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Dragon's Dogma II Game review

Game review 20 March 2024, 08:00

Dragon's Dogma II - Epic Game that Won't Engage Everyone

Dragon's Dogma II is a gripping RPG that gets more addictive the longer you play. At the same time, the production faces technical issues, and the experience as a whole seems more niche-oriented at times.

The review is based on the PS5 version.

RPG fans have it pretty good, don't they? There's always a new game coming out in this genre, and every now and then, a title stands out from the rest. Dragon’s Dogma II may not bring a phenomenal story, but it is extremely fun in terms of gameplay. This alone can turn out to be a deal-breaker for some. But once threshold is crossed, the game becomes engrossing possibly for hundreds of hours.

No fantasy without dragons

The title itself suggests the presence of dragons and no one is really shocked. Of course, we, as the protagonist, are very much entangled in the dragon affairs. The player's character was, after all, deprived of their heart by the Elder Dragon and thus became Arisen. The chosen one, who will face the mighty creatures and fulfill destiny.

PROS:
  • stunning graphics
  • weather effects
  • engaging fantasy world with various threads
  • personalization of your character and party
  • interactive combat system
CONS:
  • weak AI
  • main story doesn't have legs of its own
  • optimization leaves a bit to be desired
  • game may appeal to a very narrow group of players

At the same time, only an Arisen can become a king in one of the kingdoms, and it turns out we're the only candidate. Hardly anyone knows about it, though, because the queen has put an imposter in place, so she can rule on her own. The entire plot needs unraveling and the destiny desperately needs being fulfilled.

Contrary to appearances, for a large part of the game, especially if you don't focus on the main storyline, you rarely end up encountering dragons. Every such occasion is unique, however, because they are able to speak to the main character, challenging him. This provides a nice variety against the backdrop of mute and surly minotaurs, cyclops, griffins, and so on.

The story itself is not very inspired. The main thread is well conceived, but it's not a new space program for the genre . Fortunately, the side stories complement it nicely, so I felt engaged in a new, short tale every now and then, and then returned to the overarching narrative of Dragon's Dogma II.

Ruins are omnipresent in Dragon's Dogma 2.Dragon's Dogma II, CAPCOM, 2024

How RPG is Dragon's Dogma II?

The new production from Capcom is a role-playing game, which means each player should have the opportunity to play their character in a unique way. And in the vast majority of cases, this can be done indeed. The only thing someone could complain about is automatic allocation of stat points, but apart from that, RPG fans should be satisfied with the capabilities of Dragon's Dogma II.

Starting from the appearance, through choice of classes and their configuration in terms of skills, up to decisions during tasks. The game wants the player to feel the consequences of their decisions. That's why there's only one save file slot, automatically overwritten each time we complete a given step during main or side tasks. Sleeping at the inn in Dragon's Dogma II can be a lifesaver, as it creates a separate save file after each rest, which can be loaded independently.

This gives the game a really specific vibe. While you can easily reload your save in games like Baldur’s Gate 3 if you don't like a particular dice roll result, here it is impossible and you have to come to terms with certain decisions (no dice rolls though). The only disappointment was the announced side quest expiry mechanics, supposedly requiring us to consider the possibility of completing a quest before taking it.

During my play through, I encountered really few such instances. The vast majority, and I really mean vast, is the classic: put it aside for later and return to when you deem appropriate.

Dragons are important in some parts of the world.Dragon's Dogma II, CAPCOM, 2024

Dragon's Dogma II, in fact, goes beyond the standard single-player RPG experience. In the game, you can control the so-called Pawns, which are computer companions who take on challenges by our side. One of them is created at the beginning and you can choose its gender, appearance, class, and level up just like the main character. The rest have everything set for us, so they need to be replaced from time to time with new ones at a higher level.

Such a system ensures that you constantly have company and allies during the fight. This is a very cool solution because it allows players to take on a role that would be hard if played solo, like a tank or healer. Inside a team, however, even just with "AI," it's a completely different thing and you can have fun in any way you want.

Is it a warrior? A mage? No, it's a Monster Hunter

A vital element of Dragon's Dogma II is combat. Battles are practically a daily grind, and sure, you can try and skip some, but that doesn't change the fact that the game is largely about fighting. The prologue fight with the medusa showed me what I would be dealing with and I won't lie, I was very pleased.

If I were to compare the combat of Dragon's Dogma II to another series, the only one that comes to mind is Monster Hunter. Similarly, you can't target enemies with a default button, and the controls can be safely described as clunky. At the same time, fighting was very satisfying due to how open the combat system is. Developing a given class allows for the selection of up to four active skills and that's really enough.

Combat can be pretty chaotic sometimes.Dragon's Dogma II, CAPCOM, 2024

During the fight, you can grab and throw opponents, climb on them, and use elements of the environment. There's so much of it that everyone can approach each fight in a creative and unique way. At the same time, combat is not as complex as in Monster Hunter, but it is very satisfying. However, I won't deny that over time I began to avoid unnecessary fights if I didn't need the XP. Sometimes there were just too much combat.

