Dragon's Dogma Demo Hands-On

Jaeke

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Feb 25, 2010
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Hello Escapists. Just an hour or so I got ahold of the Dragon's Dogma Demo and I've noticed that a fair amount of people are interested in it (particularily PC players because as of yet, it is being console-exlusively released).

So to start with, the Demo is split into two parts, a prologue that presets your controlled character, and another mission that you do with your customized character and customized main-pawn.

Let me start with the customization menu. In short:It is extensive and you will have an easy time making the character you want the way you want it. There are options for any facial features, about 40 options for each, options for beards, hairstyle, a few tattoo's, scars, make-up, you can even customize Limb Length, Height, voice (just for attacks and recoils etc.) width, weight, posture and stance. Dragon's Dogma has a great customization menu.

Now to start with actual gameplay, I'm going to be frank. The demo's pretty short. Just one boss and a mob or two each.

Part 1: Mashing for Dear Life.
The first demo consists of you starting off just outside a dragons lair. The backstory is that you are Arisen, and have mastered an army to go an destroy this dragon, in order to end "the cycle" I'm not sure what this means but it sounds interesting. At first look I seemed lost, as with most Japanese style games, the UI feels sort of alien and almost intimidating, at least for me (a strict western style RPG'er), but after a few minutes you seem to not notice. You go into the cave with your companion only to empty out into a roofless cavern with a huge... I mean gigantic dragon, that quickly spots you, says something about destroying all life, and follows through with a massive spray of fire.

You quickly dash (sprint using the left stick) past the fires and run into a couple goblins. This is my first taste of combat. It consisted of Light Attacks (X Button) and Heavy Attacks (Y button), these are your sort of "keys" (X, Y, and B buttons) for the console. You can then invert them to a sort of different "build" depending on what your alternate weapon is with the left bumper, mine being a shield, switched to 3 more abilities Shield Bash(X button) Crest Attack (Y button, a shield bash but the heavy attack version) and then Shield Summon (B button, a sort of taunt).

I quickly dispatched these unfortunate crimson skinned demons.
The animations are fluid enough and the attacks have a bit of flair to them, your weapons seem like they have real weight as they crack bone and slice flesh. You jump off a ledge to find a glowing stone. Your companion informs you that these stones summon other Pawns that are loyal to you to the end. The companions given to you are an elfish sort of archer madam, and an old witch hag who is fluent in fire-magick. After these companions join your side, you empty into a hall and are soon cut off by a some more goblins, and then empty out into a greater room with a broken bridge and are cut off by a snow harpy. This is were combat gets interesting. You can either try jumping into the air and slash wildly at the harpy's wings, patiently use your taunting ability (LB+B) and wait for them to calm down, try to grab them out of the air (RT, used to grab ANYTHING, including companions, which is a bit funny to watch) or simply depend on your allies' abilities. The combat soon becomes a game of planning, but we'll get to that later.

After a few eliminating a few dozen or so Snow Harpy's, you jump off the bridge to the room below you and find the door to be slammed open and a few of your vanguard desperately shout for help. You meet them and rush into a grand hall,surrounded on all sides with rock walls but has one side with a staircase that has a huge door guarding it. After dispatching a few more foes, you rush to the door....

And are cut off by a giant f**king Chimera. This beast has a huge Lions head and torso, then the lower abdomen morphs into a gross sort of giant goat whos body piggy-backs the lions body and who's back legs serve as the all-in-all beast's hind legs, and then a monstorous anaconda-like snake serves as the tail.

The beast leaps from high up the wall and tackles one of your survivor vanguards, tearing him in pieces.

You quickly form rank with your companions and charge the beast. Now, this is when Dragon's Dogma may set itself in stone from any other RPG as far as combat goes. particularily in boss fights like this one. The monster's health was split into 3 sets, for each body part, Lion, Goat, and Snake, and each extremity had different rolls as far as mechanics went. You could selectively eliminate each of these using the climbing feature which uses light attacks which drain stamina while climbing, as opposed to when on ground where they don't; heavy attacks are used as a sort of combo finisher, once you use them while climbing, you follow up by jumping from the monster.

