Dragon’s Dogma E3 2011 Preview

At first glance, Dragon’s Dogma seems like a Western-developed game. Players control a fairly standard medieval knight with a companion, and together they journey through a dungeon to take on foes like goblins, harpies, and even gigantic chimaeras. With a trio of fellow NCP warriors–each with a class focus–helping me out, I was reminded of Dragon’s Age 2. Far from generic or boring, Dragon’s Dogma comes from a strong pedigree and contains a substantial amount of direction.

Would it surprise you that Dragon’s Dogma is one of the biggest games to come from Capcom proper? Boasting key members of the Resident Evil 4 and the Devil May Cry 4 team, Dragon’s Dogma is Capcom’s attempt to take on the most popular role-playing games of this era, and if successful Western fantasy RPGs come to mind, you’re not far off. This is a game that will take those popular motifs and apply a solid Japanese action focus.

At Captivate earlier this year, I was shown the Prologue to the game, a new area made specifically for E3. It acted as the tutorial, and it was here that I developed a solid understanding of the game’s basic mechanics. Generally, attacks are simple, mapped to a heavy and light attack on the control pad. The main character has to unsheathe his sword, so movement is slow when his weapons are out. By using a modifier button, he can perform attacks that are unique to the weapons, such as a shield charge or a wild flailing attack.

Even more important are the addition of pawns. At any given time, the player will have three pawns at his disposal, ranging from a traditional soldier to witch crones and female archers. Always, at least one of these characters is specific to the story, a character with his own contribution to the overarching plot. The other two are … expendable. Usually they can be picked up at stations throughout the dungeon, and at first opportunity I gained an archer and a mage. These proved very helpful in the dungeon.

Early on, my enemies remained mostly goblins and orcs, but later they included flying harpies and other creatures. One very annoying feature of the game is the habit of the NPCs to repeat the same advice over and over again–in this case, “Strike it when it alights!” Thanks, archer-lady. Much appreciated.

All in all, Dragon’s Dogma is a very promising action RPG. Credible developers are working on this game, and if they can build it to their standards, we should be more than pleased all around.