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Dragons Dogma

Very quick tips for Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

May 01 // Chris Carter
General tips: Capcom recommends that you level to at least 45 before you begin the new Dark Arisen content, the Bitterblack Isle. You actually will need to be around level 70 before you really start to feel comfortable. As a side note, it is possible to go in the first few areas, run around, and find items well below level 45. If you deploy a Portcrystal (an expensive item that lets you return to a point on the world map with a Ferrystone) in your first playthrough, it will remain there in New Game+. You can deploy up to 10 crystals (even in your first playthrough, as the one crystal limit is gone in Dark Arisen) -- use this to your advantage if you want to level up to 45-70 through New Game+ to tackle the Dark Arisen content. Remember, Dark Arisen gives you a free infinite-use Ferrystone if you have a save file from the original game. Once you boot up Dark Arisen with an old save file, you'll find your new bonus items at the inn, in a chest. Only one save per account can make use of these bonuses, so if you play in a household with multiple gamers, have them save a generic file before you sell/trade the original game in. Take every Notice Board quest ever. The quest system in Dragon's Dogma is pretty awesome. You can take a ton of quests at once and not worry about overcrowding. A ton of the board quests are "kill x amount of enemies" -- you'll do a lot of these automatically by just playing the game. In Dark Arisen, a lot of the DLC quests are hidden in random boards. Switch Vocations (respec classes) frequently. Augmentations, skills, and core skills carry over to other classes, and can help create unstoppable hybrid characters. Augmentations can be used across all Vocations, but some will limit you in terms of skills that are attached to equipment -- a dagger ability will not work with a staff based class, for instance. Switching between Vocations is free once you buy them. Oh, and if you want to change Vocations, learn skills, and so on, you do that at the Gran Soren inn. Save frequently. If a Pawn says something like "this would be a great opportunity to ambush us," you are probably going to get attacked soon. The way saves work is the game holds two types of saves on one file -- a quicksave (usually room-to-room checkpoints or by actually hitting "save" on the start menu), and a hard save at the inn. If you find yourself in a terrible spot, you may want to completely reload an inn save -- to do this, pause the game and select return to last checkpoint. If you want to load a quicksave, you have to quit the game entirely without saving, or just simply die and select the top option. Confusing, I know. Speaking of the inn, make sure you actually pay the 500G to rest frequently before heading out. Not only does this reset your maximum health bar (the white space degrades over time as you take damage), but it also can reset the time of day to "Morning," which means less deadly enemies roaming the world map, and an easier exploration experience. Remember to constantly cycle your support Pawns as they do not level up. You can limit your Pawn's abilities to customize them down to the exact tactics you want him to use. You don't have to have a Pawn fill every single ability slot. Compliment your own playstyle with your Main Pawn -- if you're heavy on physical damage, make him magical, and so on. If a support Pawn dies, all of the items will go back to your inn's storage chest -- the game will warn you before you offer up a gift to the Pawn's owner, which cannot be returned. Pick up everything, ever. Don't be afraid to use your Pawns as pack mules, as all items will go back to your storage if they die. You never know when a seemingly useless item will come in handy for a weapon or armor augmentation/enhancement. Speaking of enhancements, use the armory near the inn in Gran Soren for that. Like Demon's/Dark Souls, weight matters. Make sure your character is light in terms of what they're carrying -- again, pack mule Pawns are great for this. Pawns can use restoration items if you give them the right ones. For instance, give them Secret Softener, and they will automatically heal the stone condition when fighting an enemy like the Cockatrice. Deck out your Main Pawn in cool gear, name him something catchy (a pop culture reference will earn you lots of summons), and even-out his skillset. You'll find that other players will hire him more, which will earn you extra RP to spend on new items in the Dark Arisen content. The best way to farm experience/loot if you're looking to boost to level 70 is to use the Everfall dungeon. You'll encounter part of the Everfall in one of my first quests in the game, but the real dungeon doesn't open up until after you've completed the main quest -- it is essentially a giant post-game dungeon that lets you fight various bosses over again, Mega Man style. You can farm Wakestones to sell to merchants -- use the Sorceror's Suasion augmentation, equipped on both yourself and your Main Pawn and sell Wakestones to make mad easy cash during these runs. Don't turn in the 20 Wakestones required to end the quest before you're sure you want to start a New Game+ run -- you will not be able to return to the Everfall dungeon to farm until you've beaten the game again. Want to farm Everfall items the extreme way? Save right before you're at a group of chests in the Chamber of Hope. If you don't like the items, use the Godsbane item to kill yourself, and restart from your last quicksave point. Are you having trouble doing damage? Buy buff charms from Fournival (make sure you acquit him in the trial!). You can use up to four buff charms at a time, and Fournival sells an infinite amount. Another tactic to dealing more damage is to stack one type. If you're a hybrid class that uses physical or magical attacks, try stacking one over the other -- you need to reach a certain threshold. This works especially well on Death in the new content. Dagger Vocations can use the double jump ability to get to some hidden areas in the new Arisen content. Want easy healing items to take to the new content? Buy tons of empty flasks, and head to the Wellspring near Gran Soren. You can fill these up and heal your entire party with them. Are you a fan of the manga/anime Berserk? You can get Guts and Griffith's armor and weapons in the core game (same with the original Dragon's Dogma for that matter). Go to the Ancient Quarry, talk to the NPC in front of it, and complete the two quests involved. The merchant will set up shop near the room where the thieves ambushed you, and he'll sell both pieces of armor. You should be around level 20 before you tackle the monsters within.
Dragon's Dogma guide photo
Don't be bitter on Bitterblack Isle
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is out, which means thousands of newcomers who haven't experienced the game yet are itching to finally try out the franchise for the first time. Once you get the hang of things, Dragon's Dogma as a whole isn't that tough, but there's a ton of concepts to grasp before you get to that point. Here's some tips to help ease you into the dragon-slaying state of mind.

