Dragon's Dogma Hands-On Preview

Capcom has revealed its next original project: a fantasy action game set in a vast open world.

We're not just referring to the title when we say that Dragon's Dogma is an interesting beast. This upcoming Capcom game is an original IP from a publisher that's well known for squeezing the most it can out of its established franchises, which is certainly novel in and of itself. But perhaps more interesting is the combination of setting and genre. Despite the fact that this is an open-world fantasy game in the vein of the Elder Scrolls series, it's not a role-playing game; rather, it's a frenetic sword-and-sorcery action game. Thus, leveling up and rolling invisible dice take a back seat to using quick reflexes and clobbering the ever-loving snot out of anything unfortunate enough to get caught in your way.

Allow us to clarify. We're talking about a game where you can set a goblin on fire, pick him up, and throw him into a group of his goblin buddies like a living Molotov cocktail. It's also a game where you can jump onto a griffin soaring majestically in the air and then stab it in the head so many times that it falls back down to earth in a sad heap of feathers and twisted limbs. It's almost if the minds behind Devil May Cry made a game heavily inspired by Lord of the Rings. And when we say "almost" we mean "exactly" because Dragon's Dogma director Hideaki Itsuno and producer Hiroyuki Koboyashi also held those same respective titles on Devil May Cry 4. You don't have to dig deep to find that high-action influence here.

Other Capcom influences are on display as well. The boss battle we played had echoes of both Monster Hunter and Lost Planet 2 with its setup of four ragtag adventurers going at it against a single massive boss. In this case, it was the aforementioned soaring griffin that came after a little warm-up against some goblins. The game has three player classes: mage, fighter, and strider. We played as the latter, which is a nimble fellow skilled in archery and dual-wielded short swords. Lacking any glowing orange weak spots, the griffin boss fight was an open-ended affair where we could use any number of strategies. Ours was quite straightforward: Pester it with arrows (which can be charged for extra power) until it gets angry enough to come down and swipe at us. That's when we exploited one of the game's cooler features, which was the ability to grab onto any part of the boss's body and climb atop it. Even though it soon took off from the ground and began flying through the air, we cautiously climbed across its back until we were perched on its head. Then, we unsheathed our short sword and went to town on its face.

That griffin is going down.

It was actually one of our teammates who shouted that friendly bit of advice on where to plant our blade once we began to climb onto the griffin. These AI-controlled teammates are called pawns, and you're able to run around the gameworld recruiting the ones who you believe will have the best combat skills and knowledge of monster weaknesses. Capcom wasn't quite ready to spill the beans on whether you can swap out these pawns for human players using online co-op, but it would frankly seem like a missed opportunity, given that this game is already laying the groundwork with some very interesting teamwork mechanics. You've got the usual options, like reviving a fallen ally or using the mage class to buff a teammate's abilities. But you've also got stuff like being able to hold back a goblin's arms and let your teammate wail on him like a schoolyard bully, as well as the ability to give your teammate a boost into the air so that he or she can grab onto the griffin hovering just out of reach. Certainly the strategy of knowing which pawns to bring into your party could be compelling in its own right, but there's something about the game's four-player structure and potential for combat teamwork that just screams co-op.

Of course, combat isn't the entirety of this game because it does offer an open-world setting where you'll be spending plenty of time simply getting to know the landscape. But, first, we should mention that it is a very pretty landscape. Dragon's Dogma is running on the same engine as Lost Planet 2, which was certainly one of the more visually impressive games of the past year. While the camera was a bit problematic during the frenetic boss fight we played, the game itself is already rather pleasing to the eyes. So what sort of sights will you be seeing as you explore? Well, besides the verdant pasture where that poor griffin was slain, Capcom also showed us what some of the day-to-day city life looks like. There are several cities in the game, and the one we saw was one of the largest, complete with separate neighborhoods for the upper, middle, and lower classes. It's in these types of places that you can interact with non-player characters, recruit pawns, and try to avoid the seedier elements that show themselves during the wee hours of the game's day-night cycle.

Just how open is this open world going to be?

The big question we have about the open-world aspect of Dragon's Dogma has to do with just how much incentive there will be to go exploring off the beaten path. After all, open-world games that lack hidden surprises and the proverbial buried treasure outside of the main story missions tend to only have one real difference from linear games: extending the amount of traveling you do between story events. We know Dragon's Dogma is more action game than RPG, but does that mean it won't have a robust loot system where you're rewarded for venturing off into the woods in search of some great hidden weapon or coin to trade in for something you really want? That's probably wishful thinking. Perhaps more realistic is the option to learn additional details about the main story by going off in search of small villages outside of the larger cities. We suppose time will tell.

These are the sort of questions we're left with about Dragon's Dogma. What we've seen of the game has us cautiously optimistic, but there are a great many questions left to be answered to see if the game is going to live up to the potential it's showing in these early stages. We'll see if Capcom's new open-world fantasy action game can deliver when it's released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 next year.

