Dragon’s Dogma 2 preview - getting lost is the best part

Dragon's Dogma 2
(Image credit: Capcom)

From just a few short hours spent in its massive world, it’s clear to me that Dragon’s Dogma 2 isn’t messing around. Its fully explorable open map is stacked to the nines with all manner of bandits and beasts, ready to slit your throat from the concealment of a shrub, or quite literally lift you into the air and into the sunset against your will.

Recently, I visited Capcom’s London offices to play Dragon’s Dogma 2 for three hours, and it’s safe to say that the spirit of the original game is very much intact. Enemies hit extremely hard, nights are long and abyssal, and fast travel remains a precious luxury thanks to the return of highly limited Ferrystone items. Frustrations to some players these features may be, but it simply wouldn't be Dragon's Dogma without them.

It’s a world that demands utmost attention and respect while you’re exploring, as I learned that even the most seemingly mundane sidequests unravel into something greater, and usually put you on the path towards incredible dangers. All in all, Dragon’s Dogma 2 seems like it’s shaping up to be as thrilling and challenging as its predecessor - if not more so. 

A spear in hand

Dragon's Dogma 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

The Dragon’s Dogma 2 preview build allowed me access to two vocations (the series’ term for classes); the returning Magick Archer and the all-new Mystic Spearhand. The former was famously a powerhouse in the original game, and a very popular choice among the player base thanks to its exceptional spells and ability to wield daggers or staves alongside its magick bow. The latter is a brand new vocation that’s able to fight in the close-to-mid range with a spear and several acrobatic skills.

Magick Archer hasn’t exactly been nerfed in the sequel, but you will have to take a more conservative approach this time around. That’s because it’s been stripped of its versatility, equipping you with just the bow and nothing else. The good news is that the bow itself can fulfill so many roles: you can still set enemies alight, freeze them, and fire a ricocheting volley of arrows that’s superb in tight spaces. But some new abilities - like an arrow that can heal and resurrect your Pawn party members - give you options for support in a pinch.

Being a magick-focused class, its skills do take some time to charge up in order to be fully effective. I also found the overall charge speed to be quite slow. However, I was assured that this and other abilities can be improved at vocation guilds situated in the open world’s major cities. As a result, I once again expect Magick Archer to be seriously powerful and versatile should you choose to invest in it.

Dragon's Dogma 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

About halfway through my preview, I switched over to the Mystic Spearhand vocation, which took me to a completely different part of the map with a new character. During the preview, Capcom described the Mystic Spearhand vocation to me as “the Devil May Cry class.” 

This turned out to be a very apt description as its abilities allow for a high level of control over most combat encounters. One skill let me launch enemies into the air, then have me teleport into the air with them to unleash a devastating combo. Another had me charging up a projectile which then slowed down all enemies it hit in a defined radius. That teleport ability could also be chained after this projectile. Once I got to grips with the skillset, it genuinely did feel like I was dancing around foes both small and large, almost toying with them.

The Mystic Spearhand did have its drawbacks, of course. Besides a handy party-wide shield ability, it doesn’t offer much in the way of supportive skills. It’s also a high-risk class that would leave me wide open to enemy attacks should I fumble an input or miss my target.

Forged in thievery

Dragon's Dogma 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

Now, a quick detour before the main event. Visiting a small but verdant village, I was tasked with settling a dispute between two parties interested in coming into ownership of a gleaming jade jewel. But first, I had to find the thing in the first place.

Thankfully, the jewel in question was just around the corner, proudly displayed on the shelf of an otherwise unassuming shop. Now, I could deliver the jewel to whoever I thought would pay me more for it. 

Alternatively, I can make use of the game’s returning forgery system to - for a small fee - create a perfect duplicate of the item and thoroughly satisfy both parties, with the forgery’s recipient being none the wiser. Not only was I delighted that the forgery system had made a return, but I felt rewarded for thinking outside the box when the opportunity presented itself.

Oh Rodge, where art thou?

Dragon's Dogma 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

It was on a particular sidequest with the Mystic Spearhand class that I found out just how dangerous, unpredictable, and exciting Dragon’s Dogma 2’s open world truly is. On my way out of a village, a resident beckoned me over to discuss a young man named Rodge. It seems he was dragged away from the village by a pack of monsters, and I was asked to track the poor guy down. By chatting to folks in the village, I learned that patches of blue flowers may guide me to Rodge’s whereabouts. And so I set out, spear in hand, confident I’d locate the chap before the timed quest ran up.

However, this was not to be the case. But not necessarily because the quest turned out to be more complex than I thought. Instead, Dragon’s Dogma 2’s open world proved to be so dynamic, and so dangerous, that multiple encounters with varying foes on my journey were so successful in leading me away from the trail. The best part is that nothing felt scripted.

Sure, the dangers may indeed lurk in set locations, but it genuinely felt like events and encounters were finding me - not the other way around. Especially during nighttime, when enemies grow in number and I only had my trusty lantern to offer fleeting visibility. Roughly following the trail of blue flowers I was led into encounters with larger boss creatures including a Lich, a Cyclops, two Ogres, a Griffin, and a menacing Drake.

Barely coming out of each encounter by the skin of my teeth, night had fallen, and I realized I’d gone so far off the trail that I found myself thoroughly lost. Bereft of Ferrystones (the item needed to initiate fast travel) to carry me back to the safety of a town - and forgetting to even place down a Portcrystal (essentially a portable item for manually placing fast travel spots) for fast travel in the first place - I had to trudge back to a safe haven on foot.

Given the absurd amount of creatures encountered and battles fought, I did return with a rather large haul of materials, so the expedition wasn’t exactly a failure. But I’ve no idea what happened to poor Rodge. Hopefully, he’ll be out there waiting for me, fending off all manner of beasts until Dragon’s Dogma 2’s launch on March 22 on PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC. 

Excited for Dragon's Dogma 2? Read up on some of our favorite games in our guides to the best RPGs and best single-player games if you're looking to play something between now and release day.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.