Review: You wanted more Dragon’s Dogma? Then Dragon’s Dogma 2 is sure to please you

dragon's dogma 2

When it comes to reviewing any form of entertainment, one of the biggest peeves to any writer is for readers to automatically consider a negative criticism when it’s said something to be more of the same. With regards to Dragon’s Dogma 2, that’s exactly what it is all about: it is more of what the first game did, but prettier. 

For years, people clamored Capcom to make a sequel to Dragon’s Dogma, a game that since its release has become a bit of a cult hit, even though at the time it was considered a decent fantasy RPG in Western flavoring developed by a Japanese studio. So it came as a joyful occasion when the announcement came in 2022 that there would be a Dragon’s Dogma 2.

To all intents and purposes, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is exactly what fans wanted, which is to say an expanded version of the 2012 game (2013 if you consider the update it got a year after its release). We’re talking about an RPG that back then was already swimming against the current when compared to other fantasy games from around that time, like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and now, in 2024, it’s even more noticeable.

That’s to say that Dragon’s Dogma 2 feels like the closest thing to an analog version of a videogame. There are no attempts at making your life easier in its world, whether it’s moving about or simply knowing exactly where to go to do a specific activity, it’s a game that leaves you to your devices and expects you to have fun with it. 

And in all honesty, I did quite enjoy that aspect from the original game, so much so that I went on to play it numerous times in order to score its platinum trophy. Jumping into the new one felt familiar to be sure, but much more than I would have expected. I had long forgotten what class I had picked for my character then, and in sheer coincidence, it was the same as I did now, as I quickly regained the muscle memory for the archer’s attacks when starting out.

dragons dogma 2
Pawns by the dozen at every corner!

Even in terms of story Dragon’s Dogma 2 follows a similar path to its predecessor. You play as an Arisen, a being brought back to life by the very creature who killed you, a dragon. Thanks to them stealing your very beating heart, you gain the ability to command pawns, basically your thralls to do your bidding in combat through magic, also allowing you to send them to aid other players.

As fate would have you, you’re stricken by amnesia at the outset of the game but are quickly reminded of your status as sort of deity all around due to your abilities which confer you a seat as the sovereign. Weirdly enough, as the divine law states, there can only be one Arisen, and it seems like you are too late, as another has taken your right to the throne before you got there. It’s then your mission to find out what is happening and take your throne back, all the while partaking in all manner of side jobs and odd quests along the way. After all, this is an open-world RPG and it wouldn’t be right not to have those as you save the world.

Aside from not having some of your expected amenities when it comes to modern videogame design, like a convenient form of fast travel – you CAN do it but it’s very costly as it requires a very rare item – or merely tend to your list of skills anywhere but an inn or guild, you’ll find that it’s your character’s physicality that truly helps set Dragon’s Dogma 2 apart from the rest. 

There’s a definite sense of heft when playing this game, and I’m not talking about walking around bumping into things or how there’s encumbrance, the bane of my existence, but it’s a true feeling of weight in movement. You’re free to grab onto just about anything that’s not nailed to the ground, including people, and toss them around, or in the case of monsters, climb them. 

dragon's dogma 2
Look, ma! I’m falling dramatically!

Tactically, there’s value in doing any of those things, but climbing is especially useful as you’ll come to learn playing the game. You’re able to guide a beast’s movement and hurt them, or go all Shadow of the Colossus and hit them where it hurts. It’s part of what made the first game so fun in the first place and is ever present in this sequel. 

But aside from having the chance to use the world against itself, it’s impressive how nimble it makes you when simply moving about while at the same time conveying a sense of there being an actual body inside the polygonal mesh you control in the form of your character. They flail about as they are hit, can jump and react to the environment around them in ways that even From Software’s games fail to do so.

While yes, it can lead to some unwanted accidents, it’s also cause for hilarity and just dumb fun when out and about. The entire structure of the game is set upon a quest structure like you would expect in an RPG, and this would be a cookie-cutter one of those if it weren’t for the way that the game’s wacky antics affect your experience playing.

That provides plenty of stories that might not have the happiest of endings, but are enjoyable to tell and live through anyway. For example, as I was stepping out of town one time, I noticed that a goddamn ogre had somehow made its way inside in broad daylight, with nobody batting an eye and going about their business. I had to take it upon myself and my group to face it and take it out just so the townsfolk would simply keep ignoring the now giant corpse on the ground.

dragon's dogma 2
All the classes offer varied and dynamic ways to play the game, even the mages.

Moments like that and numerous others are what makes this game hard to put down, and it’s what helped truly set the first one apart from the rest. Even though I find it difficult not to compare and without a doubt call it more of that game with the added benefit of looking much better, I can’t exactly fault it for that alone. It’s a case where as the saying rings true in not messing with a winning team’s composition, for as seemingly weird and unwieldy as it may seem from the outside.

Other elements that help classify an RPG are present in Dragon’s Dogma 2 and for as slightly convoluted as some parts of the game tend to be, they are incredibly flexible otherwise. You are free to swap classes and discover more as you travel, and at the same time to it for your pawn, for a one-time fee. Leveling comes by simply putting your skills to use, and it’s incredibly quick to max these jobs out, so by design you are incentivised to change things around often. 

The way you discover more of these is surprisingly organic, as you bump into people who are proficient and have them teach you their trade, after which you can start your journey as you wish. It’s the sort of mechanic that would be relegated to menus or behind a long grind that is circumvented by clever but simple implementation of natural discovery for the player to make.

Time is also something that plays an important role in Dragon’s Dogma 2. As it is comically seen in most games, for as urgent as the story might make the main mission, you’re usually left to follow the breadcrumb at your own pace, be that a couple of hours or a hundred. In this, though, quests can go awry if you take too long to investigate, and others take into account the passage of time before giving you whatever next step they require to progress them. 

dragons dogma 2
For some reason all of the cooking cutscenes are live action and I absolutely love them for that.

Items in your inventory also fall victim to that as fruit, vegetable and meat decay if left unattended, having their benefits degrade over time. That forces you to use them by combining into less degradable alternatives, or simply not pick everything up that you see in front of you. Funnily enough, the latter is something that is touched upon by your pawn quite often, a jab at the Bethesda flavor of RPG system where you quickly build a collection of junk that lasts forever.

Speaking of your pawn and the way they communicate with you, it’s another entertaining part of Dragon’s Dogma 2 that only gets better the more of them you recruit to your party. Members of your group interact with one another naturally, carrying conversations without any input from your part, with quips and comments in regards to a whole bunch of different subjects, including tidbits that give you clues to potential quests and such, or the background of wherever you might happen to be. And the fact that one of them sounds like an exaggerated version of Downton Abbey’s Carson is a welcome bonus!

It’s been commented how Dragon’s Dogma 2 underperforms technically, but it hasn’t been particularly noticeable to me personally. It runs at a steady 30 frames per second on PlayStation 5 and the HDR, while not especially mind-blowing, gets the job done. It is far and away a much MUCH better looking game with a stronger and more cohesive presentation than the original one for sure.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a game that will mostly appeal to those who got a kick out of the first one and wanted more, firstly, but also players who are keen on having an ‘out there’ taste of RPG and don’t mind the quirks that make it what it is. This is Capcom throwing a bone to their fans, so enjoy it if you are one of them. Who knows when or if there’s even going to be another one of these. It’s an enjoyable and unique romp to be sure, but a romp all the same, no trying to deny it. 

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