Today, we take some time to chat with Capcom about the upcoming console RPG Dragon's Dogma. To give us a little more insight into what this action RPG is really about, RPGamer welcomes Hideaki Itsuno, Director of Dragon's Dogma.
Michael A. Cunningham (RPGamer, Editor-in-Chief): How is Dragon's Dogma structured for someone looking to complete a campaign? Is it mostly mission-based like Monster Hunter or is it more about following a story arc?
Hideaki Itsuno (Director, Capcom): The story fundamentally progresses by quests but how each quest occurs in this game differs.
Sometimes it comes about if you talk to an NPC and the other times it occurs just by going into
an area. Some of the quests you can casually take might be written on the Quest Board located
in various places. There also are times some quests happen as you have had met the conditions
We can also classify our Quests into 3 types; one progresses story, one has its episode but
doesn't progress story, and the others aren't related with the story. If you complete the first
type of quest, you might not be able to receive or fail on some specific quests. There are quests
which don't occur when you take on a specific quest or sometimes how you complete one
quest might affect the occurrence of the next quest based on the consequences related to the
specific quests. There are also the ones which change the difficulty of the related quests or the
conditions for completing the quests.
You'll probably catch some kind of clue, if you face the quests which might remarkably
lessen the number of quests that you can complete or which makes big progress in the story.
However, this game is developed in a way that players won't be able to distinguish which quests
do/don't progress story so you might be enjoying the game more in the end, if you just play the
game however you feel. Although, it might be better to take some consideration on taking a
specific quest or the way completing these quests just to make sure you won't regret later on in
MAC: How is quest progress handled? Do harder quests simply become available as players work their way up the ranks via lesser quests?
HI: We've prepared various kinds of quests. It's not constructed only by the combat action
elements but also requires elements like puzzle solving, fateful decision making, and action
puzzle gaming. It's not easy to identify each difficulty level by one unified criteria. Players can
imagine each difficulty level by taking a look at the details of each quest. The occurrence of
quests is not completely reliant on each player's levels but rather defined by which point of the
story they're at in the game, or how they have completed each quest up until then.
You don't have to complete every quest that you've received and there isn't any limit for the
numbers of quest that you can take in the game. So, it might not be bad, if you just receive one
quest and try it once and decide to complete it at a later time if you think that specific quest is
too difficult for you at that time.
MAC: How is the world structured in terms of exploration? Is it zone-based or open to explore anywhere?
HI: From a gameplay standpoint, players can travel anywhere in Dragon's Dogma's world map. However, there are some places you cannot access until you reach a certain point of the
story. In that case, you will need to complete some quests. In order to move forward with the
story, it'd probably be most convenient if you set your base location for the exploration at the
capital "Gran Soren." Even if you explore the world as you like, you can also progress yourself
through the story as well.
MAC: Is there only one main town in the game? What resources are available to the player in town?
HI: Players will be able to obtain a lot of resources at "Gran Soren," which is a major base for this
game. However, please note that there certainly are things you cannot do in "Gran Soren."
MAC: Since you have to select a class at the start of the game, how easy is it to shift your focus later on?
HI: Players can change their classes as they wish once their level excels 10, but only when they
are at "Gran Soren Inn." I would say probably most of the players would be over level 10 at
the time they reach at "Gran Soren" so you might not have to be worried about it. You'll also
need Discipline to change your vocation. You can gain Discipline when you defeat your foe or
complete quests. It doesn't require Discipline when you go back to a vocation you previously
had, so if you actively alter your vocation and it didn't really suit your play style or you didn't like
it, you can easily go back to your original. However, the parameter of proficiency is set based on
each vocation so you might temporarily have difficulty right after the job change depending on
the type of jobs you'll be shifting in between. (If you have been pursuing excellence in fighter
kind of vocations for a long time and suddenly you changed into mage type of vocation, in the
beginning you don't have high status in magick power so the total balance of your mage is also
kind of weak, even though you can still cast a spell. However, if you keep being a mage for a
longer time, the magick power will intensively grow and that'll help you to cast a deadly spell
MAC: Can pawns be shared across platforms (PS3 to 360)? Is Xbox Live Gold required to access pawns on the 360?
