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Dragon’s Dogma Ships a Million

Well, how about that. Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma has shipped (not necessarily sold) a million copies and the sinister company is declaring it a success worthy of franchise continuation.

I gave Dragon’s Dogma a mostly postive but somewhat mixed review, lambasting its generic quests, Bethesda aspirations, and some of the clunkier aspects of the design. I stand by my criticisms, yet here I am a month later and I’m still playing- and want to play- this game. The really compelling thing about the game is that it completely flies in the face of current AAA marketing logic, offering little guidance and suggesting a highly emergent kind of gameplay where tromping all the way across the map in real-time to get to a quest location can be a grueling, challenging experience. And that’s before you even get to the dungeon or whatever.

The thing is, Dragon’s Dogma is in some places terrifyingly innovative, thoughtful, and well considered. This makes some of the rougher spots seem more pronounced, but by the same token it also feels like something fresh, ambitious, and daring. The clever online feature is closer to a Mii Parade than a silly deathmatch or horde mode. The classes and skills are widely varied and interesting, providing lots of options and cool character development choices. The action is classic Japanese brawler fare that isn’t afraid to kick your ass. The pawns are a great way to create a sense of party-based play without going full MMORPG. There are moments of grandeur and subtle amazement that are well worth putting up with some of the game’s less-than-exemplary qualities. Like those chattering pawns.

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I’d slate it, at this point, on a shortlist for GotY but The Witcher 2 would still beat it on points. So I’m glad to see that Capcom is looking at doing more with the game because it is one of those situations like the first Assassin’s Creed where you feel like the seeds of something truly outstanding are planted…and with more time and money who knows? The next game may be something really special. I’m on board.

Michael Barnes

Games writer Michael Barnes is a co-founder of Nohighscores.com as well as FortressAT.com. His trolling has been published on the Web and in print in at least two languages and in three countries. His special ability is to cheese off nerds using the power of the Internet and his deep, dark secret is that he's actually terrible at games. Before you ask, no, the avatar is not him. It's Mark E. Smith of The Fall.

14 thoughts to “Dragon’s Dogma Ships a Million”

  1. Just got this from Gamefly based on your review. It is much better than I expected, but still manages to irritate me now and again. Also, I’ve never been so confused by the constant use of the word “aught”

    1. It took me a while to figure out that “aught” just means “something.” For example, while you might say, “Boy, that opening theme song is really something,” your pawns would replace the final word with “aught.”

      And then repeat it eight times.

      1. I had thought it was meant to mean something(aught) more like “a lot” as in “there are aught monsters every step of the freakin’ way, master!”

        I also noticed that they never typed the word “over” using “o’er” instead. But the voice actors never got the memo, its like someone went back and olde englished the subtitles at the last minute.

  2. I also see the parallels to AssCreed. First game had some good ideas and was fun to play but kinda sloppy in execution… Second game, near perfect! Fingers crossed.

  3. A lot of what you wrote reminds me of things that were said about Demon’s Souls. I think Dark Souls did a lot to expand on that game and refine it’s mechanics some more, making it the better overall game of the two (though I prefer Demon’s Souls bosses).

    Currently out of work, I’m not playing Dragon’s Dogma, but it’s on my list of eventualities. Regardless, I hope the sequel fixes some of the mistakes and comes out even better than this first attempt did.

    Also, hurray for a new IP doing well AND something different!

    1. Yeah, I think you’re on the right track with that thinking…although I’d say that Demon’s Souls was even MORE offbeat and definitely far more impenetrable in the early going.

      Dragon’s Dogma, taken with the Souls games, may very well represent something of a discernable movement in Japanese thinking about RPG design that stretches back to the Monster Hunter games but points the way forward to stuf like the upcoming Vita game Soul Sacrifice. The success of these games (excluding Monster Hunter, which is in a different strata) is demonstrating that these kinds of really quite esoteric, difficult, and completely un-casual RPG games can sell. And the interesting thing to me is that these are games that are HUGELY gameplay-focused as compared to the Bethesda OCD games and the BioWare sex-and-story ones. There’s something very old fashioned about popping in a Japanese game and getting bombarded with arcane menus, stuff that you’re really not sure what it does, arcane progression mechanics, and an overall sense of unfathomability that dissipates with experience and skill.

      But yes, it definitely needs a pass of refinement much like the difference between Demon’s and Dark. This doesn’t mean “dumbing it down” as the forumistas say, but it does mean taking a hard look at some of the design choices and making the game more playable so that it doesn’t put off players before they get through the learning curve.

      But yeah, here you go. New IP, original concepts…and it’s a single player game. IT CAN WORK!

  4. Interesting aside: if you ignore the actual *talking* associated with the storyline, and focus simply on what the player does, and how it relates to the in-game characters…the plot is actually kind of cool.

    There’s an in-story justification for why you can replay the game over and over. Why pawns are blank slates. How the other players are playing in overlapping pocket universes, but can still affect you (Going so far as to have a secret boss that everyone in the world fights alone…together).

    Too bad the dialogue seems to have been written by drunken Japanese philosophy students, then run through a babelfish program set to “Mangle Shakespeare”.

    And oh yeah: I have two Ur-Dragon kills logged online. Anyone else take a shot at the Big Dog yet?

    1. This is very, very true. The actual written story is kind of negligible, but the actual _narrative_ of what you actually do in the game is really kind of awesome. Getting a quest, actually having to buy provisions and supplies, tooling up, and setting out on it, and having things occur even as simple as the day/night cycle while you try to _find_ the damn place you’re going is truly epic, and not in the idiotic Skyrim way.

      For me, the defining moment- and really kind of the turning point of what I thought about the game- was going on to relieve the guys in the fort beset by Goblins. For some reason, that whole part, which included running like HELL from a dragon fighting goblins, really hit me as being massive…you wind up in tunnels beneath it, fighting a cyclops on the parapets, and blasting away with a ballista.

      When it comes down to it, the day-to-day play of the game beats the story and awful writing.

      1. Yeah, I got face-owned by that dragon on the first encounter. Because it was dark, and I didn’t follow the almost invisible trail, and wandered into the wrong stretch of forest.

  5. Wow, really sold me on it with that update. I’ll give it a shot from Gamefly, although it might be a while – Xenoblade Chronicles just came in yesterday and I somehow sunk five hours into it. It is fantastic, although I struggled for the first bit with the terrible visuals.

    1. Between the graphics, the constant super-loud attack chatter, and the odd cooldown-based combat, I couldn’t hang with Xenoblade. That said, I’m glad to hear mileage varying for others.

      I had the same problem with Dragon’s Dogma (the chatter), but then I learned how to turn the pawns’ speech rate way, way down. Once you level up past the first ending, most players seem to shut their pawns up.

      1. Woah! Didn’t know this was aught that was possible. I will figure out how and do this, post haste

        1. Put ’em in the chair. When the pawn asks, “I try to speak and offer advice as necessity demands. Does this please you?” Answer: OH HELLS TO THE NO. Answering yes increases rate of speech, no decreases it. the question should be: “Should I talk more, or less?” with appropriate choices, but again. Drunk Japanese philosophy majors. Mangled Shakespeare Babelfish.

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