest w/o knowing I was going to fail it.

Three: Why is there only one save file? This may seem minor but to me this game is similar to dark souls in where you might wanna have multiple characters. If I get tired of playing as the character I have and wanna shake things up a little bit, I shouldn't have to erase the character I've hundreds and hundreds of hours with just because I wanted a new experience with the game that I wasn't getting with that character.

#5 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5748 posts) -

@gogosox82: Well there's simply no reason to make a new character as opposed to just swapping to whichever class you wanted to play around with with the one you already have; unless you want to play the beginning of the game again for some reason. Who doesn't love that escort quest?

Dragon's Dogma is fun but it doesn't really compare to Dark Souls on any level, but it sure has some great moments. I wouldn't call it underrated except maybe by Patrick, seems like an 8/10 objectively. Combat is decently varied but it does get really boring after a while and a lot of that has to do with the general lack of challenge except if you play on the DLC hard mode with a new character (but it's not like that's tuned well it's basically just find a good pawn from your friend's list to save you since everything one shots you), some of the Everfall rooms are a lot of fun but the process of getting to them is almost always tedious, the process of "farming" chest items is God awful. The online Ur-Dragon is one of those great ideas that's been around for a long time that's completely impossible to implement effectively, but it is still a reasonably fun boss fight.

#6 Posted by BaneFireLord (2952 posts) -

So I hate Dark Souls (due to its grindy aspects, lack of explanation and grim world) and love everything about Skyrim. Should I buy Dragon's Dogma?

#7 Edited by Slag (4616 posts) -

@banefirelord: Maybe?

There is very little explanation of any the mechanics, but the world is definitely not grim and it isn't really grindy at all (except maybe briefly at the very beginning)

So 2 out of 3 I guess.

#8 Posted by Herby (3 posts) -

I just picked it up for the 360. Haven't had enough time to really dig in but just from the beginning it is pretty awesome.

#9 Edited by InsaneGenis (99 posts) -

I need to get back around to beating Skyrim. Then when I'm done may have to pick this up on the cheap. Thanks for reminding me it exists.

#10 Posted by Demoskinos (15019 posts) -

@gogosox82: Well there's simply no reason to make a new character as opposed to just swapping to whichever class you wanted to play around with with the one you already have; unless you want to play the beginning of the game again for some reason. Who doesn't love that escort quest?

Dragon's Dogma is fun but it doesn't really compare to Dark Souls on any level, but it sure has some great moments. I wouldn't call it underrated except maybe by Patrick, seems like an 8/10 objectively. Combat is decently varied but it does get really boring after a while and a lot of that has to do with the general lack of challenge except if you play on the DLC hard mode with a new character (but it's not like that's tuned well it's basically just find a good pawn from your friend's list to save you since everything one shots you), some of the Everfall rooms are a lot of fun but the process of getting to them is almost always tedious, the process of "farming" chest items is God awful. The online Ur-Dragon is one of those great ideas that's been around for a long time that's completely impossible to implement effectively, but it is still a reasonably fun boss fight.

There totally is if you wanna play around with different stat builds. And yes I'm fully aware that in almost all cases you can use top tier equipment to make up any gulf in raw stats that you are lacking however if you wanted to see what a character with the absolute most STR in the game could be that might be a fun thing to try. The way the stats distribute its totally a viable thing to do for fun.

@humanity Good write up. Excited to see someone else as well..excited as me about some Dragon's Dogma around here. Just got done beating Daimon as a Sorcerer for the first time and it was pretty hilarious just bombarding him with High Lassitude while my pawns ganged up on him like angry kids shaking down a pinata for candy. Its really interesting how depending on if you are a Physical or Magical character how some boss fights end up being tougher/easier depending.

I had a much tougher time for whatever reason with the Dark Bishop/Cursed Dragon as a Sorcerer this run through BBI. Should be interesting to see how I fare in BBI round two against Daimon's second form.

#11 Posted by RedCream (705 posts) -

I bought the game but I haven't touched it yet. This blog got me more excited in finally diving in. I'll probably play it later this week.

#12 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11918 posts) -

@humanity: Oh right, did you play Vanilla DD or Dark Arisen? I don't think it's mentioned anywhere on your blog.

