Dragon’s Dogma II PS5 Hands-On Preview – Capcom has long run of cult favourites that never quite cemented themselves on the public consciousness like Resident Evil or Street Fighter. Dragon’s Dogma is one of those games. The original title launched back in 2012 for PS3 and Xbox 360, and offered an interesting spin on the traditional fantasy-RPG paradigm, namely Pawns. These are more than just simple AI buddies that follow you around: Pawns help you in combat, yell out hints and tips, advise you on where to go, or even seek your help when they’re in a pickle.
This imbues them with more personality than your bog-standard AI companion, and made Dragon’s Dogma a compelling time sink as a result. Sadly, despite attracting a loyal fan base, it didn’t do big numbers, and it would take an entire decade for a sequel to emerge – and we’ve sampled an hour of it.
Dragon’s Dogma 2 PS5 Hands-On Preview
I admittedly never played Dragon’s Dogma, but that’s a good thing, as I can say without a doubt that Dragon’s Dogma II is pretty beginner friendly. My preview offered a choice of three classes: Archer, Fighter, and Thief. I plumped for the Fighter first of all, probably because I figured he would do exactly what it says on the tin, namely mashing up foes with a massive sword. I was right, but there’s more to it than that. Scrapping with goblins is more than just about mashing the Square button for your basic attack; there’s a couple of different move at your disposal with the face buttons, but holding L1 opens up a whole new avenue of attacks.
The Fighter for example is able to executive a shield bass, leap high with an upward stab, or thrust his sword into the enemy’s gut with extreme power. As I quickly found out, you really have to make use if your repertoire to overcome different adversaries, such airborne Harpies that stun you in a blue haze that cannot be hit with regular attacks. The Archer is particularly useful here with her bow and arrow, while her standard kick is good for punting pesky goblins before following up with a salvo of arrows. Pleasingly, there’s a palpable difference between the characters I sampled, with the Fighter delivering crushing blows and high damage, while the Archer excels at a long-range combat and is overall a much more nimble combatant.
Pawns were also out in full force for my hands-on, with my character accompanied by three companions: Max, George, and Sara. Even at this early stage, it’s clear that the Pawn system is pretty well advanced, and there was never a second where I felt isolated or overwhelmed thanks to their help. For example, my magic-wielding companion would often buff my sword or bow with fire, which came in handy for vanquishing a group of goblins quickly, while another nudged me in the right direction after I started wondering aimlessly around. One Pawn even suggested I make a quick detour from my objective to score some hidden loot.
The constant banter and reactionary dialogue really helps to immerse you in what feels like an epic adventure; at times I almost felt like I was party of the Company of Dwarves or The Fellowship of the Ring, as there’s a strong sense of camaraderie to be had with the Pawns. You don’t have to leave them to their own devices either; the D-pad is always there for some basic commands if you need to get their attention quickly.
The medieval realm I explored during my hands-on looks absolutely sumptuous, with sprawling forests, gloomy caves, sparkling rivers and bustling towns all freely explorable. The Archer demo was more story-driven, as I picked up various quests in town before venturing to the settlement of Melve that was recently burned to ashes by a dragon attack. Facing the scaly beast head-on, I was able to circle around to its back and hold R2 to scale the fire-breathing critter (you can do this for some of the bigger foes such as trolls, allowing you to dispatch them more efficiently) before a cutscene took over and…well, I won’t spoil anything.
The Fighter demo was much more open-ended, as I was left to my own devices to explore the visually-striking terrain; a vibrant marriage of lush greens, earthy browns and crystal clear blues that makes for quite an atmospheric and warmly setting, that almost feels Tolkein-esque in its execution and attention to detail.
Dragon’s Dogma II is obviously a sprawling epic, and an hour barely scratches the surface of what’s on offer. Even so, the game is looking quite polished; the combat is crunchy and responsive, the Pawn system is impressive, and the world looks utterly gorgeous. Time will tell how the full product shapes up, but for now, there’s every reason to believe that decade wait will be worth it.
Dragon’s Dogma II is currently in development for PS5, PC, and Xbox Series X/S with a release date yet to be announced.