Dragon's Dogma 2 Review

Review in Progress: Dragon’s Dogma 2

Quite the Dogma indeed

After over a decade, the sequel to one of the more unique open-world RPGs is finally here. With just over 40 hours in the world of Dragon’s Dogma 2 so far, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

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If you’ve played the original Dragon’s Dogma, surely you can understand the sentiment here. Every day I’ve played DD2 I’ve fully intended to focus on the main storyline. But life is not that simple, and every single time I’ve found myself ending the day halfway across the map, deep in a cave wondering how I got there

Dragon’s Dogma 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel that the original already reinvented. Sure, there’s some new features and content in this sequel. But more than anything, DD2 is simply more Dragon’s Dogma, jank and all. You’ll make connections with your Pawns, cheese the combat a bit to knock a deadly cyclops off a cliff, and mount a Griffin only for it to take off into the sky and send you freefalling to your death. Like I said, this is Dragon’s Dogma, and that’s a good thing.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 (PC [reviewed], PS5, Xbox Series X|S)
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: March 22, 2024
MSRP: $69.99

Rise, Arisen

The story of Dragon’s Dogma 2 follows pretty closely to the original, as it’s set in the same universe. A fearsome dragon chooses an individual in the world and steals their heart, causing them to become the Arisen. The Arisen’s task is to essentially hunt down the dragon and defeat it, reclaiming its heart. This is the overarching storyline in both the original and in DD2. However, in DD2, the world reacts a bit differently to the Arisen.

The tale of the Arisen and the Dragon is known to all, and the Arisen is seen as somewhat of a hero in Dragon’s Dogma 2. But it’s been a while since an Arisen has existed, and in the meantime, a Regent rules in the Arisen’s stead.

Greedy with power, the Regent tries to have you killed and attempts to install a fake Arisen in your place, one that she can control. Thankfully, there’s a group of knights and warriors who know who you really are and what’s actually going on, which sets in motion the main storyline of Dragon’s Dogma 2. You must plot to expose the Regent and the fake Arisen while also proving your capabilities to rally others to your cause.

Overall the main storyline has me quite intrigued to see where it’s going to go. I’m curious in the end how much the original actually overlaps with the world from the sequel. It may seem inconsequential but something interesting of note is when you start up the game, the title screen actually just says Dragon’s Dogma, not Dragon’s Dogma 2. I know it could mean nothing, but I could also see it being a hint of some overlap in what’s going on between the original and the sequel.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Just a Pawn

The story isn’t the only thing making a return from the original. The popular Rift Network and Pawn System also make a return. Only the Arisen is capable of interacting with the mysterious Rift Network, which allows you to choose two Pawns that join your party. When you start the game, everyone creates their Arisen—the main character—and a Pawn. The Pawn you create will travel with you by default. But the other two slots in your party are comprised of Pawns you choose from the Rift Network to join you on your journey. That is, Pawns created by other players. Capcom also populated the Rift Network with several premade Pawns of their own which you can use.

Using others’ Pawns is not only a cool multiplayer feature, it has more perks as well. All of a Pawn’s experiences go with them through the Rift Network when they join another player. For example, if I go around killing Cyclops’ in my game, my main Pawn will gain knowledge on how to fight Cyclops’ enemies. If someone chooses to recruit my main Pawn, they will take that knowledge with them, helping that player take down Cyclops’ more easily.

Pawns also bring with them their knowledge of quests, which is super helpful. A lot of the quests in Dragon’s Dogma 2 are a bit light on the actual instruction, oftentimes just giving you a roundabout place to go to progress the quest. But if a pawn in your journey has experience completing the quest in a past adventure with another player, they will be quick to let you know that they know where you need to go.

On my first day in DD2, I recruited a handsome Beastren—the new humanoid beast racewho was a fighter named Lollipop. Lollipop must serve as the main Pawn to an Arisen who has played quite a bit because it feels like any time I get lost on a quest, Lollipop is quick to let me know where I need to go. Which I certainly appreciate. Lollipop’s also a pretty cool dude.

Often times after slaying a gang of Goblin’s or de-tailing a horde of Saurian’s he’ll tell me I did a hell of a job and give me a high five. The characters in DD2 feel just as lively as the game world. I’ve used a few Pawns from the Rift Network in my playtime, and each one has seemed like an actual living entity in this world, telling me about their experiences, commenting on my combat efficacy, and even telling me they don’t agree with actions I’ve taken.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Who said killin’ was easy?