I rushed the monster... leaping high into the air, grabbing the ugly mug of the lion and flipping unto his bushy main, stabbing as I went across, and as I climbed the beast's neck it shook wildly, trying to break free of my grasp but I quickly gained footing and mounted its neck. I slash viciously, mashing my blade into its skull, my allies tearing away at the snake and goat trying to repel me. My mage companion caused my weapon to go ablaze, and soon the rugged flesh of the lion was set ablaze. I tore and hacked an then felt the satisfying tear of the lion's head, rendering the Chimera's physical attacks useless. I then lept off the beast, waited a few seconds to regain my stamina, and rushed the snake head, very quickly lopping it off with my sword. Then all that stood left was the nasty goat, kicking and struggling futily as it desperately tried to hit us with its sad last stand attacks.

The whole confrontation lasted about 10 minutes.

After defeating the beast, a looming voice (the dragon) filled the hall, challenging me to the ultimate duel.

DEMO OVER. Damn.
Anyways thats part 1 of the demo my friends. Take from it what you will and do what Escapists do! (Debate!)

Part 2: COMING AS SOON AS I CAN TYPE.

Part 2: When Mechanics Are King!

I immediately found myself in a field. I was playing as the giant badass viking I had customized in the menu just a few minutes before, and the pawn that I customized was just to my right. A mage named Alexandra (male, wierd name) and and archer named Sid (hah) were tagging along. In front of us we saw a gang of some Goblins, undoubtetly waiting to rob some unlucky folks along the roads.

I found my character to be wielding two daggers, and a bow to his back. I charged in with my daggers, twirling and twisting in a haze of steel. These animations are pretty damn impressive. Much more so than the sword/shield combo that the preset warrior from the other demo had.

I very quickly tore through these unfortunate goblins. I looked around and, in the distance a few hundred feet away, the gates of a large city of stone rose from the ground. Behind me was a hill with a dark forest just beyond, the sun was just in twilight.

I stared wondering if that was it. I looked around, not a health bar to dwindle at in sight. I started to pace towards the city. A low shriek echoed the valley, I looked around, the shriek got louder... then a massive shadow loomed over my party and I gazed to the sky, only to see a hulking mass of feather and tallon dive-bomb into my group. I was blasted back quite a ways, my health half drained from the devastating attack. I took out my bow (holding down the LB button,) and turned toward the monster. It was a giant Griffin, with massive wings and four eagle-like legs and an eagles head. I began firing bolts that were set ablazed by my mage companion. For a few minutes, my arrows just barely grazed the beast and I began to grow frusterated at my futile attempts. A message then appeared to the left saying my pawn had learned something. He turned to me and said "I have learned how to find this foe's ilk!(?)" he then yelled "Burn his wings!". In a sort of facepalm state, I aimed at the monsters wings and began letting arrows soar into the flesh. The beast stopped its flight and began hovering over my party, a sort of "wing buffet" effect coming from it, knocking my allies back a bit. But, with some effort, and well placed aim and tactics, dodging the beasts dive-bombs, dashing past mid-air slashes and claws, and jumping down some ledges in order to avoid the monsters fly-by's, the breackish feathers were set in flames and the monster screeched in pain, and plummeted to the ground. My party quickly swarmed the beast, it raked rabidly, tearing at anything that moved. Following a similar tactic I used against the Chimera, I leapt onto the monsters backside, hoping I could grab a wing. I pulled myself onto the monsters right wing, tearing away at ligaments and knotted muscle the beast quickly saw into my tactic and rolled onto its back accordingly, and knocking me away.

It began to take flight but I pulled a move that almost made me want to buy the game on the damn spot.

I gained my footing, coming out of a roll, and rushed to the target. Just as the beast began to get air, I jumped heroicly and reached for the monsters leg. To my disbelief I caught it! I began quickly tearing away at the monster and it only glided a few seconds before it gave into the magic bolt and fired arrow that flattened against the monsters skull; just before impact I let go of my foe and fell a few feet and came out of an evasive dive and into a full on sprint toward the Griffin. I ripped my daggers from their sheaths, and began my whirlwind of steel at my foe. He was now down the last of the three bars he started with and that was quickly dwindling. In a mist of steel and fire, the Griffin found its match. I ended the epic encounter my jumping onto the beasts head, stabbing once to gain footing, used the arcing snap of the beasts head to leap high into the air, and landed dagger first into the center of the eagle-like monsters skull, meeting brain with cold metal.