Review: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Apr 29 // Chris Carter
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomReleased: April 23, 2013MSRP: $39.99 Bitterblack Isle is the main draw of Dark Arisen, as it offers up approximately 10-15 hours of new, linear content. After automatically gaining a new quest and speaking to an NPC named Olra, you'll be on your way to Bitterblack Isle -- the decidedly Demon's/Dark Souls flavored new zone. When I say this area is linear, I mean it -- you'll basically start at the top, and head down into the depths of a single dungeon as you fight creature after creature. For people who love the game's combat, Bitterblack Isle will most likely win you over due to the fact that it's nonstop fighting. New bosses will pepper the dungeon, some of which are actually new, some of which are re-skins or reworks of already existing enemies. To be blunt, Bitterblack Isle didn't blow me away, but it was a pretty fun experience that augmented the game decently enough. Capcom channeled their inner Demon's Souls love for Bitterblack Isle in a good way, and even if it wasn't as imaginative as either game in the Souls series, it still did a decent job of giving off the allure of a dark and dangerous place. The addition of the personification of Death in particular (that could show up at any moment) makes the experience even more harrowing, and despite some frustration with Pawn combat, was a neat addition to the fray. You'll need to be level 45 to really event stand a chance with the new content (even though you can enter it at any time), and around level 70 to comfortably best it -- so if you're expecting to jump right in with your low level or non-existent character, you'll be disappointed. After besting Bitterblack, you can go at it again with an even tougher challenge. If you're returning from the original game with a save file, you'll earn yourself a bonus of an unlimited use Ferrystone (previously expensive one-use fast-travel items), 100,000 Rift Points (which you can use to hire Pawns or access new items on Bitterblack Isle), and six unique outfits (which will be in your storage, at the inn). There's also a "texture enhancement and Japanese voice pack" on a second disc included with Dark Arisen that smooths out the game's visuals (only slightly, in my experience) and decreases load times. When I say that Capcom could have done better here to entice returning players, that's an understatement. There's no real new skills to speak of or new modes -- so the 10 or so hours of content won't really be enough to sway some of you if you aren't keen on replaying the game over and over (and thus, multiple playthroughs of Bitterblack Isle). Capcom also didn't use this opportunity to rework the biggest issues of Dragon's Dogma -- namely, the Pawn system. For the uninitiated, your party consists of yourself, one other party member who can level up with you (a special Pawn), and two other NPCs called "Pawns." The latter two characters cannot level up, utilize unique equipment, or otherwise progress with your main two characters. Now, the prospect of constant hiring static characters has worked in other games, but here, it kind of falls flat. Mostly this is due to the fact that Pawns are still as dumb as a box of rocks, which causes problems during the game's toughest combat situations -- most of which occur in the new Dark Arisen content. Pawns are supposed to "adapt" after fighting a new enemy, but the problem is two-fold -- the game presupposes you're willing to put up with a dumber than normal AI for the first encounter, and even then, sometimes the Pawns will still act like morons during the next fight with the same enemy type. Finally, the repetitive dialog from the Pawns returns (even if you sit them down and tell them to talk less using a special area), despite Capcom's claims that they toned down the repetition. But for every misstep, Dragon's Dogma as a whole can really shine. You'll completely forget about your trials and tribulations with some of the antiquated mechanics as you're slashing your way through a giant creature, leveling up your two main characters, and trying out new skills, classes and strategies to best your enemies. All of that core gameplay translates to Dark Arisen, not to mention the fact that the entire original game (with all DLC, including the Hard Mode and Speed Run gametypes) is included in the package. Capcom could have done better with their upgrades to the game, but fortunately for them, the original game is charming enough for newcomers in particular. With a price drop on Dark Arisen, you'd be crazy not to at least try to experience the world of Dragon's Dogma for the first time. [embed]252264:48306:0[/embed] In an odd move, the game is only available currently in its fully priced form -- so if you own the original, you need to purchase the $39.99 disc or full digital game with no option to purchase a discounted DLC package. As a result, it's really tough to recommend the game to anyone who felt lukewarm with the original given the fact that it's essentially the same experience, just with a new island. The small extras almost feel like a bribe of sorts, and Capcom could have done much better than this. Then again, it works both ways as you could rent the original, save a file, and then reap these benefits with Dark Arisen as your first experience. While I can't wholly recommend Dark Arisen to anyone but the most hardcore of Dragon's Dogma fans, if you haven't touched the franchise yet, this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Despite the issues, the series is an intriguing prospect that does many things right, and shouldn't be missed by action or RPG fans alike. While Capcom could have done a whole lot more with this expansion, the fact of the matter is the solid game underneath is still faithfully preserved.
DD: Dark Arisen review photo
Sometimes, dragons may double-dip
I thought Jim was spot on with his review of the original Dragon's Dogma. It had grand ideas, but in many areas, it failed to execute them, and was marred by some fairly glaring design choices. With a full sequel, Capcom coul...

