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

The original Dragon’s Dogma is not a game that is widely known in RPG circles. Released in 2012, the high-fantasy game offered twists on the standard open-world RPG formula, offering combat depth, fantastic magic handling, and a unique companion system. Headed by Hideaki Itsuno of Devil May Cry fame, Dragon’s Dogma would build up a die-hard fanbase that begged for a sequel for years to come, and finally, 12 years later, Capcom is almost ready to deliver it.

I have spent a little bit of time with the first entry, so I did not go into the sequel completely blind. This is a game that some would describe as more of a remake of the original than a full-fledged sequel, and I can understand that perspective. All the aspects that made the original an instant classic is a part of the sequel, just bigger. That means several quirks have returned without much change too.

My expectations were high going into Dragon’s Dogma 2, and after almost 40 hours of roaming its fantastical lands and tough adventures, I feel like I am finally ready to give my thoughts on the single-player RPG experience. Story spoilers have been kept to a minimum for this review, and the embedded screenshots are of scenery or combat with common enemies. So, with all that out of the way, here are my thoughts on the PC version of Dragon’s Dogma 2 by Capcom.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

A fair but ruthless world

I am out of oil to light my trusty lantern, and a blend of wolves, goblins, and a few other nasties are biting at my feet as I run across the mountain tops in the middle of the night. All three of my companions are out cold further behind me after their valiant attempts at aiding me as the fight dragged on. By the time I had realized my trusty group and I were woefully ill-prepared for what seemed like the most innocent side path up a mountain, it was too late to turn back. With health and stamina at a minimum, a well-placed arrow knocks me off balance and I roll off cliffside like some fainting goat. The game asks me if I want to revive myself with a valuable item, I choose not to. That is one of the many ways Dragon’s Dogma 2 has shown me the dangers of not being prepared when venturing out into the unknown, and it’s fantastic. It is a game that lets go of your hand quite early on, making you get lost in its lands with little to no guidance.

This fantasy world is so packed with danger, I am wondering how anybody else is even stepping out of cities to get anything done. Griffins swoop from the sky, cyclopes aim to clobber anything in sight, goblins wait in ambush across almost every road, and harpies gliding in to snatch people away, are just a few of the dangers just waiting in line to make your day a rather bad one. This isn’t a Souls-like, however. While there are a few classes that employ dodging or parrying, largely this is a game about strategical fights where positioning, party synergy, and utilizing enemy weaknesses are key instead of brute force or twitch reactions.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

Even while being under-leveled in an area, using knowledge to your advantage can decimate even the toughest foes. Learning things like a certain tough enemy type has a tail that you must cut off first to do real damage, goblins are afraid of fire, or the eye of a cyclops is its weak spot — OK, maybe that one is obvious — are game changers for winning battles efficiently. The same goes for being over-leveled too though, where being overconfident and careless can mean a roadside wolf pack can overwhelm your sorcerer-behind in seconds, ending your Doctor Strange cosplay right there.

The visuals are simply gorgeous. Capcom’s RE Engine makes sure that everything from the grass covered mountaintops to the desert canyons in the far lands manage to deliver a great sense of wonder. I constantly wanted to climb over a mountain or go through an interesting rock formation just to see what was on the other side, and it has usually paid off in finding even more amazing vistas, ignoring the random swamp or two.

When night approaches in this open world, it’s a whole other beast. Nighttime is almost dark as ink, where even the lanterns light up only a small portion around your character, which is still a godsend. New dangers, mostly ghostly in nature, also lurk in corners in addition to the usual beasts and bandits. Some enemies are attracted to lights like moths to a flame, so even keeping the lanterns on all the time is a gamble.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

I jumped into Dragon’s Dogma 2 straight out of a Resident Evil remakes playthrough. Realizing this shares an engine with those largely linear experiences is mind boggling. Funnily enough zombies are something both games share.

In Dragon’s Dogma 2, you take the role of the Arisen, a hero that’s destined to kill a god-like dragon (or die trying) after being marked for the task by the said dragon itself. Unfortunately, the appearance of a second Arisen throws a wrench into the mix, doubting your claims to the prophesized leader. As far as primary quests go, it’s not a very interesting setup, but the tasks to complete it involve a lot of traveling across the land to gather support and allies. This adventuring element is exactly where the game excels.

The gigantic map of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is littered with everything a good fantasy land requires. Small paths constantly invite you to venture off the safer roads in search of treasure, and they usually circle back towards the main path after a while, just your party may not be the same at the end. I had fallen into dungeons guarded by Chimeras, climbed into “abandoned” castles to find them crawling with the undead, and sprinted through caves to avoid a small dragon I mistakenly (totally not) shot at with a ballista, just in the first dozen hours or so.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

There are also unique elements that add even more depth to how you’re able to finish quests. For example, you can make a replicas of items using a forger. Using this ability on a valuable quest item before handing it back to an NPC can mean double the rewards, if you can live with the consequences. It can also mean having continued access to highly useful items like keys and documents that were only temporarily provided by NPCs.