Synopsis: Dragon's Dogma has presented itself in a sort of Dark Souls meets Skyrim game, featuring extensive combat with an even more extensive world to explore. The graphics are very strong, the lighting is great, the animations are astounding as far as combat goes.

The combat itself is tight and responsive. The pawns are not witless AI and will form tactics and strategies, and even learn new ways of fighting monsters. The UI itself is a bit cluttered and from what I can tell the inventory system doesn't look impressive but its not exactly game-breaking.

The RPG defines itself as you having either being a mage, warrior, or ranger type, and then further mixing two of these or specifying heavily into just one.

Combat is based on weapons/skills that are appearent with each class. It is presented in a Guild Wars 2 type where two combinations of weapons are used with different roations/builds of abilites, of which you have 3 skills each.

My personal opinion: If you are patient, and give yourself enough time to learn the game's subtle mechanics, and master its appearent ones, and appreciate the mix of eastern style fluidity feel meets Western Style gritiness this RPG may very well be your personal RPG favorite of the year. It will certainly be something to look for on its release day by me.
 

Ervin Verano

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Apr 25, 2012
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I played through the demo and was disappointed on how short it was. At the start it was confusing but when I got used to it I was playing it like a boss.

Can't wait till the 25th when this comes out in New Zealand and oh its my birthday as well. 2 things to be excited about
 

loc978

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Honestly, the biggest disappointment to me was the lack of choice in character class for the gryphon fight. I really wanted to try out a mage, but all we got was sword/shield guy for the prologue and a Legolas loadout for our custom character.

Still, it makes me want the full game, so I guess that's mission accomplished, Capcom.
 

MrTwo

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Aug 9, 2011
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Well written, thanks for typing this up.

This kinda makes me want the game. I'm still on the fence, but I'm leaning more towards one way.

I'll wait and see for a bit.

Wait a minute, you said the demo was out? *rushes to Xbox*
 

Simonoly

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Oct 17, 2011
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I was a little surprised to see that you can't dodge if you have a shield equipped. Either that or dodging is class specific. I felt a little bit restricted, especially with the combat being so hectic at times in the Chimera quest. Unless I missed something entirely and you could?
 

Jaeke

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Feb 25, 2010
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Simonoly said:
I was a little surprised to see that you can't dodge if you have a shield equipped. Either that or dodging is class specific. I felt a little bit restricted, especially with the combat being so hectic at times in the Chimera quest. Unless I missed something entirely and you could?
Well by dodge I mean hauling tail with the dash button to the side :p
 

BreakfastMan

Scandinavian Jawbreaker
Jul 22, 2010
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Overall, I was not impressed with the demo. Nearly everything about it was stunningly bland and uninteresting, or incredibly mediocre. The only vaguely interesting thing was the ability to pick up/grab onto stuff, and that alone is not worth my purchase. Gotta say, not planning on picking this one up any time soon.
 

Simonoly

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Oct 17, 2011
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Jaeke said:
Simonoly said:
I was a little surprised to see that you can't dodge if you have a shield equipped. Either that or dodging is class specific. I felt a little bit restricted, especially with the combat being so hectic at times in the Chimera quest. Unless I missed something entirely and you could?
Well by dodge I mean hauling tail with the dash button to the side :p
Haha yes I started to just sprint like crazy when that Chimera ran at me. But it would be nice to have some way of rolling out of the way instead. Although I did like how sturdy the shield felt. And bashing it with the hilt of the sword was kind of badass.
 

Arina Love

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Apr 8, 2010
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Just finished demo although it was very short, it gave me idea of combat and what to expect from the game. i'm getting Dragon's dogma on day one!
 