So I hate Dark Souls (due to its grindy aspects, lack of explanation and grim world) and love everything about Skyrim. Should I buy Dragon's Dogma?

Maybe? Dragon's Dogma is grindy inasmuch as there are a lot of monsters on the road and you do a lot of walking, but you can totally beat the main game with a character leveled somewhere in the mid 50s (though apparently the Dark Arisen content is significantly harder). It has none of the worldbuilding elements that something like Skyrim has, and while you could decide to go off in a direction and start exploring, there's not much to find if there isn't a quest directing you there, and also you'd probably die. This may be a case where a rental or borrowing it from a friend would be useful.

#13 Edited by gogosox82 (424 posts) -

@fredchuckdave said:

@gogosox82: Well there's simply no reason to make a new character as opposed to just swapping to whichever class you wanted to play around with with the one you already have; unless you want to play the beginning of the game again for some reason. Who doesn't love that escort quest?

Dragon's Dogma is fun but it doesn't really compare to Dark Souls on any level, but it sure has some great moments. I wouldn't call it underrated except maybe by Patrick, seems like an 8/10 objectively. Combat is decently varied but it does get really boring after a while and a lot of that has to do with the general lack of challenge except if you play on the DLC hard mode with a new character (but it's not like that's tuned well it's basically just find a good pawn from your friend's list to save you since everything one shots you), some of the Everfall rooms are a lot of fun but the process of getting to them is almost always tedious, the process of "farming" chest items is God awful. The online Ur-Dragon is one of those great ideas that's been around for a long time that's completely impossible to implement effectively, but it is still a reasonably fun boss fight.

Well I'm kind of a mid maxer so once i figured out that I messed up my build a little, I wanted to make a new character that had a more optimized build. Also, the game gets really easy once you get the good gear and the combat isn't nearly as good as when I was undergeared so it gets kind of boring just stomping everything. So it just sucks to have to get rid of a character I have put 50-60 hours into just because the combat isn't as fun b/c I'm just stomping everything. I mean, it can't be that hard to put in multiple save slots like 99% of the other games have.

Edit: I don't think its nearly as good as Dark Souls. Dark Souls is the best game this gen to me so no its not as good as Dark Souls but I still think its a great game. Its got interesting mechanics that I think were great ideas but weren't implemented well so I think there's promise for it (similar to demons souls in a way).

#14 Posted by gogosox82 (424 posts) -

@banefirelord: Probably a pass for you. You'll probably hate this. Maybe rent if you can find it somewhere or if you have gamefly.

#15 Edited by Dark (390 posts) -

I played it, finished it, other than the pawns being as dumb as bricks at the end when you have to fight more than one large monster at a time it was enjoyable.

But MAN OH MAN, dat FPS was terrible. A game that clearly needed to be on PC.

#16 Posted by PillClinton (3291 posts) -

Well, I love Skyrim and really really like DS so I think this may be right up my alley. I remember hearing Patrick's praise for the game, but despite that, it's just been sorta off my radar. Underrated it does indeed seem. Nice job breaking it all down in this blog.

Goddamn, I wish this was on PC, though. But you've definitely convinced me to play it nonetheless. I'll keep my eyes peeled for some sort of deal.

Online
#17 Posted by Catarrhal (840 posts) -

@gogosox82 said:

Why is there only one save file?

I thought about this back when the game was first released and realized that, ultimately, it's because of the pawn system. And there are several reasons why that is--some of which are purely technical and some of which are theoretical.

The game's mandatory auto-save, for example, is to prevent pawns from getting screwed out of experience.

#18 Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

So I hate Dark Souls (due to its grindy aspects, lack of explanation and grim world) and love everything about Skyrim. Should I buy Dragon's Dogma?

You might. One thing to note which I didn't get around to in the blog since it was already getting kinda long is that this is a VERY Japanese game. There are a lot of systems that are not visible on the surface and others that are explained somewhat poorly. This is a game that is best played with a Wiki on the side if you want to get the most out of it.

For instance: there is a pretty important affinity system towards NPC's in the world that has a somewhat large bearing on the endgame. This system is only barely mentioned in a pop-up window and has no clear visual indicators for you to read. If someone has great affinity towards you there will be a slight pink glow around them - this isn't explained anywhere of course.

