Three Reasons Dragon’s Dogma is a Triumph of Design Over Skyrim

I'm not sure that it's entirely fair to compare a combat-focused action RPG like Dragon's Dogma to a do-anything-you-want RPG like Skyrim, but that's the route that VentureBeat took with this piece that points out the former's rewarding combat, brief dialogue, and memorable exploration as areas that the latter could learn from. Here's a taste:
If I hear one more animatron in Skyrim interject himself in my business as we pass one another on a stony walkway, I'm joining the murderers guild. Seriously, man, I'm not the least bit interested in your unsolicited blacksmithing tips as I'm heading out the castle gates. Maybe if we were both actually present at a craftsman's establishment and I specifically inquired about such matters, we would be in good shape. Unfortunately, this is about as good as it gets in Skyrim.

Everyone I talk to is an open book filled with unnecessary, bland background information. I don't really care about any of this, but my mind -- trained on years of playing RPGs with purposeful dialogue -- can't shake the sensation that these non-player characters might actually have something of importance to say. And they do, sometimes, which makes sitting through their bullshit all the more insufferable.

But my Dragon's Dogma pawns get right to the point...even if they can't keep quiet about a particular piece of relevant information. Like Celest, my current mage-for-hire, who likes to remind me that goblins are scared of fire at every encounter of the little beasts. Or Valkyrie, the amazing warrior woman who wields a sword as long as she is tall, who's always on cue to tell me that I should cut off the Saurians' tails first whenever we face these stalking lizard men. But, hey, I can live with that because everything they tell me is important.


I don't remember many locations in Skyrim. Or more specifically, I can't recall how exactly the world "fits" together. I have no sense of space in Skyrim because Skyrim gives me the tools to ignore its many virtual miles. Once I reach a place, I can fast-travel back there at any time and from anywhere. I need not remember the path.

Most damningly, Skyrim's square world is a featureless map of indiscernible terrain. My only mark as I explore is the series of found locations that plot the landscape like a collection of network nodes, a sensation that the aforementioned fast travel only reinforces. Discovery loses its luster when it only feels as though I'm checking off hidden doors instead of carefully detailing previously unseen valleys or forests or fields.

Dragon's Dogma's only form of simulated teleportation is the consumable Ferrystone item, which sends my party back to the central city of Gran Soren upon use. If I need to go anywhere in the game, in most cases I must actually go there. Gransys features many natural barriers, such as mountain ranges and impassible oceans, that will make any first foray into uncharted territory a grand adventure.