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Why I’m Excited for Dragon's Dogma 2

Why I’m Excited for Dragon's Dogma 2

Back in 2012, more than a decade past, I first tried out Dragon's Dogma, the open-world action RPG that many of my friends seemed to dismiss. Regardless of how good the game was objectively, I was absolutely obsessed with it, going so far as playing it through with each of the different classes and hunting down the multiple endings. I even delved into the depths of the re-release, Dark Arisen, with a fervour I’ve seldom felt before or after. I’m not sure if it was the expansive world, the flashy classes, the weird “cooperation” with other players’ pawns, or the story that kept me invested, but by my beard, it did something right! Now that we’re inching toward the release of its sequel — not counting the Japan-only MMORPG Dragon’s Dogma Online — I find myself thinking about what I hope to see in the newest title and what made me love the original so deeply.

The first thing to come to mind in the original game is simply exploration. From the starting village to the Duke's Demesne, to the roaming wilds around Gran Soren, Dragon’s Dogma had a way of making distances feel long. You couldn’t simply head on out to do as you please, oh no! You had to prepare enough items and materials to get you to where you were going, a planned route to include safe spots to rest and the best gear your meagre money could provide. It takes a while to get anywhere in Gransys, you see, and the beasties out and about get noticeably more nasty when night falls. I have fond memories of running through wolf-infested forests looking for a witch or coming face to face with an ogre in a cave much too cramped for comfort! While adventuring, your travelling Pawn companions may point out locations of interest, tell you some lore, or even suggest an alternate route! While this may grate in the long run, I loved how this gave way to organic world-building and questing.

Another facet of travel I never thought I’d defend was the lack of fast travel. In the original game, items used to teleport to the capital were expensive, so you really had to think whether you wanted to go back the fast way or save it for later. You also had very limited opportunities to set up fast travel points in the field, meaning getting back to an area required another few days of trekking. Though this feature was tweaked in Dark Arisen to include more fast travel points, I still think having to set them up yourself after discovering and exploring the areas was great! I hope Dragon’s Dogma 2 manages to keep this up and manage to make gameplay enjoyable without shrinking the world too much with effortless travel. Make us work for our teleports!

In addition to the travelling, I really enjoyed the class, or Vocation, system the game provided: at the beginning of the game, you chose one of three classes that encompassed the basics: Fighter, Strider (the rogue), or Mage. As you progress in your Vocation, you gain points with which to unlock both new skills and even advanced versions of the class. Fighters became Warriors, Striders took on the mantle of the Ranger, and Mages evolved into Sorcerers. In addition to changes in skills, these advances also changed the way the classes played, giving room to experimentation and organic growth. Even the base classes were noticeably different from each other, making the game replayable solely on the basis of trying each “route” out, which I did indeed!

If this wasn’t enough, Dragon’s Dogma offered even more room for experimentation with the player-only Hybrid Vocations, which were a combination of the strengths of two Vocations mixed together. Whether you play with a base, hybrid, or advanced class, the skills used and playstyles all fit them perfectly, with Striders zipping around the field, Mages calling up spectacular spells and warriors taking on the brunt of all punishment. If nothing else, I am beyond excited to see how these Vocations have changed in the sequel, as well as see any new ones join the roster. If the trailers are anything to go by, the Trickster Vocation seems like a promising sign of things to come!

So, I liked the exploration and the classes and am looking forward to seeing how these aspects are handled in the sequel. What else? Well, the next point may be a bit divisive, depending on your viewpoint: I loved how weird the world and mechanics were! Let me expand on that a bit. In the world of Dragon’s Dogma, a person who has their heart stolen (literally, calm down) by a dragon is known as an Arisen, a warrior fated to face the dragon in combat. Each Arisen is helped on their journey by a race of people known as Pawns, who serve and aid the hero in any way they can. Sounds cool on paper, but in actuality, the adorable bumblers often mill about the battlefield shrieking about how Harpies sing while you are locked in a desperate fight with yet another goblin. They repeat lines frequently and, more often than not, spout useless information, but every now and again, they do something amazing, like telling you the weakness of a new enemy or enchanting your blades with fire at the exact right moment! I grew fond of my own Pawn, and travelling with him and the two other Pawns created by the other players became more like a road trip than a trudge through the same forests and hills.

In addition to the Pawns, the characters of the world seemed to be more like caricatures than actual characters. While this may seem like a negative quality, their overacting and hijinx often added a bit of levity to an otherwise grim world, though NPCs could pull off more serious tones easily enough. Finally, the mechanics of the game are a treat in all their clunkiness! When fighting bigger monsters, you are able to hop onto their bodies and climb your way toward weak spots to rain in some devastating blows, though the monster will not be idle while you do this; more often than not, pushing forward on the controller would send my valiant Arisen in the complete opposite direction I intended. Annoying? Yes. True to form? Also yes. I don’t know about you, but I get lost climbing the stairs, so getting turned around (sometimes literally) while scaling a cyclops is forgivable.

Oh! The Dragon you have to face eventually kidnaps an NPC to goad you into fighting. This NPC is supposed to be the target of your affections, but the way it is “calculated” usually means players would end up seeing the weapon merchant — a crotchety old man — in the claws of their foe instead of the more suitable options. If that isn’t adorable, I don’t know what is. And hey, to each their own. The point I’m trying to make here for Dragon’s Dogma 2 is that we have enough grim-dark fantasy epics. It’s ok to be a bit silly or lighthearted! I’m excited to see if this holds true in the sequel or if the tone is more serious this time around.

As a final note, I’d like to mention the plot. I won’t delve very deep, but if you want to avoid spoilers altogether, I’d skip this paragraph. The plot, or more accurately, the lore, of Dragon’s Dogma is fascinating to me. The game has interesting twists: vicious enemies turn out to be much different than first assumed, allies turn out to be flawed, and in general, the ultimate “evil” of the game is more ambiguous than expected. Additionally, each of the game’s multiple endings left me staggered by the implications! Seldom has an opening theme been more on point. Eternal Return indeed.

To summarise, I loved Dragon’s Dogma even for the aspects many found lacking. This may very easily be my own pair of rose-tinted glasses talking, but I’m beyond excited to have a sequel coming that I can actually play without breaking into Japanese servers. I hope the classes are as varied as they were, I hope the world is huge and fun to explore, and I hope the characters and story retain that hint of levity I so enjoyed. Are you looking forward to the game or dreading the changes to come? Let us know in the comments!

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is set to release on the 22nd of March 2024.

Martin Heath

Martin Heath

Staff Writer

Professional Bungler

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