Sometimes this was awesome and my random friends would help me beat the crap out of everything. Sometimes this was less than awesome - like when someone showed up that I later found out was 10 levels lower than me, then left my game. When someone leaves, they leave behind a clone of their character which is then controlled by the AI. There is no swapping back in your own AI companions at this point - you’re stuck with them unless you want to quit the map. There’s also no way to kick someone from the game, nor any way to immediately tell what level they are, nor any way to communicate with each other in game (no, using the hand cursor to repeatedly poke an NPC’s breasts doesn’t count). There’s no way to directly invite friends to games, either, and there’s also no way to trade items. Interestingly enough, many of the AI companions you’ll pick up in your travels are clones of real players, complete with PSN IDs.
So online co-op is kind of a mixed bag - what about local co-op on the PS3? Items are all shared in the same inventory, so the no-trading issue isn’t a problem. While many will probably find Dragon's Crown a blast to play in couch co-op, it should be known that it’s one of those games where Player 1 is kind of the big cheese. Player 1 controls all quest progress, quest items required for progression, and gets all the gold - though all players can spend from this cache. There’s a bunch of other little interface things that specifically ask Player 1 for confirmation.
As far as gameplay goes, Dragon's Crown is an ARPG with a side-scrolling beat-em-up influence. Each level will net characters automatically distributed stat points as well as a skill point they can spend on a myriad of passive and active skills (divided into “common” and class-specific skills). The level cap is 99 across three different difficulties, each with their own perspective level caps (35 for Normal Mode, 65 for Hard Mode, and 99 for Inferno Mode). Once players unlock higher difficulties, they can go back to previous difficulties, but their battle effectiveness will be scaled down to that mode’s level cap. In addition to the main quest, there are some side quests that players can pick up to net them a little more XP, gold, and even extra skill points.
I found the combat and character progression to be fun and fluid, and the controls to be pretty responsive. I slightly preferred playing it on the Vita due to small touch screen and control set-up conveniences, but it played well on both PS3 and Vita. The Vita version felt a little more natural, since character movement (and, thus, directional combos) is controlled with the left analog stick in both versions. The PS3 analog stick felt a bit more unwieldy for these purposes. Cross-save is implemented well also, with simple “Upload Save to Server/Download Save From Server” options in the main menu.