Dragon's Dogma 2's wild Dragonsplague mechanic has players feeling conflicted, but at least the memes are top-shelf

Dragon's Dogma 2
(Image credit: Ruba on YouTube)

What you need to know

  • Dragon's Dogma 2, Capcom's new, long-awaited ARPG sequel, has a terrifying mechanic called Dragonsplague that infects the player's Pawn companions with a disease that eventually causes them to wipe out an entire town or city.
  • There are ways to spot Dragonsplague infections and deal with them, but the signs are vague and can be easy to miss. As a result, the mechanic has proven to be fairly controversial, and some players were simply afraid to play the game before the way the sickness works was understood clearly.
  • Some players feel Dragonsplague symptoms need to be clearer and that the ultimate consequence of missing or ignoring it is too harsh, while others appreciate how the mechanic forces you to pay attention to your Pawns and like that Dragon's Dogma 2 isn't afraid to be punishing.
  • No matter how you feel about Dragonsplague, one thing is for sure — the memes about it have been hilarious. I've embedded several of the best ones I've seen on social media below.

In case you haven't heard (and for your sake, I really hope you have), Capcom's new ARPG Dragon's Dogma 2 has a very subtle and very dangerous mechanic called Dragonsplague. This unique debilitation originates from battles with drakes or dragons, and is unique in that it only affects Pawns. And while cases of the disease don't lead to serious consequences at first, they can bring about disastrous tragedy if   they're ignored or go unnoticed for too long.

I wrote up a complete in-depth explainer on Dragonsplague recently, but here's the TL;DR: Pawns that either fought a dragon with you or were hired from the Rift while they were afflicted with Dragonsplague in their player's world can contract/have the illness, and it doesn't appear in the Status page like other debilitations do. The only way to tell if a Pawn has it or not is to watch and listen for pulsing red eyes, headache animations while they're idle, and occasional instances of disobedience — and if you don't either dismiss or kill the Pawn before resting at an inn after around 4-5 in-game days, they'll transform into a draconic shadow monster that "nukes" the town or city you're at, killing every NPC there.

Though vendors and characters with ties to the main story seem to respawn after about a week, the vast majority of affected NPCs — including givers of side quests — reportedly remain dead unless you use Wakestones on them. And as players began to realize just how catastrophic Dragonsplague calamity is over Dragon's Dogma 2's launch weekend, panic and paranoia started to spread like the affliction itself through the game's community. Before people understood what its signs were or how to deal with it, many were afraid to even play the game.

The red eyes of a Dragonsplague-afflicted Pawn in Dragon's Dogma 2, just before they unleash a devastating calamity. (Image credit: Capcom)

"I've seen dozens of people claim their playthrough is ruined through this mechanic," wrote u/Weary-Presentation-2 in a concerned post. "Entire towns gone overnight. I'm now no longer looking forward to the game and simply anxious that this could happen to me in my playthrough." Though they later said they don't "have any quarrels" with Dragonsplague now that they understand it, the fact this player and others like them were scared to continue their playthrough speaks to how wild the mechanic is.

Overall, the community's opinion on the disease and the havoc it can wreck is pretty mixed. Some feel that the signs aren't clear enough (the in-game Dragonsplague tooltip doesn't tell you what to look for, though some random dialogue between Pawns does) and that the consequences of failing to spot and take care of infections are way too harsh, which is compounded by Dragon's Dogma 2's one-save system. Others, though, enjoy the way the mechanic forces you to pay attention to your Pawns and like that the game isn't afraid to get punishing with its consequences.

My own opinion falls somewhere in the middle here, as I love the idea of Dragonsplague conceptually, but feel it suffers from poor execution. The pulsing crimson eyes, for example, are quite subtle unless you're checking for them at night or in a dark cave, and are even harder to spot if the Pawn's eyes are red naturally (helmets can also cover them completely). Tying telltale headache animations to idling is also an odd choice for an action RPG with fun movement and verticality, and Pawns will sometimes never disobey at all even if they're infected. Pawns with the Straightforward inclination may also say voice lines that make them seem a bit exasperated, resulting in cases like this one where a player misunderstood their tone as insubordinate and proceeded to give them a Brine bath.

Striking the right balance with signposting is tough — there were debates about how yellow paint in games like Final Fantasy VII Rebirth makes things too straightforward just a month ago — but whether you think the game's Dragonsplague warnings are fine or believe they should be more visible, I think everyone can agree that the memes about the mechanic are hilarious. I've embedded several of my favorites below:

Me checking my Pawns for Dragonsplague from r/DragonsDogma
When the pawn starts talking back at you from r/DragonsDogma
Me looking at my pawn when she says she is getting a headache from r/DragonsDogma
Drew this little PSA poster from r/DragonsDogma
gotta make sure from r/DragonsDogma

The funniest thing about the whole Dragonsplague ordeal is that the most efficient way to “cure” it is to yeet infected Pawns into deep water or off the highest cliff you can find, though I do wish there was a way to actually treat it without abusing my party members. I like my Pawns. Even though the Rift compels them to follow me, they’re still my closest allies and dearest companions, and instead of sending their corpses back to the ether for a cleansing, I'd prefer to help them directly.

Of course, it's entirely possible that there's some kind of obscure Dragonsplague cure in Dragon's Dogma 2, given that the game is chock-full of interesting secrets to find and discoveries to make. And if there's not, perhaps Capcom will add one in future updates. If nothing else, I definitely expect that there'll eventually be a mod for that — there's already one for cheap appearance changing items, after all.

Dragon's Dogma 2 is available now, and it's one of the best Xbox games and best PC games you can play in 2024 if you love action RPGs with deep, varied combat and rich fantasy worlds. Capcom's new title is playable on Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and PS5 for $69.99.

Dragon's Dogma 2

Dragon's Dogma 2

You are the Arisen, the one who holds the loyalty of Pawns and has an intertwined destiny with a powerful dragon. Work with your party to battle through tough enemies, explore distant locations, and grow stronger so you can take down your foes. 

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Dragon's Dogma 2 Deluxe Edition

Dragon's Dogma 2 Deluxe Edition

You'll gain additional add-ons along with the base game when purchasing the Deluxe Edition. Use your powers to take own large dragons with the help of your Pawn party members. 

PC — Buy at: <a href="https://greenmangaming.sjv.io/c/221109/1219987/15105?subId1=hawk-custom-tracking&sharedId=hawk&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.greenmangaming.com%2Fgames%2Fdragons-dogma-2-deluxe-edition-pc%2F" data-link-merchant="greenmangaming.sjv.io"" target="_blank">GMG (Steam) | <a href="https://cdkeys.pxf.io/c/221109/1566025/18216?subId1=hawk-custom-tracking&sharedId=hawk&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdkeys.com%2Fdragon-s-dogma-2-deluxe-edition-pc-na-steam" data-link-merchant="cdkeys.pxf.io"" data-link-merchant="greenmangaming.sjv.io"" target="_blank">CDKeys (Steam) | <a href="https://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-100624765-14473384?sid=hawk-custom-tracking&url=https://www.humblebundle.com/store/dragons-dogma-2-deluxe" data-link-merchant="anrdoezrs.net"" data-link-merchant="cdkeys.pxf.io"" data-link-merchant="greenmangaming.sjv.io"" target="_blank">Humble Bundle (Steam)

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.