How to play Dragon’s Dogma Online wherever you are

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Update: This article has been updated on 22/08/17 in light of the release of the Season 3 update, and to include new instructions on how to install the translation patch for it.

Ah, Dragon’s Dogma [official site], gem of Capcom’s slightly weird early 201X lineup. The familiar alliteration in the title wasn’t coincidence; Dragon’s Dogma was Capcom’s take on classic D&D, circa 1990. A fully player-designed party, a threadbare plot, a semi-open world full of dungeons, loot, levelling and a few dragons, too, and all tied together with a physics’y, tactile action combat engine fresh out of the Capcom forges, allowing for the kind of dramatic combat that would drive a DM to despair as they consult the arcane rules behind grappling.

In 2015 Dragon’s Dogma Online took the series online in a sequel of sorts, but as the third season of that game approaches, there’s still no sign of an English language release. Fear not though because with a little bit of tinkering, you can jump in right now, and there’s a fan translation in progress that you can enjoy the early parts of already. Here’s how to play and why you should.

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Despite (or thanks to) its oddities, the original game sold acceptably enough, built up a decent cult following, and has recently seen a slew of re-releases including ports to the current crop of consoles due later this year. So when this free-to-play pseudo-sequel was announced, the feeling was that it’d surely come west not long after its August 2015 release. A game so aggressively Tolkien-esque in its stylings would have to be Westward bound, right? The game even has The Tarrasque – the OG party-crusher and DM’s last resort – as an optional endgame boss!

Two years later there’s no english language release in sight. Capcom’s response to questions about the game has been limited to silence, evasive statements, thrown smoke-bombs and daring 10th storey window escapes. A crying shame, given that it’s a really rather lovely game, and a far more direct successor to the original than many expected..

Fortunately for us all, a dedicated crew of english-speaking fans have managed to come up with a relatively pain-free way for the rest of us to access the game, along with a partial translation patch, which localizes almost all the core UI elements, item/monster names and quest objectives. In short, everything required for basic gameplay, assuming you’re halfway familiar with the original game. Sadly, only the very beginning of the story is translated at present, but you’re probably not going to care too much about narrative motivations when you’re clinging to a raging Sphinx’s wing as it dive-bombs the rest of your party.

Assuming you’re coming fresh off the original game, Dragon’s Dogma Online is a lot more of the same. The world is enormous compared to the original, and full of interesting nooks and crannies to explore and loot, with every abandoned well containing something of interest at the bottom. While story quests will help propel your first run through each area, the real meat of the game is in exploring this huge non-linear world, either with friends or a party of AI controlled Pawns, either self-made, or hired from other players. It’s not really an MMO – you see other players in the central city of the game, but the world itself is fully instanced for you and your party of 1-4 humans or pawns.

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As with the original, the real stars of the show in DDO are the massive boss-class monsters. There are almost 60 different types to find and murder this time, and multiple variants of each to be discovered. While the finer mechanics of fighting them have slightly changed from the original (once a monster has become enraged, its stamina must be drained before its health can be reliably damaged), it’s still that familiar mix of traditional CRPG silliness and Shadow Of The Colossus-inspired clambering around on top of angry, flailing beasts in search of weak-points to stab.

Nice as this all sounds, it’s not entirely sunshine and +3 Lollipops Of Joy – some concessions have been made to the F2P online framework, including a range of perks that subscribing players (i.e. Not Us) have access to. The engine itself also feels a little rougher and possibly less friendly for low-end systems than the original, and some visual effects (such as spreading flames and charred monster-meat) aren’t nearly so detailed here. But for the most part, this is more Dragon’s Dogma writ large, and designed to be replayed, as switching classes (freely done) and retreading old areas will gradually unlock higher-level challenges in that zone. All told, it’s well worth a look if you came away from the original wanting more.

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If all of this has piqued your interest, your party members have a bit of work to do before venturing forth. You’re looking at a bit of monkeying around with (free, public, far easier than it sounds) VPNs, 17gb of download and trusting in the good-will and enthusiasm of the english-speaking DDO community, which you can find mostly centered around this Subreddit, the Wyrm Hunt clan Discord server, and the White Dragon Temple wiki, which provides a lot of useful data that would be difficult to look up in Japanese..