This can be overwhelming because traveling around the world of Dragon's Dogma II is quite slow. There are fast travel systems, but caravans travel on specific routes, and teleportation requires expensive stones that you can also run into occasionally. So it's not cheap and it happens that you have to march. Such trips have a tendency to nullify the feeling of progress.

The beauty of fantasy in Dragon's Dogma II

One aspect of Dragon's Dogma II that I particularly enjoyed were the visuals. I usually don't pay much attention to it, but in this case, the world is really well-crafted. The colors are muted, not overly bright, yet not dull nor gloomy. There's often something to catch the eye, and the character generator makes many NPCs look quite unique.

Also, the use of light in the game is a spectacle. At night or in caves, it's really dark and hard to manage without a source of light. It adds a lot of atmosphere and there's a difference between traveling and performing missions depending on the time of day. It may seem minor, but the use of light sources is so well done that it catches your attention – a definite plus for me.

Medusas head is great if you want someone stoned.Dragon's Dogma II, CAPCOM, 2024

Dragon's Dogma II is also another game from Japan, set in the Middle Ages in Europe/Middle East vibe. The distinction between the two is very clear and well represented. Even though it's a fantasy game, even elements of gear are quite modest and don't look exaggerated. This applies to both weapons and armors.

The weather effects also make a positive impression. Rainfall looks good, for instance, but that's not all. After the rain, puddles remain on the ground for some time, and mud appears in the stead of dried soil. It's a detail that builds the world and helps create the impression that the player is dealing with something real.

It is artificial, sure, but is it intelligence?

VERDICT:

Dragon’s Dogma 2 will belong to a fairly specific audience. The game requires a significant amount of time to truly enjoy it. You can't simply play it for a moment because you'll feel like you haven't made any progress. At the same time, it's great that such a title appeared – in times when AAA titles are bland and safe a different approach is needed. We needed a game to demonstrate that things can be done differently.

Find all our reviews on Metacritic and Opencritic.

Surely it will surprise no one, but Dragon's Dogma II has some technical issues. The optimization is not fantastic. Even if the game runs fairly smoothly, you can feel that the frame rate is not stable and something is off. In my opinion, that's not a big deal and the only good thing is that it's not very annoying. Unless someone is counting on 240 FPS on Ultra.

The faulty AI significantly affects the performance of both allies and enemies. Pawns often stay behind, get stuck against walls, elements of decor, and even teleport far away, only to reappear next to you again. The worst is when your AI companion randomly dies, falling off a cliff into an abyss, and you can't revive them.

Pathfinding is clearly down and having trouble getting up. Problems also arose in another situation, which was even more irritating. Pawns also serve as a kind of guides. The companion "knows" where a certain place related to the quest is and can guide you to it. However, it sometimes happens that they get lost and head in the wrong direction, and I am unaware of it because there's no indicator on the map. So, I have to rely mainly on the pawn, which only pretends to know where to go.

Welcome to the Pawn Store.Dragon's Dogma II, CAPCOM, 2024

Opponents aren't very intelligent, as they can easily get stuck on the simplest obstacle and be quickly taken care of. They frequently hide these problems with their sheer numbers, and they aren't always recognized in the midst of the struggle. However, there are clearly things that need fixing, and I hope that on the day of the premiere, a major Day 1 patch will be released.

No game for all players

My experience with Dragon's Dogma II led me to the conclusion that this title won't be for everyone. I think some players will really not get along with the game, even if they make a great effort. Exploring the world with an old-fashioned approach and completing quests with minimal or unhelpful hints will become exhausting over time.

Furthermore, the combat system may seem unfamiliar, cumbersome, and too slow for those who have not had prior experience with the Monster Hunter series. Such a mix means that those who get sucked in will belong to a fairly specific group of players. All the more so, since Dragon’s Dogma II requires a significant amount of time to truly enjoy it. You can't simply join the game "for a moment" because you'll feel like you haven't made any progress.

At the same time, it's very good that such a game appears on the market. In times when AAA titles are bland and safe, and the indie market is increasingly flooded with more survival games, a different approach is needed. We need a game that demonstrates that things can be done in a different way. And yes, Dragon’s Dogma II is a continuation of the first installment and those familiar with the original will feel at home, there is no revolution here.

However, many more people have already heard about the sequel and more players will be interested in it. Yes, just as Elden Ring attracted new players with soulslike games, and Baldur’s Gate 3 with cRPGs. I don't expect that the latest CAPCOM game will attract many of players. I only wish there were plenty of them to demonstrate that it makes sense for a big publisher to do something differently in the current gaming market.

Zbigniew Woznicki

Zbigniew Woznicki

He began his adventure with journalism and writing on the Allegro website, where he published news related to games, technology, and social media. He soon appeared on Gamepressure and Filmomaniak, writing about news related to the film industry. Despite being a huge fan of various TV series, his heart belongs to games of all kinds. He isn't afraid of any genre, and the adventure with Tibia taught him that sky and music in games are completely unnecessary. Years ago, he shared his experiences, moderating the forum of mmorpg.org.pl. Loves to complain, but of course constructively and in moderation.

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