Dark Arisen photo
Dark Arisen

More foes to be fought in Dragon's Dogma: DA trailer


They are all ready and waiting...to be slayed!
Apr 22
// Raz Rauf
With Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen available from today for US citizens, and just a couple days away for their European counterparts, Capcom decided to shower us with more enemies to feast our eyes upon in a trailer. This...
New releases photo
New releases

New releases: Don't Starve will be the end of you


Plus Dead Island: Riptide, Star Trek, StarDrive, and Monaco
Apr 22
// Fraser Brown
I'm a bit late with this week's new releases, as I'm still recovering from my wee sister's wedding, where I wracked up an ungodly bar bill. Your sympathy and donations will be greatly appreciated.  It's a busy week, and...
Dragon's Dogma photo
Dragon's Dogma

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen gets soundtrack release


East-meets-West collaboration
Apr 22
// Jayson Napolitano
Maybe you were a fan of the powerful fantasy score to Dragon's Dogma. It featured Japanese composers Tadayoshi Makino and Rei Kondoh alongside Western composer Inon Zur. If the original soundtrack was your thing, then Square ...
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Aris photo
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Aris

Death is after you in Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen


Capcom gives tips on some enemies
Apr 15
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Capcom-Unity is giving out some video tips for the upcoming Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen over on their YouTube channel. This latest video looks at a few of the enemies you'll be encountering, including Death. Look at Death! L...

