A Tale of Two Dragons…

This is going to be a shorter post, less a review and more of a brief comparison between two versions of the same game. I got Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for my PC to record a YouTube playthrough with a warrior build, and I’d gone about a third of the way through the main story when I felt an urge to play as an assassin instead. Instead of swapping vocations in the middle of my planned run, I went downstairs to fire up the Xbox360 version and start a new assassin build there. In theory, the games should be quite similar, given that they’re both the Dark Arisen version.

Certainly, the lighting is similar, but on the PC I had the option of installing a shader mod to get rid of the nasty banding in the sky that becomes more noticeable in the moments after sunset and before sunrise. Both versions have problems with objects and characters popping in and out of the game world, but the PC version has somewhat better draw distances. (But only somewhat, as it’s still entirely possible to have a crew of monsters appear right in front of my party suddenly, or to stop moving and then a second later have an obstacle appear from thin air.)

However, there are some pretty big differences that improve the game for the PC version, stuff that apparently never got added as a patch for the older edition. The HD graphics actually work on the PC, for instance, looking much sharper even when close up. On the Xbox360, even after installing the HD graphics pack, the game looked hideous unless I sat way far away from the screen. It was jarring because the NPCs and enemies were fantastically detailed, but the world looked worse than Skyrim, which for a few years was my graphical low bar for Xbox360 game graphics.

There’s also an included “eternal ferrystone,” which allows for unlimited fast travel between Cassardis, Gran Soren, and wherever you choose to set down portcrystals. I ended up taking advantage of the ability to restart the story by activating hard mode and swapping back to normal difficulty a couple times to get more port crystals, and the end result was being able to fast travel most everywhere on the map without the hassles that I’d dealt with on the Xbox version. There I constantly had to keep buying the regular variety of ferrystone, and at 2,000 gold per stone, their use was often prefaced by a lengthy debate about whether I would earn enough money at my destination to warrant using it.

(Side note: Gold must be plentiful in this world, considering how bad the inflation is. An egg sells for close to 300 gold pieces, and I’ve found armor and weapons going for over 1.5 million.)

But the number one biggest quality-of-life improvement in the PC version is a checkbox in the game options to turn off pawn chatter. It was such a sweet relief to find this feature, and I’d commented during one recording that maybe I was missing the pawn chatter. But just ten minutes into my new game on the Xbox version, I went to the menu and slid the voice volume to 0 so I could stop listening to nattering like, “Nature is unbridled here,” or “plants grow at the roots of these trees like so many verdant children,” or “crags hold ore, master. Perhaps there is aught to be found here.” And really the problem isn’t the delivery of these lines. It’s that every pawn says the same things at the same locations every single time. So a checkbox to shut the myrmidons up…it’s everything I could ever hope for to truly improve the game.

I wanted to do a comparison of Bitter Black Isle in both versions, but that may not happen. As much as I’ve tried to get into the DLC, so far, I’ve found the damage sponge bosses to be tedious regardless of which class I use. I’m not saying it will never happen, but seeing as how I have many other games I want to play, I see no reason to torture myself with hour long boss fights pressing the same buttons over and over again.

But for now, if you wanted to know whether to go Xbox360 or PC, I’d definitely suggest going to the PC Master Race. If you really need the console experience, just do what I did and plug your Xbox controller into your PC.