Different vocations have different stat gains. When you level the game doesn't tell you how many points in each stat you have gained. So if your pawn will be a Fighter for 20 levels and then a Warrior for another 20 levels, both vocations that level up STR a lot more than Magick, your pawn will not be a strong sorcerer at level 40 because his Magick stat will be quite low.

Quests are also handled somewhat differently than other games as they will expire depending on where you are in the main quest line. This is actually pretty logical, as it would be silly to complete a quest for someone that just underwent a dramatic transformation like nothing ever happened. Still there is no warning given that beginning this mainline quest will invalidate quests A, B and C which you haven't gotten around to yet.

This can be kinda rough at times considering some NPC's have very important sidequests - like two shopkeepers in Gran Soren that ask you to retrieve an item for them and in exchange they will offer better equipment at their shops. You can completely miss this and not have access to higher tier weapons until postgame, having to rely on drops instead which can be a bummer.

That aside I think the world is great. You have a meaningful day and night cycle. At night all manner of beast come out that you normally wouldn't face in the daytime. Also the nights can get actually pretty damn dark, and if you don't carry a lantern which requires actual oil to burn (although no worries you only refill once every like 5 hours of real life time) then you might find yourself stumbling a bit which is pretty neat. Different areas have different feels. This isn't a gigantic place like Skyrim mind you, and there are no tall mountains to climb. That said Dragons Dogma has a pretty interesting landscape and it's smaller size plays to it's advantage. Certain places feel fleshed out more and some of the underground dungeons I found a lot more exciting than your typical Skyrim cave. There is a pretty easy to grasp crafting system and you can upgrade all weapons and armor to higher levels so even if you can't find a new bow or sword there is the possibility to upgrade the one you have for extra damage.

I can't tell you how much you will enjoy it. It has really fun combat and you never really feel any sort of grind. I finished the main game at level 55 and never felt like I was stuck at any point. The fact that creatures have static levels gives you a very good indicator if you are too weak for any particular area. I took on a Manticore at a very early level and it took me about 15 minutes to kill it after 4 failed attempts. It felt incredibly satisfying, more more so than when I would jump up on some high ledge in Skyrim and pelt a foe with arrows just out of his reach. Later on I was barely breaking a sweat when fighting Manticores and with two mages they'd literally go down in seconds. But I like that - I like the power fantasy. I want to level up and steamroll things that were given me trouble in the past. I really dislike autoscaling as I think it defeats the whole purpose of leveling up when everything is leveling with you. I want there to be a tough ass enemy that you simply can't beat in your earlier levels, that you come back to later on and completely destroy.

Also Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is not only cheaper than the original DD but contains the original game and an entire new area available straight from the start alongside a bunch of bug fixes and game tweaks.

#19 Posted by TruthTellah (9323 posts) -

I truly do hope they will eventually release Dragon's Dogma on the PC. It deserves to be on PC.

I appreciated it on console, but I consistently got the impression that it would simply be even better on PC. If it ever comes out, I will beat every drum I have to get even more people to check out a title that brims with potential in its foundations.

#20 Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@truthtellah: I'm with you. There are times when I played DD that I really wished they would port it to PC since the potential is enormous. They do so many things so well but are visibly hampered by current hardware. Still I'll take what I can get. This is one of the most innovative RPG's I've played all year. It blows Dark Souls out of the water in terms of systems and classes alone.

#21 Posted by Jimbo (9872 posts) -

I don't know what the recent re-release is like, but the original version had a few weird design decisions which prevented me sticking with it. It did have stacks of promise though and is one of the games I'd most like to see a sequel to. I remember getting into this random fight with a Chimera at night and it was fucking fantastic.

If Dragon Age were to go in more of an action direction, this is absolutely the game they should be using as the inspiration for their gameplay.

#22 Edited by JoeyRavn (4995 posts) -

I started playing it yesterday and was blown away by how good it seems to be. I really like how fast movement and combat is. The only problem I've encountered so far is that the nights are so fucking dark. I can barely see anything. I will have to try tuning more my HDTV, but I think that the game is intentionally pitch black during the night, and I don't think I like that so much.

Also: Yes. Put this game on PC. Now.

