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Dragon’s Dogma Preview

by Reece Heywood April 26, 2012

Japanese developers are masters when it comes to traditional role playing experiences. Yet it’s difficult to try recalling any successful ones with a Western theme. It’s refreshing to see Capcom try to change this with the upcoming Dragon’s Dogma.

A player’s journey begins with character customisation, like every other role playing game. It’s ironic that a Western looking role playing game, contains one of the best character editing modes to date. Just about facial and body feature has a set of options. Some of the options even make it possible to change finer details – such as nose length and body type.

The best part of this process is that the player character ends up not looking like an abomination. Nothing worse than creating a character, that doesn’t look remotely close, to what the player had in mind. There are ways to make characters look odd, but players will have to create them on purpose.

The attention to detail is so meticulous that even belly buttons are clearly visible. However, it’s a bit of a missed opportunity to not take body hair into account. Otherwise it’s safe to say that the character customisation process is a pleasure to use. It’s even possible to use demo created characters in the retail release of Dragon’s Dogma.

Custom names are given to characters but a set moniker is used, so any devious types, don’t end up sharing their offensive name choices with others. One of the features that Capcom has focused on, throughout development cycle, is the use of pawns.

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Pawn creation uses the same process for creating s new character. Pawns are also called into combat via portals, after activating a certain item, within the quest level. There’s various types of pawns and they all have different ways of aiding the player.

One for example will cast healing magic, that comes in handy during tough boss fights. It’s worrying that pawns seem far too eager to help at times. They literally wiped various monsters without much help from the player character.

Hopefully this is due to the demo characters possessing advanced skills, so potential buyers can get try everything it has to offer.

It’s not feasible to see how Dragon’s Dogma fare,s in terms of giving players the freedom to explore. The cavern location is interesting and it is a nice introduction to Dragon’s Dogma. The whole quest slowly builds up to the final showdown with a mythical creature.

The other quest is set in an open field, but the player has limited freedom(it’s just the demo) to explore. It puts the player right before a battle with a ferocious Griffin. These two quests are just a taster of what is to come but they didn’t last long. It’s probably because Capcom wants to lure in potential buyers, who will most likely want to see more.

Combat sections play pretty much like a standard role playing game. The player is able to attack creatures using both long range and short range attacks. This is just one of the many options, since there’s other types of characters, with their respective attacks.

It gets slightly complicated when shoulders buttons are used to enable special attacks. However, button placement is efficient, to the point that the player will learn it quickly. It’s odd that there isn’t an option to specifically target one enemy.

It’s not a major issue, but it could have benefited from such a feature, during times when the player is involved in frenzied fights.

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One of the best features in Dragon’s Dogma is the battles against mythical creatures. It’s satisfying to go up against the likes of a Chimera. These creatures will constantly change tactics depending on how the player attacks them.

The Chimera also has the advantage of being the combination of three animals. This makes it extremely unpredictable and it’s entertaining to slowly cut off every animal piece. The only downside is that these became far too easy with the aid of the helpful pawn companions.

It’s like playing an easier version of Monster Hunter that is aimed at the general public. But this is an issue that will most likely not appear in the retail version, since the player will start off with only basic skills.

Visually Dragon’s Dogma is a medieval fan’s dream come true. It has all the making of a traditional medieval role playing experience. A dark cavern littered with bones of those that have fallen victim to the resident Chimera.

An impressive open area where an once glorious kingdom lies in ruins. These are but two small areas in Dragon’s Dogma, that will surely leave players wanting to see more. A few might even remember the likes of TV shows, such as “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”, where the son of Zeus often battled mythical creatures.

It’s exciting to think of potential mythical creatures that could appear, such as the Hydra or even Medusa. It’s a shame that there are so many HUD screen elements, like the button descriptions for various attack combinations, but it’s easy to fix it.

A few changes in the settings menu will only leave essentials like the health bar. The inventory efficiently groups items into categories and each section is viewable by scrolling down. It’s a welcome sight to see a role playing game, that doesn’t have cluttered menus, which take ages to scroll through.

Ultimately this short demo makes it difficult to truly experience what Dragon’s Dogma has to offer. What is available does demonstrate that it has a lot of potential.

Capcom might just end up being the first Japanese developer, that successfully releases a Western style RPG.

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