Dragon’s Dogma 2 dials the formula up to 11 | Hands-on preview

by on September 25, 2023

It’s safe to say that Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a very highly anticipated sequel. Over a decade ago when the original Dragon’s Dogma hit, I stepped properly out of my comfort zone and into unfamiliar role-playing territory to review it for this very site, and ended up falling in love with it. Even to this day, it stands alone as a quirky, unique take on the genre, which ploughed its own furrow with the oddball Pawn system and propensity for climbing up large monsters in order to take them down by any means necessary. It also had a killer theme which blasts you into oblivion on the title screen.

When we received an invite to play Dragon’s Dogma 2, then, it is fair to say I was filled with joy at the prospect of once again vicariously living the life of the Arisen. Within half an hour of my arrival I had just scaled an enormous troll-like creature, gaining a particularly memorable foothold in its arse crack. Dragon’s Dogma is back, baby!

Dragon's Dogma 2

I was given three sections of the game to try, which allowed control of the archer, fighter, and thief classes, each at different points early on in the plot, to get a proper taste for what the game might offer, and it was immediately obvious that Capcom have taken what we know and love and just amplified everything up to 11.

The voice acting and storylines are still cheesy and absurd, but that’s just how I like it. Your colleagues and indeed NPCs, and enemies encountered on the road chitter chatter constantly, in environments that are teeming with life. Straight off the bat when you leave the village hub and venture into the wilderness, the enemies come thick and fast. Swatting away goblins gives way to larger and more destructive creatures like hirsute Yeti-like beasts, enormous griffons, and the aforementioned bare-assed troll. There is also wildlife to consider, not all of which is friendly. You will find yourself being knocked about by bison, swarmed by wolves, or as with one particular battle I was in, watched studiously by a random deer on the periphery of the action.

You have to vary your tactics and make best use of the Pawns to best your foes and complete the quests on offer. Harpies, for example, are particularly troublesome when encountered along with ground-based foes, as their ability to put you into a fugue state and the fact they hover annoyingly out of reach means you will have to employ aerial attacks or even magical spells to knock them out of the air. The Pawns seem better equipped to help. They are familiar with the routes of your quests, make intelligent choices, and are a huge boon when you are part of a big tear-up. I cannot wait to tinker with this aspect of the game when it’s released, and create a team of my very own.

Dragon's Dogma 2

As with the first game, when it gets dark, things goes south pretty quickly. With just your feeble lantern to guide you, things become claustrophobic and there’s a real sense of danger. More than once I was absolutely wasted by a nightmarish combination of ghostly wraiths and spooky skeletons. Every single run felt noticeably different, even if most if not all of the encounters were enemies we have already seen in the 2012 game. But did we really expect Capcom to show all their cards at this stage? I am certain that the menagerie of baddies and diversity of flora, fauna, and locations in this early snippet are just the tip of an enormous iceberg.

Standard combat is the same as the previous game, with a heavy and light attack, plus four special skills that you can map and trigger using the left bumper. The most interesting new mechanic to aid you on your journey is the Vocation command – an action specific to your class. For the archer this enables a precision aiming technique called Steady Shot. Fighters have a protective shield that blunts enemy attacks, whilst the super nimble thief uses the handy evasive Swift Step.

Dragon's Dogma 2

The combat feels weightier, the Pawns are more responsive and seem to have far superior AI. It is still very much out on its own, however; there is no specific lock-on option like similar titles of this ilk, and there isn’t a standard evasive move unless of course you are playing as a thief or a class that has a Vocational command that allows you to do so. What Dragon’s Dogma 2 has included however in order to make the fighting feel more impactful, is an indicator when your foe is close to death, which signifies that they can be decimated with a final, brutal heavy attack. It is particularly satisfying to cleave someone open like this, seeing rivulets of claret flood the battlefield.

Considering this is something of an early build, everything looks ace and it is clear to me that the finished version of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is going to absolutely sing. It has whet my appetite so much that I immediately went out and purchased the original to hop back into Gransys over this past weekend. Capcom are on a hell of a run at the moment and this very promising sequel looks to double down on everything that made the original such a beloved cult classic.


Dragon’s Dogma 2 is coming to PS5, Xbox Series S|X, and PC.