Dragon’s Dogma 2 Review – On The Shoulders Of Giants

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Creating a sequel to a 12-year-old game is never an easy task. Recapturing the magic of the original while implementing modern technology and design strategies can mangle the core values that made the original special. Dragon’s Dogma 2 never loses sight of its roots, and constantly finds big and small ways to surprise me even 50 hours in. At its core, Dragon’s Dogma 2 captures a sense of adventure. While you’re the center point of the conflict and strife in the world, Dragon’s Dogma 2 isn’t afraid to make you feel small. Around every bend, it reminds you that you’re just one part of a larger whole.

The game doesn’t waste any time setting the stage for the political power struggles and the role you play in them. The main plot serves as your reason for adventuring, but it isn’t until the last roughly 15 hours that it takes some big swings and absolutely nails them.

The capital city of Vernworth, where you will spend large chunks of the game, is a bustling town with merchant stalls lining the streets, the affluent noble quarters and their gaudy homes, and the castle grounds guarded to the teeth. NPCs roam around, shop, and stumble into you with quests and smaller tasks for you to handle. It pushes the notion that people live their lives whether you’re around or not.

However, the majority of this game is traveling outside the safety of the city walls and testing your mettle in the wild. Every adventure I set forth required me to think in novel ways about how I needed to prepare. I constantly juggled the weight of my pack versus the healing items and camping materials I would need to survive. Dragon’s Dogma 2 makes every step outside of the city walls a critical decision and one I loved making.

Vocations offer different classes for you to use in combat. While I spent most of my time as a Thief, which excels at scaling large monsters like Cyclops or Griffons, there’s plenty to choose from. The Sorcerer’s slow, powerful magic casting is vastly different from the quick and deadly blade of the Mystic Spearhand. Dragon’s Dogma 2 invites experimentation, and you can choose from these Vocations at will, granted you’ve completed some of the questlines to unlock them.

 

Combat is brutal, long, and can leave you and your party on your last leg. The further you stray from the village and the longer you stay out imposes incredible risk. However, it’s a risk I happily took and one that always felt like the reward was high enough, even if my party died trying.

The Pawn system from the original game returns, allowing you to create your central party member, customize their looks, vocations, and even their attitude toward players. The new improvements to the system are smart and incentivize you to experiment with other players’ Pawns. I constantly switched out Pawns at every Rift Stone I could to see the best party composition possible, and it made all of the difference in battle. Having a team of fighters allowed me to swiftly trounce monsters, even if it meant not having a healer and relying on potions on scavenged fruit. These constant small decisions feed into the game’s larger idea of player freedom.

Your Pawns are instrumental in taking down the gruesome foes of Dragon’s Dogma 2. Whether it’s the hulking nature of the Minotaur or the sharp and jagged claws of a Griffon, Dragon’s Dogma 2 revels in its spectacle, making every battle a nailbiter.
However, large-scale battles are where you will see the performance on consoles take a big hit. When I had multiple enemies on screen, and a pawn would cast a big spell, the frame rate would dip tremendously.

 

Map markers and icons are few and far between in Dragon’s Dogma 2. It often feels like you’re playing detective and leaning into the role-playing elements; having a eureka moment when uncovering clues about a person’s whereabouts never gets old. On a few occasions, I wasn’t given enough information to deduce the location of an NPC or monster correctly. This dilemma led me on a wild goose chase that felt unearned and a little tedious, especially because there are few fast travel options, so every time you leave the city, you’re going to be gone for hours at a time.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 captures the spirit of the original without sanding down the edges of what made it excellent. Its insistence on player exploration and discovery, coupled with an ending I will think about for the rest of the year, makes Dragon’s Dogma 2 a standout game and a worthy successor.



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