Masterworks all, you can’t go wrong!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a part of the soundtrack, a gameplay mechanic, a line of dialogue, or anything else about the game that is particularly noteworthy and/or awesome.
This series will no doubt contain spoilers for the games being discussed, so keep that in mind if you plan on playing the game for the first time.
This entry is all about Dragon’s Dogma. Feel free to share some of your own favorite memories about the game in the comments!
Mount your foes
Ever since Shadow of the Colossus came out, I’ve always wondered why climbing on monsters never really became a thing. It’s an effective strategy for dealing with massive enemies, and it really opens up options for interesting combat as well. But these days, it seems like monster climbing is relegated to quick time events, like inGod of War and Bayonetta, where the majority of combat takes place on the ground or in the air, but every once in a while Kratos or Bayonetta jump up onto a giant foe to chop off its body parts, as long as the player remembers to press X at the right moment.
Dragon’s Dogma revisits the idea presented by Shadow of the Colossus, allowing players to grab onto enemies and climb around them in the heat of combat. This often makes it easier to deal tons of damage in a short amount of time. I could just latch onto one of that Hydra’s heads and hack away for as long as my stamina allowed, or until the creature decides it’s tired of being poked by some insect and tries to dislodge me. Even smaller enemies could be grabbed, but usually this was only useful for holding them in place while the pawns attacked freely.
My favorite thing to do is to climb atop a flying enemy, such as a Griffin, so that I could keep stabbing it even when it tries to fly away. Some of my most thrilling moments involved slashing away at a vicious Griffin’s back as it soared through the sky, its feathers catching fire thanks to my mages, until it finally plummeted back to the ground all bloody, singed, and ragged as I hopped off triumphantly to finish the deed. Those kills were always the most satisfying!
Pawn to King 4
The pawn mechanic is an idea unique to Dragon’s Dogma, or at least I can’t think of another game that has done something similar in quite the same way. Along with creating a main character (the Arisen), players also get to create a pawn, their primary sidekick throughout the game. Pawns act on their own, but the player can choose their equipment, combat strategies, personalities, and so forth. And for a game with such a robust character creator, being able to make two different characters in any given playthrough was a godsend.
I made my fighter pawn, Demetrius, a thin, muscular, bald man with a full beard. Eventually, I got him equipped with a huge, rather intimidating spiked mace, and gave him an incognito mask and a golden belt. He basically looked like an executioner who had just won a wrestling championship. Not sure what I was going for, but I thought he looked pretty cool anyway.
Pawns also act as the primary way to interact with other people online. By entering a Rift Stone, players can browse through pawns created by others and enlist up to two into their own party. These pawns will have all the equipment and stats provided by their creators, and they might even know some strategies for defeating certain enemies or info about specific quests that the player has yet to encounter. Once a player is done using someone else’s pawn, they can send along ratings, messages, and gifts to the original creator. I had a lot of fun simply viewing everyone’s pawns to see what they came up with, from the beautiful to the grotesque.
I always enjoyed logging back in every now and then to see how my own pawn was doing and find out whether or not he had been helping other people on their adventures. Demetrius received above average ratings and seemed to come back with a lot of different gifts for me, so I’m glad at least a few people got some use out of him. I figured his wrestler/executioner style might get him noticed in the Rift due to his bizarre, yet menacing demeanor. I wonder if someone is still using him today.
Three heads are better than one
I’m very fond of the enemy designs in Dragon’s Dogma. They’re based on classic depictions of mythical beasts, so even though they’re not particularly fantastic or unique, they have a certain traditional charm to them. They almost look unusually realistic, at least compared to most other video games that contain the same types of monsters.
My favorite enemy was the Chimera, one of the more common giant beasts to be found in the game. A chimera is simply a hybrid monster made up of different parts from more than one kind of animal, most commonly depicted as a lion with a goat’s head protruding from its back and a snake for a tail. And that’s exactly what the Chimera in Dragon’s Dogma looks like.
Chimeras are so fun to fight because of all the different tactics that can be used to defeat them. Each of its three heads have their own specialties; the lion primarily uses physical attacks, the goat casts magic, and the snake can inflict poison. Each head can also be “killed” independently, so its up to the player to decide which part of the Chimera to destroy first. Personally, I liked to take out the snake first, followed by the goat, and finish with the lion.
The best part is seeing the effects of damage in action. The snake head can be chopped off entirely, leaving a severed, bloody stump of a tail flailing around. The goat head will remain attached to the body, but once it’s been defeated, it comically flops around like a limp rubber toy. It’s even possible to kill the lion head first, in which case it sort of droops and rolls around sadly while the goat and snake keep up the attack. It’s a bit unsettling how much I enjoy watching a Chimera suffer, really.