HI: Unfortunately, players won't be able to share Pawns between different platforms. Xbox 360
customers can utilize all the communication methods provided by Dragon's Dogma with its free
membership (of course the Ur-Dragon fight is available for you as well.) You do not have to
have Gold Membership to fully enjoy Dragon's Dogma world.
MAC: Are you limited to only creating one pawn of your own? Can you retire that pawn and start anew if you aren't happy with it?
HI: If you would like to change your Pawn's appearance, you can customize their hair style, hair
color, skin color and cosmetics. If you would like to change your Pawn's body type, gender,
name and nickname, you can use the Rift Crystal for that purpose after progressing somehow in
MAC: What level of AI control do players have over their pawns? Anyway to fine-tune their behaviors?
HI: Generally, your Pawn's AI (personality) develops around your gameplay style. For instance, if you would like to affect your Pawn's position during combat, you can put one over on you
and place them on the location where you'd like them to be at for the certain situation in
the battle. If your Pawn is developing in a way that doesn't suit you, you can let them sit on
the "Knowledge chair" and teach them. Also you can purchase medicine with the Rift Crystals
and give them to your Pawn to set them straight.
MAC: How does the game handle death? If you and your team are killed mid-battle, what happens?
HI: If the player dies, the game will be over. If you obtain the Wakestone that you can get
sometime during the game and utilize it, you can restore the dead to life right at that moment.
You will come back to the last time that you saved the game before the game was over and play
the game again. You can also choose to start from somewhere safe such as Gran Soren Inn.
If your Pawn becomes unconscious (looks like they died), you as an Arisen can revive them by
touching the Pawn. In that case, the health for the Pawn will be the half of what it was. If you
leave your Pawn as unconscious for a certain period of time, they will disappear, which is called
them being "lost." If you still would like to enlist the lost Pawn, you can make it happen by
accessing the Rift again. (If the Pawn was at a higher level than you, you need to purchase with
Rift Crystals again.) If that was the main Pawn, it can come back via the Rift Stone no matter
what conditions you are in.
MAC: There has been talk of the game taking on a survival horror feel, especially during nighttime. Is this an accurate statement? How so?
HI: Strictly speaking, I'm not completely sure what you define as "Survival horror," but I wanted
to make the night time something where players would feel even more fearful in cases where
they are getting closer to death, as the world shifts into the night. To make that happen, it was
necessary for us to increase the possibility that the player is really going to "die, which equals
game over," as opposed to some rule or typical practices. We needed to create a situation
where players actually feel like "oh, we're going to die if we don't behave in a cautious manner."
If the night is so risky that you feel like it might increase your chance of death, then it'd be more
of a hard line in the game. It would make an impact on your adventure that you'd try to get
more done during the day before the world turned into night.
How we invoked the feeling of terror in the game originated in one of my true experiences
in the real world. One example was the time that I played around with my friends to test our
courage through a trip to an old shrine in the woods on the night of a new moon. It scared me
to death as I couldn't see anything in the dark and it enhanced the terror I had at that time. So, I
tried to be vividly aware of realizing this kind of dark environment in the game.
Once that was appropriately achieved, any terror could be amplified more and more, even if you
encounter the same monsters in the map. (Of course, the position we placed our enemies in for
the night time is differently set than the day time, so that it will actually be a more difficult to
defeat.) You become hesitant just to take one more step in this kind of dark!
If players get this kind of feeling, they will start playing the game more cautiously as they
prepare for the night time. I thought that would contribute to the sense of RPG gaming and
hopefully it also provides more enjoyment for players of Dragon's Dogma.
We would again like to thank Hideaki Itsuno and the entire PR team behind Dragon's Dogma for this interview. Dragon's Dogma will be available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on May 22, 2012.