Review – Dragon’s Dogma 2

Arise Once More

Overview

Developer Capcom
Publisher Capcom
Genre Third Person Action, Open-World
Platforms PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X | S, PC
Release Date March 22, 2024

When Dragon’s Dogma released in 2012, I thought that would be the last time we ever saw the franchise. I had a good time with the game, but it had a lot of gameplay mechanisms that felt obsolete. Fast forward a dozen years. In a post-Breath of the Wild world, could another Dragon’s Dogma game hold up? Would they be able to modernize the franchise in a way that resonated with players today? Much to my delight (and some disdain), the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

Content Guide

Violence: There’s plenty of blood, including scenes of decapitation. The game’s premise forms around a dragon pulling your heart out of your chest with its claw. Both enemies and allies can be picked up and thrown in a ragdoll manner, which creates both humorous and unsettling moments.

Sexual Content: Characters and their pawns can be equipped with armor of various make and design. Many of the pawns you’ll be able to recruit are made by other players, who can outfit the pawns with everything from full plate to, essentially, underwear. While I didn’t encounter it myself, the ESRB has mentioned that players can interact with sex workers and pay them for services. This results in a scene with two characters on the bed in their underwear and implied sex, but no nudity is ever shown. If you have a party full of pawns that are the same gender, the banter can say things that imply you have a certain sexual preference.

Drugs and Alcohol: You can buy a round of drinks at any pub you go to. I don’t recall getting intoxicated in any form, but I believe you can purchase and consume alcohol.

Language/Crude Humor: There are some lighter uses of profanity in the game including S***.

Dark/Spiritual Content: You are turned into a different form of being when a dragon tears your heart from your chest, casting a spell on you. There are various forms of dark fantasy/magical creatures in the game. There is a darker magic being used to manipulate people for political gain as well.

Review

The game opens with a false “Arisen,” a person blessed by a dragon to protect the world, being placed on the throne of the kingdom of Vermund. It then cuts to you, locked up in the cell of a work camp. After a terrible monster attack, you escape on the back of a gryphon. Later, in a flashback, we see your encounter with a vast dragon where he essentially ties the two of you together by tearing out your heart with magic. This forces you into the role of the true Arisen and sets you on a crash course with the dragon in a fight for the future of the world.

The premise of the story sets up the reason for you to be in Vermund, traveling and taking on quests from the captain of the guard (who knows the man on the throne is a false Arisen). Beyond that, honestly, the story is pretty mundane. I beat the game and still had to revisit wikis to remember some of the story beats. I don’t want to say it’s bad, but its only real purpose is a vehicle for traveling around the massive open world they’ve created.

To that end, I’ll say the world and the gameplay are where Dragon’s Dogma 2 shines. Vermund and Battahl to the south are massive, sprawling regions full of monsters, caves, ruffians, and more. Vermund is green and lush with rolling hills, farmland, and more while Battahl is a harsh desert with little reprieve. They’ve done a great job filling that world with hidden goodies and quests. My biggest frustration with Dragon’s Dogma 2 lies in how you have to explore the world, though. In line with the original Dragon’s Dogma, fast travel is rare and earned. You’ll spend a lot of time exploring on foot. There are carts you can pay to take you from town to town, but you’ll almost invariably have to defend the cart mid-journey as a monster or band of thugs attack it. There are only a handful of true fast travel points, known as port crystals, in the game and you’ll have to use ferrystones, rare one-time-use items, to engage in that fast travel. I know it was intentional, but it’s a frustrating design decision in 2024.

Concerning combat and progression, I think Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a well-designed blast. Whether you’re a warrior, archer, mage, rogue, or one of the other 10 vocations, combat feels fun and responsive. From wolves, goblins, and bandits to massive cyclopses, ogres, and yes, dragons, there’s always a challenge waiting for you just around the next bend. Each vocation has a wide range of skills and passives that can be unlocked as you play and you can get access to a few advanced classes along the way. This provides a tangible reason to fight as much as you can as the classes feel different enough to warrant some time spent learning each one. The game will give you plenty of opportunities for combat, too.

While I enjoy the combat itself, one of my major frustrations with Dragon’s Dogma 2 is the repetitive nature of encounters as you explore. If you need to go to the same area a few times for various quests, you’ll encounter the same enemies every time. Every. Single. Time. As I was trying to finish quests and complete the story, I just wanted to move from point to point. In some cases, though, that required traveling to locations that required substantial on-foot travel (which guarantees a few dozen fights) or fast traveling (which required use of those limited ferrystones). I suppose Dragon’s Dogma 2 begs you to take your time and explore instead of sprinting for end credits but I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m being punished for not chasing every shiny bauble.

I will say one thing with regard to the slow, explorative open-world nature of Dragon’s Dogma 2. The game employs an impressive physics system and lets it play with the creatures in the world in a fantastic way. I had some incredible emergent moments in my time with the game. In one instance, for example, I used a special ability to knock a goblin into the air. Without realizing it, I essentially punted the goblin into a passing gryphon. This, in turn, wounded the flying beast, who was flying over a nearby lake. The mythical creature, wounded by the projectile creature, splashed down and immediately died. It was a wild set of circumstances and I couldn’t do it again if I tried. In another case, I watched a cyclops try to cross a small rope bridge, which collapsed and sent him careening into a chasm and his demise below. The game provides a framework for an adventure full of fun, unexpected interactions like those.

I think Dragon’s Dogma 2 is an excellent-looking game. The world feels like a living, breathing entity populated with creatures that make it feel fun and believable. Whether it’s a gryphon on a beach, an ogre in a canyon, a band of lizardmen in a cave, or something else, there’s little here that feels boring or glossed over. The game’s soundtrack is solid, I did get a bit tired of the pawn banter and their insinuations a bit, but in the grand scheme of things that’s a minor issue.

I wish Dragon’s Dogma 2 felt a little more story-focused but for all of the emergent moments their framework creates, I can extend a bit of leniency. I had a great time as the Arisen, exploring, climbing on the backs of massive beasts, and generally trying to rid the world of any dark creature in my path. Despite the repetitive nature of combat and what felt like some drudgery in traveling, I quite enjoyed my time with the game. Fans will enjoy plenty of replayability for years to come, too. I just hope Capcom supports this in a more palatable manner than some of their other properties.

The Bottom Line

 

The frustrations caused by repetitive encounters and slow traversal give way to fun combat, an exciting variety of monsters, meaningful progression, and a world built for exciting, emergent moments.

 

8

Joe Morgan

Husband, gamer, software developer, animal lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace, he's probably fishing or working on content with his wife for Coffee and Adventure, their YouTube channel

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