Dragon’s Dogma 2 Review: A Classic D&D Adventure Experience in an Open World

After waiting for an entire decade (two long years for me) Dragon’s Dogma finally got its highly-asked sequel, and it plays less like a sequel and more as the complete version of the original. Dragon’s Dogma was the dream project of Hideaki Itsuno, the mastermind behind many of Capcom’s successes.

Unable to add everything he envisioned in the first Dragon’s Dogma had always been his big regret. Dragon’s Dogma 2 reflects that love and care as the game builds on the strengths of the first Dragon’s Dogma while fixing many of its weaknesses.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a carefully crafted open-world masterpiece filled with random memorable encounters and hidden secrets. After playing the game for 60 hours, reaching both the normal and true ending, here is my complete review of the game.

A Tale of Kingdoms, Dragons & Strength of Will

Dragon’s Dogma 2’s story starts in the Kingdom of Vermund, with the classic tale of the Arisen from the first part, but adding a slight twist. Every cycle, an Arisen is chosen by the Dragon to unite all the kingdoms and fight it, becoming the Sovran of Vermund. The Arisen leads the Pawns, which are beings from beyond the Rift lacking any will of their own, only following the Arisen’s orders, or so we thought.

The Good Start: Politics, Betrayal, and Secrets

Dragons Dogma 2 false arisen
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

The story begins with the chosen Arisen (the playable character) being smuggled away to Battahl’s Pawn excavation camp by the Queen of Vernworth, replacing them with a fake Arisen. The initial part of the story focuses on the Arisen teaming up with Brant, the Captain of Vernworth, as they work together to uncover Queen Disa’s and the fake Arisen’s plot.

The initial quests set the tone of the game quite well, encouraging players to explore and try out different things. The game doesn’t handhold, which I greatly appreciate, and many of the quests require critical thinking and exploration.

The Lackluster Middle: Uncoordinated Chain of Events

Phaesus Dragons Dogma 2
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

Soon, the story shifts the tone and takes the player to Battahl in search of the secret behind the Godsway, an item the fake Arisen uses to control Pawns.

This is when the story of Dragon’s Dogma 2 becomes confusing and hard to follow.

The build-up of the initial part of the story is thrown out the window and the Arisen appears to be helping the masterminds behind the fake Arisen, Lord Phaesus and his underling Ambrosius.

The second part of the story dives into mediocrity containing a confusing chain of events building up to an almost rushed encounter with the main Dragon.

The Ending: Masterpiece Hidden in Mediocrity

Dragons Dogma 2 Facing the Dragon
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

The final fight with the Dragon was fairly easy and was equally lackluster compared to the second half of the story quests. The fight lacked the cinematic aesthetic of the Grigori fight in the original Dragon’s Dogma and the ending definitely diminished the starting buildup of the story.

Thankfully, my experience of finishing the original Dragon’s Dogma came into use, as I realized that the game may not be over yet. And I was correct as Dragon’s Dogma 2 has a secret ending with 20-30 hours of additional content locked behind it.

Dragons Dogma 2 Cursed Dragon
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

Accessing the True ending unlocks the Unmoored World, which turns the entire world into a post-apocalyptic setting with much stronger enemies and higher stakes.

Normally, I don’t like spoiling the possibility of a secret ending in a review, however, the secret ending redeems the story of Dragon’s Dogma 2 and every player looking to play the game should know about it.

This is where Dragon’s Dogma 2 truly shines, as the Unmoored World ending redeemed the entire story, giving a fitting end to the game. Without spoiling too much, the Unmoored World ending explains the deep lore behind the world and the role of the Pathfinder, the Arisen, and the Pawns. The true ending touches on the impact of fate and how a strong will can change it.

Beautifully Crafted Open World with Secrets at Every Corner

One of my biggest critiques of the first Dragon’s Dogma was badly designed side quests and how less the players were incentivized to explore. Dragon’s Dogma 2 not only addresses those issues but goes beyond to make traveling one of the most fun experiences I have had in any open-world RPG.

Yes, the lack of easy Fast Travelling can get annoying in a few scenarios, but overall it feels much more natural to just travel in Dragon’s Dogma 2 than fast travel. The Ox Carts do a really good job of making Fast Travel much more tolerable, interconnecting most of the major cities at a minimal gold cost.

Dragons Dogma 2 scenery
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

The random combat encounters while traveling in Ox Carts also make a fun experience. Although, it can get annoying when the Ox Carts break in the encounters, but I found it extremely funny when it happened to me to care much beyond that.

Dragon’s Dogma 2’s world is not open in the sense of most Open World games we are generally used to nowadays that allow complete travel freedom. The world of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is more like a series of interlinking paths, with specific enemies and secrets placed in each section.

This makes the exploration experience much more curated, but not in a bad way. There are still tons of hidden paths and secrets that force the players to think out of the box, like throwing your pawns across a cliff to lower a ladder.

Well-Crafted Side Quests Made the World Feel Alive

The highlight of the open world in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is the triggered side quests. Players can find a bunch of side quests just traveling to new places, and many of them may appear simple on the surface but have very in-depth stories.