Aside from the pawns, another way for players to interact with others online was through the dreaded Ur-Dragon. This massive, undead dragon is the most powerful enemy in the game. While playing online, it’s simply not feasible for any one player to defeat it on their own. Instead, the battle employs an asynchronous cooperative component, meaning players from around the world will be working together to slay the beast.
Damage from each individual player will slowly stack over time until the Ur-Dragon has finally been defeated. Players lucky enough to be fighting during the killing blow will have the chance to earn some nice rewards, and any other player who contributed to the Ur-Dragon’s death can enter the Chamber of Lament later to claim some loot as well. Afterwards, the next generation of the Ur-Dragon will spawn as an even more powerful foe than the last.
This type of idea isn’t anything new, as similar things have been done in some MMOs, but they’re still fun to participate in every now and then. I fought a few of the earlier generations of Ur-Dragons, but never managed to land a killing blow (aside from offline). Last I checked, the PlayStation 3 Ur-Dragon was around Generation 800, so it’s pretty cool that people are still fighting them.
The legendary Hot Pants, forged in dragon’s flame
This one may seem a bit random at first, but it has to do with one of my funniest moments. There is a ton of equipment to choose from in Dragon’s Dogma, ranging from practical, to stylish, to revealing. While there is some gender-specific clothing, most pieces can be worn by either gender – even some of the more revealing ones. Whenever I play games like this, I tend to choose equipment that I think looks good on my character, so I go for the highest possible stats while still trying to look nice.
In my first playthrough, I left the first town with not much armor to speak of, since the shops didn’t really have much to offer. Since I was playing a Strider, I wanted light armor anyway, so I was dressed in cloth wrappings and a pair of short pants, which basically look like denim hot pants. Not gonna lie, my beefy adventurer could really rock those short pants!
I figured I would find better armor later, but eventually I was in Gran Soren and still wearing those short pants. Everything else I could find was either worse stats-wise or just plain ugly. And then I began adventuring farther north and encountered my first Drake.
Why mention the Drake? Well, upon defeating a Drake, or any other dragon-type enemy, there is a chance for a piece of equipment to become “dragon forged,” meaning it automatically reaches the highest level of enhancement, past the normal three-star level. And it just so happened that the one piece of equipement to become dragon forged was my pair of short pants. Suddenly, this silly piece of sexy clothing was one of my most powerful possessions.
It was a sign – my Arisen was born to wear these short pants. I never switched them out for the remainder of the game, because it was too perfect that they were the first thing to become dragon forged. Plus, by that point, they basically provided more defense than the majority of other pants anyway. My Arisen gets to show off his well-toned legs and can still take a beating doing it. That’s definitely a win-win in my book!
What is love?
Romance options in games have never really interested me all that much. This is partly because there are usually no gay options, but even when it is an option (Mass Effect, Dragon Age), the romance subplots still feel weird, stiff, and out of place in context with the rest of the game for whatever reason.
Romance in Dragon’s Dogma is also really weird. Like, super weird. So weird that I actually kind of enjoyed it. You see, at a certain point in the game, a character is chosen as the player’s “beloved.” Grigori, the antagonistic dragon (dragon-tagonist, if you will), kidnaps the beloved, supposedly as a way to get the player all fired up for revenge and rescue of the character they love most. However, most players won’t know who they’ll be rescuing until the big reveal. It’s like a surprise love interest, and given the romance options provided by the game, the results can be hilarious.
Almost any character in Dragon’s Dogma can become the beloved. This includes characters of any gender or age, even children and the elderly. That’s right, a player might get to the end of the game only to find out that their handsome, burly Arisen is in love with a frail, elderly woman. Or a small child. Or the court jester who bears a striking resemblance to The Legend of Zelda‘s Tingle (*shiver*). The perceived randomness of it all, while surely annoying to some, was very entertaining to me. I never knew who I was going to romance, and I always looked forward to the eventual reveal.
Of course, there are ways to increase the chances of getting a specific beloved, primarily by completing certain quests and giving lots of gifts to increase affinity. However, even knowing that, it’s still rather difficult to get who you want.
I always had my beefy, bearded Arisen flirt with the armory merchant, Caxton. He may have some annoying catch phrases, but at least he has a nice beard! Apparently, my copious amount of gifts were not enough to woo him, though, because I always ended up with either the young witch, Selene, or the sultry merchant, Madeleine. Dammit, Caxton, quit leaving me with all these ladies! They’re nice people, I’m sure, but you’re the masterwork of my heart! Where did I go wrong?
Past Experience Points
Level 1:.01 – .20
.21:Katamari Damacy.22:Tomb Raider.23:Mother 3.24:Deadly Premonition.25:Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.26:Dark Souls.27:GoldenEye 007.28:Pokémon Red/Blue.29: Skies of Arcadia