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Dragon’s Dogma Hands On Preview

by Diogo Miguel May 14, 2012

You might have read or viewed our previous preview of Dragon’s Dogma. That was merely a glimpse at what it had to offer, since it was based on the playable demo. We recently got our hands on the latest preview build. Please sit back and enjoy this hand-on of the latest epic tale, that the folk at Capcom have concocted.

Dragon’s Dogma tells the story of a mythical, world where mankind has to deal with the danger of mythical creatures. The dragon is the one they fear the most and this is also the main antagonist.

Those familiar with the demo will know the prologue section. A brave warrior leads his group to face a ferocious Chimera. This then changes to the character editing menu, where players can make their own character. It’s still a preview build so it’s not clear how a character created in the demo, is then recovered during this process.

The character customisation is not only an extremely easy process, but it is also one of the better systems out there. It’s possible to make really odd characters, or ones based on famous video-games character and media figures. But those that just want to create a character that resembles their physical appearance, will most likely succeed. There’s a lot of different options for each facial/body section and the level of detail is nothing short of incredible.

The main character starts off with very basic items, which is a staple in role playing video-games. This hero in the making literally gets his heart ripped out by the dragon. It’s what sets off a series of events, that will surely make the player’s character well known, all over the world of Dragon’s Dogma. Quests are used to move the story forward. There’s also a lot of optional side quests to get through.

Some of the optional quests throughout this early play through are really entertaining. One involving a man being bullied by some trolls comes to mind. It’s not just about having one goal and completing it. This optional side quest for example allowed the player to either save the man, or ignore him and let him die. Other side quests are found in places such as noticeboards and by talking with certain characters.

The only small flaw with the quests system is how difficult it is to find certain quest goals. Missing out on key information can lead to confusion. A quest is only active when it is chosen from the main menu.

Otherwise it’s not possible to continue it and it might even lead to frustration. But it’s a really good system once the player gets the hang of it. Quests offer different goals such as escorting a carriage, or even finding a way to resurrect a dead child. It’s easy to spend hours just doing some of these quests, in order to find out what outcomes will come out of it.

Using pawns in the preview build feels different from the demo. Pawns are a group of individuals that will go with the player to the depths of hell. There is a limit of how many pawns accompany the main character.

This number is determined by how many rift crystals the player has. Some pawns will also use more rift crystals. Rift stones are spread all over the world, so the player can change pawns before major fights. Pawns have different skills and it’s useful to pick the ones that will help the most before each fight.

The player can even create pawns and give them special attributes. It’s not the same as playing with another player, but it’s even possible to make them behave differently in specific situations. Pawns are very helpful during fights and other situations, but it no longer feels like they are there to do all the work.

One of the highlights is still fighting the giant mythiscal creatures. A massive Hydra appears quite early into the main story. This menacing opponent will literally crush anything in its path. These fights become even more interesting because the character can climb these monsters.

It’s rewarding to climb a giant Cyclops and stabbing him in the eye. Finding weak points is an important feature in Dragon’s Dogma. These fights are enjoyable because of the various character attack commands. Chaining attacks is fairly easy and there are even special skills to use. These skills use a stamina bar and there’s different ones for each class. It will make it a lot easier to take on the many ferocious mythical creatures, that players will face in Dragon’s Dogma.

No RPG is complete without an in-depth item system, and Dragon’s Dogma is no exception. It’s the typical system that involves buying new items to improve character statistics, such as combat strength.

Other functions include the ability to enhance equipment and using experience earned to buy new skills. It’s also possible to do all of this with the pawns. What is interesting is the fact that there is an equipment load limit. Using better equipment might make the character slower.

It’s the sort of situation that players will have to think about. There’s a lot of statistics to look at too, such as pawn chat history. Fans of the genre will get a kick out of seeing all that it has to offer.

The area to explore is not only massive in size but there’s a lot to see. Straying from the path will lead to monster encounters, but it’s worth it. It all starts off in a small sea town and then opens up to a vast world, that feels straight out of a medieval tale.

Dragon’s Dogma is still a story focused experience at heart though. It ’s mesmerising to explore this fantasy land and all the different areas in it. It’s a take on Western RPG, but it feels different due to the various story elements, that keep the player focused throughout the journey.

Even a simple journey to the castle town of Gran Soren will turn into an exciting adventure. It helps that the player will encounter some fascinating individuals along the way.

Dragon’s Dogma is one of Capcom’s biggest gambles in recent years. The development team has put a lot of effort into making a true role playing experience, set in a medieval setting. This is easily seen in the manner that characters speak.

It’s only a few hour in but it already shows a lot of potential. It’s fascinating to see a Japanese developer’s take on a Western themed RPG. Dragon’s Dogma could be one of the best surprises in a year, that ironically enough, also marks the Chinese year of the dragon.

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