Dragon's Dogma really wants to be Skyrim. You play a character who's home is ravaged by a dragon and has to kill said dragon because all the villagers insist you are destined to do it. You traverse a large open world killing monsters of all sizes and becoming stronger so you can get better skills and take on more powerful enemies. Yes, Capcom, we get it, this time you aren't the Dragonborn, you're the Arisen, which is completely different, but it sure feels the same.
The problem is that, in a direct comparison, Dragon's Dogma loses on almost every level: graphics, crafting, upgrading, storyline, sound design, immersion, gameplay, variety, character design, streamlining... Skyrim has it beat hands down.
It's got some neat concepts though. Primary and secondary skill sets get mapped to the R1 and L1 buttons and face buttons so you have up to six specialized skills accessible at any time. Also, you can choose to change your vocation, even take a cross class if you want. But the main innovation in the game is your pawn, your companion character who you customize at the start of the game. You can recruit two other pawns that come from other player's games and they can recruit yours as well. This is like a multi-player component to a single player experience and it's one of the best parts of the game. Also, you get the wandering boss battles, but they quickly become more annoying than exciting, either because it makes conflicts too hard early on or just keep you from getting to your destination at higher levels.
But the big problem: no fast travel. Every time you want to get back to your home village you have to walk there! There's a reason every other RPG created fast travel, because it eliminates the boring parts and gets you to the good stuff. It's not like anything mind-blowing happens on the fifth trip from Cassardis to Gran Soren, Capcom. Of all the things you could have learned from Skyrim, why wasn't this the thing? My pawn was quite upset!
This game would be much better off with a few adjustments:
Making items easier to see and to pick up.
A MAJOR graphics upgrade (cmon guys, its 2012. get it together).
Better inventory/equipment set up.
Just all around mechanics...I can't explain it, the game just felt "off"
Other than that, the rest of the game is great! The story is intriguing (if not a little confusing), the new elements (character sharing and borrowing) is very exciting, the combat and follower systems...there were just one too many fatal flaws.