Dragon’s Dogma 2 patch reins in the disastrous Dragonsplague

Dragon’s Dogma 2 patch reins in the disastrous Dragonsplague

Capcom has released a patch update for Dragon’s Dogma 2 that tones down the threat from Dragonsplague, the viral sickness that can be caught — and carried from one player’s game to another — by pawns, the game’s AI-controlled party members.

Infected pawns show signs of sickness, become aggressive and disobedient, and their eyes glow red. Eventually, when the player rests at an inn, the pawn transforms into a shadowy dragon that can wipe out whole towns full of merchants and quest-givers. Since the player has just saved at the inn, there’s no way to roll back the game save, either. (Towns apparently do repopulate over time, though.)

When waves of Dragonsplague started to hit in earnest after the game’s release in March, some players were shocked and annoyed at the devastation being wrought on their game saves — despite the game’s frequent warnings about the grave threat from the disease. It was another example of the apparently deliberate pushback against players in Dragon’s Dogma 2’s game design, like the lack of fast travel options, and the way saving is handled, making it hard to just roll back bad luck.

But it seems Capcom is now admitting that in this one instance, players may have had a point. In the patch notes for the new update, the developer notes that it has reduced the infection frequency of Dragonsplague and made the signs of infection easier to spot — for example, by making pawns’ glowing eyes more noticeable.

Is this a case of the developers capitulating to the loud complaints of a section of their fanbase and compromising their original vision, like the infamous debacle of Mass Effect 3’s ending? That may be part of it, but it’s also possible that Capcom genuinely didn’t intend the scale of the wipeouts that the Dragon’s Dogma 2 community has been seeing.

The game has been a sales success — Capcom said it had sold 2.5 million copies in its first two weeks — and maybe the infection rate of Dragonsplague wasn’t correctly tuned for an audience of this size. Also, while Capcom says it has made it easier to spot the signs of the disease, it makes no mention of toning down the consequences of letting it go unchecked, so unobservant players could still face NPC massacres in their games. The development team has yet to cede ground on any other systems that have been giving players grief, like the expense and scarcity of fast travel items. So the signs point to this is an intentional balance change.

Elsewhere in the patch, Capcom has taken a number of steps to make pawns, to put it bluntly, less annoying. Pawns will now fall off cliffs and repeat themselves less often, keep their chat on topic, actually guide the player when they offer to, and be more responsive to help commands when the player is being held by an enemy.

Oh, and treasure chests that have already been acquired won’t be displayed on the minimap any more.