#23 Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@joeyravn said:

I started playing it yesterday and was blown away by how good it seems to be. I really like how fast movement and combat is. The only problem I've encountered so far is that the nights are so fucking dark. I can barely see anything. I will have to try tuning more my HDTV, but I think that the game is intentionally pitch black during the night, and I don't think I like that so much.

Also: Yes. Put this game on PC. Now.

If you don't have one, go to a store and buy a lantern - check your inventory as you might even have one without knowing it. You equip it by pressing Back/Select and going to the Equipment tab. Another cool part of this game is that nights really ARE super dark and creepy without any light. If you get mage pawns they will have these cool lights circle around their staffs in the dark making for some really neat lighting effects.

Also remember that your lantern needs oil!

#24 Edited by gogosox82 (424 posts) -

@gogosox82 said:

Why is there only one save file?

I thought about this back when the game was first released and realized that, ultimately, it's because of the pawn system. And there are several reasons why that is--some of which are purely technical and some of which are theoretical.

The game's mandatory auto-save, for example, is to prevent pawns from getting screwed out of experience.

That is a good point. So I guess its just a limitation of the hardware and the pawn system they've set up. It would be too difficult to keep track of or something w/o you getting screwed out of exp/rc/loot drops your pawn gets I guess. That just makes me wish they would put it out for pc since that problem could probably be resolved since modern day pcs are much more powerful than the ps3/360 and could probably handle it.

#25 Posted by phantomzxro (1578 posts) -

Funny you posted this as i'm finally getting around to playing this game. I think this game is pretty awesome in a flawed but good way. Like people mention earlier there are a few setbacks like walking everywhere (mainly walking back and forth between towns back to back) is not fun when you have quest making you backtrack.

The quest system is very wild west style of not giving much context when started. Some quest fail or time out also quest givers have a rotation in town which can lead to you looking for the quest giver to compete or start. The one save sucks because of the quests failing which can make you out of luck on doing a perfect run on quests. Aside from that i think the combat is great in a more actiony dark souls way.

I love the effects of magic and the use of lighting or lack there of when its dark. To have a fire ball spell fill the room with light is great stuff when you are surrounded by enemies and darkness. The boss battles and bigger enemy fights feel more dynamic when the enemies attack patterns change at different states in the battle. Along with being able to jump on a beast and hack at it while it jumps about. I also like the detail in buying clothing and armor along with detailing how your character looks.

The pawn system is also pretty cool to shape your side kick how you see fit and others online can use your sidekick ain which you are rewarded for it. What make this game awesome is it actually have quite a few great ideas that add something new to a action rpg game. With everything trying to be skyrim or dark souls it good to see other games can add something to the table as well. It would be great to see a full second game in which they can fix the flaws of this game and we will truly have something great.

#26 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1654 posts) -

Even if I were to look past Skyrim's technical problems on the PS3, almost everything I've heard about Dragon's Dogma interests me more than Skyrim. I'm looking forward to checking it out eventually.

#27 Posted by triple07 (1198 posts) -

@humanity: So I ended up picking this game up and so far I'm really digging it. It does remind me of a mix between Skyrim and Dark Souls like you said. I do have a question for you though, how does this game treat your level and the enemies you can fight? For instance I'm pretty early on and having some trouble fighting a Hydra for what I'm assuming is a story quest, and I'm having some trouble taking it out. So I'm trying to figure out if this is the game telling me to go do side quests for awhile to level up or if I'm just not fighting the Hydra the right way.

#28 Posted by onarum (2152 posts) -

Yeah, I picked it up on my PS3, literally the first game I played on it in almost a year (saw no reason to turn it on after I built my PC), it was a little tough going back to shitty graphics and crap framerates after getting used to glorious 1080p at 60 FPS that my PC can provide, but the game is quite good, been enjoying it a lot, I love that they left the option for japanese audio in there

@triple07 said:

@humanity: So I ended up picking this game up and so far I'm really digging it. It does remind me of a mix between Skyrim and Dark Souls like you said. I do have a question for you though, how does this game treat your level and the enemies you can fight? For instance I'm pretty early on and having some trouble fighting a Hydra for what I'm assuming is a story quest, and I'm having some trouble taking it out. So I'm trying to figure out if this is the game telling me to go do side quests for awhile to level up or if I'm just not fighting the Hydra the right way.

really? are you playing it on hard mode? because I'm on normal and that fight was ridiculously easy for me(I'm actually considering restarting in hardmode since the whole game seems too freaking easy), I just kept climbing the heads and hacking away.

