PC gamers are notoriously proud of their platform. You can peek into any gaming discussion online to confirm that. Of course, there's one problem in being a gamer that only plays on one device, and said problem is the existence of platform exclusives. There are many console exclusive games that have left their mark on the industry. Dragon's Dogma is undeniably one of these. Regarded as one of the best RPGs of the past console generation, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen finally reaches our PCs three years after its initial release.
Dragon's Dogma is a port of a game that has been around for a while, and a very successful one at that. This means that there is already a lot of system-independent information about how it plays, its mechanics and its story. Being a PC port, the main concerns of the vast majority of gamers are: does it run well? Is it functional? Does have any technical issues? With about fifteen hours under my belt, I can't talk about the game in its entirety, but I can confidently talk about how it plays on a PC. Simply put, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is a fine port. Capcom did not mess this one up at all. It's not perfect but it's competent and it surely didn't lose anything of its charm in the port from console to PC.
The PC the game has been reviewed on is not exactly a beast, rocking a i5 2500K and a R9 270X. We're talking a mid-range system, maybe a little less than that. Despite the modest rig, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen runs at good FPS even when set to show some of the higher graphics settings. It does have FPS drops in certain areas, but the lowest I've seen it go is 45-50 FPS. Most of the time, the frame rate was above 60 up to 90. While it's great to see that there's no hard-coded FPS cap, 50-90 is not a small range.
The FPS may vary quite a bit depending of the situation and the surrounding environment. I rarely found myself in a situation where the frame rate dropped so abruptly to be really noticeable, even when many particles or light effects were involved. At the end of the day, the only times the FPS really gets low is when there are a large number of characters on-screen or in open areas. This is accentuated if you have your draw distance set to the max, but even then it's not terrible.
Regarding the graphics, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen feels the weight of the passage of time. Capcom polished the game quite a bit in order to make it ready for the power of the PC platform and this helped it to an extent. The result is quite good considering that this is a game from the previou generation. Of course, most of the textures, especially terrain and trees, are at a way lower resolution than most enthusiast PC gamers are used to. To put it another way, it's no Witcher 3 in terms of visual fidelity, and it would be unfair to expect it to be. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is graphically the same game that came out in 2012 on consoles, just with a new coat of paint.
Even with all of this in mind, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is a joy for the eyes. It may not be the shiniest game in town, but its aesthetics largely make up for its lack of visual fidelity. The colors, the lighting effects, the models and textures, they all might not be as detailed as some other games, but they are well made considering the game's age. It's a really nice surprise considering its extremely accessible PC requirements (its minimum required graphics card is a Radeon HD 5870). The only bad note here is the fairly large amount of details that pop in the distance as they render. You'll notice trees and rocks and other details appear out of nowhere as you trek in large open areas. Annoying but not a deal breaker.
We now know how Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen looks and runs. Let's now talk about how it plays. Now that Dragon's Dogma is on PC, you get to choose if you want to play using a controller or a mouse and keyboard setup. It's common for console ports to be optimally played with a controller since they're often designed around the device. In this case, the mouse and keyboard combo is perfectly adequate, to the extent that the controller is not really all that advantageous. In fact, if you enjoy playing a ranged class, you may want to ditch the controller in order to take advantage of the more precise aiming of the mouse. In any case, you can switch from one to another effortlessly. No need to select the device in any menu, just put the controller down or pick it up and the game will switch input on the fly.
While the controls themselves are responsive and fairly precise, it should be said that Capcom failed in taking advantage of the full potential that a keyboard can give. When a PC gamer is playing an RPG and he wants to check the map, their instincts will be to press M to bring up the map screen nine times out of ten. In Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, pressing M will do nothing. The only way to open the map is through the pause menu. Same with the equipment, status and quest log screens, all things that PC gamers learned to access via hotkey.
Another notable absence is a quick save button. Even in this case, you'll have to navigate the pause menu to access the save screen. One would expect that the developers of the PC port would take full advantage of the increased number of available buttons. This is not the case, with the notable exception that you can assign consumables to the number keys in order to use them during combat. It's not the end of the world or anything that impacts the game in a significant way, but it sucks to see companies not taking full advantage of the platform the game runs on.
As we've seen, the port has very few problems and most of them are not things that are done badly, but more like things that could have been done better. Menu navigation for example are a bit awkward to navigate with keyboard (Pag UP and Ins are not optimal ways to switch between inventory tabs) but this is mitigated by the fact that they're also navigable using the mouse.
This should give you an idea of the state Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen landed to PC. The port is competent and allows you to enjoy the game in full with close to n0 problems. If you wanted to give the game a try but you were afraid of buying another Arkham Knight, this is not the case. Pick it up with no worries.
The full Dragon's Dogma review will come out in the following weeks, focusing on the game itself (story, mechanics etc). It will be mainly aimed to those that, like yours truly, never played the console version. I'll give you a little spoiler though. It's amazingly good.
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is being reviewed on Steam with a code provided to the reviewer by Capcom.
Did you purchase Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen? Did you play on PC? Do you think the port does the game justice? Let us know in the comments below!