Dragon's Dogma Updated Impressions -- Golem Slayers and the Pawns That Love ThemBy Russ Frushtick - Posted Oct 31, 2011
Let's get this out of the way first: Yes, it's a goofy name. Everyone knows it's a goofy name. Just accept it. Okay, now that we're past that, let's talk about Dragon's Dogma, a title that blends Western-style, open world RPGs like Elder Scrolls with Japanese-built franchises like Monster Hunter.
The goofy name comes from, well, somewhat of a goofy story. You play a hero whose heart has been stolen by a dragon. Not figuratively. Literally. He stole it, and you need to get it back. And, for some reason, by having your heart, he's also able to communicate with you, and does so liberally, giving you knowledge passed down from dragon to dragon. Hence the title. At a recent press event, Capcom showed off some interesting new features that the game will highlight when it releases in 2012.
The first is character customization. Japanese RPGs tend to be pretty light on this front, opting for a pre-selected hero or heroine. Maybe you can change the hair color, but that's about it. Dragon's Dogma has a much more robust character customization system, on par with its Western brethren. Small features like eye shape and spacing can be changed, as can height, weight, age, bust size; you name it, it's in there.
That customization isn't limited to just your hero, though. Dragon's Dogma has another feature known as Pawns. While there's some mysterious back story that Capcom's not ready to go into, all you need to know is that these are your sidekicks, and you can customize them however you wish. All the visual customizations you made to your own character can be made to pawns as well, but their customization goes further. You can select the personality of a pawn, opting for a sassy jerk of a pawn if you wish. Decide you don't like hanging around with a jerk? You can reprimand them in conversation, and they'll change their attitude over time.
Pawns are crucial because the enemies you'll be fighting are much, much bigger than you. We've seen a few of the battles in the game at past events, featuring griffins and large serpents. This time Capcom was showing a battle against a large rock monster. While not quite Shadow of the Colossus large, he was big enough to crush multiple pawns underfoot. The only way to take him down was to climb on him, slashing away at power gems scattered across his rocky body.
Using the pawns to distract him, the Capcom rep made his move, latching onto the leg of the beast, slowly clambering up until he made it to the head, where a glowing orb signified "Stab here!" A few slashes and the monster froze in place, thus giving the pawns time to heal up and take positions before the next round of the battle commenced.
An addition to using your own abilities, Dragon's Dogma also has implaced weapons scattered about some of the environments. In this case, a large, explosive ballista offered fire support against the rock monster, giving you a safer means of dealing damage from afar.
While Dragon's Dogma has plenty of smaller-scale fights against enemies your own size, it's these massive battles that help set it apart from the rest of the genre. Capcom wouldn't let us go hands-on with the game at this latest event, but the battle certainly looked promising. Whether it can match the thrill of taking down a dragon in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim...that remains to be seen.