Dragon’s Dogma is a game that I have been interested in since it was announced, I haven’t really been closely following it, but I have certainly been keeping my eye on it. I am a big fan of role playing games, so I am always looking out for the next great RPG. With Capcom saying things like they would like this game to sell 10 millions copies, I have certainly been intrigued, though a bit skeptical too. Luckily, I was finally able to judge the game for myself when I got a chance to play it at PAX East.
Fundamentally, Dragon’s Dogma is a party based Fantasy RPG, though from what I played of it, it seemed much more like an action game than a typical western RPG. For one, you only direct control over your main character, with your party members acting independently. You do have some limited control over your party, but it’s more like a suggestion than an actual command. You have orders mapped to the d-pad, such as “help”, “move”, and “regroup”. You don’t really choose which party member you want to issue the orders to, but saying “help” when I was long on health usually resulted in the healer casting a healing spell on me. This system worked fine in the relatively easy area the demo took place in, but I can imagine the lack of precise control being a real problem during more intense fights, if the game has them.
As for combat, it is really an action game. The main character was a warrior type character, though I have no idea if in the final game you’ll be able to choose your class from the beginning, I just know in the demo my character was a warrior and I didn’t seem to have any control over that. You have two basic attacks, light attack and heavy attack, which were mapped to square and triangle (PS3 controller). It’s possible this character is a jack of all trades type character that will have access to ranged weapons and magic at some point in the game, but I all I had in the demo was a sword. I did have access to special attacks though, by holding down either the left or right shoulder buttons, the UI would change to show several special attacks mapped to the face buttons, much like the console versions of Dragon Age. These special attacks were basic warrior abilities like an overhead smash, a spinning attack, and a charge strike. It’s possible I just didn’t notice, but there didn’t seem to any sort of mana or energy limiting these attacks, as I could seemingly use them as much as I wanted.
The demo consisted of a medieval dungeon looking area fills with fairly easy fodder enemies which then led into a large room with a boss. The boss was a crazy half lion half snake thing, though it didn’t really require much strategy, as I just continuously hit it with my special attacks, occasionally asking for help when my heath got low. The boss went on for way too long, as it had three health bars. It was during this fight that I noticed some serious clipping issues. Obviously, the game isn’t finished yet and this demo represents a work in progress, but I can only comment on what I saw. I would routinely find myself partially inside the boss as it flailed around while I was up close and slashing it. Overall, the visuals were decent enough, though not very impressive; they were acceptable.
When it comes to role playing games, this sort of event is not exactly an ideal to place to really get a sense of how the game is. The main reasons I play role playing games are to get immersed in a world and character, and to experience a compelling interactive story that I have some control over as a player. I could barely even hear the characters speaking, so I can’t really say if these fundamental aspects I look for in a role playing game will be present in Dragon’s Dogma. This demo was entirely combat, and I don’t even if this game any sort of dialogue mechanics, though I would hope it does. All I can say is that the combat was perfectly serviceable, though unexceptional, and that’s about it. I am still hopeful that Dragon’s Dogma could be a great role playing game, but now I at least know the combat plays like a decent action game.