#29 Posted by coaxmetal (1641 posts) -

someone gave me a copy of this game recently, I might play it some time. I don't have a ton of time for games anymore and I have other stuff I want to play way more, plus I want to revisit Skyrim and Dark Souls.

#30 Edited by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@triple07 said:

@humanity: So I ended up picking this game up and so far I'm really digging it. It does remind me of a mix between Skyrim and Dark Souls like you said. I do have a question for you though, how does this game treat your level and the enemies you can fight? For instance I'm pretty early on and having some trouble fighting a Hydra for what I'm assuming is a story quest, and I'm having some trouble taking it out. So I'm trying to figure out if this is the game telling me to go do side quests for awhile to level up or if I'm just not fighting the Hydra the right way.

The Hydra is not real boss per-se as much as a story event meant to move you along the tutorial path to Gran Soren. If you haven't beaten it yet then my advice is: whatever class you chose just jump up on one of the necks and start hacking away even if you're a mage and you only have a staff. You're not really meant to defeat it, just get a taste for big battles.

In terms of levels, all enemies are static. The wolves you face now will always be the same wolves throughout the game - as in life and damage. So if you face an enemy and their lifebar is draining too slowly then simply run away and come back later when you've leveled up a bit and gotten better gear.

Here are some tips:

Save often - the game never saves when you're just wandering outside in the world and you can traverse for an hour, kill many enemies, get loot only to fall off a cliff and lose all of it. You can save quickly by pressing Start and then the back button at the menu (or select on PS3 I presume) This acts as a soft save. Whenever you sleep at a tavern that will give you a checkpoint save. So you can save at a tavern to get a checkpoint, go out and do a bunch of stuff and even when the game says it is "saving" you'll be able to roll back to that previous checkpoint.

Sleeping at a tavern updates your pawn in the Rift. Other players will see your pawn in the Rift in the state he/she was when you slept at a tavern last. So if your pawn is level 10 and then you play for 20 hours and get them up to level 30 or something but have not visiting a tavern to sleep others will still see them as level 10 in the Rift. I'm pretty sure this is how the Rift mechanic works anyway.

Vocations determine how your stats level up. Fighters will get more points in STR and Stamine each level while Mages will get more stats put towards Magic. The strider class gets a pretty even distribution of points to most stats. So while it's not super important initially, later on you might find some stats lacking. If your pawn is a Fighter for 20 levels and then a warrior for 20 more levels, their stats will be really beefy in physical damage. But when you switch them to a mage class then their magic attack will be relatively low for a level 40 character.

Lastly - if you haven't done so already, agreeing to escort Mercedes (the dark skinned female knight) to Gran Soren after the Hydra fight will cancel out the quest to look for Quina. You might want to do that quest as it will introduce you to another character in Witchwood and open up some more quests later down the road. (you get the quest to find Quina by walking from the encampment to Cassardis after the Hydra fight.)

Oh and you might get confused by the blue quest marker on your map - that is just the quest marker for the Dark Arisen expansion area. You probably shouldn't visit that place until after you beat the main game once or even twice as at level 62 I'm doing ok but certain boss creatures are really stomping all over me.

#31 Posted by triple07 (1198 posts) -

@humanity: @onarum: Ah I had been sitting back firing arrows at its head to no avail but as soon as I tried hacking at its heads I beat it immediately. Now I am going to Witchwood to do the Quina quest however I am getting my ass kicked by some bandits on the road on which I assume is the way to Witchwood. I maybe should have played as a fighter as I normally do play tankier classes in games so I may go back and remake a character since I'm not that deep in the game yet.

#32 Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@triple07: The bandits can be pretty challenging early on in the game but you should be able to handle them if you're a strider with a full team. Make sure to enlist a maximum number of pawns from the Rift stone in the encampment where you fought the Hydra as there are no penalties for travelling 3 pawn deep.

