Dragonsplague Is the Perfect Example of What Makes Dragon’s Dogma 2 Great

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Dragonsplague?

screenshot from Dragon's Dogma 2

There’s something strange going on in Dragon’s Dogma 2. Pawns, sworn to obey the Arisen, are coming down with an illness that makes them stop taking orders and act like moody teenagers — right up until the point where they slaughter an entire town overnight. In the uncompromising world of Dragon’s Dogma 2, the illness known as Dragonsplague not only wreaks havoc, but also overwrites your save file so there’s no chance of a do-over. It’s a mechanic that forces players to treat the world as a living thing rather than an amusement park built just for them, so of course, people are furious about it.

As with the reaction to its inconsequential microtransactions, responses from angry players make Dragonsplague sound like a crime Dragon’s Dogma 2 is committing against you, personally. The impression you get from the criticism is that Dragonsplague is incurable (it’s not), there’s no way to tell who has it (there is), and it renders the game unplayable (it doesn’t). In reality, it’s a mechanic with reversible consequences that deepens the player’s connection to the game’s world while cementing its fragility, which is one of the key themes of Dragon’s Dogma 2.

How Dragonsplague Works in Dragon’s Dogma 2

Calling companions from another world comes with some risks.


Here’s how Dragonsplague actually works: When you recruit another player’s Pawn (an AI-controlled companion everyone creates at the start of the game), there’s a chance they’ll have Dragonsplague. An infected Pawn always shows the telltale signs of the disease. They’ll start to openly disobey orders (which other Pawns remark on), their eyes will glow red, and they’ll sometimes be seen clutching their head or showing other signs of distress. It takes some time for the Pawn to progress through each of these stages, and once it’s persisted long enough, sleeping at an inn will cause the Pawn to destroy every NPC in town overnight.

There are a few ways to counter Dragonsplague, the most coldly efficient of which is to simply get rid of the affected Pawn. When they respawn, they’ll be cured, but they can also be rid of the illness by passing it on to another Pawn. You can also just dismiss the Pawn from your party and let them become someone else’s problem. Even if you let it go too far and nuke an entire town, any NPC can be revived at a morgue by using a Wakestone.

I encountered Dragonsplague twice in my playthrough of Dragon’s Dogma 2. The first time, I recruited a Pawn on the road and received a tutorial popup explaining the mechanics of Dragonsplague in detail. I immediately ejected the new Pawn from my party and went about my day with one less ally until I happened upon another wandering Pawn. The second time, a Pawn I’d traveled with for some time started disobeying my orders. Since the game had already explained what this meant, I dismissed them and faced no further trouble.

Why Dragonsplague Is Brilliant

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is better for its uncompromising design, not worse.


With Dragonsplague being so devastating, yet so easy to cure, it might seem like a pointless thing to include in the first place. But it’s these qualities that make it the perfect addition to Dragon’s Dogma 2. We’ve gotten used to the idea of games as instant gratification machines. Open worlds are stuffed with hundreds of quests and thousands of items, all of which are conveniently marked and cataloged, just waiting for you to get to them at their own pace. The only thing standing between you and total victory is your decision to pursue it. That’s not Dragon’s Dogma 2.

This may be antithetical to most modern AAA games, but Dragon’s Dogma 2 doesn’t actually want you to see everything it has to offer, at least not all at once. It’s a game that begs to be played multiple times through so that you can poke at all the edges you left unexplored the first time and find the wonder still hiding there for you. I’ve spent hundreds of hours across multiple runs of the original Dragon’s Dogma and still found secrets I’d yet to uncover every time. I’m already excited to play Dragon’s Dogma 2 again and discover what other stories it has to tell me. Elements like Dragonsplague make it more likely that the next next I play, I’ll have an experience distinct enough to enjoy the second time around as much as the first.

In Dragon’s Dogma 2, you can fail quests just by taking too long with them, or they’ll just sit in your quest log forever because the game doesn’t tell you how to complete them and you never figure it out. Even without Dragonsplague, NPCs can perish and cut off entire quest lines and story beats. There are innumerable ways to really screw yourself over, and that’s a good thing.

Beating overwhelming odds is what makes Dragon’s Dogma 2 worth playing and replaying.


Your character may be one of the most important people in the world of Dragon’s Dogma 2, but that doesn’t mean the world was built for you. Your actions still have consequences for yourself and others — Dragonsplague is just a particularly dramatic example of that. It forces you to consider the needs of your Pawns, rather than just what they can do for you, and to live with the consequences if you don’t. More than that, it leads to good stories. Pick off an infected Pawn and it’s a story about how you braved the game’s unsparing wilderness with an incomplete party. Let them nuke the capital city and it’s about your desperate attempt to save the lost NPCs or accept the guilt and consequences of letting it happen.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is exceptionally good at making your journey feel like a true adventure, and no adventure is without its setbacks. More than any other game, it reminds me of Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Sure, you can overcome every obstacle thrown at you, but it’s not guaranteed. What players are experiencing with Dragonsplague (and with so many other features, like limited fast travel and food that rots in your inventory) is friction. It’s understandable that feels so strange, since so many modern games sand every rough edge off to make themselves enjoyable. But while Dragon’s Dogma 2 doesn’t always give you what you want, it offers something much better — the chance to march boldly into the unknown and have an experience that no one else will when you make it out the other side.

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