- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
- Genre: Action Role-Playing
- Pros: Deep World, Engaging Pawn System, Entertaining Combat
- Cons: Lackluster Storytelling, Generic Side Quests, Poor Dialogue/Character Writing
Developed by members of the Capcom teams that worked on action-heavy game franchises like "Resident Evil" and "Devil May Cry," "Dragon's Dogma" is a title that's heavy on action from the very beginning. Hacking, slashing, casting spells, engaging your allies in combat -- "Dragon's Dogma" will get the blood flowing with every attack. And there will be thousands of said attacks. The world of "Dragon's Dogma" is dominated by combat whether it's grinding on lowly goblins in the woods or surviving a brutal ambush by enemy bandits. What's "grinding," you say? It's the art of killing lesser enemies to raise one's experience level and make you more effective against greater ones. Get used to it in "Dragon's Dogma."
Like most RPGs, "Dragon's Dogma" begins (after an action-heavy prologue) with character creation. You can choose from a number of classes (Fighter, Strider, Ranger, Mage, and more), choose your gender, and alter your appearance in a number of ways. Unlike a lot of lesser RPGs, these early decisions are crucial. Choosing a fighting class will make for a much more action-heavy experience while a tactical class will have to survive the lengthy story of "Dragon's Dogma" in a different manner.
Fighter or Mage, you won't do it alone. The most innovative aspect of "Dragon's Dogma" is what's called a "Pawn" system. Throughout the game, you will gain and lose allies known as pawns. You will have three of said pawns with you and you can order them around or they will automatically join you in combat. They will often shout out hints and strategy advice, feeling like true members of your party instead of underdeveloped non-playable characters. Choosing your pawns is a strategical venture in that you want a well-balanced team but Capcom also turns it into a social one. While you choose one pawn from the world of the game, your other two pawns can be chosen in an online world from characters created by other players.
The world of "Dragon's Dogma" is immense and fully functioning. Every city you go to feels like it's honestly alive with characters (many of which will have side quests for you) and the player has to deal with real-world elements like the cycle of the sun (hint: try not to travel deserted roads at night). The game boasts dozens of hours of main story quests combined with reportedly 70 hours of side quests. And that doesn't even fully take into account the traditional RPG time drains like grinding or just having to travel by foot from one location to another. "Dragon's Dogma" is HUGE.
It also sometimes feels a bit generic. The combat has some inspired elements (I liked being able to literally grab and climb larger enemies) but it also feels slightly unrefined and familiar. There are times in the heat of battle when you'll have very little idea of what's even going on. And if your pawns are strong enough, you can just step back and watch the action unfold.
The story of "Dragon's Dogma" is also remarkably familiar and not as emotionally engaging as the best RPGs of the last few years. It's not just the world of "Skyrim" that makes it one of the best games of the last few years but what happens within it. I admired the setting and depth of gameplay in "Dragon's Dogma" but the tale of a young hero who discovers he's a chosen one (known as the "Arisen" in this universe) has been done to death and the writing here from the fetch quest structure to the sometimes-awful pawn dialogue is lackluster.