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Page 5 of 6There are three base vocations, which can be selected from the beginning, while the three advanced vocations and three hybrid vocations are available later, for a total of nine, although only the Arisen can use them all nine, with the pawns limited to only the base and advanced ones. Every vocation can use two or more weapon types (only a primary type weapon and a secondary type weapon can be equipped at the same time) and has its own list of weapon skills, core skills and augments.
Weapon skills are the skills tied to weapon types I mentioned before, and have to be manually assigned to the respective slots at an inn or a rest place. Core skills don't consume stamina and don't need to be equipped, but instead enhance your basic moveset with a certain weapon type and are usable at all times as long as you're currently equipping that item. Finally, augments are vaguely similar to Dungeons & Dragons talents, permanent passive enhancements that aren't tied to a single vocation or weapon after being bought, and improve all manners of characteristics such as your agility, health, stamina, and can also offer passive benefits to your pawns. There are only six total slots for augments, meaning that you have to make a choice on what to use based on your vocation and playstyle, and just as your other skills and your vocation, they can be switched freely at an inn or rest place.
The only permanent aspects in character building then are the order you choose to buy vocations and skills, and the way your stats progress, which is influenced by the vocation you're using at the time you level up. Overall, though, the impact isn't particularly dramatic, and since the level cap is extremely high (200) there just isn't much of a reason to min-max a character.
As far as loot is concerned, there isn't a lot of variety in weapon types, since very few vocations can use more than two, and some overlap between them. The progression isn't terribly exciting either: with the exception of a few items with permanent enchants and jewelry, weapons and armors sometimes favor physical attack/defenses over magic, or, in the case of armors, have negligible elemental bonuses/maluses, but overall the progression is a fairly linear one. That said, every item has its own carefully crafted appearances and can be improved four times (the first three by paying money and consuming ingredients at a blacksmith, the fourth by defeating a dragon-type opponent while wearing the item) which increases the item's statistics and reduces its weight, and acquiring more powerful loot is not only necessary, but also satisfying.
Difficulty and Replayability
The game more or less features a reverse difficulty curve, with the beginning being by far more difficult than the end stages, similar to titles such as The Witcher 2 and Gothic. That said, compared to those titles, Dragon's Dogma's difficulty curve is much gentler, with the game getting easier far quicker.
In other words, the game gets easy rather fast, and with the exception of a few boss creatures or disadvantageous situations, a high-level character with a well-balanced party should have no problems rolling over pretty much every encounter the game presents. Players who really love a challenge might self-gimp by not using any pawn and the augments connected to solo play, although it doesn't really seem to be a possibility the game was balanced around.
It doesn't help that the game's New Game+ doesn't increase the difficulty in any way, instead opting to make minimal changes to the world, making it trivially easy for a character that already finished the title to overcome the same challenges they already faced once.
Speaking of New Game+, it's worth noting that the game offers both that and a post-game section (though it could also arguably be considered end-game, I guess) that adds dramatically more powerful enemies to the world, a whole new dungeon to explore (obligatory, if one wants to get to the true ending of the title and get to New Game+), and comes with an asynchronous multiplayer event that grants high-level loot to all of the participants and is particularly handy to those that wish to enhance their weapons and armor to the highest level, "Dragon Forged".