DEAD34345

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Aug 18, 2010
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The boss fights are what really made the game for me, and now I'm very interested in buying it. Also, when I took on the griffon one of the pawns offered to throw me up so I could grab onto it as it was flying, so I barely used the bow at all against it. After a first unsuccessful attempt where I either missed or pushed the wrong button or something, I grabbed onto it and climbed all the way up on top of it's back. Then I spent most of the rest of the fight just tearing into its' wings with the flame daggers setting it alight until it crashed and was finished off by my pawns.

The only problem with the game was that it seemed to be ridiculously easy, but hopefully that's only because it was a demo. Then again, the boss fights were so ridiculously cool that they were still great even without any sense of danger, so I'll probably have fun with it regardless.
 
Aug 20, 2011
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[quote="Lunncal" post="9.372882.14396949"The only problem with the game was that it seemed to be ridiculously easy, but hopefully that's only because it was a demo. Then again, the boss fights were so ridiculously cool that they were still great even without any sense of danger, so I'll probably have fun with it regardless.[/quote]
Yeah, really really easy. And also so chaotic that I was essentially button mashing most of the time, with no clear strategy. And still survived.
 

Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
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Where is everybody getting this bloody demo from?

I can't find it for the life of me.
 

StormShaun

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Feb 1, 2009
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Zhukov said:
Where is everybody getting this bloody demo from?

I can't find it for the life of me.
Same, I don't think it's released for Australia yet which sucks. SO we have to wait longer to get it...great.
 

Zhukov

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Dec 29, 2009
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StormShaun said:
Zhukov said:
Where is everybody getting this bloody demo from?

I can't find it for the life of me.
Same, I don't think it's released for Australia yet which sucks. So we have to wait longer to get it...great.
Ah, okay.

Man, a guy could be led to think that the games industry really has something against Australia.

EDIT: Okay, found it. It finally deigned to show up n the Australian PSN.
 

StormShaun

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Feb 1, 2009
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Zhukov said:
StormShaun said:
Zhukov said:
Self Snip
Ah, okay.

Man, a guy could be led to think that the games industry really has something against Australia.
Yeah.

- Higher Prices.
- No 18+ Rating.
- Later releases.
- Censored/Banned games.
- No unlimited Internet. (Like Canada and Korea)

Yeah I think they do. Hell wasn't the R18+ rating suppose to come out Last year/Early this year?

It is unfair compared to the rest of the world. D:
Anyway, still liking the look of Dragon's Dogma and can't wait until it's release.
 

Xannidel

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Feb 16, 2011
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I was surprised at how short the demo was but I thought it was pretty fun and I have to agree with everyone about the UI being a bit clustered. I hope the real game will help players familiarize themselves with UI. Another sad thing is the lack of player class choice, I did not have a problem with the warrior class in the prologue but I was sorta sad that I could not play a mage (my main class in any rpg) so I will just have to rely on how fun the other two classes were and just assume for now...Or watch some videos on Youtube.
 

FallenMessiah88

So fucking thrilled to be here!
Jan 8, 2010
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Just got done playing the demo. At first it all seemed extremely confusing, what with the cluttered UI and the (sometimes) unwieldy camera. Still I had a lot of fun with it. What really sells this game for me is actually not so much its gameplay, but more its setting. It has a very "classic" fantasy feel to it, sort of like Heroes of Might & Magic 3 meets Lord of the Rings.
 

anthony87

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Aug 13, 2009
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I just finished playing the demo there. I found it to be fan-fucking-tastic. Definitely a day one purchase for me. My one complaint? The AI characters tend to talk too much but other than that it's all gravy. When my only criticism is that people talk too much I can't help but think I'll be in for a fun time.

Although I'm a bit dubious about being able to pick up your party members. When I fought the Griffon, I jumped up to it as it was hovering in an attempt to grab one of its legs. At the same time, one of my party members tried the same thing.....aiming for the same fucking leg as me.

End result? I end up snatching my party member out of the air and accidentally tossing him across the field we were fighting in. Pretty damn funny but it was a little annoying being in the middle of a fight and all.
 

AlternatePFG

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Jan 22, 2010
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Really short demo, but the griffon fight was very fun, and it could be done a few ways which is nice.