Every Look at My Most Anticipated Game of 2024 Makes Me More Worried
Will it still be magic the second time around?
There’s no AAA game I’m looking forward to more than Dragon’s Dogma 2. I was captivated by the original upon its 2012 release and only became more feral about it when the game seemed to languish after its original positive reception. The announcement of Dragon’s Dogma 2 was one of the most exciting game reveals I’ve ever seen, but as its release approaches, I’m starting to wonder if it can live up to the hype.
The most recent update on Dragon’s Dogma 2 comes from a video by IGN, which showed nearly 20 minutes of combat with four of the game’s classes. On top of the fighter, warrior, and sorcerer returning from the first game, we also see the new thief, a dagger-wielding adventurer that’s essentially Dragon’s Dogma’s strider class but without the ability to use bows. And really, it looks fine, but that’s not what I want from an update at this point.
The video focuses on one of the most iconic parts of Dragon’s Dogma — its drawn-out fights against giant monsters. Along with a party of AI-controlled Pawns, we watch the player scale a Cyclops to attack its eye and square off with a rampaging Ogre on a scenic and extremely perilous bridge high above a ravine. It features the monster-scaling acrobatics and incredible magic effects that made the first game great, but not much more.
So far, the thought of a Dragon’s Dogma sequel that just recreates the original sounded like a perfectly good thing to me. I loved the game the first time around, so an incremental update seemed like enough to keep the formula fresh even without any major innovations. But the closer we get to launch and the more we see of Dragon’s Dogma 2, the less I’m convinced that it will actually be enough. Dragon’s Dogma is great because it did things that no other game was doing, so even its flaws were more interesting than some other games’ successes. If Dragon’s Dogma 2 doesn’t do the same thing, it feels like it may miss the spirit of the original.
On the other hand, it does seem to be retaining an awful lot of its quirks. From the brief glimpse we get in the video, Dragon’s Dogma 2’s inventory still looks like an absolute mess. The original game was packed with useful items, from stat-boosting potions to status-inflicting bombs, that make combat more interesting. I hardly ever used them, though, since paging through its menus was such a chore.
Another major drawback of the original is the AI for your NPC companions the Pawns. Traveling with a party of NPCs created by you and other players is conceptually one of the best parts of Dragon’s Dogma. But they were also pretty stupid. Play enough Dragon’s Dogma and you’ll have voice lines like, “Wolves hunt in packs,” and, “Take care you aren’t soaked in water” burned into your brain through constant repetition. Even in just a few minutes of combat, the video already shows Pawns repeating the same bits of dubious advice over and over.
When they’re not reiterating voice lines like a broken record, Pawns also love making inexplicable decisions in combat. The new video shows mages constantly standing in melee distance of giant monsters (though they do have a short-ranged fire spell now so they can fight back a bit) and a warrior breaking off from the fight to hurl the player character into the air for no discernable reason. Fights in Dragon’s Dogma can be excruciatingly long as enemies soak up hundreds of attacks before going down, and the Pawns’ poor AI only draws things out longer.
To be fair, a lot of my trepidation is my fault. I own Dragon’s Dogma on three different platforms, and I’ve put hundreds of hours into it since its release. I know the map of Gransys better than I know my own neighborhood, right down to where I need to go to harvest Sunbright flowers and how to tell when a goblin ambush is about to strike. For many newcomers, I have no doubt Dragon’s Dogma 2 will be a revelation. But as someone who’s already felled more griffins than I can remember, I’m not sure if I’ll feel so entranced again. I also wonder how much new players who aren’t already under the game’s spell will be willing to forgive its eccentricities.
Even with all those caveats, I’m still excited to play Dragon’s Dogma 2. While combat is a big part of its appeal, it’s not all there is to it. The original game’s setting is one of the most lifelike fantasy worlds I’ve encountered in a game. Merchants travel from one end of the map to the other, monsters patrol their territory for intruders, and towns feel like real places where people live their lives rather than mere pit stops for you to fill up on potions. The magic of Dragon’s Dogma 2’s combat may be somewhat lost on me, but I hold out hope that venturing into the wilds of its open world will be as rewarding as my first journey into Gransys in the original.