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173 comments
ChrisP20
ChrisP20

The demo is so kick ass to me. I am glad I pre ordered it. I have been getting disappointed with RPGs lately. This has made me super happy.

FriendlyFalcon
FriendlyFalcon

not alot of games that let you climb on any part of an enemy. the only other i can think of is shadow of the colossus.

wristbreaker
wristbreaker

@sgtruin me too... and i hope some rpg elements are melded into to the game lets hope they decide to add online features too... it looks good to me, i just hope they dont mess it up like that other game which i forgot the name, i think it was two worlds 2, it totally sucked compared to the hype it made... hope this game doesn't follow its footsteps

sgtruin
sgtruin

I really wish the combat style is inspired by the Monster Hunter series. Been waiting for a game like this on next generation consoles for years and unfortunately Monster Hunter 3 on Wii didn't cut it for me. So I'll keep an eye on this with high hopes.

UFO2012
UFO2012

Looks like a mix of Lost Planet 2, Lord of the Rings and Shadow of the Colossus to me.

brain56
brain56

@alpha_unit97 And yeah, I love RPGs and the Elder Scrolls too, BTW. :D

brain56
brain56

@alpha_unit97 Ah, that makes more sense. When he wrote the words "in the vein", I thought that this world would be the land the Uriel Septims once reigned and that events in the game were foretold by the dusty ol' Elder Scrolls themselves!

alpha_unit97
alpha_unit97

@brain56 I believe he meant that the game is as open world and explorable just like the elder scrolls games (by far the best game series of all time in my opinion, just in case you didn't know)... and its a shame, I would have probably gotten this game if it was a role-playing game... (I'm big on those kinds of games).

brain56
brain56

Wait, what did he mean by "in the vein of the Elder Scrolls"?

Mawy_Golomb
Mawy_Golomb

Interesting proposition for a Japanese game developer. We definitely need more than just another LOZ-like action-adventure game or a linear RPG. This is like taking middle ground, by offering both an open world experience and a greater emphasis on the combat than on any adventure/role-playing elements. I'm digging the idea of co-op and multiple ways to defeat bosses. Hopefully, the game won't feel too restricted with its battles.

Janpieterzun
Janpieterzun

I'd be more excited if this was being done by a western company. I expect the game to just be awkward.

Bboyjhin
Bboyjhin

if it has quests and weapons and aemor than im SOLD!!!

VampireXaLien
VampireXaLien

It is likes a combination of Oblivion and Monster Hunter.

NaryuKick
NaryuKick

This game looks great! I am definitley going to watch out for the release of this game.

501stormtrooper
501stormtrooper

Looks pretty good to me. Gonna keep my hopes up, but I'll read some reviews first after it's released. Just to be on the safe side.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Looks and sounds promising. Hopefully more will be revealed at E3.

asmartkid50
asmartkid50

I would like to hear about some kind of Character Creation...

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

ever since dragon age i feel like there's this huge shifted interest toward dragons in RPGS. DAO, DA2, Skyrim, demon's souls (even though it did techincally come out a month before DAO), dark souls, now this game. i like it!! just hope this and skyrim are different enough. i think they will be, this seems to sound more action adventure than rpg...therefore i hope its different enough from dark souls, which it will be, because dark souls is just so unique from everything else. i'm going to be picking up all 3!

tevic
tevic

I love travelling in an open world actually...

Kaeban
Kaeban

Capcom? Rpg? I want it...

Twin-Blade
Twin-Blade

Looks like something to keep an eye on.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

its going to have to be very good, but also very different in order to gain interest...because if it turns out to be like Skyrim then i dont think they can compete...dont get me wrong the game looks great and im very interested to see how this turns out, im just hoping it will manage to set itself apart from other games.

Alex_09
Alex_09

Sounds pretty sweet.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

dogma looks interesting but I'm not a big action rpg fan soo I'll wait to see how this title pans out...

NicoLikesSoda
NicoLikesSoda

NIIZZZZZZZZZZIIIIIICE!...love me some capcom...this looks promising...but would love another breath of fire from capcom toooo :D

NND1
NND1

Yes... Finally a game that will do the D & D Genre some justice... These are the visuals that I have been waiting for in a Fantasy Game!!! I need to play this now...

SpencerPenfold
SpencerPenfold

Elder Scrolls Skyrim, then Dragons Dogma, I CAN'T WAIT!!!!, I've been dying for an amazing rpg and I know Skyrim will deliver and if all goes well with this, Dragon's Dogma should too!

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

Nice preview, but one thing hasn't been mentioned - Is there gender choice for the three character classes or is it generic male only? A game like that I would prefer to have a choice than to be lumped with a male lead I can't relate to. Looks nice. Edit: Just did some research, looks like the game will have gender choice, that's good to know. The story sounds a little unusual, could be interesting. I'll be buying it on the 360, would have posted this on the 360 preview if there was one.