GDC: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen goes the extra mile

Mar 28 // Alessandro Fillari
The Dark Arisen quest line takes place in a new location known as the ‘Bitterblack Isle.’ A place where many adventurers have fell prey to the ancient evils that reside there. To engage in the new quests, players will return to the first town and interact with a new NPC that will ferry them over to the isle. Once there, players will encounter a variety of new monsters and character that can aid the Arisen and his party. One character, named Baroque, is a fellow Arisen and can upgrade your party’s weapons to new tiers of quality. Speaking with Tristan Corbett, marketing coordinator for Capcom USA, the main goals for Dark Arisen that Capcom Japan set out to do was to tweak and balance all existing content, while supplying new challenges and content for higher-level players. In the time since the last game, Capcom has fixed many issues that even the most diehard Dragon’s Dogma fans found problems with. For instance, the fast-travel system has been made much more manageable with the increased amount of ferrystones made available to the player. Moreover, Dark Arisen will also come with an optional texture pack install, which will lessen loading times, pop-ups, and other graphical issues that plagued the original release. Now I know many people who already own copies of the original game are disappointed that Capcom didn’t go the DLC route for Dark Arisen, but Capcom has made an effort to show that there is still reason to be excited. Calling this an expansion would not be doing the game justice, as the amount of content and rebalances added far exceeds your typical update or DLC pack. To give some extra incentive, players who import their saves from the original game will get bonus content and items to help on their journey. With over 15-20 hours of gameplay, new skills and ability tiers, new equipment, and loads of new enemies and quests, Dark Arisen goes the extra mile in giving players their money's worth. As fans keeping up with the game know, one of the new enemies in the DA is Death. Not only does the large scythe-wielding wraith look incredibly intimidating, but he is also one of the most unique enemies you’ll encounter. Taking cues from the infamous Ur-Dragon, and even from Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis, Death constantly stalks your party throughout the ‘Bitterblack Isle.’ Moreover, his health is far exceeds any monster in the original game. Fortunately, you can take down the enemy at your own pace. If you take too much damage from him, you can retreat and reassess your options. Damage done to Death is cumulative, and encountering him again will allow you to pick up where you left off. Though be warned, Death is powerful enough to take down your pawns in a single blow. With less than a month away from release, Dark Arisen has gotten many things right. At a budget price, it’s lessened the sting for people bought the original game, but it has also made it an enticing offer for people who haven’t taken the plunge yet.
Dark Arisen photo
Super Dragon's Dogma
Last year’s release of Dragon’s Dogma turned a lot of heads with its unique take on fantasy action/RPGs. Capcom’s first foray into the open-world genre surprised many with its version of the classic party me...

Mega Man art book photo
Mega Man art book

PAX: UDON releasing updated Mega Man art book


Best videogame art book ever!
Mar 23
// Tony Ponce
Hyrule Historia is pretty awesome. The History of Sonic The Hedgehog is not bad either. But for me, the best game series bible is Mega Man Official Complete Works. Released to celebrate the franchise's 20th anniversary, it co...
Dark Arisen PC? photo
Dark Arisen PC?

German PC listing of Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen quashed


But Capcom's Christian Svensson still presses the issue
Mar 20
// Raz Rauf
Many of you have wondered why on earth has Dragon's Dogma not been released on PC. It would be a great fit, right? Well Christian Svensson, corporate officer and senior vice president of Capcom USA, agrees. However, when a me...
Dragon's Dogma photo
Dragon's Dogma

Feel the power in new Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen trailer


Sparkle sparkle
Mar 13
// Raz Rauf
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is coming to our shores next month. Thus Capcom has decided to remind us of that fact by showing off this flashy trailer, illustrating the various powers and tricks a sorcerer can unleash in battl...
Dragons Dogma expansion photo
Dragons Dogma expansion

Here's the new trailer for Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen


Let's go back to Gransys
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
The expansion for Dragon's Dogma, Dark Arisen, is set to drop in North America on April 23rd, and Capcom has provided us with a new trailer while we wait. Just like Dragon Age Origins: Awakening (remember when this game was ...
Dark Arisen photo
Dark Arisen