Regarding downloads, you’ll be wanting to grab three things:

First, the game client itself (Approx 16gb) – no install required. Just unzip.

Then the patch to the latest build of the game (700mb), if you don’t feel like downloading a chunk of new game data via an achingly slow free VPN.

Lastly, the latest translation patch (80mb), courtesy of the Rift Crystal translation crew.

While you’re waiting for all that to download, you’ll probably want to be registering the game on Capcom Japan’s site. Follow this handy little guide and that should only take about five minutes. It’s easier than you might expect. That page also contains the information you’ll need to get your VPN up and running, but it’s literally just a matter of picking a server listed as Japanese from a list.

Once done, just unzip the game, then the patch, then the translation files all to the same directory and overwriting as prompted. Assuming everything went well, your DDO directory should weigh in at 33.5gb. Log into your Japanese SoftEther VPN server of choice, fire up ddon_launcher.exe, and fill in your Username & Password boxes! Assuming everything goes to plan, you’ll be met with a loading bar in the launcher. It’ll take a few minutes verifying that your game is in working order, and then you’re presented with a shiny green launch button. From here on, things should be simpler, intuitive, and mostly in English.

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As an optional step, you can add a quick and easy IP mask which allows you to drop your VPN connection once you’re properly logged into the game (ideally once you’re in-game and walking around), reducing lag greatly if you’re planning on playing with other people, and allowing you to resume normal internet usage while the game is minimized or windowed. I’ve found it to be very forgiving of idling AFK. It’s a one-off tweak, so well worth the extra five minutes of effort. Go forth and stab a few goblins for me, would you?

Update: On Thursday night (August 17th) the long-awaited Season 3 for the game rolled out, adding new content and features to all layers of the game. This, of course broke the current translation patch. It only took 24 hours for the community to get back in business however. You can get the update to the new version (12gb download, unpack over existing DDO directory) here or here, and get the release-candidate translation patch (it may have some bugs yet) here.

One final note: The game servers are taken down for a few hours of weekly maintenance every Thursday night, GMT-wise, from about midnight til 2-3am, so if you find yourself unable to log in around that time, that’s probably why.

18 Comments

  1. Dominic Tarason says:

    Oh. Oh dear. They used the screenshot of me hanging out in the bathtub with my pawn. I feel like a discount Geralt.

    It really is baffling that DDO hasn’t been localized. There’s not a huge amount to translate, it’s not like bandwidth is an issue (the game is client-sided for the most part when running solo), and it’s almost agressively western in its theming.

    Well worth a play though. When I say the environment is large, I’m not joking. Fairly early on, while exploring a forested zone, I saw a church steeple on top of a distant mountaintop. Several hours later, I’d managed to reach the mountain, ascended through several networks of valleys, caves and climbable cliff walls, fought minibosses and grunts and skeleton wizards, and eventually reached the plateau at the top.

    I was greeted by a boss fight against a giant. Narrowly surviving that, I step forward, and notice that there’s a large golden treasure horde nearby, with a half dozen treasure chests.

    And then a Griffin boss fight begins. And I barely scrape through that.

    So TWO massive bosses defeated, a pile of loot found, I’m just a few steps short of the church at the peak. I wander inside, and find a small dungeon, culminating in ANOTHER boss fight against a lich.

    As an aside, the view from the mountaintop was lovely and I wish I’d taken more screenshots of it. I could see half the world from up there.

    Story stuff aside (which is kinda like a guided tour of the world) It’s like a rolling D&D campaign. You pick a destination and hack and slash your way through it all. And by completing objectives in the open world (a ‘kill the boss’ quest will be assigned at the start of any such fight), you unlock higher level challenges in that region for future visits.

    It’s a little less polished & refined than the original singleplayer game, but there’s a ton of it. Plus, you can play with friends.

    • Chillicothe says:

      You’ll never see it co-miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing

      • Dominic Tarason says:

        Ha, yeah, there’s a bunch of cross-promotion costumes. Sadly available only to premium players (i.e Not Us), but it’s funny to be walking along and seeing a Phantom Thief or someone who looks like they just walked out of Attack On Titan.

