Dragon’s Dogma 2 – Hands-On Preview

When the original Dragon’s Dogma was released back in 2012, there was nothing quite like it in Capcom’s portfolio of games. The game had this sense of freedom where players were free to experiment with possible outcomes and see what their chosen vocations could get away with. But it was not without its shortcomings. This second game looks to be a fully realized vision of the first game as it was initially intended.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a few weeks away and the question on everyone’s minds is ‘How does it stack up to the first Dragon’s Dogma game’? Well, we can’t give a definite answer just yet. But we did get our first look at what two of the game’s vocations are going to look like in a recent media event held by Capcom Singapore, wherein we were invited to playtest and give feedback on the Mystic Spearhand and Magick Archer. From what I can already tell, it is on the right track to please those who loved the first game. That leaves the uninitiated who may or may not like the game for what it is.

For those who don’t know yet, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a single-player Action RPG set in a fantasy world similar to most Western RPGs. Players take up the role of the Arisen, someone who’s destined to duel with a mysterious dragon as commanded by powers beyond our comprehension. The main appeal of the game is its unique approach to combat encounters, its pawn system, and its questing system.

The hands-on gameplay was split into two parts. The first half was with the Mystic Spearhand and the rest of the time was dedicated to the Magick Archer. In both instances, we were dropped into a scenario and given pre-determined gear, skills, and pawns to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of both vocations.

The Mystic Spearhand starts in a remote village that shares a border with another domain. We were tasked to find a way to get past the Titan-sized gate barring passage to the lands beyond. I didn’t find a way to get past the gate. I was convinced that if I helped the right person in town, I might be able to get the information I needed to slip past unnoticed. Little did I know that my seemingly earnest action would result in me getting completely sidetracked for the rest of the session.

Later, I found out that the attendees simply talked to the villagers and gathered useful information about the gate without having to run three different errands at once. I was more than a little surprised.

As for the Mystic Spearhand in combat, its playstyle is one of a relentless attacker. I was able to quickly close gaps with a thrust skill and then follow up with a flurry of cuts and slices. The most fun I’ve had during fights was when I picked up a downed smaller enemy using a telekinesis skill and then threw them into another larger enemy. It is very much comparable to a Force Throw in every way possible. And I would use it at every opportunity. I had a great time despite not getting close to completing the original objective. This new class being very beginner-friendly is my main takeaway from the short session.

The rest of our preview time was spent on a curated quest line for the Magick Archer. In this scenario, we were dropped somewhere in the domain of the Beastren. We were tasked to find the whereabouts of a certain individual who could help us with a smithing-related quest.

I didn’t last 5 minutes into the scenario before I got into trouble with the local monsters. For some reason, I was really struggling to output any real damage with the Magick Archer. The move set may be a little different from the first game but something was off about how the archer tracks targets.

Eventually, I learned to chain skills together to deal greater more consistent damage. But those first few encounters were extremely painful. It has a lot of potential, especially with its ricochet arrows and new exploding arrows. (I don’t remember if there was such a skill in the first game.) However, I feel as though you need to time everything perfectly, or else you quickly lose momentum. I don’t know. It just feels a little complex for a hybrid vocation. I’m sure in time, and with practice, all would fall into place. It just didn’t happen within those last couple of hours.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if I managed to do the curated quest. I got distracted with side quests yet again.

I went to this event with the expectation that Dragon’s Dogma 2 would be the most complete vision of what Dragon’s Dogma should have been without hardware or design limitations. Those expectations were met for the most part. But that’s just me as someone who has played the first game. The more I listened to what others had to say, it became clear to me that this might not leave a good impression on today’s gaming audience, especially those who are so used to having their hands held all the time.

I hope to be proven wrong and that I’m just overthinking it and name recognition alone is enough to get players interested in giving Dragon’s Dogma 2 a try and ultimately staying the course until the dragon is conquered. Only time will tell.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is set to release on March 22, 2024, on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (via Steam.)