To say that Dragon’s Dogma 2 will be familiar to fans of the original game is rather obvious, but I’m not sure how familiar it really is in 2023. It’s been more than a decade since the first Dragon’s Dogma released in 2012 for multiple consoles including (wait for it) Xbox 360 and PS3. Since then, FromSoftware’s Elden Ring, The Witcher series, and the many iterations of Skyrim have taken over the space of open-world high-fantasy action RPGs. Even so, I wouldn’t count this cult classic out by any means, and based on the hour of hands-on gameplay I had with Dragon’s Dogma 2 at a Capcom media event, it’s pretty much everything that fans are hoping for.
“Masterworks, all! You can’t go wrong!”
The PS5 demo for Dragon’s Dogma 2 I tried is the same one Capcom is showing off at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, though attendees at the event were only able to play about 15 minutes of it (well, 15 minutes at a time at least). I was allowed to play through various sections of the game with three different characters: a Level 5 human female Archer, a Level 15 male beastren Fighter, and a Level 15 male human thief. Given that the beastren is the new catlike race in the series and that the Fighter vocation is a solid starting class, I chose the second option and found myself on a bridge that led out of the human kingdom of Vermund.
As explained in a Capcom showcase on September 21 by Hideaki Itsuno, the director for the game, the two main nations in Dragon’s Dogma 2 are the human kingdom of Vermund and the land of beastren called Battahl. Vermund is ruled by an Arisen who has defeated the Dragon, which fans of the original game will immediately understand, and the kingdom has the rolling hills and grasslands that are reminiscent of the area around Gran Soren, the main capital from the first game. For clarity, Dragon’s Dogma 2 takes place in an alternate universe that is tangentially similar to Gransys, so though there may be some locations that look very familiar from the first game, it’s not a prequel or sequel as far as the story is concerned. Time is strange in the Dragon’s Dogma lore, and this fact persists throughout Dragon’s Dogma 2.
Here be dragons
While the demo didn’t let me explore the arid canyon homeland of the beastren, I had the chance to scour the streets of Vemworth in the kingdom of Vermund instead. I turned around on the bridge to see the city in the distance and immediately spotted a giant griffon, seemingly minding its business while patrolling a field about a few hundred paces away from me. I took this time to speak with George, another male beastren and an archer Pawn in the party, to see what abilities he had. But in the middle of the conversation, the griffon swooped in between us and knocked us to the floor. Such rudeness.
Fortunately, we were able to get back to our feet as the other two Pawns in the party, a mage named Max and a thief named Sara, scurried to our side. In true Dragon’s Dogma fashion, I was able to grab onto the griffon’s back, stabbing it with a sword, as Sara skewered the beast with several dagger strikes. Meanwhile, Max augmented my sword with additional fire damage while casting fire spells of his own, and George pelted the griffon with a slew of arrows. I whittled the enemy down to about half its life until it had the annoyingly bright idea to soar into the air while I was running out of stamina. Suffice it to say, I tried to hang on but fell hundreds of feet into a shallow riverbed and had to revive myself with a wakestone. By then, the griffon had flown away, likely guffawing at my untimely demise.
Heading down to the Pawn shop
My pride wounded, I was still able to reach Vemworth and investigate the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets. Unlike Gran Soren, I was able to open pretty much every door I came across, finding minor treasures everywhere I looked. I even found two wakestone shards just by rummaging through various chests. I also spent a few coins on a diviner to give me a hint on where I was supposed to go next, and I located the local Riftstone, which is used to find additional Pawns. Like the original game, players are supported by a main Pawn of their own making and two support Pawns that are created by others. In particular, I noted the new advanced search function that allows you to find the exact Pawn you’re looking for, from their weapon skills, gender, vocation, and inclination (i.e. personality traits).
After that, I found the oxcart station, which for a small fee allowed me to sit in a cart and doze off until I reached the village of Melve. My party was interrupted a few times by roaming goblins and oversized birds, but they were easily dispatched. Some of the gameplay footage for Dragon’s Dogma 2 suggest that you can use ferrystones as a means of teleporting between locations, but at the very least, the oxcart is a neat addition for transportation.
Everything old is new again
As for the Level 5 archer, the character essentially confirmed that the game will more or less begin in much the same way as its predecessor. About five minutes into the demo, I stumbled back into the village of Melve, which had been burnt to the ground. This triggers a flashback where the archer remembers trying to slay a gargantuan red dragon with just a sword alongside her fellow guards. A healer named Ulrika attempts to aid her, but she takes the brunt of the dragon’s fiery breath anyway, leading the beast to steal her heart. This turns the archer into a newly-made Arisen who must destroy the dragon to claim it back.
Throughout the demo, I was impressed by the graphics and the responsiveness of the controls, particularly when compared to Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. A lot of attention has gone into the fluid animations and magical particle effects. While I was able to change my character’s vocation at an inn, I wasn’t able to try any advanced vocations like the recently revealed Magick Archer or Mystic Spearhead. Still, both classes were shown combining both physical and magical attacks together, which will surely make it easier to get past the resistances of more difficult creatures later in the game.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 is scheduled to release in 2024 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam. Even after the lengthy demo, there’s still quite a bit that’s left unanswered, particularly the character creation screen as well as how the beastren kingdom will factor into the story. Notably, the female beastren high priestess named Nadinia, which has been shown in key art alongside Ulrika, still remains a mystery. Itsuno has also teased that there are more advanced classes to be revealed, so there’s plenty of content left to see. Shaping up to be more than just a cult classic, Dragon’s Dogma 2 looks ready to carve out our hearts and leave us wanting more.
This preview is based on a PS5 demo build as provided by the publisher at a private media event.
Nick Tan posted a new article, Dragon's Dogma 2 steals our heart and runs away with it
I’d say there’s been a shortage of fantasy games rife with quality exploration and adventure, so I really look forward to this. Maybe I’ll swing back to the first game, which I haven’t yet beaten.
Damnit!! Too much good stuff to play right now.
The mystic spearhead shit looked so fucking good!!!!