Becoming a World Traveler In Dragon’s Dogma

For what feels like a year now, I’ve been working my way through Dragon’s Dogma. I tend to play in bursts, usually doing nothing else for a weekend or for a few week nights in a row, and then moving on to somehting else for a while. Most of the time, I wind up getting distracted by a new game that feels more urgent than the relatively ancient Dragon’s Dogma which doesn’t even have a release year for its sequel. One time, I got frustrated with a bug and losing three quarters of an hour of inventory management, so I set it aside long enough that I forgot what had caused the bug in the first place and promptly ran into it again when I went back. I’d saved more recently, this time, so it was easier to fix the problem, but it did keep me from diving too deeply into the game that round. The past couple weeks, though, as I try to save some of my recently acquired Switch games for my impending trip, I’ve focused more of my time on Dragon’s Dogma and discovered that the real reason I stop playing most days is because it takes so damn long to get anywhere.

I’m still early in the game (I think?), so I have no idea if this gets easier over time (the googling I’ve done tells me that it does not get any easier) but right now I can only teleport to four places, two of which I set up myself. Sure, I can teleport infinitely, thanks to an item I got for getting the Dark Arisen edition of the game, but that really doesn’t help me when it comes to the constant exploration, resource collection, and newly added quests for areas I’ve already explored. Unless something I need to do is right next to one of the few teleport locations I set up, I have to spend a decent chunk of time running from one place to another, avoiding or defeating all the foes I encounter along the way. Sometimes, that’s nice because it means I get resources to replace the ones that have gone bad in my inventory since I only really need them for big fights. Sometimes it’s just annoying because I have a difficult time getting my followers to disengage from fights and run away with me. All of the time, it feels like a waste of whatever gaming time I’ve got.

As it is, during a 2-hour gaming session on a week night, I’ll get maybe one quest done. I’ve had to streamline my process a bit to make this possible at all, mostly by avoiding almost any exploration that would take me off the few roads that exist in the part of the world I occupy. As much as I love to explore, this game discourages it to a degree because there are usually tougher enemies waiting for you went you start to branch away from the main roads and direct routes toward established quests. Sometimes, not even the roads keep you safe, so you have to sprint away from the massive wyvern or dragon-adjacent monster (I didn’t stick around long enough to see what it was called) that has started steadily walking towards you before your companions aggro on it since they’re all probably going to get taken down in 1 or 2 hits by a supremely powerful foe that can also take you down in one hit. It’s a wierd experience, especially considering that the area around this monster was full of goblins and hobgoblins that are annoying only in the number of targets I have to kill rather than in how hard they hit or how hard they are to kill.

Still, as I’ve gotten used to moving around this way, and how the game expects me to move (very quest focused, this game), I’ve wound up having a more pleasant experience. This game was not meant to be fully explored the instant you get to a new area. You have to do some quests, get new gear, and do some leveling up against weaker foes before you can really go exploring. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where even the difficult, multi-health-barred enemies go down without too much fuss (so long as you fight carefully and strategically and aren’t overwhelmed by numbers), and then you can start exploring more widely. It helps a bit that most of the stuff you can find in those in-between places that aren’t involved in quests are mostly consumables, materials, and enemies drops. There might yet be secret routes, treasures, or encounters that are hidden deep in the woods or wilderness, but I’ve yet to find any. One that I thought was a secret route turned out to just be me finding the back entrace to a place that I would have found if I’d done my exploring in the new area rather than going the long way around to a place I’d already passed through (by defeating a chimera I had no business fighting).

This game feels as open as Skyrim does, with a bunch of stuff in just about any direction you might wish to go, though some of it is more clearly gated until certain quests have been unlocked. At the same time, it feels very much like the game expects me to progress through it using only the quests I’ve unlocked as my guide for where to go next. I know that I don’t really have a great gasp of the scale of the game, but it seems like I’m either vastly overestimating it or that it’s going to make use of a change-over-time style feature. Sure, I could look it up, but I feel like that would spoil things for me a bit, you know? Not that I ever really prevent myself from looking things up if I’m trying to find something or don’t want to bother with a puzzle that has been frustrating me (video games are supposed to be fun, after all, so why spend time bashing my head against a wall if I’m not enjoying it?), but I try to avoid looking up things related to the plot or story since I want to get that as I play. Even if it does lock me out of quests… (so far, though, the game has been very good about telling me when I’m about to pass a point of no return).

I dunno. This too-large world that feels like it’s supposed to be explored in a specific manner whenever I find something that makes it feel smaller is still a fun one to explore and wander around. I’m having a blast with changing up my abilities and trying out different combat stayles, even if I do very much have preferences that aren’t based on anything I can decern beyond “it feels good to use.” I really don’t have a great grasp on the DPS and effect stacking side of the game. I mean, I can mostly just beat things down given enough time, so I’m not sure what else I should be doing beyond all the knock-down, dodge, and area-of-effect stuff stuff I’m already doing. It has worked so far.

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