Dragon’s Dogma 2 Review – Forging a familiar fantasy

Reviewed March 30, 2024 on PS5


PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


March 22, 2024





Dragon’s Dogma 2 has finally graced us. The 2012 cult classic has sparked both excitement and controversy among fans and critics alike but with a bigger budget and lessons learnt, we can finally see these kingdoms blossom. Developed by Capcom, this open-world fantasy RPG promises a rich adventure, exploration, and intricate combat mechanics. However, there are surface-level concerns that may steal the hearts of those eager to jump into this deep game.

Wavering hearts

You are thrust into a richly crafted fantasy realm teeming with lore, mystery, and peril. Assume the role of the Arisen, a chosen hero destined to confront the enigmatic dragonsplague threatening the realm. This overarching quest serves as the driving force behind the plot but isn’t entirely original or remarkable in any sense. It is bland and many of the story beats are expected, similar to our thoughts on Dark Arisen. Luckily, the main story isn’t the part that will keep you returning for more.

You play as a customised Arisen, personalised with true creative freedom over appearance and abilities. You can sculpt every detail of the Arisen and main Pawn companion, from facial features to combat skills, ensuring a personal experience. The tool’s freeform nature allows for crafting faithful replicas of beloved characters or unleashing your imagination to create entirely original avatars.

Central to the narrative is the diverse cast of characters that you encounter throughout the adventure. From stalwart allies to treacherous foes, each character is imbued with personality, motivations, and backstory. You forge alliances, make difficult choices, and form deep bonds with NPCs, in particularly your Pawns, shaping the course of your journey. Whether it’s the enigmatic Vocation Maisters, the figures who hold the key to unlocking new abilities, or the conflicted companions grappling with inner demons, every character is unique.

“Those who take the time to explore, learn, and listen will uncover a rich tapestry of mythology, history, and culture woven throughout the world.”

You embark on an epic journey across the kingdoms of Vermund, Sacred Arbor, and Battahl. Vermund, ruled by the Arisen, is a realm of political intrigue where conspiracies to seize the throne abound. Meanwhile, the elves of Sacred Arbor live secluded lives shrouded in mystery. Battahl, a land of beastren, is steeped in superstition and distrust towards Pawns. Here, the citizens worship the Lambent Flame to ward off calamity, under the rule of Empress Nadinia. With rich world-building and compelling characters, Dragon’s Dogma 2 delivers an immersive tale of adventure and heroism, inviting you to shape the destiny of the realm.

Those who take the time to explore, learn, and listen will uncover a rich tapestry of mythology, history, and culture woven throughout the world. You uncover ancient ruins, decipher cryptic texts, and piece together the mysteries of the dragonsplague, immersing yourself in a living, breathing universe filled with wonder and danger.

Companions in arms

One of the best features of Dragon’s Dogma is its innovative Pawn system, AI-controlled companions that accompany you on your journey and offer support in combat, share knowledge, and provide valuable insights into quests and challenges.

What sets the Pawn system apart is its emphasis on customisation and collaboration. At the start of your adventure, you create a main Pawn, tailoring their appearance, abilities, and personality to suit your playstyle. Additionally, you can recruit two additional Pawns from other players online, each bringing their own skills and tactics to the table. It’s highly encouraged to mix and match, experimenting with new friends and their varied abilities to achieve Pawn quests and make demanding enemies easier to defeat.

“Building upon what was already a great concept to start with, the Pawn system adds more depth and immersion…”

As you progress, Pawns gain experience and grow stronger, learning from their battles and adapting to your tactics. You can also enlist the aid of vocation maisters who offer specialised training and unlock new abilities for your Pawns to master. By coordinating classes, special skills, and leveraging the strengths of your companions, you can overcome even the most terrifying griffins and dragons roaming the world. Additionally, Pawns have valuable feedback and advice during battles, alerting you to enemy weaknesses and offering suggestions for effective tactics.

You’ll find hundreds of these allies along your journey, but that results in repetition. After only a short while, you’ll notice similar phrases and even exact repeats of the same quote coming from your party. They often point out key items or hidden areas that may be incredibly helpful, or it could be a mystery as to why a plain patch of grass is of interest. Then there’s the constant dialogue, which can range from reflections on the situation or a dull discussion about how to climb a ladder in-game. There’s a handful of obvious flaws but nothing that completely ruins the fun.

Building upon what was already a great concept to start with, the Pawn system adds more depth and immersion to Dragon’s Dogma 2, enhancing both the narrative and gameplay experience. Whether you’re exploring the vast environment or engaging in epic battles against mythical beasts, your Pawns are invaluable allies, contributing to your success and enriching your adventure in countless ways.

In pursuit of adventure

Dragon’s Dogma 2 redefines the notion of challenge with its stripped-down mechanics that demand careful thinking. This is not a game that coddles you; it pushes you to your limits and rewards clever play.

Exploration is a journey fraught with peril and wonder. The world is large, filled with hidden treasures and daunting dungeons. Limited fast travel means you’ll have to carefully plan your routes, weighing the risks and rewards of each step. Auto-healing is a luxury you won’t find here; instead, you must rest at camps or inns to fully rejuvenate, adding a layer of tension to every encounter. Don’t even think about carelessly throwing yourself into danger, for death is not a mere setback – it’s harsh and strips away your health unless you properly rejuvenate at camp. Let’s not forget about the unforgiving carry weight that affects both movement and combat speed, forcing you to make tough decisions about what to bring on your journey and what spoils to bring home.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 presents hardship as an integral part of the adventure, but rather than feeling unfair or punitive, it’s designed to be the very essence of the game’s allure. It flirts with survival game mechanics and more AAA RPGs should do that to introduce difficulty that can be very accessible. Triumph over these challenges is where the true enjoyment lies, akin to the sense of accomplishment found in a Soulslike.