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen trailer shows new foes


Note to self: Check before opening chests
Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
There are said to be some 25 new enemies in Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, and this latest trailer shows off a number of them, including Death, a minotaur, and a spiky giant. Rest assured, the pawns have plenty of things to bl...
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Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen launches April 23


Details revealed
Jan 23
// Dale North
Capcom has set a solid date for their expansion for Dragon's Dogma. Scheduled for April 23 in North America (and April 26 in Europe), Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen will be available as either a full game digital download or a ...
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Hard and Speedrun modes incoming for Dragon's Dogma


Free title update next week
Nov 27
// Jordan Devore
Earlier this year, Capcom briefly spoke of an expansion and new modes that were planned for Dragon's Dogma. The company has since shed further light on the situation, noting that the action-RPG will be given a free title upda...
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Capcom teases 'Dark Arisen' expansion for Dragon's Dogma


Plus two new free modes coming this year
Sep 21
// Jordan Devore
Capcom has released a few screenshots and a short video for an upcoming expansion to Dragon's Dogma titled Dark Arisen. As expected, we don't know a whole lot about this content yet, but the company specifically calls it a "...
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The DTOID Show: Xbox 720, Deadlight, Mario, & E3 2013!


Jul 30
// Max Scoville
Another Monday is upon us, and because of this, we have a new episode of The Destructoid Show. Today's big news is the reviews that Jim just cranked out for New Super Mario Bros 2, which isn't even out for three weeks, and D...
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Capcom profits up 290%, Dragon's Dogma to be a series


Jul 30
// Dale North
Well, look at you, Capcom! All in the black, with net profits up almost 300 percent (almost $16.9 million) from last year. Sales are also up about 56 percent. Projections were met. What did the trick for the Japanese publishe...
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More Dragon's Dogma DLC is on the way


Jul 09
// Chris Carter
Most of you were probably holding onto your Dragon's Dogma disc for the recently released Resident Evil 6 demo, but you may want to hold onto it a bit longer. In light of an interview with 4Gamer, it looks like more than a fe...
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The DTOID Show: Scrolls, Journey, and Dead or Alive 5!


Jun 25
// Tara Long
While Max is off catching fresh salmon with his bare hands overseas, Anthony Carboni was kind enough (and contractually obligated) to filled in for him on today's Destructoid Show! We talked all about Far Cry 3's unsurprisin...
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Dragon's Dogma ships 1 million, is now a big franchise


Jun 25
// Jim Sterling
Dragon's Dogma has shipped over a million copies worldwide, prompting Capcom to put its faith behind the IP and declare it the beginning of a major franchise. Now we can look forward to Dragons Dogma: Operation Gran Soren and...
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They're masterworks all, you can't go wrong


Jun 01
// Jim Sterling
They're masterworks all, you can't go wrong. They're masterworks all, you can't go wrong. They're masterworks all, you can't go wrong. They're masterworks all, you can't go wrong. They're masterworks all, ...
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Live show: Dragon's Dogma relaxation on Mash Tactics


May 29
// Bill Zoeker
King Foom is back from his weekend vacation, and ready to slay some dragons. It's a return to Capcom's third-person RPG, Dragon's Dogma on Mash Tactics today. This game has become an obsession for Foom, so it should be glorio...
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Live show: We're giving away copies of Dragons Dogma!


May 22
// Bill Zoeker
Unsheathe thy swords, or just sit down in front of your computers, because it's a Dragon's Dogma giveaway on Mash Tactics today. King Foom will be playing the game, which he is already thoroughly addicted to, while anyone and...
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The DTOID Show: New Wii U, Left 4 Payday & Dragon's Dogma


May 22
// Max Scoville
[Update: It's not Monday, but here's Monday's show, which didn't get uploaded until late last night. Sorry!]Hey guys! It's Monday, which means Garfield is gonna binge-eat a bunch of Lasagnas and I'm grouchy.  Today's bi...
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We're giving away four copies of Dragon's Dogma tomorrow!


