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Geek Review: Dragon’s Dogma 2

Joining the company of acclaimed titles such as Elden Ring and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dragon’s Dogma 2 heralds a return to the grandeur of epic Western fantasy action role-playing games (RPGs), offering players a beguiling adventure filled with mythic creatures, vast exploration, and thrilling combat. Developed by Capcom, this sequel to the 2012 original hack & slash title builds upon the foundation laid by its predecessor, delivering a rich experience with captivating gameplay.

Set in a sprawling open world teeming with mysterious caves, dense forests, and towering mountains, the dynamic and immersive wilderness enhances the sense of adventure. Whether it’s the swaying blades of grass or the churning river below, every element contributes to a world that feels alive and ever-changing. The absence of a traditional fast-travel system transforms exploration into a thrilling escapade, inviting players to embark on a journey of discovery and wonder.

Notably, one of the standout features of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is its innovative pawn system, which allows players to recruit AI-controlled companions known as pawns to aid them on their journey. As players journey across the land, they’ll encounter recruitable pawns from both Capcom and fellow players, lending to a sense of community as pawns learn and grow across different players’ games.

These companions can be customised and trained to suit different playstyles, adding a layer of strategy to the gameplay and establishing itself as one of the breakout elements of the game where you, the Arisen, and your pawns fulfil the destiny of slaying a mighty dragon destined to bring about the end of the world. More than just warm bodies to beef up your combat team, they’re eager to provide useful hints, such as identifying resources you can gather or pointing you in the right direction for a quest. By working together with pawns, players can execute impressive manoeuvres and tackle both monsters and exploration in distinctive ways.

Meanwhile, combat in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is nothing short of spectacular, offering a diverse array of vocations to suit every playstyle. Whether wielding swords, spears, or magic, each class exudes a palpable sense of impact and power. Experimentation is encouraged, with special augmentations allowing for customisation and versatility across classes. Moreover, the Capcom DNA is readily apparent, evoking echoes of Devil May Cry‘s stylish action and the epic battles and strategic intensity of Monster Hunter. After all, this franchise was directed by Hideaki Itsuno, the same guy who stepped in to drive the direction for Devil May Cry 2 (2003) and directed Devil May Cry 3 (2005).

While some may critique the enemy variety or the ability to max out vocations in a single playthrough, the sheer scale and diversity of the world are undeniable. Capcom’s approach to communication goes beyond traditional map icons, integrating information into the fabric of the world itself. Players will often find themselves seeking knowledge or clues from non-player characters (NPCs), adding depth and immersion to gameplay and characterisation.

Unfortunately, the main story in Dragon’s Dogma 2, which required a little over 40 hours to complete, is nothing to shout about. That said, the game’s lore is as deep as it is captivating, with a rich tapestry of history, mythology, and intrigue waiting to be unravelled. Players who have a fondness for worldbuilding and environmental storytelling will find plenty to uncover among the monster interactions, environment design, and cryptic words of NPCs. In addition, the combat mechanics and synergy with pawns add to the improvisational nature of the game, resulting in unique moments and emergent storytelling that players can share with others.

Even with its triumphs, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is not without its flaws. Its visual style — encompassing mesmerising landscapes, detailed character models, and spectacular special effects — is atypical for games in the genre. However, despite meeting recommended specifications, inconsistent frame rates and occasional dips in stability detract from the overall experience.It’s evident that optimisation issues plague Dragon’s Dogma 2, undermining an otherwise immersive gameplay experience. It’s possible that the game’s RE Engine isn’t yet equipped to handle its promise of open-world adventure. During our time with the game, we even experienced a few game crashes, although some of the frustration was tempered with reliable autosaves.

Capcom is committed to addressing these issues through patches and released one such update on 29 March for PC and PS5 (and subsequently 1 April for Xbox Series X|S), which purportedly includes bug fixes and improvements to quality, as well as the option to start a new game when save data already exists (which was initially missing from the game and the subject of much controversy). While the update does appear to offer mild frame rate improvements and a reduction in crashes on PC, the general performance of the game remains choppy at best, and will likely require more patches over the coming months to iron out the kinks.

Overall, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a strong entry and a great return to the classic realm of fantasy RPGs, offering a vast journey filled with adventure and discovery. With its dynamic world, exhilarating combat, and innovative gameplay mechanics, there’s plenty to be fascinated by. However, performance issues hamper the experience, overshadowing the game’s myriad strengths.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is available on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

Dragon’s Dogma 2 offers a rich fantasy RPG experience, with dynamic exploration and combat, marred by technical setbacks.

Overall
7/10
7/10
  • Gameplay - 9/10
    9/10
  • Story - 7/10
    7/10
  • Presentation - 5/10
    5/10
  • Value - 7/10
    7/10