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PREVIEW

DRAGON'S DOGMA

You look at Dragon's Dogma, and you think this is what Final Fantasy XIV wanted to be.

Huge open world. Western fantasy style with a Japanese twist. Epic boss fights that entertain, cool magic. You Vs the World, and only a few loyal companions by your side. And above all, a great blast to play.

We had a fifteen minute slice of gameplay with Capcom's action-RPG that sold us on a relative unknown with a proficient amount of gusto.

It'd be entirely accurate to state we couldn't get a bead on what this title was about until we sat down. What we discover: a meaty combat system more action adventure than cold RPG. Attacks thunder into enemies such as lizard men and bandits with invigorating force, and a grab move mapped to RT let's you scale giant ogres and hack at specific areas to cripple movement, hammer off protective helmets or disarm.

Dragon's Dogma

There's also a joy seeing magic abilities that are just plain cool in design and use. With a touch of the bumper for context, they're mapped to the face buttons - a slow casting earthquake move sends plumes of earth heavenward around you, but favourite is the cannon attack that calls up a glowing orb to your front. Hack away at it and you'll spit directional shards at enemies. This can be buffed, same as your shield or weapon, with elemental touches for higher damage.

The traditional multiple class system offers pure-breds or hybrids, and switching between requires only coin and a willing merchant at the nearest settlement, letting you road test before settling on any favourite.

Dragon's Dogma

But it's the companion feature we're really interested in. You've one adventurer by your side throughout your quests, alongside some hired hands. Your buddy can be farmed out to other heroes - literally traded with other players through an online marketplace. Upon their return they bring all the XP as well as monster and area experience back with them, meaning that you can search for companions knowledgable in certain areas to save you going in blind, or with an added edge to increase survival chances. It's a shared social feature not many leagues away from Dark Souls.

If the game can sustain our interest long past the fifteen minute mark, and whether the world offers more variety than blood-thirsty groups to slaughter your way through is something we'll be looking to answer come a full preview/review build. But either way, Capcom has caught our attention with a title that had previously been lost in the background noise - here's to the battle and exploration to come.

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