Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is long overdue on current gen consoles, the original release had various performance issues and a letterbox style display which plagued it in an attempt to help the game’s performance. Battles, at times, could hit sub 10fps which slowed down otherwise fantastic gameplay. I am happy to report that the remastered version suffers from none of this. Even with its previous issues, Dragon’s Dogma is easily one of the best action RPG games ever, and the remastered version further emphasises this with the fixes to the performance, as well as containing all additional content the game has received.
Nothing has changed from the original game In terms of the story or the gameplay. You are the Arisen who is able to summon Pawns to help on your adventure as you battle your way through the world in search of Grigori, the Dragon that took your heart and made you Arisen. This is the premise behind the story of Dragon’s Dogma. Through your travels you will meet many NPC’s that further expand the story.
At first the Arisen can choose from 3 vocations, this is the basis of the class system, Fighter, Strider and Mage are the basic classes which can then be upgraded to a more advanced class namely the Warrior, Ranger and Sorcerer. Finally you get the Hybrid Class, Mystic Knight, Assassin and Magick Archer. Each class has its own armour sets and weapon types. Some classes can share this in addition to having their own unique sets. These can be bought at various merchants throughout the world, found as loot, rewards for completing quests or rare loot drops from certain enemies.
Only the Arisen is able to summon Pawn who reside in the rift, each Arisen has their one main Pawn which you will design and develop through combat and travelling the world, they learn from fights and exploration which in turn will help other players that might rent out your Pawn. Players are able to rent out other players’ Pawns where you can hire 2 at one time for a total party size of 4. Pawns will take back any experience they have learnt as well as any weapons and armour you have equipped them with. It’s a great online feature as you never know what your Pawn might come back with from other players. Pawns share the same class system as the Arisen but they are unable to use the hybrid classes.
The area you can explore is called Gransys, a massive area full of life, coastlines, forests, mountains, rivers and well hidden caves. You can’t venture very far before running into an enemy. The world may be large but there is plenty to do and explore, wolves will attack you in certain areas as your Pawn shouts out that they hunt in packs, giant lizards will roam the sides of rivers, bandits will wait to ambush you as you walk past deserted villages. The world is full of dangers that get more deadly as you progress, you may even run into a Dragon or a Griffin early on in the game.
Dragon’s Dogma has a great day/night cycle element. The night time is especially more dangerous than the daytime, as this is the time that skeleton lords awake to attack you or the undead rise from their graves - only the bravest venture forth at night. It is this system which makes exploration incredibly fun in Dragon’s Dogma, if you know you will be going on a long mission, do you first want to rest until the early morning and then head out, or do you risk being caught on the road as the light fades and the darkness creeps in? Being stuck out at dark can lead to death in many instances especially if you forget to bring oil for your lantern or even worse, you leave behind your ferrystone, an item that allows for fast travel back to certain areas.
Combat is another area where Dragon’s Dogma shines. Each class offers a different style of gameplay with some similarities, and while a Strider may have similar skills to an Assassin, the overall builds will be completely different, such as Assassins thriving at night as they receive various buffs at night as you upgrade the class. However, classes can be changed easily, there are certain NPC’s that can change your class whenever you want provided you have enough discipline to allow for the change. This is gained as you play the game and gain experience, there is an abundance of it and no player should ever be short of discipline for long. This allows players to try out all types of classes or switch to a class they think may be suited for certain missions. On more challenging difficulties players may want to stick to certain classes as they will want to get the max out of their stats, but on easier difficulties you should have no issues with changing classes as you please.
Some of the abilities are awesome too see in action, and there is nothing quite like climbing on top of a Dragon as it tries to fly off, while your Pawn summons a meteor strike that comes crashing into the Dragon as it is forced to the ground. It is these moments in the game that elevate it above others. Speaking of climbing, there are many large enemies within the world that can be scaled and in order to get to certain weak points to bring it down. You may be climbing on top of a Dragon or Griffin and attacking it as it is flying through the air, there are times you may be thrown off and caught by your pawn or fall to the ground taking considerable damage, it all adds to the dynamics of the battles. It’s a system that needs to be experienced.
From a remastered point of view this game is well worth the double dip if you played it back on the previous generation consoles. Framerate is steady and I experienced no dips while playing, even with massive spells and abilities going off with full screen sized enemies, it’s a joy to play and runs really smoothly. The game is also now in full screen which adds to the visual aesthetic. While Dragon’s Dogma was never the best looking game out there, the art design was great and the world itself is full of life, seeing it in full screen is great.
Sadly some things have been left out. Berserk fans will be sad to hear that Guts and Griffith’s armour sets and weapons are no longer available due to licensing issues and fans of the original theme song will be sad to hear it is no longer there. Overall though it is not a massive upgrade and you can easily see that the game is and old game, as it doesn’t have that shine that some other remasters have, but the performance and full screen is enough to warrant a purchase especially at its cheap launch price point.
This version does contain the expansion pack, Bitterblack Isle, a dungeon type area that adds new enemy types and extremely dangerous foes, as well as any DLC items that were released. It is intended to be endgame content of which there is plenty, even after completing your main objective. Many returning players will tell you that Dragon’s Dogma only starts once you have completed the main objective of the game, and this is something I would agree with. There is no other game in this genre with the amount of post-game content that Dragon’s Dogma offers. All in all you are looking at an easy 100+ hours of content if you are new to Dragon’s Dogma, as a complete package this is incredible value for money and easy to recommend to new or returning players.
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