Dragons Dogma 2 – Stealing Your Heart

Dragons Dogma 2 - Stealing Your Heart

If I was lost on a desert island and could only bring one game, that game would be Dragon’s Dogma. I’ve played it so many times across 6 different platforms that it’s honestly hard to remember. This being said, Dragon’s Dogma falls into this super weird spot for me where I wouldn’t say the game is 10/10 by any means, more like a 7-8. This doesn’t make me love it any less though. I never thought we’d see Dragon’s Dogma 2, but here we are.

There’s a je ne sais quoi about Dragon’s Dogma as a franchise that I don’t think exists anywhere else. Whilst the worldbuilding itself is fairly light on: most of the NPC interactions are lightweight and the effects of your actions are minimal, the world itself is a marvel. Every corner feels like it has a chest, monster or cave to explore. Roads break into paths the less traffic they would have in the world, and these eventually dissipate into desire paths as people would seldom traverse them. It’s a sense of wonder that is so hard to capture. It’s not always rewarding (it’s actually one of the larger complaints I have about the game), but it does give you a little buzz each time. Some of the caves are quite small, usually just a few enemies and a chest, but these are offset by much larger, multi-floor caves that act as habitats for creatures, shortcuts, or just great sources of loot.

The game also feels much larger than its predecessor. Instead of one main town and a small town in the boonies, Dragon’s Dogma 2 starts you in a small outpost, but expands into multiple small towns and two much larger ones. This makes things feel a bit more logical in terms of a ‘lived-in’ world, and there is ‘fast’ travel between the major towns, but this emphasises the places where there isn’t all the more painful. Itsuno-san had pretty strong words about fast travel, and he’s mostly right; but only mostly. When you need to go quickly to a town for a quest, then return to the main town then return again, you’ll wish fast travel existed. Between major towns an oxcart service exists, this goes once a day but the game gives you the option to just pass time and wait for it. Fast travel doesn’t mean it’s safe though, as you’ll need to pitch in and help if the cart gets attacked. Unfortunately I made my main pawn a bit too powerful and ofttimes she’d bring down a slew of meteors on an enemy only to destroy the oxcart, leaving me to walk the rest of the way. In other areas there are ropeway stations but these also aren’t safe. They work as options but the game requires you to be constantly alert. You can also use portcrystals (a placed object) and ferrystones (consumable) to travel, but these cost 10,000 gold to buy and the shops only restock them every 7 days, so it’s not a great option. Because of this, going to those smaller, further out places could be a real slog. Dark Arisen got around this by giving players an Eternal Ferrystone, but it’s nowhere to be seen in this game. I would’ve loved it to be a Hard mode reward, but difficulty is also lacking.

Tragically, the exploration isn’t nearly as rewarding as it could be, because all of the best gear can just be purchased from shops instead of found in the wild. This takes all the wind out of my sails, because you can mainline things and still end up best-in-slot, rather than getting that juicy loot for being a stickybeak in every cave you come across.

Combat still feels enjoyable and rewarding, maybe even more so. Where the pawn knowledge system is obscured in this game, pawns will still pick up knowledge of enemies and how they work. There are also more vocations than the first game and they’re no longer unlocked at level 10, with the special vocations being locked behind side missions. It’s an interesting choice, but I feel like a few of them come way too late in the game for players to be able to fiddle with them. The vocations that have come across feel new and fresh, and despite the caster-style vocations losing quite a few spells and holy/dark affinities, I still found plenty of enjoyment there.

The new class, Trickster, is quite an odd one though. It relies on illusions to keep enemies focused on you or your illusory clone. Problem here is that you can’t really deal damage to them by yourself. Your weapon does approximately zero damage. All you need to really do is keep your clone alive, drop it on enemies to make them attack each other, and buff your pawns. Not my idea of fun, and certainly others might find it so; I just like the ability to do stuff myself. It’s a weed in a beautiful garden bed.

My other complaint comes in the form of endgame. If you were to compare this endgame to the Everfall (DD1) or Bitterblack Isle (Dark Arisen) then it feels sorely lacking. Hopefully there is some DLC down the road that brings in some content similar to this; there’s certainly hints at it in the game already.

This game actually reminds me of a cat. It’s completely flippant to the player most of the time but if you want to enjoy it you’d best do it on its terms. You want to travel, you fast travel or walk. Many quests have multiple endings, but some of them are very time limited. You miss a chest and your pawn has been hired elsewhere and found it? They’re going to tell you all about it. It’s blasé to the core about how you complete certain quests, but if you use your noggin a bit, you might just eke out a good ending. Following the path in the journal will often lead to less than desirable outcomes. And that’s part of what makes it great.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a game I have a tonne of feelings about. If I had 5000, nay 10000 words I’d have time to put them all to paper, but here are. In many ways this game takes a lot of lessons from the first game and improves upon them. The world is a lot more fun to explore, pawns are smarter and theoretically talk less, there’s fast travel options between major cities and the sidequests are a lot more rewarding and a lot of them are less time gated, and the character creator is simply awesome. On the other side of that coin are all the lessons it didn’t learn. No hard mode, no eternal ferrystone, endgame is kind of lacking and characters are brought into the plot and thrown out with little fanfare, with many plot points just resolving because you’re the Arisen. Layered gear is missing too, and most of the armour feels very arse-out which can be very off-putting. I spent the first 10 hours of the game looking at the undies my character had on because they were best in slot, only to upgrade to a short skirt and 2B style wedgie. Very odd choices all round make for a game that feels no better or worse than the first game, just different. I still love this game, a lot. I just can’t get over the fact it could have been something much, much better.

Dragon's Dogma 2 Review Box

Dragon’s Dogma 2 was reveiwed on Xbox Series with a code kindly provided by Capcom.

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