E3 2011: Dragon's Dogma Hands-On Preview

By Darryl Kaye on June 24, 2011, 9:50AM EDT

Dragon's Dogma is a game that shows Capcom is attempting to branch out. After all, the Action RPG genre isn't unknown to them; Monster Hunter has been a huge hit. But despite dominating in Japan, Monster Hunter never found its mark in the West and with Dragon's Dogma, they hope to change that.

A lot of mysterious surrounds the story at present, as little has been revealed. What's known, is that you will play as an "enlightened one", who was saved from certain death after having his heart ripped out by a dragon. Now, having been reborn, your objective is to hunt down this dragon and kill it.

In keeping with how the tale begins, you'll be able to have a fair bit of creative licence with your character. Three types of character have been revealed so far, being pure-melee, magic and speed. It's expected that more may well become available. You will also be able to choose your gender and appearance settings.

In the gameplay demo that we got to play, things seemed fairly typical for the Action RPG genre. You have your basic moves that you can perform, which are perfect for taking down some of the game's smaller enemies, such as goblins and harpies. There are also a few extra moves thrown in there too, but hopefully these become more developed, as they felt a bit basic and awkward to use.

But it's when you tackle the bigger monsters that Dragon's Dogma comes to life. In the case of this demo, it was a huge Chimera, a famous monster comprised of various animals. Here, your AI compatriots really came alive, offering different pieces of advice about how to defeat the foe. They will also cast different spells in order to make your life a bit easier, such as area of effect auras, healing spells and spells which stunned the Chimera. But often when they did so, it completely broke up the action - rather annoying.

The fight against the Chimera showed what Dragon's Dogma is all about though, with the battle taking quite some time. It had lots of different attacks and a rather hefty health bar, which took considerable time to take down. We're promised that this just the tip of the iceberg as well, with future bosses taking even longer to defeat.

One of the problems with Dragon's Dogma, is that it just didn't feel like a solid enough experience yet. The core mechanics seem decent enough, but how they actually translate into the experience felt lacking. Sword swings didn't feel like they carried any real weight and the enemies were very bland and lifeless.

Capcom must have been confident enough to show it off, but it feels as though a lot of work will have to be put in before its up to scratch. They still have plenty of time to pull it off though, as the game isn't due out until the early part of next year. It will be released on PS3 and Xbox 360.

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