Last updated on July 5th, 2016
This is going to be short and sweet. Co-op is an aggravatingly common request for games in general that have no need of it and wouldn’t benefit from its inclusion, but I feel like Dragon’s Dogma is a special case. Unlike most of the other games where people who don’t know what they’re asking for beg for co-op, Dragon’s Dogma at least seems to lend itself to the concept with it’s base systems. This is a trap, something many people who’ve played Dragon’s Dogma Online can probably tell you and something mentioned in at least one review of it (fyi) but I’m going to explain why: Pawns.
More specifically, the entire game is balanced around the idea of having pawns as helpers. Now, well trained pawns can be quite effective, but they will never be as effective as a good human player. If you’re attempting to implement co-op this creates a conflict of interests. Either:
You design around a party of pawns and the game is stupidly easy with players who are better than pawns are
You design around a party of at least 2 humans and the game is unnecessarily frustrating for people relying on pawns.
So as not to present a false dichotomy, there is a third option (change the mechanics for co-op players to compensate for the extra player/s.) However; what that’s going to accomplish is making people who play solo feel like they aren’t playing the actual game and get a dumbed down version instead, so it isn’t a good option either.
The next obvious problem is that you either end up with MMO syndrome where the world isn’t reactive (and despite the poor story the world of Dragon’s Dogma is fairly reactive) to stop other players accidentally (or intentionally) screwing your game/world by killing people or taking a different direction in a quest, or you end up with a Fable 2 situation where the co-op partner can’t interact with anything and is only playing half a game. Dragon’s Dogma isn’t heavy enough on the roleplaying elements to pull off the Divinity: Original Sin collaborative storytelling approach either, nor was that the intention of the developers.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of co-op to begin with, but are you really willing to cripple the game for solo players, be bored silly by a complete lack of challenge, and/or remove arguably the most unique aspect of the game all together just to co-op? I can tell you right now that I’m not. Dragon’s Dogma style combat in a game designed for co-op could be great, I’m not saying it wouldn’t be, but Dragon’s Dogma isn’t that game on a fairly fundamental level, and it simply cannot be that game without negatively impacting the experience for everyone else.
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