Dragon's Dogma 2 Interview: Hideaki Itsuno and Yoshiaki Hirabayashi on crafting a more engaging Action RPG world
During this year's TGS, not only did we get the chance to play around an hour of Dragon's Dogma 2, but Capcom was also kind enough to give us a chance to chat about the upcoming Action RPG with both Hideaki Itsuno and Yoshiaki Hirabayashi. We talked about the challenges and objectives the team faced while developing Dragon's Dogma 2, and what they hope fans can look forward to experiencing with the title when it eventually launches.
RPG Site: It's been over a decade since the original Dragon's Dogma. What would you say is the #1 thing you want to convey to fans of the original, coming into Dragon's Dogma 2?
Hideaki Itsuno: First off - I really, really wanted to make Dragon's Dogma 2 immediately after the first one came out. Due to diverse reasons, I couldn't quite jump to it - which is to say, I was very much looking forward to developing it. Now that I'm working on it, I'm doing it in a way that there's nothing left behind, this time around. I hope player's can look forward to the game.
RPG Site: One thing that stood out to me while playing the demo is how much of the original game's DNA is... I wouldn't say unchanged, but rather "preserved" is perhaps a better way of putting it. So many of the original game's elements are still there for everyone to see. It strikes me that, going off what I played the title feels almost like a reimagining of the original game. Was that intentional, or can you share anything about the direction the project has taken?
Itsuno: Before jumping into creating Dragon's Dogma 2, we put together a lot of information - namely, what people expected of a sequel, what they would want from a sequel, and trying to see how that would align with what we wanted to develop as a follow-up. A lot of the concepts actually matched between what fans expected and what we personally wanted to develop, so that gave us confidence to move forward with this concept.
Of course, we were very careful with leaving in many of these key elements to convey them to a new generation of fans, but we also made many adjustments to live up to current trends and expectations. So you saying that the game felt like a reimagining of the original game is quite heartening, as that matches what we were going for.
RPG Site: Another aspect of the demo that stood out to me is how different the world feels, this time around. The original game's world, even today - as I was reacquainting myself on the flight over on my Steam Deck - is a very dense world, even compared to the open-world Action RPGs of today. Yet going through some of the wooded areas of the demo, opening the map and getting a general idea of how large the game world appears to be - it feels like we're on another level, here. It must've been quite the undertaking. What sort of considerations did the team make when designing the new game world?
Itsuno: Density was exactly the sort of feeling we were trying to convey, and in fact it was one of the first concepts penned during our original design documents. When you focus on wide, open environments where everything is visible - nothing is scary, there's no tension.
Having wide or narrow areas doesn't necessarily mean that a game will be fun, so what we aimed to achieve was to design a world where you could see what your situation is and where you're attempting to get to, but you won't really know what's exactly right in front of you at all times. You won't be sure what can happen on the trek ahead of you and you'll have to prepare accordingly.
To that end, we had several different team members go out and explore different areas, and different landscapes, to see if we could arrive at that sort of density where things don't feel either too narrow, or too wide - so hearing that our intentions have been properly conveyed is encouraging to hear as a developer.
RPG Site: I know that the RE Engine has a medley of graphical features, and Dragon's Dogma as a franchise has that sort of density and immersion as what feels like a core pillar of its development - is there any chance that either the PC or console versions might support Raytracing?
Yoshiaki Hirabayashi: You've already played the game and seen it for yourself, so you've seen the work we've put into the visuals. As far as technical specs, we're not ready to make any announcements at this point. But we are trying to make the appropriate adjustments when having, for example, raytracing. Our work isn't limited to just the technology behind our visuals, of course; our art team has been hard at work into the visual effects - such as the lighting, the weather, how the time of day changing will all work in harmony. We hope players will pay attention and see the effort that's been put into these small details.
RPG Site: One moment that especially surprised me during one of my demo playthroughs is when I was in a small encampment, and a goblin that I thought I had killed on the way to it ended up finding its way inside its gates. It's interesting, because outside of scripted segments in the first game you never really saw enemies in villages or cities, or encampments. Was that an intended possibility for Dragon's Dogma 2?
Itsuno: It's fantastic you ran into a situation like that. With the original Dragon's Dogma 1, there were hardware limitations - such as the load areas between camps and cities were separate. This dictated some restrictions that we wanted to remove with Dragon's Dogma 2, so that situations like you ran into could occur.
For example, if you kite enemies not just Goblins, but even Cyclops' or Griffins we put the work in to have NPCs react naturally, rather than just having scripted events. This was a great challenge, but the hope is that every player will run into situations similar to what you discovered.
RPG Site: While many of the enemies I faced in the demo were, of course, originally in Dragon's Dogma 1 as well - there were a few that stood out as explicitly new. Slimes, for example; I don't think I've seen a Slime as viscous as this in another RPG, and I ran into a Minotaur. Are there any other specific new enemies you want players to look forward to discovering them in Dragon's Dogma 2?
Itsuno: We have many monsters that we haven't announced yet, and of course some that you can pinpoint from previous trailers - but we don't want to spoil the surprise, as it's that element of surprise that adds to the excitement of the game.
RPG Site: Finally, any closing remarks you'd want to share regarding the game - for fans either new or old?
Itsuno: To all the people who want to play in and seriously inhabit a fantasy world, and want to try different things while exploring this world - please look forward to playing our game, and we want to encourage that exploration. The more things you try, the more fun you'll have!
Hirabayashi: For anyone looking to highly rewarding adventures, to everyone who likes action, we're confident you'll find what you're looking for and then some in Dragon's Dogma 2.
Thanks again to Hideaki Itsuno-san, Yoshiaki Hirabayashi-san, and everyone at Capcom that gave us the chance to talk about the game!