  2. Moraven says:

    Phantasy Star Online 2 is another game that never got released to the West, but has a fan translation.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Yep, PSO2 is great too. It’s a bit harder to sign up for (you need to defeat a one-off Japanese captcha!) but there’s no VPNs required, at least.

      They just rolled out a major new expansion for it, too. Fittingly, it’s Orcs & Goblins medieval fantasy-themed, same as DDO.

    • Chromatose says:

      +2 for the Phantasy Star Online 2 love. Game is grindy as hell but so much fun. Also very similar to Dragon’s Dogma Online in terms of the instancing and AI-controlled party members.

  3. Metalfish says:

    I reckon Capcom hates money ’cause they’re never going to release this. Only I reckon Capcom loves money ’cause they’re releasing the prequel again on the latest consoles. I don’t know what to reckon.

  4. LuNatic says:

    I’ve heard that the that combat is extremely shallow and balanced towards ‘hit it with the biggest sword you have until it dies’, rather than the tactical combat of the original, which was about timing dodges and striking vulnerabilities. Anyone who’s tried it want to weigh in on this?

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      It’s pretty much the exact same combat engine as the original. Some tweaks have been made to how bosses function – most notably the Enrage/Tire cycle. After hitting a certain breakpoint on health, bosses will switch into a more aggressive mode where they take far reduced damage, and you need to focus on hitting weakpoints that drain stamina instead. Once a boss is stunned, you can unload on them and do a ton of damage before it resets back to normal.

      The more advanced classes tend to be even more about mobility than the ones in the original game. Take a look at what the Alchemist can do. It involves trampolines, and extreme body-piercing.

      • Rivalus says:

        OMG, it’s Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist! Seriously, that skill is rad.

  5. BaronKreight says:

    I very much enjoyed the single player DD on PC. Maybe ill try this.

    Fans can get creative. I remember the situation with Bless Online. It was never released in EU and US but it was released in Russia. So fans made a translation and people could join and play. I personally helped one dutch guy to start playing on the russian server. The game was closed though recently.

  6. Ghostwise says:

    I need to do something about that habit of adding “Iron Maiden’s gonna get you no matter how far” whenever somebody says “wherever you are”.

    • Captain Narol says:

      Just call 666.

      Or don’t do anything, there is worse habits.

  7. ye-ole-PK says:

    Thank you for this summary! I have been naively waiting for capcom to port this over. Dogma is one of my favorites that I replay and rebuy on new consoles.

  8. Jmnea says:

    It’s unfortunately tedious to play it like this. So much isn’t translated it’s a hassle to even play it.

  9. Dominic Tarason says:

    The Season 3 expansion for DDO has just rolled out. Translation patch is currently being worked on, but the main data patch is here, weighing in at a hefty 12gb

    link to drive.google.com
    And a mirror here:
    link to mega.nz

    The little BAT file there will delete some redundant files no longer used by the game as of this update, if you want to save some HDD space.

    You can also get a pair of shiny promo daggers using this code here in-game:
    AW09-4CT7-1CFN-1X27

    I reiterate that the current translation patch WILL break your game. Do not use it. Hold on while the fans hammer out the kinks. And download the 3.0 update while you wait.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Told you the DDO fans are a dedicated bunch. The translation patch has already been updated. It’s a release candidate, so there may still be bugs, but it should work!

      link to github.com

      Also, here’s some extra promo codes, including the one above:

      Lv1 Sword/Shield w/ Lv40 stats:
      KY30-YJ14-W072-R3CH

      Lv1 Thief Daggers w/ Lv40 stats:
      AW09-4CT7-1CFN-1X27

      A sack of mixed currencies:
      KC08-R133-R4TU-EEF1

      210 assorted potions:
      KC05-TRLE-GHGY-8TU6

      • Dominic Tarason says:

        Oops, a correction. The promo weapons vary, stat-wise. The sword & board are Lv40-equivalent, but the daggers require you to use the crafting system to upgrade them. The materials required are cheap, though.

        Either way, it’s a massive boost early on. I think damage output is capped based on area, but you’ll never be struggling to hurt monsters with this gear, at least until you get a good ways into the story.

        Just because you can hurt them doesn’t mean that they can’t ruin you though. Don’t get powerbombed by an ogre. It may kill you instantly.