It’s official! Dragon’s Dogma 2 is on the way (opens in new tab). Here’s what we’re hoping to see in the sequel.
Sequels are meant to be innovative, allegedly, justifying their existence with big new features that’ll make you forget all about its predecessor. Maybe it will blow minds with creepy, realistic teeth (opens in new tab). Or be 10 times the size of the original. There’s always a boast, even if countless sequels have failed to live up to the expectations they spawn. But for Dragon’s Dogma 2, I don’t want any big changes.
OK, maybe it could stand to look a bit prettier. Obviously a visual upgrade is inevitable, but I’m more concerned with the art. Dragon’s Dogma is not an ugly game, but it can be a bit on the bland side, which doesn’t do its already fairly generic fantasy world any favours, even while the systems that exist within it are anything but. Aside from that, though, I really just want more of the same.
Capcom really did just knock it out of the park on the first go. Some games leave a mark on the medium just with a single neat feature, like Shadow of Mordor’s nemesis system, but Dragon’s Dogma has this stuff in spades.
First off, there’s the climbing. Link, Eivor and Nathan Drake can all piss off, because Dragon’s Dogma is the champion of desperately clambering up surfaces you shouldn’t be able to climb—namely, the many monsters patrolling the world. With this in mind it’s no wonder it’s so often compared to Shadow of the Colossus, but the comparison is a little superficial.
Shadow of the Colossus’ encounters are puzzles. Sure, you’ve got a bow and a sword, but they are as much problem-solving tools as they are weapons. Each colossus you climb is a big, important event, a boss battle, where there’s a right way to do things. Your goal is to figure out what that is.
In Dragon’s Dogma, it’s just another day at the office.
Your job is stabbing monsters all day. And it’s messy, bloody work, where fights descend into chaos as spells pop off, monsters burn and pawns get squished. Strategies like chopping off a chimera’s heads or burning a griffon’s wings to keep it grounded are puzzle-adjacent, but in general there’s a looser, less prescriptive feel to the fights.
Those grabby little hands also come in handy elsewhere, letting you pick up people and smaller monsters and toss them around. It’s a great source of comedy, running around while you hold onto a not-very-pleased goblin. Pinning enemies, meanwhile, is also very handy, giving your pals an opportunity to deck them while they’re down. It’s a level of physicality that you just don’t see very often in open-world RPGs, and it makes Dragon’s Dogma so much more playful and silly.
Pawns are just as important an ingredient. These customisable NPC companions are goofy, chatty, sometimes janky and I love each and every one of them—even the ones I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting. In my latest playthrough (on my Switch this time, though I have the PS4 and PC versions too) I’ve made my hero look like D&D celebrity Drizzt Do’Urden (but even sexier, somehow), so I wanted to create a pawn to match, and the robust character creator was more than happy to oblige. So I traipse around with my wee dwarf pal, Bruenor Battlehammer, in tow.
I love creating my own sidekicks, but I appreciate the ability to borrow others just as much. Borrowing pawns from other players is just such a neat idea—if not entirely unique to DD—and gives you a near infinite pool to draw from. What weirdo will you meet next? It’s all very exciting. And it’s nice to know that, even when I’m not playing, my pawn could be helping someone else. In my own little way, I’m contributing to the success of a stranger’s playthrough. I like being helpful, especially when it involves no effort on my part. And I get a wee reward, to boot, with my pawn bringing stuff back with them to my world. How diligent!
Pawns have their own proclivities—inclinations that determine how they act on the battlefield—which in tandem with their vocations make them surprisingly lively and dynamic. Adding some pawns belonging to other players, then, can really shake up your group. Some pawns are eager to climb, others will always charge at the strongest enemy and some brave souls will forgo healing for as long as possible. This also informs their brief snippets of dialogue, which in turn reinforces what they’re all about.
“What about the boring side quests, Fraser?” I hear you cry. And yeah, there were some stinkers. But smaller quests, a bit of busywork here and there, make all the epic adventures feel just a bit more meaningful. Cutting a bit of the padding would be welcome, mind, without changing things radically. Less backtracking or a way to get around faster, at least, without relying on teleportation wouldn’t go amiss, either. Maybe a horse? If you can climb a dragon, you can definitely ride a horse. Maybe the horse could be a pawn. Actually, it 100% should be a pawn.
It’s perfect for me, but I won’t argue Dragon’s Dogma is a perfect game. What it doesn’t need, however, are a bunch of new features or a gargantuan map that makes the old one look like a little playground. The scope and scale of the original is just right, and in an age where open worlds just don’t know when to say “enough is enough”, something a bit more restrained, or at least something that knows what it is and sticks with it, is a real treat.
Broadly, I just want more Dragon’s Dogma. When I’m hanging on for dear life as a burning griffon cuts through the air and my pawn below me yells “I’ll support you!” I couldn’t be happier. It was so novel, ambitious and weird a decade ago that it exists out of time—a singular RPG that many may evoke, from Monster Hunter World to Elden Ring, but that nothing ever quite matches.