In this Dragon’s Dogma 2 Hands-On Gameplay Impressions article, we’ll be discussing our thoughts after having played the game just a few days ago. Thanks to Capcom, we had the opportunity to travel and participate in an hour-long hands-on preview, and while Dragon’s Dogma 2 is still aways away from release, we did play long enough to learn quite a bit about the much anticipated sequel. If you’re interested in learning more about the game, and what we think of it so far, read on to find out.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 Hands-On Gameplay Impressions
It’s been 11 long years since its predecessor was first released, with both an extraordinary dungeon crawl DLC (Bitterblack Isle) and a remaster since, and no one could be more happy that Dragon’s Dogma 2 is fast approaching. Dragon’s Dogma 2 is in some ways a small miracle, as you don’t often hear of sequels being made to games that are over 10 years old, especially ones that aren’t as well known, like Dragon’s Dogma. Although it does seem to becoming a trend in the industry as of late with titles such as: Baldur’s Gate 3, Jagged Alliance 3, and Titan Quest 2 to name a few.
Whether you’ve never heard of Dragon’s Dogma before, or you’re a veteran of the franchise, Dragon’s Dogma 2 should be on your wishlist for next year (hopefully), and we’re going to show you why in this article. Let’s begin with Vocations, since this is the first thing that you will select.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 – Vocations (Classes)
Vocations are making a return in Dragon’s Dogma 2, which are essentially the game’s Classes that come paired with their own set of abilities, equipment and sometimes spells. For example, fighters will raise their shield against enemy attacks, and use it offensively as well. Thieves don’t have shields, you’ll be able to dodge quickly with “Swift Step”, avoiding damage, before counter attacking. Archers can aim with ease with “Steady Shot,” and they can also shoot freely without aiming at all. Mages can heal and help enhance the other Pawns’ abilities, making the team more powerful, as well as providing a visual indicators that help with the flow of combat.
There are the basic Vocations mention above, and then there are more advanced Vocations, of which two were revealed by Capcom earlier this week: Magick Archer and Mystic Spearhand. Magick Archer makes a return from the previous game, and the Mystic Spearhand seems to be a spinoff of the Mystic Knight, with more of a focus on aggressive spear-based combat. And while we don’t currently know how many Vocations there will be at launch, from all indications it would appear there will be more than the first title.
Changing Your Vocation
You can also decide to change your Vocation as you are playing, but you will have to spend your in game currency (similar to the first game). As players level up and gain experience, they can take on new Skills, some of which increase their damage with certain moves, while others are new moves entirely. We didn’t have much time to look over the Augments or play around with as many of the skills as we would have liked during our time, but from what we can tell, players should have more to choose from than before as well.
What’s also interesting is that while you’re still unable to lock on in general, new options will be available to you that you didn’t have before, which is all based on the Vocation you choose. As mentioned before, each Vocation will have its own unique way of dodging as well, which just adds a different approach to the first game.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 – Combat
The combat in Dragon’s Dogma is arguably its most entertaining aspect, and Dragon’s Dogma 2 takes the foundation laid by the previous title and builds upon it without making drastic changes. Just like the first game, you have your basic and strong attacks, plus 4 more powerful and unique moves to take your foes down. The 4 special moves will drain your stamina more quickly, and you have to pay attention not to run out of stamina or you will be extremely vulnerable. It’s important to call your Mage over to you should you run out of stamina, because you’ll be completely defenseless for a time, and Mages can help you get back into battle much more quickly.
We first took on the Fighter Vocation, which was due to the fact that we loved his lion-like appearance. However, we could have chosen to be a Thief, a Mage, or an Archer, but we chose to go with a tankier build, which also has really solid shield-bashing moves along with a solid defense against weapons.
Just like the first game, you can use the environment of Dragon’s Dogma 2 to your advantage while in combat. But this time around, you can throw enemies against a wall, shield bash them into a wall (if you’re a Fighter), and get creative with ways to employ the environment to your advantage. We enjoyed throwing enemies over cliffs, into water, and even into each other. Throwing boulders and explosive containers at enemies was also quite fruitful.
We were in a cave filled with goblins and we saw two big boulders just waiting to roll down the hill in the cave. Blake from Capcom recommended that we cut the ropes that were holding them in place and unleash the big boulders on the goblins rather than having to fight them at all, which we did to satisfying results.
Cutting down bridges was also very satisfying, especially when you’re being chased by a bunch of enemies. A few swings at the posts, and the bridge will collapse quickly, dropping them all to their death at once. These sort of interactions only further exemplifies that Dragon’s Dogma 2 has more combat depth than the previous title.
Executions are new to Dragon’s Dogma 2, which is a welcome addition. It simply adds to the brutality in the game and gives you that power fantasy feeling when finishing off a creature or enemy. Once the enemy’s health gets low, your basic strong attack will execute them once pressed. You can do different executions too, which are all about positioning: if the enemy is on the ground, if you’re in front of the enemy, behind the enemy, etc. You’ll do different executions based on your Vocation and playstyle as well, adding further variety to gameplay. Chaining light and heavy attacks will bring along new combos, which can easily take down basic enemies to very low health, making it easy to trigger these Executions.