May 21
// Bill Zoeker
Have you been getting sick of all the recent giveaways on Mash Tactics? No, I didn't think so. We're outdoing ourselves again tomorrow as we're giving away four copies of Capcom's new RPG, Dragon's Dogma. Two copies being giv...

Review: Dragon's Dogma

May 21 // Jim Sterling
Dragon's Dogma (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomReleased: May 22, 2012MSRP: $59.99 Dragon's Dogma puts players in the boots of an Arisen -- one of many heroes who had a fatal encounter with a dragon, only to wake up with their heart removed and the power to attract a legion of loyal followers. Our dragon in question happens to be of the apocalyptic variety, happily threatening to destroy the realm of Gransys and all within it. Naturally, the Arisen's task is to stop him, while hoping to reclaim the old ticker as a nice bonus.  The narrative is not exactly deep and complex, residing securely in familiar tropes and recognizable conflicts. We have the zany religious cult, the corrupt politicians, the giggling goblin henchmen, all the typical fantasy characters that help propel a typical fantasy plot. That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course. While it treads no new ground, the story is delivered with gusto and confidence. Not every tale has to be mindblowingly unique, and Dragon's Dogma is at least enjoyable in its comfortable, by-the-book yarn.  That said, story isn't really the point of the game, more of an excuse to get to the killing. In the style of a classic Japanese action-RPG, the main focus is on grabbing contracts, going out into the world to slay beasts, and gaining more power than one knows what to do with. The thrill of the hunt and a lust for loot serve as their own rewards, and Dragon's Dogma isn't shy about providing them in equal measure.  [embed]227595:43694[/embed] There are three classes to choose from, and like so much about this game, they don't break a great deal in the way of new ground. You have your Fighter, your Mage, and your Ranger, although later on players get an opportunity to further develop these classes or hybridize a pair of them to access new weapons and skills. Leveling up automatically boosts one's characteristics, while development points are earned and used at resting areas to unlock a range of passive and active abilities. At any point, players are free to spend their DP on changing classes, allowing for complete freedom in how a character is built. If you want a melee fighter enhanced with spells, you can create a Mystic Knight. If you get bored of sorcery, you can spend the points and create a Warrior, gaining even more close-combat power. It's up to you, and nobody is punished for making a choice they later regret.  Choice plays a big role in Dogma's most original idea, the Pawn System. As an Arisen, the player has an affinity with a race of creatures belonging to the Pawn Legion -- humanoids devoid of personal ambition that exist simply to serve the whims of real people. Near the beginning of the game, players can create their own Pawn to serve them throughout the adventure, using a relatively deep customization system (which is also used for the main character). This pawn is subject to the exact same strengths and limitations as the player, able to level up, equip weapons, pick classes, and earn skills. Naturally, there's an advantage in choosing a class that compliments your own, so a Ranger player may want a Fighter Pawn to hold targets in place, or a Mage to augment arrows with elemental magicks.  As well as a main sidekick, two further Pawns may also be recruited to the party at any given time, found by entering the many Rift Stones dotted around Gransys. Unlike the player-crafted Pawn, these henchmen are pre-packaged with their own unalterable classes, skills, and levels. They cannot be leveled up, and they won't hand their equipment over, even if you've given them gear from the common stash. Pawns spawn in the Rift at the same level as the player, though an in-depth search system lets one find higher level pawns, as well as those carrying skills that may be of use to the current party setup. Once again, the aim is to create a balanced team that compliments the current play style. For example, my Assassin (Fighter and Ranger hybrid) really started succeeding once he was backed up by a Warrior and two Sorcerers. Experimenting to find the right team is as easy as it is encouraged.  While there are random pawns generated within the game, folk playing online will be able to borrow the Pawns of other players, and can even rate them. Pawns will earn loot and Rift Crystals (used to buy high-level Pawns and special equipment) while traveling online, which they'll do whenever the player rests at an Inn or similar location. In this regard, the game becomes a strange Pokemon experience, albeit with the creepy element of borderline human slavery.  