Capcom is putting a lot into Dragon’s Dogma, their ambitious attempt at a next-generation action/RPG. Up until TGS, we’d mostly only seen a few select monster fights with some pre-set parties. This time, however, our planned presentation from Capcom staff would showcase the more personal side of Dragon’s Dogma – the player-aiding, computer-controlled pawns and the complex character creation tool.
Integral to Dragon’s Dogma is the pawn system, which we’ve covered in previous looks at the title. The presentation was designed to give us a better look at how the pawn system works with the player in-game. We were presented with a mage character who’d just wandered into town, and were pleasantly surprised to see that we could interact with all of the village’s NPCs – with full voiceover, no less. But we were not here for idle chitchat! We had adventuring to do – and after hitting up a quest-giving NPC, we set off to find another pawn. Our party had two pawns already in tow – both warriors – and we needed a third and final pawn to add more variety to our team.
We were soon introduced to the Rift World – a connection to some of the online functions of Dragon’s Dogma. Using a Rift Stone, players can access a sort of pawn search engine, locating a desirable teammate by class, sex, and ability. This is but one of the options available to players searching for a pawn pal, however. The world of Dragon’s Dogma is also populated with “stray pawns” – pawns that wander the world and can be recruited at will. (Fortunately, pawns will never turn down an offer to join your team, so you will never have to worry about finding that perfect soldier and then getting a rejection.) Many of these pawns will have been created by other players, but should you choose to play the game offline (or simply not want to use the connectivity features), there are around 20,000 pre-set pawns that have been created by the development team. The demo crew was quick to emphasize the benefits of playing online, however – players who loan out their pawns can get ratings and evaluations from other players, as well as have their pawns bring back gifts.
We continued along in our demo, looking for a Strider class pawn to balance out our warrior/mage party. After finding our new teammate – a somewhat heavy-set female – we made use of a teleport item to get to where we needed to go. You can set these teleport items across the world and make use of them to easily zip from one locale to the next, which, the staff noted, would be extremely important. It would have taken 15 minutes in realtime to get from town to our destination on foot, which would have been several hours of in-game time – but with clever item placement, we got to where we needed to go in a jiffy.
It didn’t take long before our team was embroiled in a battle with a massive armored Cyclops. Our main spellcaster was a terrible close-range fighter, so we ordered our warrior-class pawns to do the dirty work of getting up close and personal with the monster. There are many ways to approach fighting monsters, and in this case, we were able to use the high, mountainous environment by successfully knocking the Cyclops off a cliff to his death below. Unfortunately, our recently hired strider pawn went down with him. We were told that the pawn could be revived – it would just take some effort to retrieve them.
Our questing done for the day, we retreated to the relative tranquility of the game’s in-depth character creation system. The staggering amount of options and detailing available for custom player characters was obvious from the outset, and the team happily demoed many of the more obscure options, such as body build (plain, muscular, chubby, et cetera), voice type, detailed facial structure, hair/skin/eye color, stance, makeup, and much more. This system can be used for not only the main character, but pawns as well. The crew proudly pointed out the game’s intro, noting that all of the characters seen in the opening cinema were made with the in-game character creator.
The floor opened up to allow media to ask questions, and we had to ask about something that was bothering us. Before the demo started, a few debug messages had flashed onscreen mentioning some means of currency and the Playstation Store. Did this mean that some manner of microtransaction DLC was in the works?
The demo crew laughed nervously. They couldn’t answer that at this point, they said, and announcements would be forthcoming. “But you certainly have a good eye,” they noted.