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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » Games Reviews & Comments » Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

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January 16th, 2016, 01:47
Dragon's Dogma (Japanese: ドラゴンズドグマ Hepburn: Doragonzu Doguma is an action role-playing video game developed and published by Capcom for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game features an open world fantasy setting, in addition to hack and slash and survival horror gameplay elements, and was released in North America on May 22, 2012, in Japan and Australia on May 24, 2012 and in Europe on May 25, 2012.

Gameplay:

The player is able to select between various types of the vocations: Fighter, Strider, Mage, Warrior, Mystic Knight, Ranger, Assassin, Sorcerer, and Magic Archer. Gender choice and appearance settings are also available. The vocation, or class system, changes gameplay and tactical options available to the player, as with the Fighter having abilities focused on hack and slash combat (with a move-set similar to Capcom's Devil May Cry) and the Strider being skilled at climbing large enemies (like in Shadow of the Colossus).

One of the game's main innovations is the "pawn" system. While the player's party is exploring the world, the three party members who accompany the main character are controlled by artificial intelligence, but the player can issue orders to them, including "Go," "Help" and "Come." One of the party members is a non-playable character (NPC) and belongs to the main character's world, while the other two party members are NPCs borrowed from other players by connecting online or are locally generated by the game. The party members, referred to as pawns, can talk, seek the main character's help, and provide information about enemies. The player must work on strengthening the main character and the party members. The pawns are vocal, yelling out useful hints and strategies, which are often vitally important to surviving tough boss encounters and dungeons. The pawn system also features social networking features.

The game features a "grab" action, where the main character can grab or cling to enemies, objects, or NPCs. The player can use this feature for more advanced attacks. For example, the main character can either grab on to a griffin's legs and attack it directly, or climb up to reach its head for a more lethal blow. "In a lot of action games, with big enemies the tendency is just to have you hacking away at the shins. You don't get the full effect of fighting a giant boss," Hideaki Itsuno, the director of Dragon's Dogma, said. "With this game you can climb all over it. If it has a body part, you can attack it." The ability to climb enemies has drawn comparisons to Shadow of the Colossus.

The game's large open-world environments have drawn comparisons to Capcom's own Monster Hunter series as well as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In addition to the large open world, Dragon's Dogma features a large city environment with over 200 non-player characters (NPCs) who move about according to their own schedules. The player is able to communicate with the residents in full voice. The game features a persistent world with a day-night cycle; this affects the gameplay as at night the game takes on a more survival horror feel reminiscent of Capcom's Resident Evil: Outbreak.

The game's art style and character movements have been likened to Dark Souls, and the hack-and-slash combat elements have been compared to both Devil May Cry and Dark Souls. Some of the fantasy elements are reminiscent of Breath of Fire, and the combat and party systems have been compared to Monster Hunter.

The game is designed to be playable even by those who are not skilled at action games. These types of players can recruit strong NPCs and let them do the fighting during combat as they watch over the battlefield. Players can expect roughly 40 to 50 hours of main quest play and up to an additional 70 hours or more of side quests.

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January 16th, 2016, 01:47
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Open world action RPG with challenging combat, recruitable henchmen, lots of exploration, many gameplay options, secrets and quests. High replay value!
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January 16th, 2016, 08:30
Is it a good game? Sounds a bit like dragon age inq.
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February 7th, 2016, 21:17
Originally Posted by Ursusdraconis View Post
Is it a good game? Sounds a bit like dragon age inq.
Definitely good. Definitely not much like Dragon Age: Inquisition. DA:I had a better story and a lot more exploration. This game has much better combat and the pawn system.
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February 7th, 2016, 23:28
Well, at least I now know how to spell it in Japanese. Becoming a better linguist each day.
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February 7th, 2016, 23:35
Originally Posted by Ursusdraconis View Post
Is it a good game? Sounds a bit like dragon age inq.
Combat is more similar to War in the North, crafting and equipment customization--> Dark Souls, with some very basic party management like in Dragon Age games. Along with it's own features that make it stand out ( pawns and monster climbing).
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February 28th, 2016, 21:45
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is actually a very original game with some new and rarely-used systems. If you’ve gotten a little tired of the same old same old in your action RPGs, this may be just the thing to break out of the rut without doing something drastic like, say, reading a book or (heaven help you) going outdoors. Unfortunately, original systems also take time to explain so I’m afraid this review is pretty long.