When it comes to enemies in Dragon’s Dogma 2, many will be making a return from the previous game, with some new additions as well. During our time with the demo we fought a Cyclops or two, Saurians, orc-like creatures, and trolls. Staggering a Cyclops was a lot of fun, because when it hits the ground, you can stab it right in the eye, doing a lot of critical damage. We were also humbled a time or two by Trolls sitting on us, and knocking us back with their big clubs.
We also faced a few Griffins, and after facing one for a bit, it went to fly away and we were lucky enough to grab onto it and go for a ride. A companion was also onboard with us and together we staggered the Griffin out of the air, right into the water, and if you know anything about Dragon’s Dogma, there’s no swimming in the game, but there are monsters in the water who will kill you very quickly. The whole thing played out like a scene in a movie, and it was just one of those moments that make the game special.
Enemies will also have parts of their body highlighted, which will reveal their weak points while in combat. Unfortunately, I didn’t run into any new enemies, but I was assured that there are new ones to be found at full release, and I cannot wait to see what they are. Deducing enemy strengths and weaknesses is a huge part of Dragon’s Dogma in general, and I’m sure fans will enjoy figuring out what those are for new enemies, and whether or not there are changes to old ones.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 – Pawns
Another huge aspect to Dragon’s Dogma, is of course the Pawn system, and it also makes a return in Dragon’s Dogma 2. Pawns are for all intents and purposes AI companions that assist you in your journey, and fill out your party, much like you might find in a traditional RPG. However, there are many more nuances to them then you may be aware, which is one of the reasons they were so popular in the first game, though we won’t go into all their details here.
Commanding Your Pawns
Pawns will work very similarly though, meaning you will have a main Pawn to work with, along with 2 other AI companions. Through the use of 4 commands executed via the D-Pad, these companions will help aid in exploration, discovery, and combat. For example, looking over at Max, who was our main pawn, if we used the “help command” she would come over and heal us (and anyone else who was in the green bubble area). She would also set our sword and shield on fire, providing extra damage to our attacks for a period of time, similar to the first game.
Furthermore, it’s important to pay attention to what your Pawns have to say, especially when you’re fighting bigger and more challenging enemies. They’ll point out where an enemy’s weakspot is and they can also let you know if an enemy has become more vulnerable after part of an enemy’s armor has broken off. We were also saved by our Archer Pawn (George) when we accidentally went to jump off a bridge; he immediately grabbed us and saved our life, so it was quite clear that Pawns are smarter and more versatile, and they felt more like a team than in Dragon’s Dogma, which I know could be sore point for many players.
Pawns in Combat
Beyond the combat, Pawns will give you other verbal cues as well. They can notify you of secret areas nearby, treasure, or important items you may have left behind. Max mentioned that there was a valuable item we could find on the map, which was highlighted with an exclamation point. This was only for a brief period of time though, as the exclamation went away, so it’s important to pay attention to your Pawns at all times.
Each Pawn comes with different skills and personalities, just like the first game. Our Thief Pawn was Sara. She was incredible in combat, but she was also incredibly selfish. She wouldn’t help aid us when we were staggered, down, etc, and she would just keep on fighting ignoring us, while we were saved multiple times by other Pawns. Max also lashed out at us when we would give the command to take the lead, but then we would sometimes run ahead of her. It’s a give-and-take with each Pawn, and you will have the opportunity to find and recruit many of them. And just like the first game, selecting the right Pawn for your team is crucial.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 – Exploration
The game world in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is huge, so exploration is obviously a key element to the game. Whether you’re in a city, the wild, hilly areas, or caves, Dragon’s Dogma 2 surely looks quite beautiful as you traverse the landscape and it will remind players immediately of its predecessor, which is both nostalgic and comforting. I’m glad Capcom did not stray too far from Dragon’s Dogma’s original design and art style, as it has a certain charm that fans of the series have come to appreciate.
An addition to exploration this time around though, is the Oxcart, which is a new fast-travel feature that will take you to and from different locations within the game. Use it at your own risk though, as enemies can attack you while you are traveling, and you may find yourself in combat anyway, and maybe with something worse than if you had just run on foot!
And as mentioned before, while you are exploring use your Pawns wisely to find secrets and hidden areas. Take note of anything that blocks doors or secret-looking places, as some of these blockades can simply be destroyed without doing anything fancy. Others, you might have to get a bit more creative.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 – Final Thoughts
Dragon’s Dogma is legendary in the eyes of many ARPG fans, and is easily one of our personal favorite RPGs coming in at number 6 of our Top RPGs of the last decade. In fact, some still think it’s the best ARPG ever made and that there still isn’t anything like the Pawn system or the combat that it is now somewhat famous for.
And though I would have liked to see more new features, Vocations, and enemies in the demo, fans of the first game can also take comfort in knowing that Capcom is making Dragon’s Dogma 2 in a similar fashion to the original. And that while improvements have been made to the game in terms of graphics, Pawn AI, and just more of the same features the first title had, Dragon’s Dogma 2 still retains the “feeling”, and doesn’t overdue it with changes to make the game “more accessible”.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 is still a ways off, likely releasing sometime in 2024, with no confirmed release date as of yet. But it’s definitely one to keep an eye on, especially since you’ll hopefully have made it through the backlog of games that have come out so far this year, and some that haven’t yet.