Generally you probably want a Mage with Anodyne which is the healing spell as well as fire boon which enchantments your weapons with fire damage - most early game enemies like wolves, harpies, bandits, goblins are weak to fire. Not sure what your own pawns vocation is but if you're a strider and your pawn is a fighter then it's a good idea to get a mage and a sorcerer or two mages to compliment the team. Although you will come to your own consensus experimentation, strider pawns are not all that useful and warrior pawns while excelling in damage are often too slow to be of any use. If you'll want your main pawn to be the tank of your envoy then I'd suggest switching them over to Warrior for a good early 10 levels or more as that will maximize their attack and health.

Although the game is pretty forgiving in these terms. My pawn was a fighter and then a warrior for a long time and when I switched her over to be a support healing mage she did a great job at that. At this point she will never be a fantastic spellcaster because she simply doesn't have enough points in magic offense for her spells to be as good as they should be, but she will still be pretty O-K if I just want a nice change of pace. Also even if you aren't interested in a certain vocations it's useful to level up some of them in order to get access to their unique Augments. I believe the Sorcerer class has the augment that increases your spell casting time and that augment works for the other magic classes as well - the magic archer has special magic dagger attacks and that augments speeds up the "cast" time on those as well.

Also remember to upgrade your pawns skills whenever you upgrade your own. They have their own vocation points to spend independent of your own and it's important to upgrade their abilities as you both level up.

#33 Posted by JoeyRavn (4995 posts) -

@humanity said:

@joeyravn said:

I started playing it yesterday and was blown away by how good it seems to be. I really like how fast movement and combat is. The only problem I've encountered so far is that the nights are so fucking dark. I can barely see anything. I will have to try tuning more my HDTV, but I think that the game is intentionally pitch black during the night, and I don't think I like that so much.

Also: Yes. Put this game on PC. Now.

If you don't have one, go to a store and buy a lantern - check your inventory as you might even have one without knowing it. You equip it by pressing Back/Select and going to the Equipment tab. Another cool part of this game is that nights really ARE super dark and creepy without any light. If you get mage pawns they will have these cool lights circle around their staffs in the dark making for some really neat lighting effects.

Also remember that your lantern needs oil!

Yeah, I was carrying a lantern (and oil!) but it was still pitch black. I ended up tuning my TV and now it looks a lot more bearable. And the image quality much better, to be honest. I can't believe I've been playing Xbox games for so long without changing the settings on my TV first. No wonder they all looked so... sharpened. Nights are still pretty scary, though, so I tread lightly.

I've been playing some more and yesterday I realize that there's something that I really don't like about the game. I picked up Reynard's escort quest at Gran Soren (A Peddler's Request), which makes me take him to the other end of the map. No biggie, I like exploring. But, man: I got my ass handed. Repeatedly. Bandits. Ghosts. Undead. Fucking OGRES. CHIMERAS. The problem is that I just don't know what content I can tackle or what enemies I can fight because the game doesn't codify anything with a level. Yes, I am getting experience and leveling up (both my level and my profession level), but if I don't know if that enemy I'm about to face is level 6 or 66, well, exploring becomes a moot point. I think that I'll just main line the game during this first playthrough to make sure I'm doing content that I'm supposed to be doing at that level, and leave most of the exploring and side-questing for my second playthrough.

That, or I'll start overleveling the shit out my character.

#34 Edited by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@joeyravn: Personally I think thats the beauty of it. You don't have that safety net of being told where you can or can't be. In a lot of ways it hearkens back to the days of old PC RPG's.

I say just explore, and if you find something too tough then run away. You can use this very general rule of thumb - looking at the map enemies south of Gran Soren get progressively easier the further south you go all the way to Cassardis. Creatures north of Gran Soren get progressively tougher as you start running into snow harpies and dire wolves. It's not perfect but it does give you a small sense of direction.

I played the game doing all the sidequests apart from the escort missions which are kind of tedious. I rarely ever hit a complete wall, but I also walked almost everywhere even when I had a surplus of 10+ Ferrystones simply because I liked the combat and I wanted to level my pawns vocation or something. Apart from the escorts which always have you walking from one end of the world to the other, the game is pretty good at pacing you with the sidequests and not asking you to kill 4 Drakes when it's early in the game.

A good tip for experience is to visit all those notice boards and take any quests that require you to kill a set amount of a particular creature - even if you have never even seen it yet. I had extra experience coming in all the time simply because I forgot I had taken a quest to kill 10 snow harpies until it suddenly popped up completed throughout my travels.