Saint of the slums side quest Dragons Dogma 2
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

Some great examples are the Beggar’s Tale and Saint of the Slum quests, which appear simple at the surface but come with a twisted ending depending on the choice the player makes.

The game also incentivizes players to travel to places they have already visited. Each time I visited Melve, on a whim and not because of a quest, a new side quest got triggered with very interesting stories. The same is true for Harve village and many of the other cities. Sometimes one quest you finish triggers another after some time.

The best part about the side quests is that you don’t need to talk to all the NPCs to begin the quests. In many cases, the NPC will approach you and tell you about a new quest when you simply travel near them.

Menella Dragons Dogma 2
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

And many of these quests are triggered in response to finishing other quests, so you may find an NPC waiting in an area they are not supposed to be in, just for a chance to talk to you. After giving the quest, they just start walking back to their normal location.

This felt oddly good as you can simply travel in a city, looking at wares or doing other quests, when an NPC can just approach you and give you a quest. Yes, some quests are hidden behind dialogues, but the majority of the ones I finished were quests the NPCs approached me with.

Another nice feature is that NPCs can send you gifts and even appear at your house to play games with you. And the fact that you can romance almost any NPC in the game, is a pretty neat addition.

Secrets, Secrets & More Secrets!

The most rewarding part of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is finding secrets at every corner. You can simply be out there killing goblins and exploring caves and suddenly you see an entire civilization appear in front of you. The same is true for finding optional bosses like the Sphinx, Medussa, or the Dragon in the Dragon’s Breath Tower. All of these are optional content and players can finish the game without finishing any of it.

Dragons Dogma 2 sphinx
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

I remember looking for some ore in a cave when I found this mural depicting the Sphinx. Now we all knew about the Sphinx being in the game from trailers, so I knew exactly what I was looking at. After looking around the area, I found the passage to the Sphinx. The Sphinx is a beautifully crafted monster in Dragon’s Dogma 2, and its every interaction will raise your hackles.

Furthermore, there are secrets within a secret. For example, players can get hidden items while fighting bosses by damaging specific parts. One such item is extremely broken and can turn any enemy into stone. Similarly, fighting the Sphinx is a mystery in itself, as you cannot fight her like you do in normal battles, as she will simply disappear.

Slaying Monsters Has Never Felt More Fun

The combat system in Dragon’s Dogma 2 or its predecessor never followed the common combat trends of other successful action games, like the FromSoftware games. There is no class-wide dodge button, and no target lock, the two staple features of Souls-like games.

Easily Changeable Vocations Cater to Individual D&D Class Fantasies

Instead, players have to position themselves properly to avoid hits. Some of the Classes, called vocations, do have special abilities to block or dodge enemy attacks. For example, the Fighter vocation can block attacks using its shield and even counterattack when timed correctly. Similarly, the Thief vocation features the dodge ability that the other vocations lack.

Dragons Dogma 2 Combat

Every vocation in Dragon’s Dogma 2 allows a different playstyle and this makes replaying the game much more fun. The best part about the vocations in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is the ease of changing them without facing any detriment.

Not feeling good with Fighter? Simply change to Mage at one of the Vocation Guilds. Your stats will change with the vocation automatically and you will get a starter equipment for your new vocation.

Dragons Dogma 2 Defeated Drake
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

Every vocation in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is viable and there are no weak classes, although the Trickster vocation is harder to play. Each Vocation fills a specific combat role of a classic D&D party. You have the Fighter, Mage, Archer, and Thief, which are pretty self-explanatory. This makes the combat experience, with a full party of pawns, closest to a real-life D&D campaign.

Grab, Slash & Throw!

The combat in Dragon’s Dogma 2 can be boiled down to three basic sections. Grabbing the enemy and mounting them, slashing the enemy with normal attacks or skills, and throwing stuff at enemies to damage them.

Grabbing onto an enemy and pounding your weapon straight into their weak spot will never be unfun in Dragon’s Dogma 2. There is a wicked pleasure in jumping on a Griffins back and hitting its wings to fire attacks to stop it from flying.

Griffins Nest Dragons Dogma 2
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

Almost every skill and normal attack in Dragon’s Dogma 2 feels impactful. Knocking down enemies and pouncing on them with the entire party is extremely fun and satisfying. The part I love most about the combat system is throwing things at enemies. This can be anything from rocks, and enemy bodies to your pawns. Getting hit by thrown things often staggers enemies and does significant damage. Players can also use Ballista around the map to hit enemies, and it does a fair bit of damage.

Camera is the Real Enemy

The biggest weak point of the Dragon’s Dogma 2 combat system is the camera positioning. Sometimes you barely can see what is happening, especially when grabbing onto an enemy. Although, it can be pretty funny holding onto an Ogre with dear life while slashing away at it, while only being stuck to look at his hairy chest.

