As the fastest selling new IP released for the previous console generation, with combined sales of an estimated two and a half million copies – it’s difficult to understand why a direct sequel to the roleplaying giant Dragon’s Dogma hasn’t been greenlit yet. Since 2012 when it was first released, the game itself has had multiple ports, and even a spin off based in the same universe (Dragon’s Dogma Online).
But Capcom remains quiet about a title that was awash with praise from players, and critics alike. Even the concurrent MMORPG remains exclusive to both Sony, and Japan only, with no hard evidence of it making its way across to other markets. Not only is this frustrating to fans, it’s downright confusing from a sales viewpoint. Those initial figures were only bolstered by a re-release in 2013, titled Dark Arisen, which added an entirely new area for high level players to explore, with the chance for even greater loot.
Formerly set in Gransys, a lush world beset by many evil beings, the original story revolved around the return of a Wyrm. A dragon of such immense, and awful power that the nearby kingdom was almost destroyed the last time it rose. To counter this oncoming threat, a lone warrior, a ‘Risen’, must battle the Dragon in order to restore peace to the world.
If that wasn’t enough to entice players, the tutorial throws the player right into the shoes of a former Risen as he, and his Pawns storm the Dragon’s lair. The epic scale of this opening is not lost as the game fast forwards to your character. Just as the Dragon decides to burns your peaceful village to the ground, and make you the newest Risen. From a narrative standpoint, there’s an entire history contained within the game that could be used. Every item description, book, and interaction is interesting enough to warrant several tomes about them. Even if the player wasn’t the Awakened/Risen, then they could be supporting them.
It could even focus on the first time the Wyrm rose. Pulling stories from a world as vibrant as Gransys shouldn’t be hard, and if by some catastrophe the story wasn’t what everyone wanted, then every other element could drag it back up. It’s a world that draws you in totally. Not through making the player overpowered, or giving them no hope, it’s totally believable. If this was a medieval setting, without fantasy elements, then it’d still be a brilliant title.
Compared to other major RPG titles at the time, especially Dark Souls, and Skyrim, Dragon’s Dogma was more intricate in its micro managing, even in quests. Complete with a highly fleshed out combat system, that regularly pitted players against foes many times their own size. One of the most defining features were the awe-inspiring boss battles which used grappling techniques. They allowed characters to climb giant enemies, and attack specific weak areas in order to wear the target down faster.
It was rare in a game so driven by the world, and narrative, to have battles of such size that are memorable. Party composition suddenly became far more vital as you had to plan for every situation, as random encounters while wandering about could spell defeat.
A sequel could readily build on this system, offering even more grandeur, as well more of the best boss fights in gaming. That’s not even considering the countless combinations of Risen & Pawn that the player can organize classes into.
Since every basic vocation is open to choose, your effectiveness in the heat of battle is entirely dependent on how you act. Moving pawns, how the player reacts to threats, and deciding how to focus down targets, is all tactical. While this is a staple in RPGs, Dragon’s Dogma does it better than the majority of games out there. It’s not just a hack ‘n slash through mobs, nor is it so hard that controllers get broken. More of this caliber of fighting mechanics would be welcome in today’s market without a doubt.
Dragon’s Dogma Online is, and isn’t a worthy successor to the first game. Not only does it not have the same impact as the first, it lacks the renown. Not offering the MMORPG outside of Japan, and not selling it for money aren’t necessarily good choices.
While free-to-play titles get a bad rap for including micro-transactions, the real fall down is that there’s a dedicated audience in Western markets. People want a direct sequel, and are willing to support it in any way. There are multiple petitions online that have made calls, over the past year, for Capcom to port Dragon’s Dogma Online to European, and North American gamers.
No press releases or statements have been given as to the fate of the series, so all fans can do is wait for now. And, replay the original while they wait.