I’ve been itching to play something nice and meaty on my Switch, and Dragon’s Dogma is my most recent endeavor. Not having played an open-world game since 2011’s Skyrim, I’d convinced myself that I’d all but out-grown endless open-world giants – the main reason being the simple fact that they’re an absolute time-suck. Dragon’s Dogma was a random exception that I had been excited about since first hearing about it upon announcement.
I had no idea how much I’d get into it, and yet, here we are, and I’ve been having the time of my life! So much so, that I just had to say a few words about it, just to get them off my chest.
The online pawn system is super unique – in short, you create a secondary character near the start of the game, and that becomes your “pawn,” essentially a permanent companion. You can then hire other players’ pawns, creating a party of four (yourself included). You can mix and match different invocations (or “classes,” essentially) and built out your party as you see fit.
Your pawn will also travel to other Nintendo Switches and wander around in other players’ worlds, where they can be hired by other players for their journeys. It’s a super unique take on the open-world game experience, and one that makes Dragon’s Dogma feel more like Monster Hunter than Skyrim.
One of the best features of Dragon’s Dogma that I feel is worth mentioning is that there is absolutely no level-scaling. So, wandering into the wrong cave when you are under-leveled is absolute suicide. You will get destroyed out of nowhere. A random troll will tear your party in half. You will fail a lot. I know I did.
But this is where it truly shines – as you learn the game and learn your character’s move-set, you will evolve and “level-up” just as your character does. And therein lies the biggest strength of the insanity of Dragon’s Dogma – while you’re undoubtedly get torn to shreds by random mobs or packs of armed rogues, you’re always wandering into something interesting. The world is scaled down from traditional open-world games, leaving you always with something to do close by.
While Dragon’s Dogma still has the “let me check out this cave really quick / holy shit it’s been 3 hours and I lost all track of my life” aspect, it’s still manageable in shorter bursts. When I have shorter amounts of time, I’ll spend it whipping up some potions, leveling up my gear, or just raiding a few camps and slaughtering some Hobgoblins. When I’ve got plenty of time, I’ll grab a meaty main quest and hit the road.
I have no idea how long I’ve spent in Gransys, but the scale of being many times smaller than the world of Skyrim helps keep the game feeling manageable, while still delivering on that engrossing open-world experience.
If the idea of murdering mobs and exploration in a tight open-world experience, and in portable fashion to boot, do yourself a solid and check out Dragon’s Dogma!