Also think how awesome it will feel when you face another manticore in the future and completely devastate it in under a minute. My first manticore I think I was around level 20 and it took a good 15 minutes of reviving my pawns, killing each part in turn and sweat profusely as my healing items dwindled down to nothing and he had half a lifebar left. Come level 40 I ran into a Manticore again and before I even had a chance to jump on it both my sorcerers cast down meteors and it died instantly. Felt badass.

#35 Posted by Picsl (202 posts) -

I remember not buying it initially because I was still neck-deep in Skyrim, and there was a period after that where I did not want to touch another fantasy RPG, but I may give it a shot now that new releases have come to a crawl.

#36 Posted by Carlos1408 (1526 posts) -

Great blog dude. I've been on the fence with this game for so long. I played the demo and I had a rather good time with it. However, for some reason I couldn't bring myself to buy it. I finally did today though after reading your post. :D

#37 Edited by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@carlos1408: Thanks. I made it specifically because I heard middling opinions on the game with a lot of "oh there is nothing to do in this empty world" sort of references thrown around so I myself was on the fence.

After getting into it I was so enthralled unlike any game in recent times. I'm on my second playthrough and there are still tons of classes I haven't even tried and each time I experiment with a new vocation I find something really great about it. Playing a Magick Archer for a long time I really enjoyed that - now I'm playing as a Sorcerer and it's such a complete 180 yet still very fun. The spellcasting is really well portrayed and I now have a much better understanding of what kind of a Mage/Sorcerer pawn I want in my party having experienced the different abilities firsthand.

#38 Posted by Veiasma (194 posts) -

Just started this over Memorial Day weekend, and I agree its a very fun game!

Wish I knew Dark Arisen had the original in it though.

#39 Posted by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@veiasma: If you have some way of recouping your losses on exchanging regular Dragons Dogma for Dark Arisen I'd highly recommend it as apart from the new dungeon there are some other minor changes that make all the difference such as: when upgrading equipment it will take under account all the materials you have in storage as well as what you have in your inventory.

Also you can even further enhance weapons and skills.

#40 Posted by Legion_ (1424 posts) -

Those black borderson the screen are so annoying. Also, the game has crazy difficulty spikes that make no sense. I went down to the catacombs in the main quest, after meeting with the Pawn Guild, and I was destroyed in no time, even though I had easily beaten everything up to that point.

#41 Posted by Slag (4616 posts) -

@joeyravn: You can bypass pretty much all the escort quests or save them for the end. Unlike other quests they pretty much always come back if certain conditions are met.

Anyway besides the DLC find the coin quests, the escort quests are easily the worst part of the game

#42 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

@humanity:

Excellent write-up. I agree on all points. I just recently got Dark Arisen, and I've been glued to my screen since. At it's core, the game is indeed brilliant. Combat, character and itemization customization and progression, world building - the way actual gameplay moves and feels. It's by far my favorite open world RPG this generation, looking soley at the core gameplay. And I friggin' love Bethesda's games.

Where it falters is for the most parts simple UI stuff. Inventory management is a hassle. The questlog is a mess, mixing in main quests, real sidequests (which get deleted permanently every so often by main story progress), and miscellaneous tasks like collectathons.

Pawns - while for the most parts integral and useful - can be extremely stupid, especially in regards to weapon buffs. Playing a physical character myself (switching between warrior and strider types as I feel like), I'm dependent on getting magical buffs on my weapons to harm certain types of enemies. My main pawn is set-up to provide Fire Augmentation (devastating in combination with Oil Arrows), and Holy Augmentation for ghosts and such. Actually getting it to work out as intended is a fucking nightmare.

In short. Dragon's Dogma is the greatest open world RPG ever made at its mechanical core (outside of pawn management, more control over behaviours and more resposive and granular commands in-the-field would be necessary). It's the fluff where it fails. UI, how the story presents itself, the lack of proper direction and hence it's all-over-the-place pacing. Regardless - I agree this is one of the most shamefully underrated and generally overlooked games of all times. I'm glad Capcom seems to know it though, since Deep Down looks like it'll hit in the same vein as Dragon's Dogma at the very least, if not provide a proper sequel. I am pumped to see more of it - hopefully as soon as E3!

