Dragon’s Dogma 2 preview – Consider this Arisen primed and ready

From pawns to polish, there looks to be a lot to get excited for in Dragon's Dogma 2.
Image of the Arisen in Dragon's Dogma 2

Dragon’s Dogma 2 looks set to be a thrilling sequel to the Capcom original, with an increased focus on narrative and world-building – but it has a lot to live up to.

Since the introduction of the first Dragon’s Dogma in 2012, we’ve encountered games that have revolutionised how we see open world fantasy. From The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt to Breath of the Wild, players are now accustomed to vast expanses of opportunity, stunning vistas and a massive degree of world-building that paint a realistic picture – well, as realistic as one can be when dealing with dragons and monsters.

Though the first game holds a cult classic status for some – especially given the follow-up release of the enhanced Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – it’s often regarded as an underrated entry into the fantasy RPG genre.

So the pressure on Dragon’s Dogma 2 is significant – not only to not live up to the expectations of fans who adored the first foray back in 2012, but also to newbies who’ve cut their teeth on some of the most expansive fantasy RPGs of all time. No pressure, right?

While GamesHub hasn’t had a chance to get hands-on as yet, we were able to check out roughly half an hour of footage from the upcoming game, delving into combat, conversation and exploration alike. With previews like these, it can be difficult to properly surmise how players will react, but I can say with certainty that this player is all the more keen to dive in.

The three P’s of Dragon’s Dogma 2: Pawns, polish and precision

One of the standout elements I noticed in the Dragon’s Dogma 2 preview was how tight the combat looks, especially with the new Mystic Spearhand vocation. As someone who typically plays at range, opting to play as archers or spellcasters who do their worst damage just beyond the centre of the fracas, spears aren’t my go-to.

But watching the action as the player whirls their quarterstaff at their enemies (bladed, of course), doing massive amounts of damage? I could definitely be convinced. The fast-paced action feels gritty and meaty enough to sink your teeth deeply into, no matter your choice of vocation (and especially with the support of your companions).

Speaking of, Pawns are back in a big way. These user-generated companions were a fan favourite feature of the original game, where players could trade pawns with others online. Sourcing a Pawn who has an understanding of the area you’re exploring is incredibly helpful, not to mention they can provide ample benefits in battle.

I’m someone who gets attached easily, so I’m already anticipating a reluctance to trade. But this is not a Baldur’s Gate 3-like scenario where your companions are fully-formed (and romanceable), so any attachment you develop is squarely your own fault – and yes, I’m saying this directly to myself.

The world at large is practically its own character in Dragon’s Dogma 2, with detailed areas that feel expansive. The world is equal parts gritty and beautiful, with rugged landscapes and a properly medieval fantasy feel. One of the most important aspects of these worlds, at least for me, is how reactive they are to the player – and from what I’ve seen: so far, so good.

The quests themselves feel a lot more detailed in this snippet as well, which is fantastic to see. One of the main criticisms levied against the original game was a narrative that felt lacking, so to see the choices and decisions of the player feel more impactful here is a good sign.

I do also enjoy that some quest-givers will now run up to meet you, rather than you have to trudge all the way up to their static location in a very “this character could be a fencepost” kind of manner.

Read: New Dragon’s Dogma 2 trailer showcases detailed world

There were still some parts of the preview that didn’t quite live up to my expectations – like an itch that’s not quite scratch-worthy but will probably bug you until you find a task to distract you. The voice acting felt stilted in segments, with quest-givers pausing for half-seconds longer than feels natural.

It’s not the end of the world, but in rich adventures like the ones we’ve come to love over the last fourteen years, there’s a certain degree of expectation that the characters within will contribute to that level of realism.

All in all, the preview footage for Dragon’s Dogma 2 did exactly what I was hoping it would – I’m ready to dive back in to a world I’ve largely left untouched since I graduated high school, and I’m all the more excited to see how Capcom follows through. With a release date confirmed for 22 March 2024, we won’t have to wait long.

Will Dragon’s Dogma 2 live up to the lofty expectations of the die-hard fantasy RPG crowd? That remains to be seen. But did the preview live up to the expectations of this particular Arisen? For the most part, absolutely.

Steph Panecasio is the Managing Editor of GamesHub. An award-winning culture and games journalist with an interest in all things spooky, she knows a lot about death but not enough about keeping her plants alive. Find her on all platforms as @StephPanecasio for ramblings about Lord of the Rings and her current WIP novel.