Dragon’s Dogma 2 review – An immersive RPG for the seasoned, but not without faults

Dragon’s Dogma 2 review – An immersive RPG for the seasoned, but not without faults

Despite not being well-known in RPG circles, the initial Dragon’s Dogma, released in 2012, presented a fresh take on the traditional open-world RPG formula with its intricate combat, impressive magic mechanics, and innovative companion system. Led by Hideaki Itsuno, known for his work on Devil May Cry, the game gained a dedicated following that eagerly anticipated a sequel for over a decade. Now, after 12 years, Capcom is on the verge of delivering the highly awaited sequel.

Having briefly played the first entry, I was not completely unfamiliar with the sequel. Some may argue that this game is more of a remake than a true sequel, and I can see where they’re coming from. The sequel contains all the beloved elements of the original, just on a larger scale. As a result, some of the quirks from the first game have carried over without much alteration.

After investing nearly 40 hours exploring the imaginative landscapes and challenging quests of Dragon’s Dogma 2, my initial expectations were met with satisfaction. In this review of the single-player RPG, I have made an effort to avoid revealing major plot points and have only included screenshots of scenery and battles against typical foes. With that being said, I am ready to share my thoughts on the PC edition of Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma 2.

Equitable and unyielding society

Despite being low on oil for my lantern, I continue to flee across the mountain tops in the dead of night, pursued by a mix of wolves, goblins, and other dangerous creatures. My three companions, who had bravely fought alongside me, are now unconscious and falling further behind. As I reflect on our unpreparedness for this seemingly harmless side path, I realize it is too late to turn back. My health and stamina are nearly depleted and I am hit by an arrow that sends me tumbling over the edge of a cliff. The game prompts me to use a valuable item to revive myself, but I decline. This is just one of the many lessons I have learned from Dragon’s Dogma 2 – the importance of being prepared

Despite the multitude of dangers lurking in this fantasy world, it is surprising that anyone dares to leave the safety of the cities to complete tasks. From griffins swooping down from the sky to cyclopes ready to attack, and goblins lying in wait on every road, the threats are endless. To add to the chaos, harpies glide in to snatch unsuspecting victims away. However, this is not a game akin to Souls, as it does offer a few classes that incorporate dodging and parrying. For the most part, this game relies on strategic battles where proper positioning, party coordination, and exploiting enemy weaknesses are crucial instead of relying on brute strength or quick reflexes.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

Even if you are not at the recommended level for a specific area, having knowledge and using it to your advantage can still lead to victory against even the strongest enemies. Understanding details like the importance of cutting off a certain enemy’s tail first, the fear goblins have of fire, or the weak spot of a cyclops – although it may seem obvious – can greatly impact the outcome of battles. However, being over-leveled also comes with its own challenges. Overconfidence and carelessness can result in a group of wolves swiftly overpowering your sorcerer, abruptly ending your Doctor Strange cosplay.

The graphics are stunning, thanks to Capcom’s RE Engine which flawlessly captures the beauty of everything from the lush grassy peaks to the rugged canyons in the distant regions. I often found myself eager to explore every mountain and unique rock formation in order to discover the breathtaking views on the other side. Even though there were a few unremarkable swamps scattered throughout, the majority of the landscapes were truly mesmerizing.

As the night falls upon this vast world, it becomes a completely different challenge. The darkness is almost impenetrable, with even the lanterns providing only a small amount of light for your character, which is still a great help. In addition to the usual beasts and bandits, there are also new supernatural threats that hide in the shadows. Some of these enemies are drawn to light like moths to a flame, making it a risky decision to keep the lanterns lit at all times.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

As soon as I finished playing through the Resident Evil remakes, I immediately started playing Dragon’s Dogma 2. It was mind-boggling to discover that this game shares the same engine as those mostly linear experiences. Interestingly, both games also feature zombies.

In Dragon’s Dogma 2, players assume the role of the Arisen, a hero fated to either defeat a powerful dragon or face death. This destiny is bestowed upon the player by the dragon itself, but their journey is complicated by the appearance of a second Arisen who questions their qualifications as the chosen one. While the main quest may not be particularly captivating, it requires players to embark on extensive journeys across the land to rally allies and garner support. This aspect of adventuring is where the game truly shines.