Armed with weapons, skills, and loyal Pawns, the player is ready to storm Gransys and take out vicious beasts for coin and fame. Missions can be obtained from NPCs or job boards, and mostly consist of standard assassination and item collection tasks. Gransys is open and free to explore, though several areas are off limits until unlocked during main story missions, and many areas contain dangerous opponents that may be far above the player's level for some time. Aimless wandering can end in swift death for those unprepared.  Dragon's Dogma's combat is, simply put, a joy to behold. The focus on heavy, brutal action makes for an engrossing experience, full of so much activity that it can be hard to keep track of what's going on. As Sorcerers turn your arrows into bolts of flame, Warriors climb on the backs of trolls, and Pawns call for aid, there's an intensity of information that turns even the most mundane fights into something more involved. Every monster has a sense of presence in the world, a sense augmented when you get to grab ahold of them, crawl up their legs, and stab them in the necks. Once players start encountering cyclopes, chimeras, and griffons, the action goes beyond intense and truly justifies a word overused by the Internet generation (but rightly deserved here) -- epic.  Battles against larger creatures are lengthy, dangerous, and utterly thrilling. Each monster has an arsenal of devastating attacks and often boasts a surprising amount of speed to back up its power. While at first, these battles can seem insurmountable, there are some beautifully logical tactics that can be employed to take each creature down. For example, a Chimera is terribly intimidating, comprised of a vicious lion head, a magic-spewing goat head, and a poisonous snake head. However, each head can be systematically taken out, and players can grab onto the monster's side and drag it to the ground, rendering it temporarily vulnerable. Meanwhile, the Griffon loves to fly out of range before swooping in with nasty attacks, but a Ranger armed with oil arrows can work with a fire-aligned Mage and turn the monster's wings into barbecue, sending it crashing to the earth. Each opponent has a range of weaknesses to go with its defenses, waiting to be discovered.  Coupled with this tactical combat is some glorious visual feedback in the form of procedural damage. The more players wail on an opponent, the more bloody and battered it becomes. The once powerful Chimera can end a fight with its serpentine head lopped off and a dead goat hanging limp off its back. The regal Griffon doesn't look so proud once its feathers are soaked in its blood and its wings are wreathed in flame. So effective is the battle damage, it almost inspires guilt. It's difficult not to feel sorry for some of these monsters when they've been battered so badly that their physically unrecognizable, but the pity is soon replaced by utter jubilation when, after a lengthy battle that could have gone either way, a deadly enemy now lies slain, spewing gold and crafting materials that can be used to build even more powerful weapons and armor. The sense of accomplishment and relief is matched only by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and in many ways, Dragon's Dogma eclipses Bethesda's efforts.  All this revelry, however, comes at a price. Dragon's Dogma is at its best when it's providing dramatic encounters against slavering behemoths, but the moments between those encounters can be cripplingly miserable. The biggest problem is the lack of a competent fast travel system. As stated earlier, Gransys is huge, and players are expected to travel everywhere on foot, at all times. Not only that, but characters move slowly and sprinting is governed by a stamina bar that drains pathetically quickly. It can take a very long time to get from one city to another, meaning a lot of time on the road with no horses or similar methods of getting around swiftly.  Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad if one were constantly exploring new areas, but the vast majority of the game is rooted in backtracking, as missions strike out from the city of Gran Soren and place their objectives at the end of a handful of paths in which enemies respawn at their exact same locations, meaning that multiple journeys through the same area will play out identically. Ferrystones can be obtained that will warp the party back to Gran Soren, and later on there are portals that can be discovered to create customized fast travel points, but the expense and rarity of these items means that players will be forced to retread old ground dozens and dozens of times, with no sense of dynamism to keep things interesting.  This isn't helped by the Pawns themselves, who never shut up. They'll even talk over plot-relevant dialog if they're feeling particularly chatty, and they never have anything interesting to say. In fact, their dialog is generated by location, so they'll say the same things every time you walk past the same spot. This is particularly silly when your sidekick remarks on Gran Soren's size with surprise, despite having seen it twenty times already. Not only that, but the game doesn't care about which direction you're heading when the dialog is triggered, so your Pawns will commonly warn you of a Goblin ambush that you defeated three minutes ago, or wonder who a mysterious character is hours after the character has been identified. The blissful ignorance of Pawns would almost be charming if their statements aren't churned out with such sickening regularity that one feels compelled to scream at them every time they open their slack, drooling mouths. They also say "aught" instead of "something," which sounds like a small nitpick, but just you wait. Just you wait until you've heard them say "aught" a hundred times over the course of an hour. You'll learn to hate that word, no matter how cleverly medieval it sounds.  