Is Dragon's Dogma Capcom's Answer To Skyrim?

On Feb. 26th, at the Xbox 360 event in Akihabara, I got a chance to take a look at Dragon's Dogma, Capcom's upcoming game for the Xbox 360 and Playsation 3. When news first broke of the game, I had assumed it was just a fantasy-based Resident Evil or Devil May Cry, but after a little close encounter with the demo provided at the event, a new truth about the game was revealed: Dragon's Dogma is, in a way, a Japanese take on the Elder Scrolls series.

Emulation of foreign game genres is nothing new. Vanquish and Binary Domain are both recent Japanese adaptations of the shooter genre, so, considering the popularity of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, a Japanese open world RPG is only natural. Granted, Dragon's Dogma is billed as an "Open World Action" game, but it is far more Oblivion than it is Assassin's Creed. What's more, Hideaki Itsuno, the game's designer, has said he's wanted to make Dragon's Dogma since he was a kid. But video games are not made in a vacuum.

The game features all the staples of the genre: customisable main character, large sprawling world where the player can go anywhere, side quests galore that have you playing fetch for stagnant non-playable characters with no drive to find their own stuff, an overarching plot/threat with world-changing consequences that can be followed at the player's leisure, etc. Aside from the basic setup, fantasy world, and general palette of browns and grays, Dragon's Dogma follows the Elder Scrolls method of increased attention to certain mundane objects and a high level of interactivity with them. The overall aesthetic of the game is also very reminiscent of games like Oblivion or Skyrim with sprawling detailed landscapes and the look as though somebody sprinkled a layer of dirt onto everything in the world. The demo was just a dungeon, but the footage was Capcom showed vast open spaces -- spaces I wanted to get lost in like The Elder Scrolls.

The game also includes features (particularly action elements) that make it feel like a Capcom game. The action is very well balanced and satisfying. Taking a note from Monster Hunter, enemies have damage points that can be broken or sliced off to weaken them. (The chimera in the playable demo was rendered all but harmless once its tail was removed.) There is a cling mechanic where the player can grab onto something. If it's light enough, the player will pick it up, but if it's heavy (like, say, a large monster) the player can cling to and climb up to attack from a better vantage point. This feature also lends itself to one of the more satisfying gaming experiences: being able to literally throw enemies and small animals off of a cliff.

The game feel like it aspires to be Skyrim, but Capcom's developers are also aware that they aren't Bethesda, and many portions feel dumbed down as a result. Character development, which Capcom showed at the event, is limited to only one race (Although you can give your character pointy ears and pretend they're and elf), and player class is limited to the basic three (fighter/mage/rogue). But where the game lacks in intricate detail, it makes up for in system features. There is a party/follower system that allows for a party of four, leading to tactical scenarios. And there is a network feature allowing players to share their customised primary party member with other players.

Overall the game looks and feels solid, (as most Capcom games do) but nevertheless, as with most things, it's what's on the inside the counts. As lacklustre sales of Binary Domain have shown, "looking like" is often not enough. By venturing into the open world RPG genre, Capcom is reaching out to the West while simultaneously trying to appeal to an Eastern audience. But will they be able to have their cake and eat it too?

Dragon's Dogma is set for release on May 24.


Comments

    The 'Cling' thing sounds really cool and I like the idea of Elder Scrolls by way of Monster Hunter... I'd definitely play the demo, if one becomes available :-P...

    "is devil may cry a genetic farming sim for adults?"

    When you say "all but harmless" it means everything EXCEPT FOR harmless, not the other way around.

      Wait, I am still half asleep, you are correct, I am an idiot. Carry on

        No wait,I was right the first time! and now I have a migraine from thinking about this too much. Urgh.

        Once you cut off the chimera's tail it is supposed to be harmless, but you are saying that it's everything EXCEPT FOR harmless, thus more dangerous, which is the opposite of what you are meaning to say.

          Now I've got no idea at all. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100222130359AAREFnp

          Ok, it was going to keep me awake all night so I looked it up and found that both of your interpretations are correct Roh.
          http://www.thefreedictionary.com/but

          When "all but" is used as a preposition, it means "except". eg. 'I managed to save all but one.'
          When "all but" is used as an adverb, it means "almost". eg. 'It was all but destroyed.'

          And now we know. And knowing is half the battle. The rest is red lasers and blue lasers.

    The most disappointing thing I've heard about this game is that there are no mounts :-(

      Except, as implied in the article, every large animal is basically a mount. A la the big giant dudes in Arkham Asylum, they were fun mounts :D

    I think of 'But' as usually used as an exception "I love you, but..." It's kind of like saying something, then something completely contradictory in the same sentence.

    I stand by my...stance on the subject, that "all but..." means everything (all) except (but) for what's in question.

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