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.
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.