The expansive map of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is filled with all the necessary elements of a fantasy world. Narrow pathways tempt you to stray from the main roads in pursuit of hidden treasures, often leading back to the main route but with the possibility of encountering new challenges. I found myself stumbling into dungeons guarded by ferocious Chimeras, exploring seemingly deserted castles only to discover them infested with the undead, and racing through dark caves to escape a small dragon that I may or may not have provoked with a ballista, all within the first few hours of gameplay.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

In addition, there are special features that enhance the complexity of completing quests. For instance, a forger can create replicas of items, offering the opportunity to earn double rewards by using this skill on a valuable quest item before returning it to an NPC, though there may be consequences to consider. This can also result in ongoing access to helpful items such as keys and documents that were initially only loaned by NPCs.

Side quests can also be highly engaging experiences, not necessarily because of their storylines, but due to their unique structures. Many of them involve interacting with characters or locations that are not explicitly mentioned in the quest description or map markers. Additionally, some quests have time constraints that can result in unexpected outcomes. In certain cases, completing other side quests in the same area is necessary to progress further, and this information is not always conveyed to the player. While this did not pose a challenge for me, as I prefer to thoroughly explore and communicate with all available characters, it may be a potential obstacle for other players who may struggle to find a starting point or receive any clues.

Careers and Chess Pieces

The Vocation and Pawns systems are the cornerstone of Dragon’s Dogma 2. These systems revolve around the different classes, or Vocations, available in the game. What sets this franchise apart is the unique and diverse approach to these classes. In other RPGs, a warrior and a wizard may have similar abilities such as melee attacks, blocking, or evasion. This is often done to simplify gameplay or development. However, in Dragon’s Dogma 2, each class has its own distinct behaviors and actions, making it an exciting experience to discover and master each one at your own pace.

My experience began with the Warrior Vocation, which equips you with a sword and shield that function exactly as anticipated. Clad in heavy armor, I fought off enemies with fierce slashes and defended my fellow comrades by diverting the attention of any nearby threats.

Afterwards, I switched to Thief. This occupation focuses on speed and delivering powerful strikes, utilizing dual-handed swords to swiftly defeat any opponents that underestimate its abilities. I was swiftly cutting through enemies with the grace of a Beyblade, performing acrobatic flips, dodging incoming attacks, and even using grappling hooks to bring down flying foes. With the added tactic of setting bombs and walking away confidently, the variety and complexity in gameplay between these two melee Vocations is truly impressive.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

However, when the magic Vocations are introduced, the game takes on a whole new dimension. No longer are there mana bars or limited use spells, as seen in other games. The only thing standing between you and unleashing powerful spells like napalm, lightning storms, blizzards, smoke copies of yourself, or any type of wizardry, is the amount of time you have to cast them. The key to success as a mage lies in positioning and working well with your party. Even a seemingly simple enemy can easily disrupt my casting, without any defensive options like shields or dodging abilities found in melee classes. Despite these challenges, the end result of a successful cast is usually a spectacular display of magic. However, there are times when

Meanwhile, Pawns are companions of the Arisen that can be created by players in Dragon’s Dogma 2. These custom companions can be tailored to fit the needs of the party by choosing their Vocation, armor, and weapons. Additionally, players can hire two more Pawns to join their party, selected from a pool of companions created by other players. This feature allows for a diverse range of characters with unique designs. It is worth noting that these hired Pawns do not level up, encouraging players to frequently swap them out with new ones and experience the different classes and preferences of other players.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

Pawns can serve as valuable guides in this world. As someone who frequently finds themselves lost, I greatly appreciated this feature. Whenever I needed to embark on a distant quest, I simply hired a Pawn with knowledge of the area and they would lead the way. And if I ever found myself in a new land with a different language, I could hire a Pawn to act as a translator. Additionally, Pawns were more than just helpful guides – they even caught me when I needed to quickly descend from a high ledge and would congratulate me with a high five after a hard-fought battle. This level of immersion was truly impressive. I also noticed that a Pawn’s personality and body type influenced their behavior in combat. For instance, one of my companions

