Dragons Dogma 2 Beginning
Screenshot by Prima Games

Dragon’s Dogma 2 Review | The Greatest Sequel to Have Arisen

The highly anticipated sequel has Arisen.

It has been twelve years since Dragon’s Dogma first released, a game which was not always kind to the player with often obtuse quest requirements, ever increasingly challenging combat, and a large helping of existential dread. Over a decade later, Capcom has released Dragon’s Dogma 2 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC, which undoubtedly pushes aside all notions of modern game mechanics to continue to be unabashedly itself.

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A New Kingdom, New Arisen, and the Same Hopeless Cycle

The story of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is set in a brand-new location with a heavy focus on the two major cities – Vermund and Battahl, with tensions high between each kingdom’s race, human and beastren. The story follows you, the Arisen, as you find yourself awoken in an underground gaol, without any semblance of a memory as to how you wound up there in the first place. As you navigate through the story, you’ll learn the truth regarding what happened to you. By doing so, you will discover many intertwined plotlines woven through the storyline like an intricate spider web; easy to destroy but impossible to hide the result. It is possible to march directly from one narrative plot point to another, but this would be an incredible disservice to both the player and the game itself, as much of the game’s lore and themes are to be found amongst the many side quests and interactions that provide a substantial amount of worldbuilding.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is an Action RPG that is focused heavily on continuous exploration and combat. With a map four times larger than the original and many secrets hidden within its many locations, there is no end to what you can find through exploration. Travel, a rather heavily debated topic before the game’s release, works surprisingly well in a game of this size. Often players will be required to travel substantial distances from one location to another far away by foot. But this never feels like a burden as there is an incredible amount of things to see with plenty of dynamic battles that feel fresh regardless of how often you have encountered a particular enemy. I found myself opting to manually travel distances, even when I had options to fast travel. The familiar method of fast travel returns in the sequel with Portcrystals and Ferrystones. During the main story these are difficult to come by, but post-game they are obtained more easily. Dragon’s Dogma 2 also introduces the Ox Carts, a system that allows you to travel between specific hubs for a small fee.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 Takes Combat to New Heights

Combat is where the game truly shines. Capcom has taken everything good regarding the combat in the original game and perfected it for Dragon’s Dogma 2. In the beginning, players have a choice of four basic vocations. These consist of Fighter, Mage, Archer, and Thief; its two advanced vocations, Sorcerer and Warrior; and four hybrid vocations, Warfarer, Trickster, Mystic Spearhand, and Magick Archer. Each vocation is diverse and, once unlocked, the player is free to change between them with no more than a quick stop to the Vocation Guild. You’re not locked into a specific class and can try each one to see which one suits your playstyle or a specific in-game situation.

Not only has the scale of the world significantly increased, but so has the scale of the enemies. The best part of the original game was undoubtedly the large and difficult enemy encounters one would have as you explored Gransys, which is the case for Dragon’s Dogma 2 as well. If you had the joy of experiencing the first game, you will encounter many a familiar foe. But, even better, you’ll find yourself face to face with new monsters and once again have to figure out the best way to take them down in combat. And that’s just the smaller mobs. The larger enemies encountered feel much more dynamic in their attacks, movement, and reaction to the environment. The variety of them, spawning location, and behavior feel dynamically improved, and while the strategy for taking down specific enemies may be the same in each battle, it still feels fresh and exhilarating time and time again.

For instance, you could encounter a Griffin already attacking a group of villagers and can opt to lend your aid to them or not. You’re making great strides toward defeating it and, suddenly, are preyed on by a nearby Chimera and now have to juggle both encounters simultaneously. This is a common scenario and ups the ante of battle considerably. These enemies are not picky and hold just as much disdain for you as they do for one another, which is evident in how they often fight amongst themselves.

The Pawn System Has Been Significantly Improved

One can’t mention combat in Dragon’s Dogma 2 without mentioning your loyal Pawns, those devoted allies who repeatedly lay down their lives to protect you. You will travel with a party of up to four members. You, your main Pawn, and two additional Pawns which you can hire from other players either via the Rift or by communicating with them as they wander the world at large. These additional Pawns are the main Pawns from other players. To hire a Pawn, you will need to exchange Rift Crystals, and the higher leveled a Pawn is compared to you, the more expensive it will be. This means that you cannot enter the Rift and choose an incredibly over-leveled Pawn to decimate your encounters. But where is the fun in that anyway?

Once you have chosen your Pawns, they will travel with you. Pawns that you hire will often give you tips if it regards something that they have already performed in their world. Such tips include providing you with the location of a quest or area of interest, like a treasure chest or cave, or knowledge and quips about the world. Depending on inclination, Pawns will have different fighting styles – such as focusing on an enemy’s weak points, for example. Overall, the Pawn dialogue is much improved over the previous title and feels more fresh, organic, and engaged. They often converse with one another, including tales of other Arisen’s that they aided, and you won’t hear a single “Soaked to the bone!” or “What a large tree!” pass their lips.

