Up Up Down Down: Dragon’s Dogma
[Continued] Page 2
Up Up: A new take on multiplayer interaction
It's like Walmart for party members. No window shopping!
Dragon’s Dogma’s multiplayer component is arguably its most memorable trait. Your Arisen is also accompanied by three companions known as Pawns, one of which is your main Pawn, a partner-in-questing designed from the ground up by you. Your other party members are the main Pawns of other Arisen, that is, Dragon’s Dogma players who are also connected to the game’s servers. You can summon other main Pawns to accompany you in your quest, much like how your Pawn can be summoned by others. Here’s the catch: Each time your Pawn aids another player, you get a reward and they receive a ranking according to their usefulness. Aside from connecting with other players, this makes your main Pawn incredibly valuable, and encourages you to spend resources on them—that is, upgrade them—along with yourself. In fact, I often found myself prioritizing my main Pawn over my own gear in order to generate higher quality rewards (you can gift other Arisens any item when you dismiss a pawn, which that Pawn then brings with them).
Down Down: Unrealized potential in party management
This is not unrealized potential in party management. This is a Cockatrice. Bask in it.
Along with the Pawn multiplayer network, Capcom included a form of adaptive AI known as Inclinations. Inclination dictates the behavioral tendencies of your pawns, both in and out of combat. For example: If you give your main Pawn the role of Mage (which can be changed anytime) and frequently command them to heal you and your party in combat, that Pawn will learn the inclination Medicant, likely as their secondary inclination. If you frequently order your ranger to scout ahead, they may learn Pioneer, which has them stay ahead of the party while exploring. Mitigators will bring down weak enemies in order to clean up the battlefield, Utilitarians will buff the Arisen whenever possible, Challengers will take down ranged- and magic-using enemies first—there’s a wealth of AI patterns to learn and choose from.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of Inclinations are ultimately worthless, and will in many cases render your Pawns little more than meat shields that happen to sway about the battlefield. Worse still is how strategically insignificant well-balanced Inclinations often are, your finely-tuned pawns instead blurring together as a monochromatic mass of incoherent action. Regardless, the idea is both solid and innovative, and certainly worth exploring in future titles.
Left Right Left Right: Dragon’s Dogma is an unlikely action-RPG that you’ll lose yourself in
If you’d told me in May 2011, one year before Dragon’s Dogma’s release, that I would one day thoroughly enjoy a high-fantasy, Western-influenced action-RPG from Capcom, I’d have questioned your sanity. Having played the game myself, however, I can confidently say that Dragon’s Dogma is a unique, stylized and endearingly flawed experience that any RPG fan should play.