Dragon's Dogma (PlayStation 3) Preview
Dragon's Dogma is a new action role-playing game from Capcom that will be released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on the 22nd of May in North America and the 25th in Europe. The game has been developed by the same team behind franchises such as Resident Evil and Devil May Cry and the demo was recently released so we took the opportunity to download it on our PlayStation 3 and gave it a quick whirl.
The story of Dragon's Dogma revolves around our player, who of course is the hero of the piece, and begins with a rather unfortunate encounter with a dragon. The dragon states that we are the chosen one, which is always nice to hear, however it then proceeds to rip out our heart. With our heart ripped from our chest we would expect to die however that would make for a very short and unsatisfying game, so like all good stories we are saved from death by an 'unknown' miracle. We are revived as an Arisen and are then destined to find, and hopefully kill, the dragon that stole our heart.
This all takes place in an open world fantasy setting that includes classic hack and slash content as well as survival horror elements.
The demo offers us a glimpse of the style of gameplay we can expect with Dragon's Dogma, though it is just a fraction of the full game. Two quests are available to play, a prologue quest that takes us through a short dungeon and ends with us fighting a Manticore (a combination of lion and scorpion) and a simple Countryside quest that drops us into the open world to stop a Gryphon that has been attacking a local farmstead.
Both quests offer us a fixed class that we are unable to change. In the full game we will have the chance to select from 9 different classes, including Mystic Knight, Magick Archer, Assassin, Sorcerer, Warrior, Mage, Ranger, Fighter and Strider. The demo quests offer us the chance to try melee and ranged combat.
One of the key elements to combat in Dragon's Dogma is the grab system. The designers have tried to bring alive the combat against the mythical beasts that exist in the game and since some of these are very large we have the capability to grab onto them and attack specific areas on the mob. The grab mechanic also allows us to pick up parts of the environment and use them to our advantage.
The demo also introduces us to the 'pawn' system. The 'pawn' system provides us with three additional party members that accompany our main character that are primarily controlled by artificial intelligence. These characters support our player class that we have selected and while they are quite happy to go and do their own thing according to the AI we are also able to command them using a set of quick commands available through the controller.
The combat system in Dragon's Dogma was simple to learn, with a mixture of ranged and melee attacks being available in the demo. We didn't have an opportunity to try any magic however, as both classes offered in the demo were non magic types.
Graphics & Audio
We found the graphics in the demo for Dragon's Dogma to be very good. The dungeon quest was very atmospheric and the lighting effect of our lantern was very effective in setting the mood. Additionally the player model graphics are very detailed and look good in action. In the demo we were able to go through the player creation screens, setting the look of our adventurer and as with most role-playing games the breadth of options available to customise our character are extensive however Dragon's Dogma also makes it simple to change. A default set of body shapes can be quickly selected for those of us who aren't interested in changing every little detail. For those who prefer a unique look all elements of the body shape, facial features and skin tone (including scars and tattoos) can be tweaked.
The enemy mobs also looked good, especially the larger groups and the detail on the models was impressive. Combat action impacted on them impressively and in the fight with the Manticore, we had to kill the various elements of the monster, cutting of the scorpion tale for example. All these changes to the model were well realised on screen and we didn't see any obvious graphical glitches.
Dragon's Dogma will feature extensive voice acting with interaction between our character and non-player characters being done with full voice acting. The 'pawn' support players also feature voice support, handily calling out what they are up to during a fight beyond that the music in the demo is limited however what we heard sounded good and fitted in well with the overall feeling of the game.
Although the quests provided in the demo are quite short, and only highlight two of the classes that are available to play in the final game it certainly gives us a reasonable idea what we can expect from Dragon's Dogma. We found the combat quick to pick up and quite easy to progress through the dungeons. We suspect that the final game will be a touch harder, or at least that is what we hope since we did find the demo quests very easy to complete.
Overall the game looks great and with some interesting concepts to play around with, such as the grab system and pawn support we look forward to playing the full game when it is released at the end of May.