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Dragon's Dogma 2 Review: A Grand RPG Awaits


The dragons dogma 2 logo with game characters empress nadinia and Ulrika behind
Image: Capcom

Hey fellow gamers! In a gaming landscape teeming with open-world RPGs, it takes a special kind of magic to stand out. Enter Dragon's Dogma 2, a title that not only builds on the solid foundations of its predecessor but enhances every aspect to create an experience that's both familiar and thrillingly new. While some reviewers hastily drew their swords with scant hours of gameplay, I embarked on a more than 100-hour odyssey, amassing 80% (and counting) of the game's achievements, and am here to recount tales of a world that's as vast in scope as it is rich in detail. This journey wasn't just about ticking off boxes; it was about uncovering the essence of a game that beckons players to immerse themselves fully into its vast, breathing world. So join me for my honest Dragon's Dogma 2 Review.


 

Story: A Tale of Pawns and Dragons


At its core, Dragon's Dogma 2 remains true to the thematic pillars that made the first game captivating: a rich, sandbox narrative intertwined with the destiny of the main character and their main pawn. Unlike linear storytelling, this sequel thrives on its open-world narrative, inviting players to tread off the beaten path and weave their own tales.


The kingdom of Vermund is not just a setting; it's a canvas where your actions paint the story. This sandbox narrative style, a legacy of the original Dragon’s Dogma, is further refined here, offering players the freedom to shape their destinies on their own terms. The main quest serves as a spine for the narrative, but the flesh and blood of the game's lore are found off the beaten path, in side quests that entice with mysteries and rewards. The storytelling in Dragon's Dogma 2 is a testament to the power of interactive media, a narrative woven through actions, decisions, and discoveries.


"The main quest serves as a spine for the narrative, but the flesh and blood of the game's lore are found off the beaten path"

Story wise, the loop is pretty much the same as the original Dragon's Dogma, but with some twists and turns and differences that I do not wish to spoil here. You are the Arisen, a brave warrior in a medieval fantasy world who decided to stand up against the calamitous dragon and as a result had your beating heart plucked out of your chest, like the reverse of the movie Dragon Heart except Sean Connery doesn't share his half of a heart, instead he robs yours and flies away. Fans of the original game will know this cycle happens over and over again and it's the Arisen's job to reclaim their heart and slay the dragon. But its never that straightforward.


However, the Dragon is the main goal of your character, but not the only one. Alongside the main story missions there are false rulers plotting a coup, people to assist in assassinations. There is also the option to solve the riddles of a legitimately terrifying Sphinx and getting side tracked on the way by chests, caves, monsters and seeker tokens. The game will pull you in, if you let it.


 

Gameplay: Refining the Loop


The original Dragon's Dogma was celebrated for its unique gameplay loop, and I'm thrilled to report that its successor enhances this in almost every conceivable way. The game's foundation remains steadfast in the beloved pawn system, now boasting improvements that elevate the AI companions beyond their previous incarnations. Pawns are not just followers; they're integral to the journey, learning from encounters and adapting with a sophistication unique to the "Dragon's Dogma" series. Their memory, AI, and customization options are expanded, offering a deeper, more personal connection between player and pawn.


Combat in Dragon's Dogma 2 is a fluid dance of destruction. Whether you're wielding the hybrid powers of the mystic spearhand or advanced vocations like the Magick Archer or engaging in the brutish melee as a Warrior, the variety of play styles ensures that combat never grows stale. This sequel introduces new vocations that encourage experimentation and cater to a wide array of playstyles, enriching the overall experience.


"Though, some people may not enjoy the lack of fast travel options, I think it's a breath of fresh air"

Though, some people may not enjoy the lack of fast travel options, I think it's a breath of fresh air in comparison to loading screen simulators like Starfield which urge players to teleport everywhere. The game instead encourages exploration on foot, a design choice that transforms every journey across the kingdom of Vermund into an adventure, even the ox carts are purposefully dangerous alongside being very limited and pretty slow. This deliberate pacing allows players to fully absorb the world's beauty and witness encounters and treasures you would have missed if you skipped the journey.


Also, a word on microtransactions: they're there, but they're a non-issue. Optional in every sense, they do not detract from the gameplay or offer unfair advantages because its a single player game and all the items are easily found. It's clear that the game director, Hideaki Itsuno, and his team have crafted a title that respects the player's time and investment, proving that a better game doesn't need to nickel and dime its audience.


Another point of contention for many is the lack of multiple save files, but personally, I applaud it. It makes save scumming harder to do, and forces you to live with your decisions, at least as far back as your most recent rest at an Inn. Time gated missions and consequences lose their meaning if you just reload to get your preferred result. In addition, NG+ is a big part of the Dragon's Dogma experience, and gives you the chance to do the loop again with your new knowledge. 


 

Graphics: Beautiful but Hindered


Graphically, Dragon's Dogma 2 is a feast for the eyes. Running on the Xbox Series X, I had a great experience. From the sprawling vistas of the open world to the intricate designs of large monsters, the attention to detail is staggering. The occasional performance issues are a small price to pay for a world this lush and immersive. The cinematics are definitely a step above the original game, and the its when the beauty of the game really stood out.


However, I must say, locked at 30 frame rate for a game in 2024 current gen console versions or PC is rough Capcom. I'd expect it from Nintendo who seem to get away with 30fps 1080p games even in 2024. But 30fps, although enough to fully enjoy the game, still feels low. The PC version also released to some pretty bad performance spikes, though Capcom has admitted this flaw and is hot on the case.


 

The Verdict:


Dragon's Dogma 2 is a shining example of what open-world RPGs can be when they're crafted with passion and a clear vision. The game encourages exploration on your own terms, rewards curiosity, and offers a combat system that is as varied as it is thrilling. With a vast world that feels alive, a deep connection to your pawns, and a story that is as much yours as it is the game's, this title sets a new standard for the genre. In comparison to its predecessor and other titans of the sandbox RPG genre like Elden Ring and Breath of the Wild, Dragon's Dogma 2 carves its own path, offering a unique, immersive experience that is both a love letter to fans of the original and a welcoming hand to newcomers. It stands not only as a sequel that surpasses the original but as a benchmark for open-world RPGs.


So, from die hard Dragon's Dogma fans, to RPG gamers and lovers of fantasy worlds, Dragon's Dogma 2 is a journey worth taking, a game that offers hundreds of hours of play, a rich tapestry of stories to unfold, and an adventure that is as much fun as it is profound. I can honestly say it is one of my favourite open world RPGs to date. Welcome to the Kingdom of Vermund; your dragon awaits. P.S Capcom bring back the original Into Free main menu music.



9/10

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