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After 40 hours of Dragon’s Dogma 2, I’ve barely scratched the surface of this fun adventure

A familiar world

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a ridiculously fun game, but I had a lot going on when I received a review copy. So I’ve only gotten in about 40 hours of the title, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. With that in mind, consider this ‘part one’ of my review of Capcom’s latest fantasy adventure role-playing game.

During my time with Dragon’s Dogma 2, it’s difficult not to compare it to titles like Elden Ring or Baldur’s Gate 3 (I have more than 100 hours in both). Don’t get me wrong, I understand they’re all vastly different, but at the same time, they’re still fantasy RPG games. However, while Elden Ring has my favourite combat, and Baldur’s Gate 3 offers the best role-playing, Dragon’s Dogma 2 offers a full and unique world that’s taken me back to when I first played Skyrim.

That’s not to say that the game is dated, though. Instead, it feels like a world I’ve encountered in games like Fable or Dragon’s Age, and since we haven’t gotten an entry in those series for nearly a decade, I’m happy to revisit this type of fantasy world.

The Arisen

In Dragon’s Dogma 2, you play as the ‘Arisen,’ a character whose heart has been taken by a dragon. Your goal is to regain your heart, which seems straightforward, except the dragons in this game are extremely difficult. In all my time playing the title so far, I still haven’t been able to kill a lesser dragon.

After creating your Arisen, you select between four ‘vocations’ (the game’s classes), and you’ll be able to discover more throughout Dragon’s Dogma 2. I wasn’t sure if I’d like this system, but it turns out I’m a big fan. While playing the game, I’ve maxed out the Thief vocation and learned all the possible skills. While I’m still looking for the maister to teach me the Mystic Spearhand vocation, I recently found the Magick Archer and switched over to that vocation.

Right after switching vocations, I tried my hand at fighting a dragon, and while I was new to the class and lacked the skills gained by levelling up the Magick Archer, I still stood my ground and got the beast to only two life bars left. I like that changing classes doesn’t make me feel like I’m starting completely at ground one again. While you might be new to a specific vocation, your character levels up aside from its class, so you can experiment and learn new vocations. You won’t have all the skills, but ranking up in your vocation is easy and doesn’t take too long.

I also really liked the character creation in the title. You can make your character thicker and short, tall and thin or whatever you’d like, but this impacts your in-game stats. If you want to be very thick, you’ll have a larger equipment load, but you’ll move and gain stamina more slowly. On the other hand, if you want to be thin, you’ll be faster, and your stamina regains quicker, but you won’t be able to carry a lot.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 features a plethora of character creator options, including eye colour, pupil size, lip thickness, and a variety of hairstyles. There are even skin tons for Black folk, and you can change waist size, chest size, and so much more (I’ve seen people make familiar characters like Lae’zel from Baldur’s Gate 3, Kratos from God of War, Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender and more with this extensive character creator.)

Pawn to E4 

What’s unique about Dragon’s Dogma 2 is its pawn system. When you first start up the game and create your own character, you also create your own pawn. Your pawn is your NPC-controlled companion in the game and will be there throughout your entire adventure. However, in Dragon’s Dogma 2, you have a party of four: yourself, your main pawn and two other pawns created by other characters. So, while you’re playing with your pawns, they’ll also be simultaneously in other worlds. You can find favourite pawns that you’ve grown accustomed to, see what abilities they have, and view their equipment. Before you send a pawn on their way, you can give them a gift. I liked seeing the pawn ranking system; at the time of writing, mine was in eighth place (just a little humble brag).

I like the pawn element of Dragon’s Dogma 2, but I’m not a huge fan of managing party abilities, so it’s nice that I can grab someone else’s pawn and use them. And when they no longer fit my needs, I throw them to the side and grab a new one.

The pawns are also pretty useful, as they open treasure chests and collect other materials. Further, if the pawns have done something in another world, they’ll know how to guide you to your specific goal or mission. I like this as it feels a bit more grounded than always relying on points on a map.

Monsters everywhere 

In my time with Dragon’s Dogma 2, I’ve come to expect to always be ready for a fight. There are saurians (lizard-like people), goblins and wolves around every corner. There’s almost a Jaws-like element to the experience, but instead of being weary of the water, I’m often looking up, as you never know when a griffin is going to swoop down and attack you and your party.

While there are common themes with the monsters you fight, the four types I’ve mentioned are pretty much everywhere I’ve explored so far; just about when I’m getting tired of seeing these same enemies, new ones emerge, and I’m excited all over again. Sometimes, the monsters only differ a bit due to their region, like saurians with rock-like scales or hobgoblins instead of goblins, but other times, you’ll find yourself face to face with minotaur, chimera or drake. This is when the monster-fighting becomes intense, and you’re fighting these large beasts with multiple life bars and climbing and stabbing their weak points, like in Shadows of the Colossus.

I love these intense fights as they require thought and precision, and you can’t just stab at the monsters like you would with a goblin. Instead, you need to attempt to beat them with different elements, target weak spots, and try your hardest not to die. Only you can pick up your pawns when they fall in battle, so you need to also be ready for that. Always keep an eye on your stamina, as holding onto monsters isn’t an easy task. All of this makes for epic battles that can surprisingly last a long time.

For example, I legitimately spent 20 minutes fighting a singular drake, only to die and be heartbroken. It’s also worth noting that monsters seem to scale with the player. In one cave, I found a chimera. It was too tough for my team as we were out of health, so I went back to that cave about 15 levels later, and instead of the chimera I left there, it had changed to a ‘gorechimera,’ a type of chimera that can also put players to sleep.

So much to explore

It’s worth noting that I found that the game sometimes randomly drops frames, which can be a bit disorienting. I’m playing on a PS5, and while frames will drop, I’ve never had the title crash or had any significant glitches. Dragon’s Dogma 2 looks good but isn’t as beautiful as some of the better-looking PS5 titles like Demon’s Souls.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 seems like a huge game, and I have so much more of the map to explore and the story to go through. It’s hard to keep on the path with missions because you can easily be distracted. At one point, I was on the way to my next story mission and then got a little lost; I figured, “While I’m here, I should check this out.” Several hours later, I found the Magick Archer maister, a completely new area of the map that I didn’t even realize existed, and fought (and lost) to a dragon.

After all my hours in the game, I haven’t even come across the giant statue Talos seen in the trailers, nor have I found any elves. I’m excited to keep playing, and after completing the game, I’ll share more about my experience.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 releases on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X ($89.98) and PC ($94.99) on March 22nd.

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Image credit: Capcom

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