There are three basic vocations, three advanced and three hybrid vocations in the game, each one brings a new set of skills to the table that you can learn. The Inn in Grand Soren is the place where you can change vocation and do this freely throughout the game to experiment with character types and powers.Basic
Fighter: your basic sword and board type of character.
Strider: A thief and rogue style character, quick, nimble and uses ranged/daggers.
Mage: A powerful spell-caster.Advanced
Warrior: A skilled two-handed specialist that can draw the ire of many enemies to her, she really does kick ass, ask my Main Pawn: Hellion, hire her if you want.
Ranger: A ranged specialist that really packs a punch with a bow.
Sorcerer: A magic user that is capable of some devastating magical attacks.Hybrid
Magick Archer: A magical endowed archer with some truly devastating class, hitting that one next as the Arisen with my character.
Mystic Knight: A powerful warrior that is part fighter and part spell-caster.
Assassin: A stealthy ninja-like killer that can counter enemies fiercely and dispatch most foes after countering with a single strike. (can use the most weapons out of all the vocations)
As you battle through Dragon's Dogma you earn Discipline points as well as experience, and whilst XP covers your character level, which in turn automatically changes your stats, Discipline lets you buy new skills and change vocations.
You can have 3 primary skills equipped and 3 secondary at any time, plus a bunch of augments that give your character an edge in certain situations: extra health at night for example if you're the Assassin.
Many of these skills are also keyed to a weapon, so for instance, don't expect to double jump and roll if you have a sword equipped, since that only works for daggers. Your skills will change as you change your weapon/shield and so forth, this allows you to carry a tailored suite of equipment for specific situations. Of course you need to watch that old encumbrance.Combat
Here we come to the combat section of the review since Dragon's Dogma is an action game this is really where it shines, this is the meat and potatoes of the game and it's done in a surprisingly elegant way. You can have a primary and secondary weapon, such as a dagger for quick attacks and a bow for ranged engagements if you're a Strider/Ranger...for example my Assassin is using a pair of daggers and a bow, with some pretty powerful abilities.
Your main combat resource is stamina, since if that depletes totally you're left out of breath for a while and open for various enemy attacks. In this state you can be easy prey even for a small goblin. You can use curative items to restore health, remove certain debilitative effects and recover stamina as you battle, pausing the game so you can recover. You will also want to keep an eye on your pawns, since they will use curatives that you give to them and so on.
You can trigger your light attacks, heavy attacks with a button press and another button opens up a menu of the 3 other attacks that are keyed to the weapon you're using, such as the Easy Kill (dagger counter move) for the Assassin or the Burst Strike when you're using a sword. The combo system is easy to use, with a few taps, pauses and so on it's possible to work out some great looking devastating combos that cause a ton of damage to the enemy.
Combat is also acrobatic if you choose so, since you can climb onto anything in the game pretty much, you can also scale monsters that are large, like the Cyclops and aim for weak points such as its eye. Be warned though, these monsters are not likely to want you hanging around on them and will do their level best to knock you off, smash you into the ground or remove you as the pest you are.