Dragon’s Dogma Preview

In the depths of a ruined catacomb, a figure comprised of brown cloaks, sword, and shield fades into existence. A companion stands next to my character, noting the darkness. Decrepit slabs of rock and bone around me are ignited by my lantern. In the bottom right corner of the screen is a map of the controls; the options switch names when I hold down R1 and L1. Light Attack and Heavy attack become Shield Attack or Skyward Lash.

There’s a lot of noise in Dragon’s Dogma, Capcom’s new fantasy IP. A gaggle of characters gather and convert the shadowed caverns into an echo chamber, each voice some such poetry about death and life and power. I was waiting for the “doth” and “hath.” I face a dragon within the first moments, its leather scales stretch out in a winged frame. In the climax, a chimera emerges from the shadow for me to battle. In between the two mythical monster are goblin peons.

Discovering the cavern, I come across a riftstone, which summons more party members. Called “pawns,” these additional characters assist me on my journey. The mage imbues my weapons with fire. The elf warrior uses her bow and arrows to down pesky bird enemies. They call me “Arisen.”

By the time the chimera’s three-headed slobber douses my party,  I think I have the combat down. I use sprint to rush the snake-goat-lion beast. My lunges are, in a word, unpracticed. I somehow make use of every button on the controller. My sword contacts numerous times, but is ineffectual. Then I leap and latch onto the creature’s mane, similar to Shadow of the Colossus. For the next two minutes, the chimera tussles, but my sword and stamina remain.

In the demo’s second playable portion, I play as a female human I created in the character editor menu. She’s plain, but the level of detail offered is staggering, down to her eyebrow shape. Unlike my male Arisen, femArisen fancies dual daggers and a bow. Accompanied by the monolithic Frank – names were never my most powerful asset – femArisen trots through an open field. In the distance is an unreachable castle, teasing me to explore it. A group of red goblins huddles on the path a few yards ahead, unaware of my group. I hold L1 — this time reserved to bring out femArisen’s bow – hit Square, and take aim. The red goblins never saw us coming.

A shadow flashes in the sky above my party, who are now hysterical. Still aiming, I look up into the cool blue. A winged beast – a griffin – circles overhead. My arrow rockets out femArisen’s hold, but hits only air. The griffin notices me. It swoops forward and hovers, staring at femArisen: staring at me. It dives. My fingers fumble trying to reset the bow, wrestling to line up my sights. Too late. The griffin swallows the camera’s view as a gust of air throws my party asunder.

I spring femArisen to her feet and charge. I make it look surgical with the hasty daggers. The nimble female warrior dances around the griffin, plucking and precise. My party stumbles over; my mage lights my blades with fire. Feathers and wings go up in a blaze. The griffin calls out, stumbles, and crashes to the ground. The screen, and game, fades out.

Dragon’s Dogma releases May 22 in the US for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.


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Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

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