Weird Camera angles Dragons Dogma 2
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

The camera placement can get annoying when fighting bigger foes, as it is very important to see the movement of the enemy to know what they are doing. Having the camera get stuck can sometimes make it impossible to know when to dodge an attack meant to take you off.

Pawns are More Responsible, Funny and Useful

The Pawn system in Dragon’s Dogma has always fascinated me, especially when I played the first game. The Pawn system in the first game was scarily intuitive to the player’s habits and playstyle in the first Dragon’s Dogma the time it was released.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 only builds on the first system, fleshing the system more and smoothening the rough edges. Pawns in Dragon’s Dogma 2 no longer repeat the same lines at the frequency in the first game, but they can still be annoying sometimes. Players also have more control over the Pawns, being able to command them to wait or do something of note in the surroundings, like dropping a ladder or leading the way to an objective.

Fighting a Drake in a Group of Pawns
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

The pawns are also much smarter in combat than before, playing their vocation and inclination role much more properly. However, they still have a knack for jumping off cliffs for absolutely no reason. The Pawn Quests are also a good addition to the game, making a kind of trading system for players and it also gives a reason for players to hire pawns.

The best part about the Pawns in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is that they can snitch on their Arisen. They remember every weird thing you do and if not careful, will gossip about it to the rest of the world. Not that it would ever prevent players from doing weird stuff I guess.

Pawns Snitching on Players
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti

Dragonsplague also ups the attention players must pay to their pawns. One of my colleagues has written a nice piece on how Dragonsplague has made them care about their pawns more, so definitely give it a read.

Dragonsplague, although criticized by many, is a good feature in my opinion. There are not many game-altering repercussions in Dragon’s Dogma 2, so the addition of Dragonsplague is something I really liked.

Microtransactions: The Good and The Bad

I have always disliked Microtransactions in any game that is not available for free, irrespective of whether they are aggressive or not. When Microtransactions were revealed in Dragon’s Dogma 2, the initial outburst from the players was well deserved. Microtransactions have no business in a $70 game.

Dragons Dogma 2 Microtransactions

However, it’s also true that Dragon’s Dogma 2 has the most useless Microtransactions out of any game. Every item in the store (other than the Heartfelt Pendant), is easily available in the game, and buying them from the store is basically a joke. None of the Microtransactions provide any notable advantage and anyone who succumbed to purchasing it probably regretted it later.

Graphics and Performance

Now we come to the biggest problem in Dragon’s Dogma 2, the performance. Don’t get me wrong, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a gorgeous-looking game, but it has terrible performance. The game is available on PCs, PS5, Xbox, and Steam Deck and it faces performance issues on all of these platforms. We have only played the game on PC, and here is what the game ran on:

My Setup:

CPU: Intel i5 11th Gen
RAM: 8×2 DDR4 RAM @ 3200MHz
SSD: WD SN570 500GB
Monitor: 1080p and 144hz

During my playthrough, the game was consistently giving between 55-65 FPS in High graphics which was playable, to say the least, and did not hamper the experience that much. However, the FPS tanked to 25-30 in major cities, occasionally dropping to 15 even on my RTX 40 series card. Turning on Frame Generation barely showed any improvements, and according to reports, the Frame Generation didn’t work correctly in the game.

According to PlayStation players, the game gives a consistent 30-40 FPS in PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S across the board. This is a very low standard for a game of this caliber and we expect a lot more improvements with future updates.

Is Dragon’s Dogma 2 Worth It amid Performance Issues?

Normally I would not recommend an action game with poor performance, but Dragon’s Dogma 2 is an exception. I haven’t had this much fun playing a game since Elden Ring came out in 2022. Capcom has done a fantastic job in fleshing out the world, adding engaging quests, and improving the old systems of Dragon’s Dogma, forming a masterpiece that will be remembered for years to come.

The action feels fluid and impactful, the Pawns are much more receptive and the side quests and exploration are some of the best in RPG. The game does suffer from performance issues and a mediocre main story, and fast traveling can become frustrating sometimes, but the overall experience is never impacted.

The game has less handholding and puts more emphasis on old-style exploration. The combat system is among the best in the RPG genre, and it’s the most classic single-player adventure you will get to experience in modern games. With all the performance issues I have faced and my irritation with Microtransactions, I will still wholeheartedly recommend Dragon’s Dogma 2 to all RPG and Action lovers.

Pros and Cons
The Pros
Highly impactful combat system
Exploration is a delight and every corner is filled with secrets
Classes can be easily changed, allowing change in playstyle without hassle
The Cons
Badly optimized performance, with FPS dropping to 30s in major cities
Fast Traveling can be a pain for players used to a more simpler form
Final Verdict
Dragon's Dogma 2
Dragon's Dogma 2 is a masterfully crafted open-world RPG that has made traveling and completing side quests fun again. Combat in Dragon's Dogma 2 is highly intuitive, and impactful, and makes it an absolute blast to slay monsters. The game however suffers badly from performance issues, has a mediocre main story, and the microtransactions are a big letdown. However, none of it ruins the enjoyment of the game and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
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