Dragons Dogma and why you should really play it (Now on PC!)

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Jan 15, 2016 EDIT: This is my old blog but considering the game is now available on PC it's as relevant as ever. Go buy it, buy a copy for your friends, buy one for your mother, heck buy one for Pompidou!

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.

Reasons why you should play Dragons Dogma:

Versatile class system

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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.

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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
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.

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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 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.

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