Many side quests can be very interesting endeavors too, not especially due to their plotlines, but how they are structured. Many of them require exploring or talking with individuals outside of the quest description or markers, and time-limited quests can lead to unintended consequences. Some quests may even require other side quests in the area to be completed before they can be progressed further, and the game does not communicate this to the player. While this wasn’t a problem for my play style, as I tend to explore every nook and cranny and talk to everyone available, not having an angle to approach a quest, or even a hint, might be a rough point for other players.

Vocations and Pawns

The bread and butter of Dragon’s Dogma 2 are its Vocation and Pawns systems. Vocations are the classes of this franchise, but it may be the most diverse and unique take on the feature I have seen. A warrior and a wizard in another RPG may have different abilities, but they always share some sort of melee, blocking, or evasion aspects. This may be to keep complexity down for the player or even the studio’s development process. In Dragon’s Dogma 2, however, each class acts and behaves in its own way, and it’s a blast to figure out each one at your own pace.

My journey started with Warrior, a Vocation that hands you a sword and a shield, and it acts exactly as you would expect. I was wearing heavy armor, slashing at enemies and parrying their attacks while protecting my companions by drawing the attention of anything in the vicinity.

Next, I jumped to Thief. This vocation is all about speed and dealing critical attacks, with dual-handed swords making quick work of anything that underestimates. I was slashing enemies like a Beyblade, doing flips, dodging past attacks, and even pulling flying enemies down with grappling hooks, setting bombs on them, and walking away like a badass. Just in those two melee Vocations, the gameplay styles and depth are astoundingly different.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

But then comes the magic Vocations, and it becomes an entirely different game. Gone are the mana bars and limited use spells of other games. All that’s separating you from unleashing napalm, lightning storms, blizzards, smoke copies of yourself, or all types of wizardry is how much time you have to cast the spells. Positioning and party synergy is a major aspect of being a capable mage. Even a simple enemy could easily disrupt my casting, and it’s not like I had a shield or any dodging capabilities that I mentioned earlier from the melee classes. Once the casting finally finishes though, it’s usually a shower of epic effects that’s worth the wait. That is unless the enemy is resistant to that type of attack, then it’s time to run away, which, for once, is a shared tactic among all classes. The best part is, you can swap Vocations easily, making experimentation fast and enticing.

Meanwhile, Pawns are the names given to companions of the Arisen. Alongside the main character, Dragon’s Dogma 2 lets you create a custom companion that will stick with you through most of the journey. Just like the Arisen, you can choose their Vocation, armor, and weapon to best suit the party’s needs. But you can also hire two more Pawns to your party, and these primarily come from a pool of companions that have been created by other players. Essentially, the extra Pawns you hire for your adventures are the characters created by other Dragon’s Dogma players, so be prepared to see some crazy designs. Another cool little aspect of this is that, as these hired pawns don’t level up, the game is encouraging you to swap them out with newer ones quite often, letting you see just how wildly different classes can be built, and what other players are favoring.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

Pawns can also function as guides in this world. Being lost is a popular pastime of mine, so I appreciated this quite a lot. All I must do when heading towards a distant quest is hire a Pawn that has experience in the region, and they will literally lead the way. Heading into a new land that speaks a new language? Why not hire a pawn that can translate for you? Need to get down from a high ledge quickly? Jump towards your pawn and they will catch you. They even high five you after well-fought battles, how cool is that. All this is fantastically immersive. Pawn personalities and body type seem to change how they act in combat too. I hired one companion who would helpfully pick up and bring to me any other fallen Pawns, then he would circle around as protection as I did my reviving. It was a sad day when I finally had to let this this gigantic and lovable ally go back to his own world. A small thing that I also loved was that when you’re done using a Pawn, you can even send an item towards the Arisen in their world as a parting gift.

Dragon’s Dogma 2’s sandbox nature also adds another layer on top of all these variations. If you daze a human-sized or smaller opponent, you can pick them up and toss them like a sack of potatoes anywhere, either at other foes or down a ravine. See a rope bridge and have some tough enemies following you? Just cut the ropes and see the foolish pursuers tumble down. For more gigantic enemies, melee fighters can actually climb on their bodies before unceremoniously clobbering them or set a bomb or two in their faces. Pawns all utilize these tactics on their own too, and with impressive AI for the most part, making for extremely dynamic battles.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

Not all sunshine and rainbows

While there are so many things to love about this game, there are also some rough points that become harder to ignore as the hours go by. Lack of easily accessible fast traveling is one of them. There are cheap Ox Carts services that run between biggest hubs, letting you “teleport” between cities by dozing off — if an attack doesn’t happen during the trip. There is also a valuable and rare crystal that can be used to teleport to certain points or marked locations, making them good for emergency travel. 40 hours in though, I have quests waiting in some locations that would involve taking two oxcart rides, and a long trek involving at least a couple of dozen combat encounters just to reach. Plus, I would have to do all that again on the return trip. Another fast travel system that isn’t so restrictive, even if expensive, would have worked wonders here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see modders take matters into their own hands at launch.

