We're not sure what to make of the name Dragon's Dogma. It's hard to imagine a dragon's religious upbringing went any further than "thou shall breathe fire" and "thou shall devour foolish adventurers." Whatever it means, the game was on display at the 2011 Gamescom. Because we already got some hands-on time with this open-world, hack-and-slash game, developer Capcom focused on explaining its pawn system with the aid of producer Hiroyuke Kobayashi.
Pawns make up your main character's three-person party and will accompany him throughout his adventure. Kobayashi described them as "otherworldly beings" who look and act human. But unlike humans, they don't age or die. Well, their bodies die if you stab them enough times, but their spirits live on in the rift: the realm of the pawns. They are also compelled (for reasons unknown) to obey the whims of the protagonist.
Two of these pawns will be support pawns, and the third is your main pawn. Support pawns include hundreds of disposable characters you can mix and match to make a well-rounded team. However, your main pawn is unique and will be tagging along for the entire adventure. She is assigned a class at the start of the game, but you can change it later on if you're not satisfied. Kobayashi suggested players pick a class that complements the main character; for example, if you're a mage, you might want your main pawn to be a fighter so that she can cover you in battle while you cast spells.
Your main pawn can also be copied and sent online to join the parties of other players. She will appear in the other player's rift and, if selected, will join that team as a support pawn. After someone uses this copy and returns it to the rift, your main pawn gains knowledge from that player's world. This could include information on undiscovered areas or tactics on how to defeat a certain monster. You also get paid. If you design a popular pawn, your hero could find himself swimming in a bed of rift crystals. This currency can buy special items that are otherwise unavailable or recruit more powerful pawns.
"No matter where you go in the game, there's something to do and interact with," Kobayashi said. Dragon's Dogma is a new beast for Capcom, which aims to combine the developer's fluid combat mechanics with a realistic, open-world setting. Kobayashi also put extra emphasis on the role of player choice throughout the presentation, stating "Every choice you make impacts the story and gameplay." Dragon's Dogma will be released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on March 27, 2012.