At its base, DD is like other action RPGs. You start as a scrawny little nobody, an evil main-adversary does something mean to you, and you decide that it’s probably about time somebody went out and murdered all those nasty monsters plaguing the world. You pick a class and, as you fight, you become tougher and learn new skills to help you fight bigger enemies. Eventually you go beat up the main adversary.

Beyond the base, though, the game diverges from the norm pretty quickly. Your main adversary is a dragon but, instead of pulling the traditional inflammatory act of destroying your entire village, this one decides to pop the heart out of your character’s chest, then challenges you to come take it back from him and flies off, leaving you with a really ugly chest scar. Can’t say I’ve started any games like that.

The Class System

After a brief(ish) tutorial dungeon, your next step is to pick your class: fighter, rogue (called strider), or mage. Nice and normal, right? Well it is at first. As you keep playing, though, you’ll see that your class of choice only has 10 levels and those levels are advancing mighty fast for a game that’s supposed to take at least 40 hours.
Your class actually levels up separately from your character’s level. When your character levels up, the game checks what class you are and increases your statistics accordingly (fighters get more strength, mages get more magic, and so on). When your class levels up, a little star is added next to your class and more skills open up for you to use. At class level 10, all skills are opened up.

You are only able to access six skills at a time. For the fighter, three will use a sword and three will use a shield. For the rogue, three will use daggers and three will use the bow. For the mage, all six come from the staff. You can only switch these out at the inn in town. You may want to buy a more than six skills (that ice spell isn’t going to do so well when you know you’re going to be up against snow harpies, is it?) but it really won’t take long before you’ve bought all you want. So how are you supposed to keep advancing? Switch classes!

When you do so, you’ll find there are actually nine classes to pick from. The warrior class is a fighter that has thrown away the shield and uses a two-handed weapon. The ranger class is similar to the strider but concentrates much more on the bow. The sorcerer trades the staff in for an “archstaff” which means the loss of healing and some other spells but opens up massive attack spells (with massive cast times).
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Three other classes are hybrids: assassin (fighter/strider), mystic knights (mage/fighter), and magick archer (mage/strider). These classes actually get around the six skill limit by tying the skills to your weapons which you can switch out in the field. If, for instance, your magick archer is facing down a golem that’s completely immune to magic, he can swap out the magic staff for a pair of daggers and start hacking away.

Pawns

The big, new innovation is the pawn system. Two or three hours into the game, you’ll be given a chance to create a second character. This will be your “main pawn” that will follow you throughout the game and assist you in battle. After a quick walk to a nearby fort, you’ll be able to hire two more pawns. Those two pawns aren’t made by you – they are actually the main pawns of other players that have been playing the game! Every time you rest at an inn, your game uploads your main pawn to a central server. You can hire pawns at “rift stones” which let you do searches to find the pawns you want. Pawns also wander the towns and countryside and can be hired on the spot. As long as you get a pawn at your level or lower, hiring them costs nothing. When you let them go, you can rate them and pass along a gift to the pawn’s owner.

This can be a little immersion breaking at times as some people enjoy really ridiculous pawns but I found it to be quite fun. There’s an option to mark a pawn as a favorite, which causes the server to favor showing you that pawn. That’s handy for real life friends to be able to use each other’s pawns but I also found it fun to keep tabs on how pawns were doing after we parted ways. The system can be exploited pretty easily to pass extremely valuable items to starting characters but the game lets you see a lot of details about each pawn you hire so you can avoid them with a little effort.

