Dragon’s Dogma 2 offers a wide variety of playstyles depending on what Vocation you select. Most of these are the kinds of archetypes you’d expect: melee sword fighter, speedy dagger wielding thief, ranged archer, and spell slinging mage – and some are hybrid Vocations, like Mystic Spearhand and Magick Archer, that combine elements of one Vocation with another for a completely new style of play.
But what of the Trickster Vocation? It was revealed as part of the Dragon’s Dogma 2 showcase back in November, but little has been shown of this unique class beyond that quick 45-second look, and a short description on the Dragon’s Dogma 2 website. Fortunately, as part of our visit to Capcom, we got to sit down and play with the Trickster for about an hour, and I can confidently say that this is a style of play unlike anything I’ve ever seen in an open-world action game.
To start, The Trickster is essentially a pacifist. Their chosen weapon, a ceremonial Censer, does little to no damage when it’s swung at an enemy. Instead, the purpose of attacking is to build up aggro and pull an enemy’s attention towards you. To that end, you also have a special ability called Suffocating Shroud that sends your smoke out in a wide area and draws a large amount of enemy attention towards you.
So why would you want to get a whole group of enemies swarming on you if you can’t actually damage them? Ah, see that’s where the word “trickster” comes into play. By using the Trickster’s unique skill, Effigial Incense, you create a Simulacrum (or a clone, for simplicity’s sake) that enemies will perceive as the real you. This clone has its own health bar and will disappear if it’s killed, but you can also teleport the clone to you while it’s still alive with the press of a button. This way, you can basically kite enemies to wherever you want, as long as you keep their aggro and keep your clone alive.
So you can maneuver a foe to get an environmental advantage, which is super important, because the Trickster shines brightest when there are cliffs, uneven surfaces, or other elements of the environment that can be used to your advantage. The Trickster has two abilities designed around creating surfaces that aren’t really there, but appear real to enemies. The first, Tricky Terrace, creates a cloud that can be placed off a ledge that the enemy will perceive as real solid ground; and the second, Illusive Divider, will create a wall of smoke that you can see through, but the enemy cannot.
The final piece of this puzzle is the Visitant Aura, a technique that allows you to essentially make an astral projection that you can freely move around to scout the landscape for as long as your stamina will allow. You’re super vulnerable while controlling the projection, so using Illusive Divider to give yourself some cover while using it in the heat of battle is a good idea. Crucially, you can float off of ledges, ascend or descend at will, and even call your clone to wherever your projection currently is. I’m sure you can see why that might be useful.
When you combine all of these “tricks” together, the real value of the Trickster comes into view. Before getting into a combat encounter, you can create a clone with Effigial Incense, use Visitant Aura to scout out an area for enemies and look for any sort of environmental hazards (like a cliff for instance), recall your clone so that it hovers over said environmental hazard, place a false floor underneath it with Tricky Terrace, then lure enemies close to the clone and use Suffocating Shroud to send all of their aggro to the clone and watch with glee as enemies throw themselves off the edge in an effort to get at you.
Now, obviously this is a lot of prep to go through, and isn’t going to be practical in every situation. Which is why the Trickster is also equipped with some other tricks up their sleeves. First and foremost, they are a support class – relying on, and substantially buffing, the strength of their pawn party so that they can do a lot of the heavy lifting. One such buff is Aromatic Resurgence, which supercharges your party, making them hit a lot harder. While I was playing for gameplay capture reasons, I had to make a mental note not to use this buff because my pawns would kill all of my foes before I got a chance to show off any of the more technical tricks of the vocation.
The most powerful spell I saw of the Trickster’s was Dragon’s Delusion, which takes some time to cast, but brings forth an illusion of a Dragon that terrifies any enemy that sees it, even large Ogres, bringing them down to their knees, giving your pawns ample opportunity to do big damage. Since most of the Trickster’s other skills seemed well-suited for dealing with small to mid-sized enemies, this was a really nice addition to see as something that could also let them deal with the bigger, beefier enemies.
Capcom – Dragon’s Dogma 2
The Trickster was not an easy vocation to figure out in just an hour’s time. It took me a while to fully grasp the aggro system – avoiding pulling too much aggro and not having any way to get away from the enemies I attracted. But once it clicked, I found it to be a uniquely satisfying Vocation that brought to mind one of the core tenets of Devil May Cry’s combat: It’s not just about killing every enemy in the room, but how you kill every enemy in the room. It’s an intentionally underpowered Vocation that’s designed to encourage creative thinking to solve difficult combat problems in ways beyond just swinging a weapon or hurling a tornado at it. And it’s one that I’m very excited to experiment more with, once I’ve got my hands on the full game.
Mitchell Saltzman is an editorial producer at IGN. You can find him on twitter @JurassicRabbit