P.S. What-The-Fuck Post-Dragon game melted my mind! The stuff of legends.

#43 Edited by TangoUp (314 posts) -

The sexual harassment scandal around the development team put me off the game. It was a choice between this game and Kingdoms of Amalur. I regret buying KOA.

#44 Posted by John1912 (1908 posts) -

I should get back to playing Dragons Dogma, but I havent really enjoyed the 5+ hours I put into it. Want to give it a better chance, I really dont care for it thou. Combat is ok, but clunky, everything is a damage soak. World seems pretty boring. It hasnt made me care about anything Im doing or any sort of characters making everything feel rather generic.

#45 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

@john1912 said:

I should get back to playing Dragons Dogma, but I havent really enjoyed the 5+ hours I put into it. Want to give it a better chance, I really dont care for it thou. Combat is ok, but clunky, everything is a damage soak. World seems pretty boring. It hasnt made me care about anything Im doing or any sort of characters making everything feel rather generic.

It takes some time to soak in. The insane damage sponginess of the early game is soon a thing of the past too. Just play a strider type and don't overpack, and you'll be nimble like a ninja.

#46 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

@tangoup said:

The sexual harassment scandal around the development team put me off the game. It was a choice between this game and Kingdoms of Amalur. I regret buying KOA.

  • A. What happend?
  • B. I assume it's the doing of some individual, and there's tousands of people touching on a game, why would such a thing taint the whole thing?
  • C. Not knowing what did go down - of course it could have been bad - there's no accounting for what passes for sexual harassment these days. Loads of *damage goods* people out there, overreacting to any perceived slight like Gyp Rosetti - especially when sexual in nature.

Just get over it and play it man!

#47 Edited by TangoUp (314 posts) -

@seppli said:

@tangoup said:

The sexual harassment scandal around the development team put me off the game. It was a choice between this game and Kingdoms of Amalur. I regret buying KOA.

  • A. What happend?
  • B. I assume it's the doing of some individual, and there's tousands of people touching on a game, why would such a thing taint the whole thing?
  • C. Not knowing what did go down - of course it could have been bad - there's no accounting for what passes for sexual harassment these days. Loads of *damage goods* people out there, overreacting to any perceived slight like Gyp Rosetti - especially when sexual in nature.

Just get over it and play it man!

Apparently, I remembered wrong. It was a case of 'just' workplace harassment.

http://kotaku.com/5911353/japanese-game-developer-apparently-harassed-so-much-she-attempted-suicide

Yeah, I probably should give the game a try. But I've been burned by these RPGs lately like Demon Souls and KOA.

#48 Posted by Cirdain (3100 posts) -

I would play it if it was on PC.

Same.

#49 Edited by Humanity (9604 posts) -

@seppli: Yah the quest system is kind of awkward at first but I think once you get a feel for how it works then it's pretty decent. Only downside is that if you never played the original and start playing through it via Dark Arisen then throughout the entire game you have that blue quest marker for Bitterblack Isle that you can't turn off (or I didn't know how to) - that thing threw me off for a bit.

The pawns in my experience were always really great about enchanting my weapons, so maybe they were just better experienced. My own pawn, a fighter, just recently started actually climbing dragons to hit their heart after I found a tactics vol.2 scroll for him.

#50 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

@humanity said:

@seppli: Yah the quest system is kind of awkward at first but I think once you get a feel for how it works then it's pretty decent. Only downside is that if you never played the original and start playing through it via Dark Arisen then throughout the entire game you have that blue quest marker for Bitterblack Isle that you can't turn off (or I didn't know how to) - that thing threw me off for a bit.

The pawns in my experience were always really great about enchanting my weapons, so maybe they were just better experienced. My own pawn, a fighter, just recently started actually climbing dragons to hit their heart after I found a tactics vol.2 scroll for him.

You can command a buff-up via the *Help* command prior to a battle. In battle however, pawns are non-responsive more often than not. Many a fight against phantasm-types, I've just been standing there waiting for my buff, just to get it 5 minutes later, when the pawns have wittled it down on their own.

More likely you're just more tolerant than I, in regards to not-getting-what-I-commanded. I expect a command to be met by immediate compliance.

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