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Dragon’s Dogma 2 Review

Capcom’s Majora’s Mask opus

Well, here we are with Dragon’s Dogma 2, a risky sequel for Capcom that I never thought would see the light of day. This AAA open-world action RPG does double duty as a kind of remixed vision of the first game and a sequel, but fortunately, it has no franchise baggage to get in the way of welcoming new players. 

As the Arisen, you are a player-made hero who has gotten the attention of the titular dragon from being a resilient sonofabitch in an unmatched fight against it. Its reward for your tenacity is that it delicately consumes your heart, leaving your body intact and seemingly immortal. As a bonus, you alone are blessed with the skill to command pawns (player-made companions bound to follow the Arisen), with whom you will fill out your four-strong adventuring party. As a bonus this time, you also inherit the title of Sovran, the de facto ruler of this world. While prophecy dictates that the Arisen must eventually face the dragon once again in mortal combat, there is also a pretender sitting on the throne of the Sovran which you must also deal with throughout this 40-hour journey. 

The first order of duty in Dragon’s Dogma 2 will be creating your hero. There is the new addition of the beastren race (a kind of humanoid catfolk) that can be chosen. Playing as this new species in the series will also have consequences when dealing with the racial tensions in this world, which makes for a nice touch of importance beyond mere aesthetics. The creator itself needs little said, you’ve probably already seen the weird and wonderful creations being cooked up. The suite itself is refreshingly robust for both the minutiae-hungry and folks like me who just want to get into the action. Fishing through presets, your selections open up additional presets based on what you have chosen, meaning you can narrow down a unique identity by simply shuffling through the available options. This meant I still had the benefit of a personalised character but could also get on with my adventure within a tight five minutes. Oh, and you can customise individual teeth, which is in my opinion a remarkable and amusing feature that situates this creator among the best of its RPG peers.

The rift is where you can browse the horrorshow pawns other players have made

Impressively, at first glance the art direction has the same muted tones and stylings of the first game but with far higher fidelity and noticeable flourishes. The world and its monsters look reminiscent of what we saw back in 2012, this time with much greater detail. As you hack into the neck of an ogre, your slicing will form grotesque abrasions which lend a sense of progress when working to fell the giant beasts. The world also looks incredible, with every corner of the map having unique terrain and landmarks, making for an adventure where crossing every field or mountain reveals a landscape full of personality and roughshod paths enticing you with secrets at their end. Even better are the cliff faces and stone surfaces, deeply aged and painted with the hues of eternal wear and tear. Nobody will have the guts to say it, but these are the best-looking rocks of 2024. Check on your geology mates who game, they’re probably losing their collective shit over how sexy these stones are.

There are ten vocations (essentially classes) on offer in Dragons Dogma 2, with the vocation system being reminiscent of the job system adopted by some Final Fantasy titles and the Bravely Default series. Though you may choose from a starting set of four vocations and discover more by exploring the world, you are always encouraged to switch between them. Levelling up a particular vocation awards traits for that class that can then be equipped when using another class. This means that players are rewarded for trying out all of the classes, picking which feels best to their experience, and carrying over abilities for dismissed vocations such as faster stamina regen or the ability to detect hidden treasures.

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The most gorgeous cliffs this side of Jedi Survivor

I switched between the thief and the trickster in my playthrough. The latter vocation is wild, using fumes and incense to confuse foes and render them effectively inert without dealing any actual damage. Because some abilities can only be learned through quests or indulging the right NPC, I accidentally stumbled upon a hidden character that gave me the ability to summon a dragon made of vapour. Its misty visage would scare goblins and lizards alike, making them stumble over themselves as they fled the fight. This made for hilarious fights that will struggle to remain memorable, if only because there are hardly any fights in this game that aren’t memorable to some extent.

My sessions never failed to have not one, but many “oh wow” moments. Whether it be the sublime vistas or spectacular monsters storming me from their dens, this adventure consistently made me feel tiny. From this perspective, being a small part of this bigger world and adventure, I never felt pressured to be pulled in any one direction or the critical path bound by the hero’s journey. There is no pressing world-ending event. The story is in service to your adventure, not the other way around. Your pawns are vocal to remind you of what might be important to pursue, but any adventuring you do is always just toughening you up for the inevitable battle against the big-boy dragon.

There’s a stone golem and griffin ahead. If I back off, they’ll deal with each other

To top it off, the story we get is refreshingly ordinary and parseable for this kind of game, never getting in your way. Forget the opaque reading between the lines of Elden Ring or the conversation-heavy Baldur’s Gate 3. We just need to prove to the world that we are the anointed Arisen by culling foes and helping folks, while also conveniently inheriting the world just because a dragon ate our heart. Sure, it would be good to get payback or even warm up the throne once we boot the usurper, but these objectives are also more than happy to wait. When we want to press forward, we have a modest cast of well-acted characters to pull us into their machinations that probably align with our ascension. But for now, I’m more interested in seeing where this cave off the beaten path goes. 

The late-review twist here is that there are only a couple of niggling issues that cause this wonderful game to fall just short of masterpiece status. Primarily among these that negatively affected my experience was the camera. Without a lock-on feature, battling small foes in confined spaces is stressful. The camera will not automatically accommodate any fights that aren’t against giant creatures, so panning the camera in a cave or building will often cause the viewing angle to hide behind geometry. When the combat camera isn’t leaving players in the dark as to what’s going on in a fight, there are intermittent frame drops to contend with. These never negatively impacted me during my playthrough, but did result in very noticeable slowdowns when exploring the dense cities and townships. There’s also some comically bad lip-synching for the myriad of fully-voiced minor NPCs, but this is easily forgivable considering all the major cast are synched up and well-acted.

“Ohshitrun” should be your reaction to most dragon encounters

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Final Thoughts

The thesis of Dragon’s Dogma’s sequel appears to be that the original was ahead of its time, and indeed will likely draw audiences back to the imaginative original. Dragons Dogma 2 is a game filled with genius ideas about how fantasy roleplaying can be turned into a video game. It requires unlearning much of what we take for granted in fantasy action adventures but rewards this with unique and dynamic world events that will constantly surprise players. It is a masterful sequel that polishes every element of its first draft, with the technology to make those ideas into a seamless adventure marked by heart-pounding threats and euphoric discoveries.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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Dragon’s Dogma 2 Review
Pawn Stars
This unexpected sequel consistently delivers the most thrilling and hilarious player-driven adventuring anecdotes in what may be Capcom’s greatest-ever roleplaying game.
The Good
Prevalent sense of discovery and adventure
Teeth customisation
Emergent and dynamic fights are always exciting
Inspired art direction that honours the original
Genius execution of its unique brand of roleplaying
Best looking rocks of 2024
The Bad
Frame rate takes quite a hit, particularly in cities
Camera can be a pain during combat against smaller foes
9.5
Bloody Ripper
  • Capcom
  • Capcom
  • PS5 / Xbox Series X|S / PC
  • March 22, 2024

Dragon’s Dogma 2 Review
Pawn Stars
This unexpected sequel consistently delivers the most thrilling and hilarious player-driven adventuring anecdotes in what may be Capcom’s greatest-ever roleplaying game.
The Good
Prevalent sense of discovery and adventure
Teeth customisation
Emergent and dynamic fights are always exciting
Inspired art direction that honours the original
Genius execution of its unique brand of roleplaying
Best looking rocks of 2024
The Bad
Frame rate takes quite a hit, particularly in cities
Camera can be a pain during combat against smaller foes
9.5
Bloody Ripper
Written By Nathan Hennessy

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