The Pawns' dialog is indicative of a larger issue with the game, an overwhelming sense that Gransys isn't a believable world. For as much energy put into making the larger monsters feel real, no effort seemed to have been expended for anything else. With enemies respawning in the same areas, cities feeling empty, and NPCs wandering aimlessly with nothing to do, Gransys is a static and artificial place. There's no atmosphere to speak of, which is dreadful when compared to just how engrossing the combat is. Once an abomination has been put to the sword, the sense of accomplishment is soon replaced with a sense of abandonment as players are once against thrust into a plastic world, all too willing to remind them that they're not immersed in a breathing universe, but simply playing a videogame. The glorified pop-up adverts for DLC don't exactly help in that regard.  Graphically, the game isn't spectacular, particularly with its washed out color scheme, but the artfully detailed animations make up for it. Little touches, such as characters reeling from the air pressure of a dragon's flapping wings, or the scrambling of a hero as an ogre tries to shake it off its back, give this incredible sense of interaction between opposing forces. When weapons hit their targets, they feel like they actually hit something, and even if players are stuck babysitting their Pawns now and then, one cannot deny that the party looks just like a cohesive unit at allies help each other, carry the fallen to safety, and drag beasts down for others to unleash their fury.  Were it not for the sluggish pace and stark alienation between battles, Dragon's Dogma would be immortalized as a classic. When it hits its stride, it is remarkable, more than capable of providing some of the most electrifying carnage a videogame could hope to provide. The ambition and scale of these fights, not to mention the wealth of options and equal dangers, is astounding, and worthy of the highest praise. Sadly, the amount of player time wasted, complete with irritating dialog and repetitive busywork, borders on abusive. It really undermines the genuine beauty, as what could have been a consistently breathtaking experience is regularly reduced to a soulless product. Never have I seen a game so capable of drawing players in while so eager to spit them back out.  Should you play Dragon's Dogma? Yes. The high points are so very worth getting to, and while the main game will be cleared in a number of hours, there are lots of monsters to battle and a dose of end-game content to clear, providing more than enough to rival the Skyrims and Diablos of the world. Just be aware that, for all the absorbing and exciting things to be found in Gransys, there are almost as many disappointing and infuriating things to let you down. Just grit your teeth, fight through the pain, and the rewards are there.
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Of all the games announced by Capcom in 2011, Dragon's Dogma caught my eye the most. It boasted visuals reminiscent of Demon's Souls, a winding world of huge beasts in the same vein as Monster Hunter, and huge battles against...

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More fire in the belly with another Dragon's Dogma video


May 16
// Raz Rauf
So I'm sure most of you by now will have heard of Capcom's upcoming Western/Eastern-Skyrim-Monster Hunter-Dark Souls-inspired-medieval-monster-slaying-epic that is Dragon's Dogma, which is exactly one week from now. If by an...
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Capcom rethinking DLC policy following fan feedback


May 15
// Jim Sterling
According to Capcom's Christian Svensson, the publisher is reevaluating its downloadable content policy thanks to the vocal outrage of fans who don't like paying for content already present in the disc. However...
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The DTOID Show: Dead Space 3, Torchlight 2, & Bioshock


May 09
// Max Scoville
Hello my pretties. Here we are again with another episode of The Destructoid Show.  Today, Wolfenstein 3D celebrates it's 20th anniversary with a free browser game and a free iPhone version. Bioshock Infinite is unf...
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It'll take all of us to kill this boss in Dragon's Dogma


May 09
// Jordan Devore
There's a creature somewhere in Dragon's Dogma that will take the combined effort of active players and their loudmouth Pawns before it goes down. And it's a particularly nasty looking dragon. Of course it is! The collective...

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