Dragon’s Dogma 2 Review | TheSixthAxis

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is finally here after a full 12 years after the release of the first game. We’re now two console generations on from the original’s release, Skyrim has been re-released roughly 27 times, and the media landscape is even more about IP hoarding and franchises. So, it’s quite novel to boot Dragon’s Dogma 2 up and find that the title screen doesn’t seem all that interested in telling you that this is a sequel. It makes a bit of sense, when awaits you as you set foot into this expansive open world is clearly so much more than just a straight successor to what went before.

I genuinely can’t stay enough good things about the world of Dragon’s Dogma 2. It’s not only absolutely beautiful to behold, but also so full of secrets, caves, encounters, and stories that only you will get to tell, that it’s almost wild that there’s a story at all. To pick out one example – a very mild spoiler, so skip to the next paragraph if that concerns you – I was right in the middle of a fight against a cyclops when it very rudely destroyed the bridge I was about to cross. With no other way to get across, I tried to take out my frustration with it by pushing it into the void. What actually happened was that it tripped, fell, and grabbed onto the other side of the gorge, resulting in a bridge made entirely from cyclops to cross over. Incredibly cool in just about every respect.

The world is filled with touches like this, both big and small, and it seeps into the quest design as well. NPCs will run up to you with their problems asking you to help out, and while some are petty and can be ignored until you feel like it, others have a time limit of sorts, because someone is in danger. That’s how things should be, because time is real, and going off to spend three hours cooking spicy fish dishes when someone’s life is in danger is just bad manners – we’re looking at you, Link. Quests will often give you information about what you need to do, and a rough area you need to be in, and then just let you figure it out from there. I had to follow a massive trail of flower petals in one quest to find someone, and it was awesome.

Dragon's Dogma 2 Vernworth

There’s very little fast travel in Dragon’s Dogma 2 by design. Yes, you can ride on oxcarts between specific place, and you can warp using rare items called ferry stones to similarly specific spot, but for the most part, you and your accompanying Pawns are going to be getting your cardio in. It’s a daunting prospect when compared to many other games, but every trip you take here will be different. Maybe this time a whole dragon will appear, maybe you’ll come across a cyclops and an ogre fighting to the death and feel the need to get involved – it’d be rude just to watch – maybe you’ll fall to your death and be sad because who knows when the game saved last. All of these things make the world of Dragon’s Dogma 2 feel truly alive, and it’s a joy to exist in.

You’ve still got the same mix of amazing monsters to fight. Most of these have variants you’ll come across, and bosses are still these enormous things that you can climb on and poke at. Each class allows you to take them out in different ways. Having four starting vocation is a nice touch, as it used to be that the thief and archer were in one class – I do find myself wishing both of these classes also had a strict upgrade vocation as the fighter and mage do.

Dragon's Dogma 2 Mage

The new hybrid vocations are a lot of fun though. The Magick Archer the only returning hybrid class, but it feels better here with a far bigger focus on different arrow types, and even the ability to heal at long range. The Mystic Spearhand lets you whirl around like a beyblade (so does the thief, but vertically) while also being able to teleport. The Trickster uses an incense censor to fight and can conjure up a clone and do all sorts of, well, tricky things. Then there’s the Warfarer, who gets access to everything all of the time, but has lower stats. Speaking of stats, in the original, your stats were based on what vocation you were as you levelled up, and it was hell to min-max a build. Here, you just change your base stats as you change vocations, and it’s so much better. Combat feels great no matter which class you’re playing as, and each class demands something a little bit different from you.

Fighting is by no means all you’ll be doing here. Aside from exploration, you’ll also have to engage in a little bit of sneaking around, some serious political intrigue, investigations, and helping out people with things like looking after a house. Dragon’s Dogma 2 wants you to think it’s alive, and while the non-story NPCs struggle to manage this, the world, the way you can influence the story, and the story itself do a very good job of making you feel truly immersed.

Dragon's Dogma 2 Golem

On PC, the game looks phenomenal and runs beautifully – to be fair, you’d expect as much when you’ve got an RTX 3080. Every part of the map is not only well-rendered, but also easy to distinguish from everywhere else. Despite the size, you’ll quickly learn the lay of the land based on unique paths and features, all of which are worth stopping to see. The decision to remove some fast travel makes sense when you see how good everything looks.

We’ve also been able to play the PS5 version of the game. On consoles Dragon’s Dogma 2 features an unlocked frame rate and no options for frame rate caps or performance modes. That’s potentially a nightmare, but barring one bizarre session of serious frame skipping it held steady around 30fps – having a VRR capable TV will certainly help iron out any further kinks on that front. There were however a number of glitches in this console version, not least the untimely disappearance of your pawns at the least opportune moments. A quick reload to your last save will see them return, but it could take the shine off an otherwise great adventure.

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