You pick from four different starting vocations which is essentially your class: Fighter, Archer, Mage, or Thief. I started as an Archer which, having since played all of the other vocations, was overall a good first choice. Every vocation must be leveled up by simply killing things while having that vocation equipped. Doing so will unlock the ability to purchase vocation-specific skills from the vocation guild located in the major city.

The Archer, for example, is able to aim and loose an arrow from the start; a simple Archer attack. But as I gained Archer vocation levels I got new skills such as the ability to essentially zoom in and snipe my enemies from afar, dealing bonus damage. Another skill lets me fire off a flurry of arrows at once, essentially serving as an area-of-effect attack.

You also unlock passive skills for each vocation, which can be equipped regardless of vocation. Therefore, it’s handy to level multiple vocations to build an arsenal of passive skills to truly make you a force to be reckoned with.

I eventually unlocked an advanced vocation called Warrior that wields two-handed weapons and is akin to a Barbarian or Berserker from similar games. I’ll admit, it took some getting used to; the switch from standing afar and aiming arrows FPS-style to having to meticulously calculate and execute sword swings. But there’s something very rewarding behind the weight of the melee weapon in Dragon’s Dogma 2. I don’t always connect my attacks, but when I do it feels very good.

It seems as though each vocation has a truly unique playstyle, and I haven’t even unlocked all of them. One thing I’d recommend is if you find yourself having a rough start, don’t hesitate to try a different vocation and see if one clicks with you more.

Screenshot by Destructoid

There’s a side quest for that

Dragon’s Dogma 2 takes the worldbuilding of the original and manages to build upon it in practically every way. I think the last time a world felt genuinely so real and alive was…well…Dragon’s Dogma. In your travels trekking between town and city, you’ll encounter various elements of the world just going about its life. Random merchants walking between towns, a small town trying to band together to fight off a treacherous beast…so much of the cool experiences I’ve had in DD2 feels as though I’ve just so happened to stumble upon them.

This is also the reason this is a Review in Progress. So much fun is to be had in DD2 by just picking an unexplored location and exploring it. You might find a dungeon with an enemy you’ve yet to encounter protecting a nice piece of loot. Perhaps discover a town you didn’t even know existed, full of characters with their own side quests for you to tackle. The world continues to live and grow all around you, too.

Early on I was doing a main quest that had me taking out a group of goblins that had been plaguing an area. That was an easy enough task. But nearby I found a village that had been ambushed by Saurians, the reptilian-like creatures in Dragon’s Dogma. After clearing out the Saurians, the people thanked me, and I received a quest to come back and check on the village in a few days.

I did just that, and a few days later when I returned, the people had built up the village, carefully preparing defenses for another Saurian invasion. The quest updated to check on them again later, which I’ve yet to do, but I’ve received several quests like this that suggest I check on places I’ve encountered in the world to see how they are progressing. It’s all part of making the world feel so alive which it definitely does.

Screenshot by Destructoid

A real Dragon’s Dogma

I did experience some technical issues in my journey. Nothing necessarily game-breaking. However, certain areas or certain conditions would just cause my game to have what felt like a memory leak. My FPS would drop and the entire area would be choppy until I left and moved on. Oddly enough, when I’d return to that specific area, sometimes it would be fine and other times the performance issues would arise again. It didn’t seem as though anything specific was causing the issue, but it happened often enough to be annoying at times.

There’s also the occasional classic Dragon’s Dogma jank. As an Archer there were times I knew for a fact I landed an arrow shot, even getting the sound notification indicating I hit a weak spot. Yet, no damage would be dealt to the enemy. Some would argue it’s part of the Dragon’s Dogma charm, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. Just don’t expect a smooth operation the whole way.

Even though I have plenty of Dragon’s Dogma 2 to experience, I’m already incredibly immersed in the journey. If you’ve played the original, you know exactly what you’re getting here. If you haven’t—why haven’t you?!—you can expect a massive living open-world RPG with rewarding combat and an intriguing storyline. It’s not a seamless experience, but in my 40 hours of play it’s certainly been a worthwhile one.

[These impressions are based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

If you still need to order your copy of Dragon’s Dogma 2, it’s available on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 5.

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Author
Steven Mills
Staff Writer - Steven has been writing in some capacity for over a decade now. He has a passion for story focused RPG's like the Final Fantasy franchise and ARPG's like Diablo and Path of Exile. But really, he's willing to try anything.