Fans have asked for a sequel to Dragon's Dogma for a long time, and Capcom is finally delivering. While we still don't have a release date, this week at TGS I finally got my hands on a preview build of Dragon's Dogma 2.
During my hour-long time with the game, one feeling reigned supreme: this is most certainly Dragon's Dogma. It's evolved and refined, but the sensation of continuity and familiarity from the previous game is absolutely present, in all the good ways.
The art style is where I first got that sense of familiarity, and though it is familiar it's certainly renewed for this sequel. The designs of the monsters are stunning, their fantastic detail is further highlighted when you see them in motion.
I've encountered massive griffons and trolls that really felt believable, You can see them in action in the video below.
The environments are just as lovely. Not only does the map feel much bigger than the original, but it also feels denser, with thick forests, tall mountains, and towns that feel realistic in size and look. When you are in an open area and you take in the vistas, the world of Dragon's Dogma 2 feels truly majestic, beckoning you to explore its nooks and crannies.
Srmor and equipment design is one of the strong suits of the game, with a very realistic feel that helps the world feel grounded in its medieval setting despite the fact that you're surrounded by fantasy creatures and spells.
Speaking of spells, the effects are quite flashy and spectacular to watch. This helps to form a pleasant contrast with how grounded the environments and equipment feel.
If I have to find something to criticize, the motion blur was a bit too much. This is a common issue in modern games, and I do hope that the final game will have the option to tone it down or remove it entirely.
The characters' faces could also use some work. They don't show the highest visual fidelity that we've seen this generation, but you could say that this too is Dragon's Dogma.
Dragon's Dogma 2's World Feels Alive
I haven't seen enough of the main story to judge, but the side-quests I encountered felt compelling.
While their content was mostly focused on going somewhere and killing something, the characters and dialogue involved helped them feel like there was something more at stake than a bunch of experience points and the occasional loot.
For instance, early in the game, I met a man whose brother was lost in the forest. Initially, he just wants to send you to find him, but then he realizes that he should accompany you to make sure you don't get lost.
After you do find his brother, he realizes that he should have gone with him to begin with. The dialogue that results feels very natural and poignant, giving you the sensation that you've perhaps helped change someone's life for the better.
One of the elements I really like about Dragon's Dogma 2 is that many quests won't simply put a marker on your map and tell you "go there, bye."
Someone will often physically lead you to your objective, whether it's an NPC involved with the quest, one of your pawns, or an ox cart that feels very much like the beginning of Skyrim.
On top of that, while you're walking to the destination, there is dialogue and banter that feels both natural and insightful. This makes the world feel very much alive.
Pawns are Back, and They Love You
Pawns are still a central element of the game. For the purpose of the demo, I was assigned pre-made ones, so I wasn't able to delve into their creation.
Yet, I met one during my travels, and I decided to dismiss one of mine to hire her. She proved to be quite helpful along the way, besides, her wolf headgear was rather fetching.
They certainly talk a lot more and they feel a lot more like relevant characters than the pawns in the previous game. They have different personality types and a lot of lines of banter. I haven't heard a single repeated one in the whole hour I played the game.
Pawns also seem to have specific lines associated with specific areas and quests, which certainly helped them feel like people with a past and a backstory instead of simple "pawns." Your followers certainly feel like they really adore their Arisen... perhaps a little bit too much at times. Skyrim's (and now Starfield's) Adoring Fan comes to mind.
Despite their tendency to compliment everything I did, which could be toned down a little bit, I enjoyed my time with them, and I can't wait to delve deeper into the system when the game releases.
Battle is Your Vocation
Combat felt solid. I tested both the Archer and Fighter vocations (Dragon's Dogma's version of classes) and they both were enjoyable.
As an Archer, I had the ability to go into "aim down sights" mode, which gave me direct control of the aim to land much more powerful shots. On the other hand, as a fighter I had the ability to use the shield to block enemy blows, including very powerful ones, completely nullifying damage.
Ultimately, the fighter was my personal preference due to my affinity with the sword-and-shield style, but you're not stuck with your initial choice. You can change your vocation at any time by talking to a tavern keeper.
Combat animations and sound did a very good job of making it all feel visceral and dynamic. When you block a blow, you feel the momentum and impact, and it's very satisfying.
You can also grab onto large enemies, which is rather satisfying with flying ones. If you can hold onto them when they take off, they will lift you up in the air with them and you can continue to strike.
One thing that needs a bit of work is the collision detection and awareness of pawns. They tend to gang up on enemies a bit too much, often getting uncomfortable close, which doesn't create a very nice visual feel during crowded battles.
On the other hand, they're definitely very effective in combat, so perhaps they don't need to look upon the Arisen with quite so much breathless awe.
Random Encounters Feel Epic
I've noticed that some monsters tend to roam far and wide instead of just waiting for you, which is a very nice touch. For instance, I was minding my own business travelling to a city when a massive griffon came swooping down to wreak havoc on a nearby field. It's likely that the Griffon's lair was in the nearby hills.
This created an unexpected but epic battle, even if the victims of the griffon may have done a better job of noticing they were attacked. It was an early in-development build, I suppose.
While I managed to fend it off and compel it to retreat, I didn't kill it, which means that certain big monsters can actually last multiple fights. They can go back to lick their wounds when they're in trouble, and then appear again down the line.
This is quite interesting, and I look forward to seeing just how far the feature goes when I have more time with the game.
The Night is Dangerous in Dragon's Dogma 2
The world has a full day/night cycle, and the monsters you can run into out and about when it's dark outside are different than the ones you'll meet during the day.
Some of the creatures I encountered at night included the undead and even roaming specters, which certainly created a different atmosphere that felt more dangerous, especially combined with the shrouding darkness that your lanterns can only counter so much.
If you'd rather not venture forth in the night, you can rest at an inn, or make camp in the wilderness.
You can also cook at the campfire, and I have to say that Capcom went out of its way to make the results of your cooking look appetizing as they sizzle on the pan. That's a small touch, but a very satisfying one after a long day of adventuring.
Dragon's Dogma 2 may still need work in some of its aspects, but it already feels like an extremely enjoyable RPG, perfectly capable of holding its own in a genre that has recently been graced by plenty of excellent entries like Baldur's Gate 3, Final Fantasy XVI, and Starfield.
The hour I spent with the game flew by way too fast for my taste, but that simply meant that I was having a ton of fun. I certainly can't wait to be the Arisen once again, create my own group of pawns, and explore this beautiful world to my heart's content.
Dragon's Dogma 2 was previewed in person at Tokyo Game Show 2023 with Capcom.