Great moments in PC gaming: Getting home in Dragon’s Dogma
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Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.
The PC version of Dragon’s Dogma includes easier, cheaper fast travel to make getting around the game’s sprawling world less of an ordeal. But you shouldn’t use it. The ordeal is the point.
Dragon’s Dogma is a game that, unusually for an RPG, is as interested in the journey as it is the destination. Travel is slow—you have to walk on foot wherever you’re going, and if you haven’t been there before you may well get lost along the way. And that slowness can be deadly in itself, because if you don’t make it somewhere safe in good time, you get to experience the horror that is night in Dragon’s Dogma: fleeing through pitch blackness, chased by brutal nocturnal hunters.
Even during the day, the monsters of the wilds have no regard for the phrase ‘level appropriate encounter’. If you wander into caves or clearings too dangerous for you, that’s on you, bud. And if the wolves and ogres don’t get you, you can be undone by your lack of preparation. Players who don’t stock up on vital supplies will be worn down by their adventure, a death by a thousand cuts without the healing herbs to patch them up.
All that is to say your first big cross-country trip in Dragon’s Dogma will be defined by struggle. It’s not a survival game in any sense—you don’t need to eat, or punch trees—but it’s a game that doesn’t make surviving easy. By the time you get to your destination you really feel like you’ve been through something. You’ve made mistakes, but also amazing discoveries. You’ve been eaten alive, but also learned to outfight and outwit monsters so big you have to climb onto their backs to get a good swing at them. The sense of satisfaction, of having overcome the odds, is delicious, making even a simple objective feel like a grand quest.
And then you’re faced with journeying all the way back again. Dragon’s Dogma only has one real bastion of civilisation, the city of Gran Soren, where all journeys both begin and end. The trek back can be even more of a battle—worn down and low on supplies, you have to draw on your newly earned expertise to find a more cautious route, hopping between the points of relative safety you discovered on your uncertain outgoing journey.
Finally, just over the horizon: the looming towers of the city. The moment’s burned into my brain. I don’t even remember what quest I was on (something about a cyclops?) but I’ll never forget seeing Gran Soren ahead of me after all those days on the road. As I staggered the final steps to the gates, battered and bruised and racing the setting sun, I experienced something few games can manage—the genuine joy and relief of coming home.