Similar to how you hire the Pawns of others, other players will hire your main Pawn for their own journeys. When your Pawn is hired by other players, you are rewarded with Rift Crystals and optional gold or items from the other player in return. Like the original Dragon’s Dogma, you’ll want to make your Pawn appealing to other players – be it by making them well-equipped and strong, incredibly handsome, or a fun parody. It all comes down to knowing your audience. In my playthrough, I began the final battle with Dr. Wiley and Taylor Swift beside me. An unlikely duo, maybe, but a match made in Dragon’s Dogma heaven. A secondary benefit of other players hiring your Pawn is the potential for them to complete Pawn Quests on your behalf. Meeting a requirement for a Pawn Badge such as killing a Griffin, for instance, will unlock the badge, allowing you to see its progress, and the ability to assign it to your Pawn as a quest. This means that when another player chooses your Pawn in the Rift, they can see what Pawn quest you would like them to complete and the reward you’ll provide them for successfully doing so. It’s another way to get your Pawn chosen, as a better reward is an alluring prospect.

“Dragon’s Dogma 2 often feels like one is trying to complete a Rubik’s Cube with all the stickers already peeled off. It is impossible to see the way forward at first, but suddenly, you’ll do the correct thing, and everything will click into place…”

Visually, the game is stunning. It transcends you into a high fantasy medieval world with consideration of the environmental factors at play in each location. There are many opportune moments where one can scale a specific area and take in the world around them, and it’s worth doing. Not only to see what lurks below but to take in the sheer magnitude and beauty of the world itself. When it comes to the Arisen and the main Pawn themselves, the character creator is one of, if not the most detailed I have personally encountered. The sheer range of customization it offers allows for characters tailored to the whims of the player creating them. Whether that is a version of themselves, a celebrity, an absolute abomination, or something in between. As combat is the bread and butter of the title, enemies that you encounter are incredibly well-designed, with Capcom doing a stellar job at making similarly styled mobs from each location both varied and distinct that one can immediately tell when they’ve crossed the boundary between kingdoms – no pass necessary.

Of course, even the wondrously crafted enemies you face in Dragon’s Dogma 2 pale in comparison to the vast and awe-inspiring large enemies you’ll encounter, including but not limited to dragons, ogres, and griffins. Traversing the world at night and hearing a sudden loud grumble, a large shadowy figure hanging off a cliff, or, if you’re me, stumbling onto the head of a sleeping drake, will have you fearing for your life. Doing so during the day, on the other hand, will have you appreciate the work that went into creating such monsters, and you can get to know them quite intimately, as you’ll want to scale them to attack their weak points and end the battle fast.

The soundtrack further transcends you into a living, breathing, medieval world. It does a fantastic job of immersing you into the period and compounding the emotional reaction to the environment and situation that a player finds themselves in. A stressful situation is heightened by the accompanying track, and undoubtedly, it is the soundtrack that acts as the ribbon that ties up Dragon’s Dogma 2 as the perfect package.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a vast improvement over the first game in every conceivable way. It has taken the best parts of the original, and everything unique to it, and significantly elevated it beyond its predecessor. If you enjoyed the original, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a must-play title. Players may find some of its features frustrating and somewhat obnoxious, as it doubles down on things like a lack of fast travel options, obscurity when it comes to meeting requirements to unlock or continue quest lines, a story told through the world as opposed to the main quests alone, and a singular save slot with the inability to return beyond the games frequent autosaves. While these aspects can undoubtedly create moments of frustration, they are overshadowed by the sheer scale of the game, the captivating and enjoyable combat, and the sense of achievement felt after in-game success.

In the end, Dragon’s Dogma 2 often feels like one is trying to complete a Rubik’s Cube with all the stickers already peeled off. It is impossible to see the way forward at first, but suddenly, you’ll do the correct thing, and everything will click into place, and that’s when you will have truly arisen.

If you haven’t gotten a copy of Dragon’s Dogma 2 yet, it’s available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on March 22, 2024.

Prima Games is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more

9.5
Dragon's Dogma 2
Dragon's Dogma 2 took what made the original title special and elevated it to such great heights that the game is a must-play for longtime series fans and newcomers alike. A standout of its genre that offers a unique and compelling experience that one ought not to miss out on.
Pros
  • An engaging combat system filled with exhilarating battles and memorable moments
  • A narrative which seamlessly changes with both player actions and choices which create a unique experience
  • Difficulty which scales as you go and provides an ongoing challenge and sense of achievement as you proceed
Cons
  • Occasional quest locations and text do not seem to line up with the intended location
  • A lack of freedom when it comes to saving the game manually can lead to some challenging results
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PlayStation 5.

Prima Games is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission.?Learn more
Author
Priscilla Wells
Priscilla is both the weekend editor and a freelance writer at Prima Games. She began working at Prima Games in early 2023. Prior to this, she spent nine years writing for both her own personal gaming blog, and other related websites. Priscilla has grown up playing video games, and most often plays her PS5 and Nintendo Switch consoles. You can find her playing Final Fantasy XIV, RuneScape, Pokemon GO, or lost in the latest RPG to release. She is an Australian living in the United States with her American husband, three children, and her Basset Hound. Before moving to the United States, Priscilla obtained a Bachelors of Secondary Education majoring in English and Japanese Language. This allowed her to teach English and Japanese in a high school setting. You can follow her on Twitter/X at @Cilllah
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