In addition to picking how your main pawn looks and her class, you also pick the pawn’s inclinations. Inclinations control how the pawn’s AI will work. The pawn’s primary inclination will govern how she acts most of the time, the second some of the time (or when the primary isn’t possible). These inclinations are things like “scather” (attack the biggest enemy first), “guardian” (protect your character), and “acquisitor” (pick up treasure, even in battle). Some of these combinations can actually be bad for certain characters. If you’ve got a fighter set to scather/guardian, for instance, the pawn is going to want to stick close to both the boss and your character. If you’re playing a strider that’s close to the boss, too, that’s fine. If you’re playing a mage that’s trying to stay away from the boss, the pawn is going to be burning a lot of time running back and forth – possibly drawing the boss toward your fragile mage!
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(video link)

As pawns help you in battle they learn about monster weaknesses and tactics to use against them. Pawns that notice an enemy is weak to fire will shout out the fact so other pawns will learn to favor fire attacks. So will you, if you’re paying attention. They also watch quests and learn about regions as they explore them.

When your pawn gets rented out, she will not gain class or experience levels but she will learn. That means your pawn could learn ways to fight enemies that you haven’t even met before, guide you to the location of a quest, or even recommend who to talk to next for a quest. When hiring a pawn, you can check to see what information she knows about the quests you’re working on so you can purposefully hire somebody who can (or can’t) help you out.

(Yes, I’m using “she” for pawns on purpose. For whatever reason, about 80% of them are women.)

Solo Multiplayer

This being-social-without-having-other-people-around theme also extends to a special encounter in the game: the Ur Dragon. This is a massive dragon that’s got the hit points of thousands of end-game bosses. You’re not going to be able to defeat it yourself and you’re not meant to do so. Instead, you go in and beat on it as much as you can. Once you exit, you’re damage is recorded and sent to a Capcom (Steam?) server and registered against the current Ur Dragon. When the dragon shows up for another player, it will already have taken all the damage done by other players. The damage piles up on the dragon until it finally falls. Your damage is remembered and you are rewarded accordingly the next time you enter the Ur Dragon’s area.

If you don’t like the online stuff, though, there’s an option in the game to turn it on and off whenever you like. When offline the pawns you find will be randomly generated, you’re pawn will never get sent to the servers, and the Ur Dragon will be replaced by one with vastly fewer hit points (though you can still come and go from the battle – you’ll just be whittling away alone and the rewards won’t be as high).
It would be a bit tedious but you could even mix modes. For instance, you should be able to go offline whenever you use a rift stone to hire pawns, then come back online after you’re done. That would let your pawn get hired while only getting randomized pawns for your own use. You can use this to “practice” on the offline Ur Dragon before fighting the online version, too.

Main Quests, Sidequests, and Post Game

Like most RPGs there’s a main quest and numerous side quests, just like you would expect in an RPG, plus some other types of quests.

There a bunch of ‘notice board’ quests – most of which are hunting quests to kill X critters or gather some number of plants or whatever. I would recommend grabbing those notice board quests and then ignoring them until they solve themselves through normal gameplay. When you’re looking for something else to do, you can finish off a few of the stragglers as a diversion.

There are also a ton of “different sky” quests where you are given a coordinate on your map and you’re supposed to find a small badge at that location for a reward. The first dozen or so of these were pretty fun but it didn’t take long before the locations started spreading out all over the open world. Even with the game’s nice fast travel system (which is much like Two World’s where you place teleport stones and can travel to any of them at will), going back in to old locations over and over again gets tedious fast.

The side quests are so-so. They do a good job of fleshing out the main story but almost all the characters in this game are exceedingly bland, which undermines the whole thing. Side quests can also get cancelled without warning if you move the main quest forward. Given that several side quests build on earlier side quests, you can easily cut off a bunch of quests simply by following the main quest too closely. (Luckily, there are plenty of guides out there to help you avoid this.)

Like the side quests, the main quest is undermined by ultra-bland characters. What is odd is that it ends well before the game ends! It feels like developers got the game finished then decided to incorporate a DLC post-game dungeon into the game (including the Ur Dragon). Many higher level monsters start wandering the land, too. This is called the “post game” portion of the game.

