Dragon’s Dogma 2 Preview: Grappling with gryphons
It is no secret that Capcom has been killing it in 2023, with the likes of Resident Evil 4 and Street Fighter 6 among their greatest accolades in 2023. And while it may be some time off yet, Dragon’s Dogma 2 seems to be no exception in continuing this trend with the game adding fuel to the fantasy fire with gargantuan, gryphon-sized ambitions.
It also cannot be denied that we are in an era when the fantasy RPG reigns supreme. With the likes of Final Fantasy XVI and Baldur’s Gate 3 in contention for Game of the Year this year, and Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree looming, the genre is in its prime, with developers being unafraid to experiment and test the boundary of the medium. So, will Dragon's Dogma 2 be the next big fantasy game to watch?
From my brief time playing the game in this preview and as someone relatively new to the series, I entered into this early build of Dragon’s Dogma 2 with a degree of beguilement of what to expect and left wanting more. With a huge open world and an incredible amount of freedom, there is a lot to be excited about in Dragon’s Dogma 2.
- For more Capcom titles, be sure to check out our Resident Evil 4 review
Grabbing the gryphon by the feathers
As with any fantasy RPG, I was presented with several classes, or vocations in this instance, where you can hone your skills according to a build that suits you. In this preview, I had the choice of an Archer, Knight or Thief.
Beginning with the Knight, I decided to go off the beaten path and explore freely. After doing my utmost to fend off a gryphon from attacking a village, I took my motley crew of merry wanderers on a journey through the forests to see what we would encounter.
There were a great many fantasy beasts that were more than willing to stomp me into oblivion, chief among which was a troll that decided I had offended it and was going to do its utmost to take me on, leading me to the aspect of this Dragon’s Dogma 2 preview I enjoyed the most: the combat.
After whittling the troll down, it became staggered, giving me ample time to clamber up its back and begin my onslaught. Where before I was chipping away at its health bit by bit, this method yielded great results, and eventually the troll was felled.
There are certainly impressive weapons to find and various ways to take down your enemies, but none are as fun as simply grabbing them. While it may seem blunt, it was the most satisfying way to despatch an enemy encounter and would yield different results depending on the foe.
The smaller goblins could be picked up and thrown at each other to knock down a horde. I could latch onto a harpy and have it carry me for a short distance. Or in the case of something the size of the troll, I could clamber up its back and deal some significant damage.
What initially felt like a traditional combat experience became a grandiose encounter - an almost bite-sized version of Shadow of the Colossus as it attempted to throw me off. It felt like a brutal battle. As I desperately attempted to climb on its back, it was doing its utmost to prevent me, with my Pawns doing what little they could to lend a hand.
But it wasn’t just the troll that could be grabbed. My fellow previewers next to me had managed to grapple onto their gryphon and had it soaring across the land, culminating in a brilliant final battle that had even me gripped.
- For more Capcom titles, be sure to check out our Street Fighter 6 review
The freedom of fantasy
During my time as an Archer, I got to experience some of the story. I was an Arisen who, in an attempt to save a significant character from the flames of a mighty dragon, had my heart stolen and was left to my fated existence.
As I wandered the township, I found I was able to change my vocation relatively easily (despite some cost) and became a mage, who quickly realised that playing with fire spells can be a terrifying experience.
But it was this experience that cemented the preview. Dragon’s Dogma 2 is more than happy for you to be a jack-of-all-trades. For those who don’t like putting all their eggs in one basket (such as myself), it was a relief to see that I wouldn’t be tied into a role and could work toward changing it should I need a change of pace.
What impressed me most about these early stages of Dragon’s Dogma 2 was the sheer amount of freedom it allowed the player. To freely change my vocation with relative ease, hire any passers-by to join my merry band, and be able to wander off the beaten path into more danger, was exhilarating and had me grinning from ear to ear.
- If you need another fantasy adventure, be sure to check out our Baldur's Gate 3 review
As my time with Dragon’s Dogma 2 drew to a close, I thought back to the ground I had covered. Towns that were reeling from the flames of a dragon attack. Forests that were haunted by ghosts and goblins and skeletons (oh my), and the looming capital on the road ahead where my preview ended.
Despite these vast locations, the map had barely opened up, indicating the sheer scale of its ambition. If this is anything to go by, I could envision Dragon’s Dogma 2 being the next fantasy RPG to wholly capture the hearts of players.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 does not yet have a release date, but rest assured, it is on the way. For more from the Tokyo Game Show, be sure to check out our preview of Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth.