|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
Dragon's Dogma[a] is an action role-playing video game developed and published by Capcom for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game features an open world fantasy environment, in addition to hack and slash gameplay elements. The game was directed by Hideaki Itsuno and includes other staff members who worked on previous Capcom game series, including Resident Evil, Devil May Cry and Breath of Fire.
Following the game's positive critical reception, Capcom stated it would consider a possible sequel in the future, with Dragon's Dogma Online later being announced in January 2015. The Dark Arisen version was released for Microsoft Windows in January 2016, and its port for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One was released worldwide in October 2017 to celebrate the game's fifth anniversary.
Dragon's Dogma is an action role-playing game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective. The player is able to select between various 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. For example, the Fighter has abilities that focus on hack and slash combat and the Strider is skilled at climbing large enemies. The game was designed to be playable even by those who are not skilled at action games.
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 also features a persistent world with a dynamic weather system and day-night cycle.
The game's hack and slash combat elements have been compared to their own Devil May Cry series 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.
Although Dragon's Dogma does not feature a direct multiplayer mode, the developers have revealed that players can compete online with asynchronous encounters called Events via Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. One such event includes the 'Ur-Dragon' in which the effect of each party's attacks will be combined until the Ur-Dragon finally falls. Players that deal the fatal blow will receive the maximum reward, but all players can still obtain both common and rare items dropped by the Ur-Dragon when they inflict damage.
The game opens with a group led by a knight named Savan nearing the end of a quest to defeat the Dragon, a being which signals the end of days. An unknown time later in the present day Duchy of Gransys, the protagonist's village of Cassardis is attacked by the newly-arrived Dragon. When the protagonist attacks the Dragon, the Dragon takes their heart. The protagonist remains alive after this, marking them as the "Arisen", a figure destined to face the Dragon and stop the coming apocalypse; the Arisen is served by Pawns, human-like beings who live to fight the Dragon, and the Arisen creates a new Pawn shortly after beginning their quest. Heading to a nearby encampment, the protagonist defends an encampment of soldiers from a Hydra attack, taking one of its heads before driving it back; this is witnessed by Mercedes Marten, a soldier sent from a neighbouring nation to support Gransys's Duke Edmun Dragonsbane against the Dragon.
Mercedes helps the Arisen escort the Hydra head to the Duke's capital of Gran Soren; upon completing quests for the local Wyrm Hunter guild, the Arisen is granted an audience with the Duke, who has held the position for over a century without ageing after claiming victory against the Dragon. During their quest, the Arisen finds aid from a former Arisen dubbed the Dragonforged; investigates an underground tower dubbed the Everfall by the local Pawn guild; confronts Salvation, a nihilistic cult led by a man named Elysion which seeks the Dragon's victory; and learns of Mercedes's role as a token ally as other nations have come to fear Gransys becoming too powerful should the Duke defeat a second Dragon. The Arisen eventually confronts Elysion, who turns his followers into undead to kill the Arisen. The Arisen defeats them, but the Dragon arrives and kills Elysion. The Dragon challenges the Arisen to find him and stop the apocalypse. Confronting the Dragon, the Dragon offers the Arisen a choice; fight and kill it, or sacrifice their beloved—a character the Arisen has grown close to during the game—in exchange for replacing the Duke as ruler of Gransys, the same bargain the Duke took when he faced the Dragon.
Upon defeating the Dragon, the Arisen and all those connected to the Dragon—including the Duke and the Dragonforged—lose their immortality, and the Everfall becomes a bottomless pit which swallows part of Gran Soren. Returning to Gran Soren, the Arisen is attacked by the aged Duke and flees upon being accused of cursing him. While fleeing, the Arisen and their Pawns are swallowed by the Everfall. Passing into a higher plain after opening a portal within the Everfall, the Arisen faces the Seneschal, the being which sustains the world and the current form of the knight Savan. The Arisen is offered a choice; fight the Seneschal or return to Gransys and live a quiet life. Should the Arisen lose the fight with the Seneschal, they are reborn as the next Dragon. Besting the Seneschal results in the Arisen taking their place, unable to interact with the world below. The Arisen then kills themselves to break the cycle, falling back towards Gransys with their Pawn. The game ends with the Pawn awakening within the Arisen's body in their village to be met by their beloved.
The game was developed by Capcom staff members that had previously worked on series such as Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Breath of Fire. These include director Hideaki Itsuno, who previously directed games such as Devil May Cry 2, 3 and 4; producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi, who previously produced games such as Resident Evil 4 and Killer7; and Breath of Fire designer Makoto Ikehara, who worked on creating the fantasy game world and script elements during the early stages of production.
During the press conference at Capcom's Captivate event in 2011, director Hideaki Itsuno said that Dragon's Dogma is a game he had been dreaming about making since his school days. He was able to realize that dream due to modern technology, and had been directing a staff of around 150 people at Capcom Japan for the previous two years of development time (three years including conceptual phases).
At the 2013 Game Developers Conference Hideaki Itsuno presented Behind the Scenes of Dragon's Dogma, which described the development process; In 2008 Capcom executives called for new 'million selling' IP to be developed - the proposal that became Dragon's Dogma was based in part on an originally undeveloped proposal made in 2000 which incorporated the "pawn" game idea. From 2008 the game was developed under the working title BBS RPG: one aspect of the design brief was to capture the enjoyable aspects of interactivity found on a Bulletin board system (BBS) through the pawn sharing system; additional design specifications were for an open world game, with an action role-playing game playstyle. New programming features required for the game included a multipurpose character editor and open world map data streaming. The initial map design was approximately twice the size of the final product, with separate regions corresponding to different levels of experience, up to level 100; separate and discrete parallel worlds existed for each player. Final commercialisation of the product reduced the scope of the world design; the original concept included the entire island of Gransys, a separate smaller island "Dragon Isle," and the game world's moon.
