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Dragon's Dogma

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Dragon's Dogma (ドラゴンズドグマ Doragonzu Doguma?) is an action role-playing game developed and published by Capcom for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game features an open world fantasy setting, in addition to hack and slash and survival horror elements, and was released in North America on May 22, 2012, May 25, 2012 in Europe, and May 24, 2012 in Japan. The game was developed by staff members that worked on previous Capcom franchises such as Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Breath of Fire and seems to be a throw-back to the Dungeons & Dragons series of games developed by Capcom. Following the game's successful launch, Capcom is planning to develop a sequel.

Gameplay

The player is able to select between various types of the vocations: Fighter, Warrior, Mystic Knight, Strider, Ranger, Assassin, Mage, Sorcerer, and Magic Archer. Gender choice and appearance settings are also available. The class system, or vocation, makes a difference to the gameplay and tactical options available to the player, ranging from Fighters relying on hack and slash combat (with a move-set similar to Capcom's Devil May Cry) to Striders' skill at climbing on large enemies (like in Shadow of the Colossus).

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 like "Go", "Help" and "Come". One of the party members is a non-playable character (NPC) and belongs to the main character's world. The other two party members are NPCs borrowed from other players by connecting online, but the game will not require an internet connection. However, the player can only borrow the NPCs from other players, not their main character. 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, which is seen as an evolution of the message-leaving system in Dark Souls. 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 will also feature a large city environment with over 200 NPCs who will move about according to their own time schedules. The player will be able to communicate with the residents in full voice. The game features a persistent world with a day-night cycle; this affects the gameplay during the night, when the game takes on a more survival horror feel reminiscent of Capcom's Resident Evil series. In addition, the game's art style and character movements have been compared to Dark Souls, the hack-and-slash combat elements have been compared to Devil May Cry and Dark Souls, some of the fantasy elements have been compared to Breath of Fire, and the combat and party systems have been compared to Monster Hunter.

The game is designed to be playable even by those who are not too skilled at action games. These types of players can recruit strong NPCs and let them do the fighting during combat as they watch over the battlefield. Players have access to 40 to 50 hours of main quest play and up to an additional 70 hours or more of side quests.

Multi-player

Although Dragon's Dogma does not feature a direct multi-player 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 regardless all players can still obtain both common and rare items dropped by the Ur-Dragon when they inflict damage.

Plot

The game begins with an unknown knight proceeding through a deep canyon, and eventually a temple, and after fighting a Chimera, goes into a set of doors leading to an unknown beast. The game then passes through a number of years until the next appearance of the Dragon, a sign of the end of days.

During its raid on the fishing village of Cassardis, a dragon approaches the hero of the story, telling them that he or she - depending on the choice of the player - is the "chosen one", and proceeding to tear out their heart. Due to having their heart taken, the hero is revived as an "Arisen", and is destined to find and kill the dragon that stole their heart. The Arisen proceeds to an encampment along the way to the capital, Gran Soren. During their stay at the encampment, a hydra attacks. The Arisen cuts off one of its heads, and proceeds to the capital with the head to be presented as a gift to the duke of Gran Soren. After reaching Gran Soren, and investigating a hole known as the Everfall, he works for the Wyrm Hunt, where the Arisen proceeds to do various tasks, including uncovering a cult known as Salvation, who want the dragon, known as Grigori, to destroy the world.

After working for the duke, the Arisen is tasked with stopping the leader of Salvation, Elysion, who is attacking a castle. After reaching the top of the castle and defeating the attackers, Grigori arrives and kills Elysion, and it is revealed that Grigori has captured the Arisen's love interest.

The Arisen arrives at the Tainted Mountain to fight Grigori, and is presented with a choice, to sacrifice his beloved, or to face the dragon. The Arisen fights the dragon, and stabs it in the heart. The Arisen recovers their heart, and goes back to Cassardis with his beloved. After a few days of peace, the Arisen treks back to Gran Soren. Along the way, several details are revealed. The sky has been blotted out and replaced with greenish gray clouds that rain ash, and all normal monsters have been replaced with much stronger versions. After the Arisen reaches Gran Soren, it is revealed that half of it has collapsed, leaving a gaping hole. The Arisen goes to meet the duke, and is surprised to see that the duke has turned into a frail old man. It is revealed that the duke made a deal with Grigori to make himself immortal, but without Grigori, the deal is now forfeited. The duke attacks, blaming the Arisen for his condition, but he is swiftly beaten. Guards arrive, and the duke accuses the Arisen of placing a curse on him and of making a deal with Grigori. The Arisen is then hunted by the guards. Faced with death, the Arisen dives into the hole.

The hole is actually The Everfall, a center for the strongest monsters in the world and a nexus that connects all worlds together. There Arisen meets a pawn named Quince, who tasks the Arisen with collecting 20 Wakestones to unlock a portal. After unlocking the portal, the Arisen enters the portal and finds the Seneschal, the mastermind behind the workings of the entire world. The Seneschal is a mysterious being, covered in a glowing light and having two voices, one a woman, and another a man. After a short fight, the Seneschal is revealed to have been the knight at the beginning of the game, having defied Grigori after entering the temple, and chose to fight him, and succeeded.

The Arisen and his pawn fight the Seneshal, known as Savan, and his pawn. In return for defeating the Seneschal, he/she takes Savan's place, becoming a new fount of will to the world. Before dying, Savan reveals information about being the Seneschal, and tells the Arisen, that he is not the only Arisen currently, as there are multiple universes with their own respective pawns, and as a result, he is only the Seneshal of this universe. Though it is a bitter reward, as the Arisen cannot be seen by anyone in the world once they return from their throne. Using the Godsbane, a sword granted to him by Grigori and Savan, the Arisen stabs themself in the heart. The body of the Arisen and the main pawn are sent hurtling back to the world. The pawn wakes up on the beach, and it is revealed by the change in his/her voice that the pawn's form has changed into that of the Arisen. The pawn is then greeted by the Arisen's love interest, and they walk along the beach to Cassardis.

By starting a new game plus after this, it is revealed that generations have passed since the death of Grigori and Savan, and the attack on Cassardis happens again, in which the events of before are repeated. The difference between the attacks in the current generation is that The Arisen (who may or may not maintain their appearance from the original play through) has the skills and equipment from the original, and the cycle of the Arisen repeats themselves again.

Development

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 it now due to advancing technology, and has been directing a staff of around 150 people at Capcom Japan for the past two years development time (three years including conceptual phases). As of April 2011, the game's development status was at 50%.

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 RPGs such as Dragon Quest and Western RPGs such as Fable and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Itsuno later explained that they have "seen a great deal of open-world action RPGs over the years," but that "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".

It was announced in January 2012 that the game would include early access to a playable demo of Resident Evil 6, which released October 2, 2012 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Downloadable content

Two packs of additional quests, titled "The Chosen" and "The Challenger", were released as Downloadable Content in June and July, 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 game director, Hideaki Itsuno, said that the team would be preparing "Future Play Elements", but would not disclose any more details. It was announced in the Tokyo Game Show that Capcom is preparing a major expansion titled "Dark Arisen", to be released in 2013, which will contain other undisclosed content. A Hard difficulty and a Speedrun mode were released earlier in fall of 2012.

Reception

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 seventh 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 sold 1.05 million units worldwide. As of December 2012, the game has 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 side-quests, and the uniqueness of each vocation".

In the Western world, Dragon's Dogma received generally positive reviews. Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 76/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 79/100. 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 multi-player 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".

Play UK criticized it for low frame rates on the Xbox 360 version. IGN stated, "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." The reviewer ended the review with a score of 7.5 out of 10. 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.

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