Normally I think the post game would have added another 10 to 20 hours to the game. However, there was some real DLC that was also added to the PC version of the game. Bitterblack Island is set up with lots of new, nasty critters and some small quests of its own (it even has notice boards). You can access it very early on but completing the entire thing will require strong post-game characters. The post-game plus Bitterblack together are pretty fun and add basically double the number of hours the game takes!

Eventually, there is a quest to properly complete the game. When you do so, you’ll have the opportunity to start a “new game plus”. The game starts all over again but you and your pawn keep your levels and all your stored gear. Completionists can use this to pick up missed side quests but, with everything vastly lower level than you, it’s going to be a sleep walk. There is a ‘speed run’ mode that you can prepare for if you’re into that sort of thing.

Come for the Combat

The new systems are interesting but the main joy of this game is definitely the combat. There’s plenty of run-of-the mill goblins, wolves, and bandits to fight. There’s also more interesting flying enemies that can grab you, haul you up into the sky, and drop you to your death.

Then there’s the bosses. Those are really fun fights! With bigger enemies, you and your pawns can start aiming at body parts. Big sorcerer spells can do big damage IF you can managed to fire the spell off before the boss moves out of the area of effect or starts pounding on you. Characters with melee weapons can actually climb on the enemies and attack weak points. The bosses fight well, too. Griffons will swoop in to attack until you bring them down to the ground. Dragons will spew their breath attack over an area. A cyclops near a ledge will use his club to golf you to your death. Rest assured, you’re mighty powers will find their match. (At least until you out-level them.)

Save System

The save system seems to be causing confusion. The game doesn’t really explain it well so that’s no miracle.

There are actually TWO saves. One type of save you can make through the save/quit menu. This is also the type of save that gets made when you move from area to area. The other type is the “checkpoint” save which gets made whenever you rest for the night or use a rift stone to get some new pawns. If you want to go back to your checkpoint save – no problem! Just use the save/quit menu and the option is right there. If you want to go back to your normal save… problem. You have to use the ‘exit without saving’ option which takes you clear back to the title screen. Then press any key. Then watch the ‘don’t turn off your computer while the game is saving’ message. Then go through the top menu. Then go to the main menu. Then finally load game! Seriously Capcom!? However, if you actually get killed you are given an option to “retry” which does load your normal save. This has led to mass suicide as players find it faster to get themselves killed and use the retry option than to go through all those menus.

At least you do have two saves, though, so you aren’t going to have your game mangled by one corrupt file or making a save in a spot that you can’t escape from. Still, if you want to go back and play through the tutorial again, the game doesn’t support it. You can probably copy your save files off then copy them back again but I never tried it myself.

Travel

The original game had serious travel issues. Enemies respawn in this game (small enemies respawn fairly quickly, big ones can take many days) so running from town to quest can take a really long time. Doing it again and again was a major issue in the old game. There was a way to do fast travel but it was expensive.

They fixed this as part of the DLC, which is built right in to the PC version. Or at least they fixed it once you get about a dozen hours in to the game. Once you get to the big city, you’ll find an ‘eternal ferrystone’ in your stash. You’ll also find a big, purple portcrystal at the bottom of a dungeon soon after that. You can move this crystal wherever you want outside. When you use the ferrystone, you can use it to take you to the portcrystal’s location, the main city, the starting city, or over to the DLC island. You’ll find additional portcrystals as you play.
http://images.akamai.steamuserconten…F6468490F2AA8/

Not All is a Happiness

There are some other nagging problems. I didn’t find any of them to be major issues but other people certainly could.

While it’s good that pawns shout out what they’ve learned, they need not do it constantly. Yes, it’s easy to miss what they say in the heat of battle but the pawns shout out weaknesses EVERY time they battle an enemy and often do so multiple times. You will hear that goblins “ill like fire” at least a hundred times. They will tell you what a portcrystal is every time you use one. They will tell you a door leads to the surface every time you get near one – even if you are only near it because you just came from the surface. For me, it seems to turn into a drone that I don’t even listen to pretty quickly, like people talking behind me in a restaurant.