“…you find pleasure in spending time exploring the unknown, rather than solely focusing on the main quest.”

Emergent gameplay is constant throughout the journey. With numerous new opportunities along the often lengthy path, it would be almost heartless not to pause and appreciate these moments. When you’re with Pawns who know certain areas well, you might end up exploring a goblin-filled cave for treasure or helping a random traveller get back to Vermund, even if it means forgetting your current goals. It’s a game where you find pleasure in spending time exploring the unknown, rather than solely focusing on the main quest.

This is why everyone is in love with Dragon’s Dogma 2 at the moment. These emerging tales give you the freedom to shape your own story, tackle challenges how you want, and make the game feel more personal. It offers new scenarios each time you play, whether it’s finding a hidden secret or tackling different tasks. The stories shared, tips exchanged, and mysteries unravelled together to foster a community, linked in-game by the Pawn system, making the exploration that much richer.

However, microtransactions allow you to buy rare items and bypass intended gameplay mechanics. Portcrystals, which aid in fast travel and are limited in-game, are sold for real money, contradicting all the joy in exploration mentioned before. Though the game’s single-player nature means no competitive advantage, the temptation to purchase convenience items remains. It truly seems contradictory considering much of the charm comes from long adventures between quest points. Given Capcom’s history, it’s unlikely these microtransactions will be removed despite fan backlash.

A job for everyone

But perhaps the other most satisfying aspect of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is its combat. Every encounter is a test of skill and strategy, demanding your full attention and mastery of your chosen class. Whether you’re unleashing devastating blows as a Warrior or raining down arrows as an Archer, each battle is a thrilling dance of steel and sorcery. When you finally emerge victorious, the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled, reinforcing the notion that every hardship was not just endured but conquered.

Vocations offer distinct combat roles and playstyles, each with its nuances. Starting vocations like the Fighter, Archer, Thief, and Mage provide a foundation for different approaches to combat. The Fighter excels in close-quarters combat and defense, while the Archer dominates with ranged attacks. The Thief relies on agility and stealth, and the Mage harnesses powerful magicks for offense and support. Advanced and hybrid vocations like the Warrior and Mystic Spearhand further expand your options. The Warrior trades speed for devastating blows with two-handed weapons, while the Mystic Spearhand blends melee and magickal abilities.

One of the most commendable aspects of the vocation system is its balance and versatility. Whether you prefer to charge headlong into battle or rain down destruction from afar there is something to cater to every taste. This diversity encourages experimenting with different vocations, leading to a deeper understanding of the game’s mechanics and fostering a sense of exploration and discovery.

The fluidity of combat ensures each vocation feels satisfying to play. Unleashing devastating combos as a Warrior, strategically positioning oneself for optimal spellcasting as a Sorcerer, or swiftly dispatching enemies with precise archery as a Magick Archer – it all offers superb gameplay.

Fracture in the fantasy

Dragon’s Dogma 2 offers a mixed bag in terms of visual aesthetics, audio immersion, and performance, particularly on the PlayStation 5 platform.

Visually, the game boasts a variety of environments to explore, like forests and caves, but they often lack the level of visual interest found in other open-world titles. One notable issue is the repetitive colour palette, dominated by shades of brown and yellow, which can be visually monotonous at times. For example, the kingdom of Vermund, with its fortified city and sprawling town, features largely earthy tones that fail to capture the imagination or evoke a sense of true wonder. Similarly, Battahl, with its steep canyons and ancient ruins, suffers from a lack of visual diversity, as the rocky landscapes blend in a sea of dull hues.

“Dragon’s Dogma 2 offers a mixed bag in terms of visual aesthetics, audio immersion, and performance…”

The visuals are further marred by performance issues. Despite the hardware capabilities, the frame rate is struggles and frequently drops during intense battles or in densely populated areas, detracting from the overall immersion and fluidity of gameplay.

On the audio front, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is decent. The sound design is immersive, with impactful sound effects that enhance combat encounters and environments. However, the musical score is underwhelming. While the main theme boasts a catchy melody that sets the tone for adventure, the rest of the music tends to lean towards a generic, cinematic sound. The music does include medieval-appropriate instruments and sounds at points, but the overall approach to the score isn’t noteworthy, perhaps as a result of changing composers. The original was coloured with Middle Eastern sounds, electric guitar, and a lot more energy that made it so distinctive to fantasy RPGs. Dragon’s Dogma 2 is certainly a step back.




  • Large fantasy realm to explore
  • Pawns are fun and complement emerging gameplay
  • Tactile and skillful combat
  • Challenging adventure for RPG fans


  • Mediocre main story
  • Visual and performance let down
  • Repetition in Pawn dialogue at times
  • Music is a downgrade from the original

With an innovative Pawn system by your side, delve into a so-so story in a deep world teeming with intrigue and mythical beasts. Challenge awaits at every turn, from the treacherous landscapes to the heart-pounding battles, where mastery of diverse vocations is key to victory. Though stained by visual monotony and performance woes, Dragon’s Dogma 2 with its thrilling emergent gameplay and superb combat stands as a solid return to the series.