Dragon’s Dogma – Preview

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Within just a few hours of my time with Dragon’s Dogma, gigantic trolls, chimeras and hydras have all tasted the steel of my blade, the notion of 'less is more' clearly not on the agenda of Hideaki Itsuno and his team.

 

What’s it about? Stylistically Dragon’s Dogma is, appropriately enough, something of a chimera. While clearly influenced by Greek mythology in the main, it thinks nothing of unleashing Tolkien-esque goblins and dragons at your long-suffering virtual avatar. There are similarly mixed motifs when it comes to visuals and setting too, with the clear skies and waters of the Aegean mixed with villages straight out of Baldur’s Gate.

In fact, for a Capcom development team that counts the likes of Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry 4 amongst its past creations, it’s fair to say the RPG is something of a departure. That’s not to say there aren’t a few nods to the developer’s heritage – a sword stroke Dante would be proud of here, a monstrosity horrific enough to dwell in Resident’s Evil’s most infested mansion there – but in Dragon’s Dogma, Capcom have not only attempted to shake up their own studio, but the entire Japanese role-playing genre too.

Instead of action points gauges and stacked-up special moves we’re presented with real-time action in which your attacks, be they physical or magical, are governed solely by how much stamina your character possesses. Thankfully, as the newly “Arisen” – a human tainted by the touch of a dragon – you’re in possession of a constitution hardier than most.

You’re also not alone, for at your side stand your pawns, warriors who ‘dwell within the Rift’ – read on PSN and Xbox Live and across the hard drives of your friends. You can call on up to three AI-controlled pawns at once and swap them at your leisure by entering the Rift yourself and conducting what is ostensibly an interview with those which take your fancy.

The really clever thing here being that if you manage to snag a relatively experienced pawn, he or she might have already completed some of the quests awaiting you while at the command of another player and so will advise during such quests – pointing out secrets and new paths for example when the time comes for you to take the plunge.

As if to prove themselves still further they are a constant source of audible feedback during battles too, either telling you how to best attack a beast, that they’ve discovered a new technique or else are in a tight spot. While a bit much at times, such information at least lends them personality, a trait which can be shaped still further in your primary pawn who can be moulded in a series of chats throughout the game.

That all combatants, including your own character, have three classes to choose from complicates matters still further, with warrior, ranger and sorcerer types available to choose from. Finding the right mix is essential, particularly when the going gets tough, as Dragon’s Dogma’s clashes are often chaotic and brutal affairs whether fighting multiple hostiles or one giant one.

Take an early encounter in which the Arisen investigates rumours of monsters living at the bottom of a well. Having already felled a huge troll and numerous wolves and goblins I didn’t think twice about charging in head first to fight whatever might lurk below the surface – despite my pawns began mentioning a ‘foul stench’ and pointing out numerous bloody carcasses.

Even when spotting the source of such violence, and the smell – a group of lizardmen as it turned out – I charged straight in, blades glinting in the dim torchlight. Suffice it to say the subsequent encounter didn’t last long, my daggers failing to penetrate their scaly hides and so leaving me open to relentless counter attacks and, for a first time during my play through, death. We might not be talking Dark Souls’ levels of tough, but strong opponents and a lack of an auto lock-on means even minor tussles can prove fatal.

Undeterred I returned to the fray the next time around, though this time with a strategy all worked out: I’d take to the high ground and unleash arrows attacks, making particular use of my three-arrows-at-time special (holding down the shoulder buttons smartly opening up access to your full repertoire of moves) to whittle down my prey’s health from afar.

The resulting triumph however was only part down to strategy, for by now my pawns had found the lizardmen’s weakness (though you’ll have to work that out yourself), while the propensity for hostiles to go for the throats of your AI controlled allies – as assuredly as they do your own – at least allows you to get out of the firing line and recharge before returning to the breach.

Worth the wait? Within just a few hours of my time with Dragon’s Dogma, gigantic trolls, chimeras and hydras have all tasted the steel of my blade, the notion of ‘less is more’ clearly not on the agenda of Hideaki Itsuno and his team. While the quests I’ve played through thus far – escort this, kill them, capture that – are hardly the world’s most progressive, what’s more impressive is their novelty – escorting a hydras severed head while under attack from harpies anyone? Elsewhere, if the rapidly escalating size and strength of opponents continues at the same rate further into the game, we could be looking at something very special come 25th May.

For: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
When? 25 May 2012

News
peopleAlan McGee praises Bob Geldof for eulogy at Peaches' funeral
News
Hard at it: 'We have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy,' wrote John Maynard Keynes. Has he been proved correct?
Campaigners call for 30-hour working week to allow for healthier, fairer society - and more fun
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
newsThe Gherkin to be auctioned off as receivers called in
News
people... says Canada's fisheries minister
VIDEO
Life & Style
tech
Voices
Call centres
voices
News
people
Life & Style
Alexander McQueen Ready to Wear A/W 2006
fashionV&A museum to hold critically acclaimed 'Savage Beauty' retrospective of the late British fashion designer's work
Sport
World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a media workout at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas
sportIn an exclusive interview, Floyd Mayweather says his main concern these days is a legacy that cannot just be calculated in $100 bills
News
The DNA from the 11 Stone Age skeletons has revealed that the hunter gatherers actually became part of the incoming community of farmers
science
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Business Analyst – London - Permanent – £45k-£52k

    £45000 - £52000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Technical Lead – Digital, Media, Publishing, Java, Spring, XML

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Cornwallis Elt : Technical Lead – Digital, Media, ...

    Graduate IT Programme - Technical Consultant

    £21,000-£24,000: FDM Group: We are currently seeking a number of high-calibre...

    Graduate IT Programme - Business Consultant

    £21,000-£24,000: FDM Group: We are currently seeking a number of high-calibre ...

    Day In a Page

    Cornwall is celebrating after being granted minority status - but what of other English counties' claims to independence?

    Which English counties should claim independence?

    From Berkshire to Yorkshire, our writers go back to their roots...
    Campaigners call for 30-hour working week to allow for healthier, fairer society - and more time for fun

    Campaigners call for 30-hour working week

    They argue it will allow for healthier, fairer society - and more time for fun. Bring it on, says Tom Hodgkinson, editor of 'The Idler'
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The fall of a mighty Austro-Hungarian stronghold

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    The fall of a mighty Austro-Hungarian stronghold
    Alexander McQueen coming home to the V&A museum with critically acclaimed 'Savage Beauty' exhibition

    Alexander McQueen coming home

    V&A museum to hold critically acclaimed 'Savage Beauty' retrospective of the late British fashion designer's work
    10 best products for curly hair

    10 best products for curly hair

    Whether you wear them long, short or ignore them most of the time, curls need some TLC. It’s time to treat those wavy tresses
    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
    Why musicians play into their old age

    Why musicians play into their old age

    Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
    How can you tell a gentleman?

    How can you tell a gentleman?

    A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
    Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

    Through the screen

    British Pathé opens its archives
    The man behind the papier mâché mask

    Frank Sidebottom

    The man behind the papier mâché mask
    Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
    Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

    Boston runs again

    Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year