Dualmask
Dualmask

Well, it's way too early to decide. If this offers an interesting gameplay experience (and lets me create a female character) then I might be compelled to try it. It looks and sounds nice enough. Even if it isn't as good as Skyrim (I get the feeling it's not even meant to be competing with that title) it still could be a good game in its own right.

WhalinDan
WhalinDan

Disapointed..would rather have a Breath of Fire sequel

jollybest1
jollybest1

@2pado THIS I don't care , skyrim will come............. but the majority of capcom games are released on the pc did you knew that ???, the only game from capcom that captured my interest is the new resident evil, and it will be released on the pc ......And what's up with the dragon names , next time be more original

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

Im about ready for another RPG on the scale of Oblivion, but I think it will be Skyrim, not this.

2pado
2pado

This game looks really amazing, but so did Dark Void, Lost Planet 2 and RE 5... so i'll keep my distance. And for all PC gamers complaining, maybe if you people stop PIRATING all the freaking games, videogame companies like capcom might start developing stuff for your little system.

Seto_Akari
Seto_Akari

This game looks very promising but no PC?

docsmiley
docsmiley

This game looks amazing. Nice to see a new title in the fantasy genre. The concept of defeating villains in a different manner depending on wich party members you have is a great move. I also really enjoyed the hydra - it looked very dynamic. This game and skyrim will be like having, and eating the hell out of that cake!

shnull
shnull

totally open and sandbox and up to you, a bit like pac-man then? never heard that before, the trailer looks impressive as it should but i myself prefer the 1st person view as in oblivion or might & magic dark messiah, might be worth keeping an eye on

Uhagi
Uhagi

Looks good at this point!

jinjrak
jinjrak

Skyrim or Dragon's Dogma...... SKYRIM!!!

Echomehn
Echomehn

Woah this looks promising! :) Hope i could see a bit of resemblance from MH because MH was awesome :D

Shinkada
Shinkada

A combination of Monster Hunter and Shadow of the Colossus, directed by a Devil May Cry team... ... I haven't been this hyped for an early-development game in ages.

Mafty
Mafty

looks good......lots of action RPGs coming out soon it seems. Although hunted tickles my fancy a bit more for ARPG

ReaverGod666
ReaverGod666

@aeklagonisi Why have you got such a beef against gamespot? I think they're doing a pretty good job showcasing the latest videogames. Not to be rude, but who gives a crap if they aren't showing pc games as much anymore? I don't think it's gamespot's fault, I think its just that people nowadays prefer laying down on a couch and playing in front of their TV on an Xbox/PS3 as opposed to sitting in a chair in front of a PC screen. I think gamespot is simply capitalising on this, so if you have issues about it, post them somehwere else!

AznEvan
AznEvan

Wow, this game looks amazing!! The whole concept of "doing anything you want" is really interesting! I just hope it will have some sort of guideline to follow, because open-ended worlds are often not so good...I just hope I'm wrong, and that this game will be fantastic!! :D

edge39
edge39

@teebown24 couldn't agree more :)

cortamatador
cortamatador

why is gamming all about money shouldnt it be about making every gamer happy in all plataforms, why do game pruducers use do not the plataform with the best resources (pc) and then turn them into console games not the opposite.Iam not a pc fan boy i had a ps3 and i loved it but its just not comparable to a mid hight end or hight end from any "angle".

Teebown24
Teebown24

@ aeklagonisi so your basiucally complaining because gamespot's editors are including information console gamers might like to know? this is why i hate PC gamers like you. your pretentious little pricks. im sorry not everyone wants to pay thousands of dollars a year to update their computers, and therefore buys a console. im sorry that companies are seeing this trend, and beginning to cater to console gamers, instead of PC gamers. and im sorry youve lost your favorite status in the gaming companies eyes. but you know what? suck it up. Signed, the owner of a "sad abomination" :)

aeklagonisi
aeklagonisi

Dear gamespot editors It has recently come to my attention that games, rpgs in nature, that are excluded from the pc are having their previews posted in the main page. This is very sad. The pc is steadily declining, njot just because companies consist of power-hungry fa**ot* that s*ck on sony and microsoft, but because you, a seemingly serious gaming website, instead of criticising their actions and helping keep a balance between real gaming machines and sad abominations, keeps featuring them and avoid refering at all to the most serious issue of the gaming world at the moment. Neutrality has it's limits. Especially in front of the prosperity of the gaming world and the happiness of the clients (which by the way all companies see as cows ready to be milked.). I have nothing more to add. I hope i will be proven wrong but in a few years there will be no pc games anymore. That's just sad, just like your website nowadays. Yours, an unhappy client