Quests can end suddenly, too, when you complete a main story quest. Since side-quests often build on past side-quests, this can leave you cut off from multiple quests. I don’t consider this a big problem, though, simply because the side quests are pretty “meh” anyway – so it really isn’t a big loss in my eyes.

There’s a mage skill called Inflection that causes mages to take half damage when they are hit while casting a spell. Except it’s bugged so they actually take double damage while casting a spell! This bug dates back to the console days. There’s a mod that can fix it but this is really something Capcom should have fixed before they even released the game.

A lot of powers (especially spells) have really weird names. Want to drop fireballs out of the sky? That’s Bolide. Zap the monsters with a lightning bolt whip? Brontide. Heal? Anodyne. Even after dozens of hours, it’s easy to get confused as to which is which! Why couldn’t they call them Meteors, Lightning Whip, and Heal??

Quite a few systems aren’t explained all that well. You’re probably going to need some guides at some point – especially if you don’t want to miss quests. There’s a great Wikia website but, like all Wikia sites, the advertisements are really annoying.

While Bitterblack Island is great for challenging fights, it repeats a LOT of rooms.

TL;DR

Dragon’s Dogma is a great action RPG with a wide variety of classes and a system that will let you try out a few of them. The story isn’t all that great but it has some of the best boss battles I’ve seen anywhere – and lots of them!
http://images.akamai.steamuserconten…CB578B9CABEBF/
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Last edited by Zloth; July 3rd, 2016 at 07:13. Reason: Missed some paragraphing
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February 28th, 2016, 21:50
Thanks, Zloth. Lot's of good info.
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February 28th, 2016, 23:33
Second time it struck me and now I see I'm not alone:

http://steamcommunity.com/app/367500…0849189937998/

Hey guys, just wanted to post a bug I'm experiencing. When choosing eye color for either my character or a pawn, when I choose the light purple color my game freezes. I can move my mouse cursor, but can't quit the game or move to desktop. The only thing possible to do was to restart the PC, so pay attention and don't choose the light purple eye color.
This is rediculous.
Hint to all victims of this idiocy - don't change eyecolor or you'll endlessly replay the horrible intro.
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February 28th, 2016, 23:49
I think it has an interesting class and combat system. But in my opinion this can only keep you entertained for so long. Boring thrash mobs, uninteresting open world (can't imagine how anyone played before the eternal port crystal) and poor story
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February 29th, 2016, 03:56
I set my eye color to green for both my main character and my main pawn. Maybe just the purple one is screwy? That would explain why more people aren't complaining.

Warlod - I didn't find the trash mobs boring. At least not until I outlevelled them. But then I could wipe them out easily or even just ignore them and let the pawns clean up the trash. (Even in numbers, a weakling is a weakling still.)
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February 29th, 2016, 08:50
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
I set my eye color to green for both my main character and my main pawn. Maybe just the purple one is screwy? That would explain why more people aren't complaining.

Warlod - I didn't find the trash mobs boring. At least not until I outlevelled them. But then I could wipe them out easily or even just ignore them and let the pawns clean up the trash. (Even in numbers, a weakling is a weakling still.)
On a side note. Did you ever notice that some of the pawns have a strange deep voice that sounds like the voice psychos have in movies when they use one of those voice changing devices to hide who they are on the phone
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February 29th, 2016, 19:14
After a bit of playing you realize the monsters and mobs are not varied enough. The combat can be satisfying but after finishing the game, I can't get enough energy to go for the new game plus mode.
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March 2nd, 2016, 01:37
If I remember the credits right, there's only 4 pawn voice actors and they just altered those voices to get the additional voices.

rhophiehalul78, I can't imagine playing the new game plus regardless. From what I read, very little in the game changes except for the fact that you start out at massively high level with great gear. The combat is the best part of the game and that's going to turn completely dull. I doubt you would even need to use anything but the basic attacks against the normal enemies and even the big ones would only take a minute with no need for strategy at all.
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March 2nd, 2016, 02:50
I picked voice #9 for my main pawn.
Horrible.

I hope Ovenall will pick this game soon and use the same number.
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