I have been having a bit of a gaming funk recently, nothing has really been grabbing me. I have been slugging away at Black Ops Multiplayer with my friends and silently dying inside a little bit when I play it, but on the single player front nothing has been around to capture my interest, aside from Minecraft that is...but I need to move on from that particular topic.
At Christmas I received a few games, Dragon's Dogma was one of them. It was a particularly difficult Sunday at the beginning of February when I was nursing a delicate head after a bout of alcoholic exuberance the night before, and I saw a friend on my LIVE friend's list playing it. I sent him a message asking how it was, and decided I was going to start playing it.
I was quite taken with the demo when I played it waaaay back whenever it came out, and had resolved to play at some point. I was intrigued by the Pawn system that the game has and had planned to build a tank character with lovely long flowing blonde locks and name him Fabio to complement my female Ranger. So I did.
The game is really good. I am not too sure how many people actually played the game, but I highly recommend it if you haven't. There are things "wrong" with the game; there is no fast travel system, the dialogue in the game is very limited (internet memes on "taking an arrow to the knee" have got nothing on this game), the inventory system is a bit clunky and the story is pretty much of a non-event (at least in my opinion) I spent much of the game having NO idea what was happening in the story, rather just moving from one epic battle to another.
My Ranger's first encounter with a Griffin
On the face of it, it doesn't appear to be that great a game with all the "problems" I have listed, however what it does do well is the combat. The game is a lot of fun to play! You start with 3 classes to choose from - the usual fantasy fayre - Fighter, Ranger or Mage. The customisation options for your character are pretty extensive in terms of how you want them to look, but in addition to this you can create a permanent "Pawn" that will be your companion throughout the game. This is where Fabio came in. You have the same amount of character customisation options as you do with your primary character and you can again choose from one of the three class types. Customising a second character is really interesting for me as I was totally invested in Fabio in the same way I was for my main character. In addition to your two characters you can choose to recuit two more Pawns to complement your party. These can be sourced from "The Rift" an ethereal place where hundreds of Pawns at various levels and various classes are available at any time to assist you - these are Pawns that other players have created and played with throughout their own journey. Fabio wanders this space.
Something about this really captured my imagination. Your Pawn learns. If Fabio was utilised by another player and did a mission that I had yet to do, he would return to me with advanced quest knowledge - I don't know about you, but I think that is REALLY cool.
Another really cool thing that I am sure will make some of you cringe is the social networking integration for the game. I love all this kind of stuff, you can share pictures on Facebook (some are inserted in this blog from my game), but the recruiting of Pawns from the rift adds another element. You can play the game with your friend's Pawn, it is kind of like a co-op experience without the intrusion of another player to break your immersion.
I mentioned above the "epic" battles. It is here that I think the game shines. My first encounter with a dragon was AMAZING. Skyrim can learn a lot from this game in making battles with dragons genuinely tense and challenging. Don't get me wrong, my first battle with a dragon in Skyrim I was all "WOAH! THAT WAS AWESOME", but after a while they became almost a chore, defeated easily and providing an unwanted distraction all the time. Not so with the dragon in Dragon's Dogma, it took me and my team of Pawns a full 20 minutes to take it down, chipping away at its health and tactically retreating to ensure that we were all healed. But it is not just dragons, you fight Chimeras, Griffins, Ogres, Cyclops etc. etc. and each one is a challenge.
This beast took 20 minutes to defeat, Fabio can be seen on the right.
The classes are a lot of fun to play with. When you reach a certain level you can change the vocation of both your character and your main pawn. Another 6 classes become available. Hybrids of Mage and Warrior, two handed warrior, Magic Archer etc.. I actually liked being able to "specialise" a little more and chose a Magic Archer path for my former Ranger, now she can use a Mage staff, daggers and Magic Bow. Fabio is now a brutish two handed warrior beast.
I finished the game a few days ago and I immediately started a new game plus so that I could change my vocation again and see what some of the other classes are like.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Dragon's Dogma. I didn't have especially high expectations, and I think that this game perhaps suffered a little bit because its release was kind of close to Skyrim, but if you haven't yet tried it and you are a fan of this type of RPG, I highly recommend it. Has anyone else played it?