Itsuno stated that his team has "made Dragon's Dogma and come up to this point through our experience of action games. We're trying to make a new genre: We're using our action heritage and putting that into an action RPG." In addition to Capcom's previous works (such as Breath of Fire, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Monster Hunter), Itsuno also cited the influence of other Eastern role-playing video games such as Dragon Quest and Western role-playing video games such as Fable and Oblivion. Itsuno later explained that they:
"[have] seen a great deal of open-world action RPGs over the years, [but] there's never been one that really put everything together in the action parts. We figured that if there hasn't been a game made by people who understand how action works, then we ought to do it ourselves. We wanted a game where the player is thrown into the world and needs to figure out how to stay alive via nothing but his own controller."
However, it will also be possible for characters to take a less action-oriented approach, with Itsuno stating that they are "making this game such that you can beat the monsters even if you build up EXP, collect good companions and/or pawns, and sit back and watch the battle unfold," and elaborating that while it is an action game, "that's not all that it is. You can fully configure your party and put as much thought as you like into battle, which is something we're doing for people who really want to get into this world."
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
An expanded and enhanced version of Dragon's Dogma, subtitled Dark Arisen, was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on April 23, 2013. The version included a new zone to explore, all downloadable content (DLC) created for the original release, a new fast travel system, as well as new items, weapons, armor, and quests. There were also various fixes and tweaks made, particularly to the in-game menus. As an incentive, those players who bought the first version could transfer their savegames, and be rewarded with an Eternal Ferrystone (with infinite uses), 100,000 Rift Crystals, a form of in-game currency, and the Gransys Armor pack, containing fixed sets of armor for the player based on that worn by NPCs. The Xbox 360 version of Dark Arisen came on two discs, the first being the play disc holding the main game files, the second an install-only disc containing a high-definition texture pack, and also the original Japanese voice files. Both of these were also available for download, free of charge, alongside the digital version of the game. Reporting on its fiscal year, Capcom described Dark Arisen's sales as "firm". A Microsoft Windows version, ported by QLoc, was released on January 15, 2016.
Two packs of additional quests, titled "The Chosen" and "The Challenger," were released as downloadable content (DLC) in June and July 2012, respectively. Also, a series of quests over a ten-week period, titled "From a Different Sky" were released from May 22 to July 24. There are also several post-launch DLC items, such as weapons, armors and character customization setups.
The number of pre-orders for the game in Japan exceeded half a million. The game sold 331,064 copies during its first week on sale in Japan, including 302,040 for the PlayStation 3 and 29,024 for the Xbox 360, making it the fastest-selling new IP of the previous console generation; as of June 4, 2012, sales for the PlayStation 3 version increased to 418,210 units sold in Japan. In the United States, the game sold 92,000 copies within five days. It debuted at third place on the UK charts. By June 30, 2012, a month after its release, the game had sold 1.05 million units worldwide. As of September 30, 2013 the game had sold 1.3 million units worldwide.
The game has been well received in Japan, where gaming magazine Famitsu gave the game an overall score of 34 out of 40, based on four reviewer scores of 8, 9, 8, and 9. Famitsu gave it a "Hall of Fame: Gold" award, praising "the game’s variety in combat, the effectiveness of working together with Pawns, the exceptionally fun sidequests, and the uniqueness of each vocation."
Game Informer gave the game an 8.5 out of 10 and stated that "I left the game feeling that I made my mark on Gransys the way I chose to, instead of being escorted from plot point to plot point. When you're talking about an open-world game, I can't think of higher praise." Eurogamer Italy said that "Dragon's Dogma is a great fantasy game, where the lack of a multiplayer experience is compensated from an impressive single player." UK magazine PSM3 wrote, "Big, challenging and imaginative, but its hardcore nature won't appeal to everyone." GameSpot gave the game a score of 8 out of 10. The review praised the "fantastic combat encounters," one of "the best boss fights in any role-playing game," atmospheric touches, and "striking choices" that lead to "an unforgettable ending." The review notes that the game "takes chances, and it's that riskiness that makes this role-playing game so unique among its peers," concluding that, "Engrossing and frustrating, Dragon's Dogma is a flawed and unique gem." The review also notes that while the boss battles are "epic", in the sense they allow players to climb up enemy monsters, the game itself lacks an adequate fast-travel system.
Play UK criticized it for low framerates on the Xbox 360 version. IGN scored it 7.5/10, stating "Dragon's Dogma has the scale and challenge of a great action RPG, but not the character or polish. Nevertheless, there's a lot to love here, like some great ideas that make you want to give it a chance." GameTrailers praised the challenging combat and the gameplay mechanics, though they criticized the story as "flat." Their rating for the game was an 8.7.
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen received positive reviews. On Metacritic, the PC version scored 81/100, the Xbox 360 version scored 77/100, and the PlayStation 3 version scored 80/100. The PC version of Dark Arisen sold over 265,000 copies in a month. It was Capcom's fastest-selling PC game to date, though the console versions had higher initial sales due to benefiting from a full pre-launch marketing campaign.
IGN scored the PC version 8.9/10, calling it a "thoroughly great action RPG" and stating "it has near perfect fluidity and all the epic feel of the Xbox 360/PS3 edition" and is a "valid alternative to The Witcher 3 or Dark Souls, if one can withstand graphics that are not really on par with today's standards."
Dragon's Dogma Online
On January 27, 2015, Capcom announced a sequel with a new story titled Dragon's Dogma Online as a free-to-play game for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC. The game was launched in Japan on August 31, 2015. Cross-platform play among all platforms will be supported upon release.
Dragon's Dogma Online reached more than two million downloads within its first ten days of release.
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