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Preview: I don’t know what Dragon’s Dogma 2 is about, but it’s really good

We played Dragon's Dogma 2 and it was brilliant, even if we didn't fully understand what was going on
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I’ll level with you: I have no idea what’s actually happening in Dragon’s Dogma 2. From my limited knowledge of the first game, I’m pretty sure you have to have your heart taken by a dragon in order to become an Arisen, and so I assume that is what has happened here, too. But after playing it and rewatching trailers and footage, I still don’t know anything more than that. All I know is this: it looks and feels really cool.

The demo I played dropped you into the world as one of three classes and let you go anywhere, in true open-world style. It did mean that I lacked any context, but it didn’t matter when only a minute after starting I spot a huge Griffin roaming a local farm. The creature is huge, with a head the same size as your entire player character. Without thinking I rushed in, jumped, grabbed on, and started slashing as my pawn followers shouted that the weakspot was the head.

It was around this time that I realized the series of dots underneath the Griffin’s healthbar indicated just how many health bars the creature had – about four or five. Each of my attacks were taking off, perhaps, one-thirtieth of a single health bar. Then it decided to take flight, leaving me gripping its tailfeathers until I fall to ground and splat into the grass. Dead. Despite that experience, I’m never one to reconsider, so I chase after the Griffin again for an encounter that ends much like the first.

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Sorry, story? Narrative? No idea, mate, but I did stab a giant ogre in the buttcheek until it came crashing down to the ground, where I decided to execute a critical attack on the head – complete with fancy animation. It’s probably not a coincidence that Capcom hasn’t bothered to give us too much info on what’s going on in the world of Dragon’s Dogma 2, because it seems to be all about what you decide to do within it.

Exploration is what matters, but not in the Breath of the Wild stamina management way, or Death Stranding’s mountaineering method. There’s a path to follow, one that’s rarely interrupted by broken bridges or rocks blocking the path – instead, it’s monsters. The creatures roaming the world of Dragon’s Dogma give all of the people who live within it a good reason to carry heavy weapons and armor any time they leave home.

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Spending too long outside will also come with downsides, like nighttime, where the wilderness is suddenly as dark as a cave. The open-world landscape feels oppressive and claustrophobic at night. Your lantern illuminates three feet in front of you at the most. Coming across a troupe of minor goblin creatures isn’t going to cause too much stress, but a larger foe, when you can’t even see an escape route? As day turns to night, that jaunt through the forest with friends goes from feeling like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla to Alien: Isolation.

Traversing the world isn’t as easy as jumping on a horse either — it’ll take time for you to travel from town to town, waypoint to waypoint, and you’ll need to consider your supplies and the route to take each time.

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It’s not all bad to get surrounded by enemies though – in fact, sometimes, that’s what you want. Throwing goblins at each other will likely never get old, while taking out bigger monsters can feel as exhilarating as it does hilarious – watching your tiny character climbing the huge limbs of these beasts is a thrill.

I still don’t really know what Dragon’s Dogma 2 is, mind. I don’t know what, if any, story is present, or what I’m actually supposed to be doing in that world, but I know that I really, reallywant to find out – and get revenge on the cave full of goblins for crushing me with a boulder.