Dragon’s Dogma 2’s open-world gameplay also adds an additional layer to the already diverse combat options. If you manage to stun a smaller opponent, you have the ability to hurl them like a sack of potatoes in any direction, whether it be towards other foes or off a cliff. Need to escape a group of powerful foes? Simply cut the ropes of a nearby bridge and watch as your pursuers plummet. And for larger enemies, players can even climb on their bodies to deliver powerful blows or strategically place explosives. The AI of the pawns also utilizes these tactics effectively, resulting in highly dynamic and engaging battles.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

Life’s Ups and Downs

Despite the many positive aspects of this game, there are also some drawbacks that become increasingly difficult to ignore over time. One such issue is the lack of convenient fast travel options. While there are Ox Cart services available between major hubs, allowing for a form of “teleportation”between cities, there is always the risk of encountering an attack during the journey. Additionally, there is a rare crystal that can be used for emergency teleportation to specific locations. However, after playing for 40 hours, I have found myself with quests in far-off places that would require multiple oxcart rides and numerous combat encounters just to reach. This process would then have to be repeated for the return trip. It would have been beneficial to have a less restrictive,

Despite its importance, inventory management can be a source of frustration. In a game where everything is meant to be looted, constantly having to stop and switch items between Pawns to prevent the Arisen from becoming overburdened is not an enjoyable task. It was particularly baffling to me that there is an option to move multiple items in storage but not within your own party. This means that even a simple task like transferring items between backpacks can require 4-5 clicks each time while traveling.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

If you’re not using a high-end system, performance can be a concern. In towns and cities, you may notice a decrease in FPS. With graphics settings set to a mix of high and low as recommended by the game, and FSR 3 enabled at Quality, the machine typically maintains a 40-60FPS in the open world at 1440p resolution. While this is certainly playable, there is room for improvement. In cities, the frame rates can drop significantly, sometimes even reaching the 30s or 20s frequently. And this is without enabling the ray tracing option. While there is usually no combat in these areas unless provoked, it can be frustrating to navigate through a slideshow or constantly adjust graphics settings depending on

Throughout my playthrough, I encountered some bizarre issues, the most notable being the frequent hard crashes during cutscenes. On one occasion, just a few seconds into a pre-rendered cutscene early in the game, my game suddenly crashed to desktop. Initially, I thought it was a one-time occurrence, so I retraced my steps and replayed the area, only to experience the same crash once again. It seemed impossible to progress through the cutscene without facing this problem. Feeling frustrated, I even went back to a much earlier save and tried a different route to reach the same city area, hoping to avoid the crash. However, the outcome remained the same, and I wasted two hours replaying the game. The only solution I found

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

Final Thoughts

Dragon’s Dogma 2 offers a truly immersive “adventure with a party”experience, surpassing any other open-world RPG I’ve encountered. Survival in this harsh world demands careful planning and strategic thinking. With a variety of fighting styles to choose from, including shield-wielding giants, powerful wizards, and customizable hybrid classes, there is something for every player. The game’s lack of handholding may be appealing or challenging, depending on the individual. Even completing side quests can be a daunting task, with vague instructions and vast areas to explore. However, the vast and captivating world of Dragon’s Dogma 2 will undoubtedly draw players in, aided by the unique Pawns system that adds even more depth to this sandbox adventure.

Although the game is designed for single-player, the option to hire companions from other players’ playthroughs adds a unique aspect that almost creates a sense of shared experience. However, I still hope for a full cooperative mode to be included in a potential third installment.

Despite my strong fondness for the game, I cannot overlook its flaws. Even if I disregard the occasional cutscene crashes, which can be easily bypassed, there are certain gameplay choices that detract from the overall enjoyment. The absence of a more efficient fast-travel system became increasingly aggravating as I devoted more time to playing Dragon’s Dogma 2. Repeatedly trekking along the same routes to previously visited locations made me hesitant to complete certain quests. Additionally, managing my inventory and dealing with performance issues in cities proved to be troublesome, although not insurmountable. Hopefully, future updates will address these problematic areas.

Despite its hardcore nature, Dragons Dogma 2 may not appeal to everyone. However, for those who connect with the game, it will be an unforgettable journey that is difficult to put down. Despite the challenges I have mentioned, I still highly recommend Dragon’s Dogma 2 and find myself constantly drawn back to it. I am doubtful that any RPG released in 2024 will be able to match its excellence.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 will be released on March 22, 2024, for $69.99 on Steam, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5. This review is based on an advance PC copy of the game provided by Capcom.

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