Inventory management is another source of chagrin. Having to stop and swap things between Pawns to not make your Arisen over encumbered in a game where everything is lootable is not a fun activity. A head scratching moment for me was having a ‘move multiple items’ option when handling items in storage, but not between your own party. For instance, just moving items between backpacks can take 4-5 clicks each while traveling.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot

Performance can be a rough point if you’re not on a high-end system. Towns and cities are where FPS drops are most apparent. For my review I am running Dragon’s Dogma 2 on a Lenovo Legion 5 Pro RTX 3060 Laptop GPU (551.86 drivers) with 6GB VRAM, an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, and 16GB of RAM, where the game is installed on its NVMe SSD. In 1440p resolution, graphics settings set to a mix of highs and lows as the game recommends, and with FSR 3 enabled at Quality, the machine usually gets between 40-60FPS in the open world. Quite playable, but obviously could be better. However, cities are where the frame rates can drop heavily to the 30s and sometimes even 20s frequently. This is obviously without the ray tracing option even being enabled. While there’s almost no combat in these areas unless you start a fight, having to run around as in a slideshow, or constantly change graphics settings depending on regions is a little silly. Thankfully though, I did not see any kind of stuttering with my time with the game.

The weirdest problems I encountered in my playthrough have been the hard crashes during cutscenes. A few seconds into a pre-rendered cutscene early in the game, I crashed to desktop. Thinking it was a random occurrence, I replayed the area to reach that point again, and once more, hard crash. It seems there was no way to watch the cutscene. Frustrated, I even loaded to a much earlier in save and reached the same city area via a different way to see if I could avoid the crash, but it continued to show me my desktop when I didn’t want to, wasting the two hours of replaying. The good news is that quickly skipping the video the moment it began let me clear this crashing obstacle. However, a pre-rendered cutscene that appears later in the game displayed the exact same crashing issue. Hopefully, this is an isolated problem and won’t affect the masses when they get the game in a few days.

Dragons Dogma 2 screenshot


Dragon’s Dogma 2 probably delivers the most “going on an adventure with a party” feeling of any other open-world RPG I’ve played. It’s a tough world out there, and overcoming obstacles requires strategy and preparation. No matter what kind of fighting you like in your games, whether it be a shield toting behemoth that parries every hit, a wizened wizard capable of taking down entire hordes, or even a combination of the two, Dragon’s Dogma 2 probably has a class for you. The lack of handholding for many of its systems can be a plus or a minus depending on the player. Even side quests sometimes have vague directions and large areas to search for their objectives, and may be frustrating to a casual RPG enjoyer. It’s a fantastic world to explore and get lost in, and the Pawns system only adds to the depth of what’s possible in this sandbox.

While the game is single-player, the hiring companions from other players’ playthroughs feature adds a very unique element that almost makes the experience feel like a shared one. This doesn’t mean I don’t wish a full cooperative mode wasn’t present though. Maybe in a third entry.

No matter how much I liked the game, the negatives can’t be ignored either. Even setting aside the weird cutscene crashing issue, which can be skipped, there are some gameplay decisions that take some wonder away from the experience. Not having a more useful fast-travel system got more and more frustrating as I pumped more hours into Dragon’s Dogma 2. Walking the same paths back and forth to reach places I’ve already been to has made me avoid finishing some quests. Inventory management and PC performance in cities are problematic areas too, but manageable ones. Future patches can hopefully smooth over some of these sticking points.

Overall, Dragons Dogma 2’s hardcore nature won’t be for everyone, but if it clicks with you, it will be a journey that’s hard to stray out of. Even with the issues I’ve discussed, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is an easy recommendation, and I keep wanting to go back. I don’t know if any upcoming RPG in 2024 will be able to reach the same heights.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 launches on March 22, 2024, across Steam, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5 for $69.99. This review was conducted on a pre-release PC copy of the game provided by Capcom.

Dragon's Dogma 2
Impressive class variation and combat Pawns companion system Magic implementation Immersive exploration Player freedom
Crashes in cutscenes Not enough fast travel options Performance in cities Inventory management
March 22, 2024


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