We're looking for new writers to join us!

Dragon's Dogma 2

Dragon's Dogma 2

Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 3/20/2024 for PS5  
More On: Dragon's Dogma 2

There is so much that makes Dragon’s Dogma 2 unique. The opening story happens to not be one of those times. You’re in a gaol, or jail. You also have no memories of what has taken place, or who you are. Look, a ton of the great RPGs begin like this; Dragon's Dogma 2 is in good company. You quickly make your escape and discover your fate as the Arisen, the singular person in the world who has been marked by the dragon that now must be defeated. I get it if you feel that the opening story beats feel like an afterthought, I felt that way too. I began to play though, and quickly learned this was not some game just put together by a group of people for the sole purpose of making money. There is depth here, core elements that feel like they should become a mainstay of RPGs moving forward. This one is a stunner.

What do I say about a great character creator that you haven’t already heard about before? Does Dragon’s Dogma 2 do anything unique? No, but it doesn’t need to be groundbreaking to be a great character creator. It does everything all the great ones do. You can change just about any feature, from height and weight to the size of all sorts of personal features, if you get what I’m saying. (Boobs. I’m talking boobs.) I’m not someone who dives into a character creator and gets lost for hours in creating my characters. I do have a trick that I picked up from a fellow writer here at Gaming Nexus. I frequently attempt to make my character in the image of my wife. I’ll give her red hair, make her short, and try to find other ways to make her as close to my wife as possible. The only complaint I can muster about the creator is my dislike for the hair options for women. I couldn’t find anything that jumped out to me as the haircut. Everything looks fine, I just never fell in love with my choice.

In Dragon’s Dogma 2, you’re not making just one character, but two. You are responsible for designing your main pawn as well. You have two races to choose from: humans and Beastren, with either a female or male gender for both races. I chose to make my main character the Beastren race; they’re a lot like a humanoid cat. I found myself liking some of the prebuilt character models, only choosing a few different options for how my facial hair looked. After a short time in game, I learned of the Pawns and created my main pawn, this time opting to make them into the image of my wife. For someone who enjoys the character creator part of games, this was a second opportunity to create a second primary character. I thought that idea was really cool, something that I don’t see too often in a title.

The Arisen never travels alone. There is always at least one pawn, your main pawn, constantly with you. You can form a sort of covenant and hire an additional two pawns to travel with you, filling out a full party of four. These two lesser pawns are nothing to laugh at, either. Every rift you open in-game may contain a pawn that is unique to that location, or it could be holding pawns from other players that are currently in that same area. You can shop around, so to speak, for pawns that match the style you are looking for. I found myself enjoying the ranged classes more than the melee ones, so I tend to look for close range fighters and warriors to fill out my rankings, keeping the balance in my party even. I leave my main pawn Tess as a Mage, making her my primary healer. This creates a party of four people, my main pawn, two lesser ones, and myself. I’ve been trying to take different pawns with me every time I find a new rift or make it back to a big city just to see what is available out there. Of course, once the game is in the wild, pawn selection will expand exponentially. 

When you are sleeping, either in game and or the real world, your main pawn is out visiting other Arisen, in other worlds. The idea that your pawn travels the multiverse to be hired out by other actual human gamers playing Dragon’s Dogma 2 is beyond one of the coolest things I have experienced in a game. Tess, my main pawn, tells me of her travels when I boot Dragon’s Dogma 2 back up the next day. The crazy part is, I know that my pawn visits other people, I had a coworker send me a screenshot of him finding my pawn in his game. It’s one thing for developers to tell you this is what is happening. It is a whole other to see that it is actually happening.

You can also send your pawn out with a mission to take care of while you are not physically playing Dragon’s Dogma 2, you can still get something done. It really amounts to busy work for my pawn more than anything. I found sending her out with the goal of obtaining an item that allows me to increase my carrying capacity, one of the few elements of the game that drives me crazy. In return, I have offered the Arisen who helps my pawn some gold. Sometimes I return and she has been successful, other times, she isn’t. Again, I found everything to do with my pawns to be fun. I loved searching out all the available pawns in the rifts. Each one feels unique and different, with four initial classes that are available to the pawns (with more opening up as you progress through the game) you can form your party a number of ways.

Pawns play a big part in your experience during Dragon’s Dogma 2, but it is nowhere near what this game is about. You are the Arisen, and since there should only be one of you alive at a time, and since the imposter has already come along to fill the role of the Arisen, it is now your job to prove he’s the fake one. Dragon’s Dogma 2 did a great job of pulling me into the world and seeing what this place is all about. After the short introduction, you are tasked with helping to clean up the world you defend by making right all the wrongs around you.

Thankfully, the world of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is filled to the brim, so finding things to fix is easy. Small villages feel small but still contain plenty of life. I never felt like I was entering a ghost town, unless I’m talking about a town wiped out by the dragon, that place was an actual ghost town, at first. Once you alleviate the threat to the town, it can begin to rebuild. If you show back up in the town a few days later it feels like a whole new, thriving town. The passage of time is a major mechanic in Dragon's Dogma 2; this is only one way it is reflected. While small villages still seem to pack enough into them, the cities are something else too. The scale is greater, but still feel realistic like this is how a medieval town should feel when I walk into it.

If you’ve been reading up on the release of Dragon’s Dogma 2 you might have come across the talk of no fast travel. While that is true, it is a bit of a misnomer. The game’s director, Hideaki Itsunohas, has openly talked about how fast travel is only a problem if your game is boring. I don’t agree with that statement, but I understand what he is trying to get at now that I’ve played his game. Dragon’s Dogma 2 is practically overflowing with stuff to do. Going from one big area to another takes time, and you are going to see and discover a lot while you go from one place to the next. There is so much to discover it is almost overwhelming.

Thankfully, my pawns will tell me when they know something is cool nearby; they might have just been there with an Arisen from a different world. The pawns helping you to find items, places, treasure that you might pass without knowing it helps to lower the feeling of being overwhelmed. You can still fast travel to some areas, through teleportation stones you can find or purchase. I didn’t even discover that was an option until six or seven hours in, and it was by accident. You can travel by oxen as well, which feels like rolling dice on a random encounter table like in a table-top RPG, something I love the idea and execution of here.

Though I've been really enjoying the game, there are a few elements of Dragon’s Dogma 2 that I found to be flat-out frustrations. As you spend your in-game days in Dragon’s Dogma 2, you will inevitably take damage. When that happens the loss gauge comes into effect. You can heal some of that damage, but not all of it, part of it is gone. As your day progresses you will take more damage, and the total amount you can heal back up to will also lower. This stays that way until you take a full rest at an inn or campsite. There are a lot of campsites around the world to find, but it still feels frustrating that the only way to be full up on health is to rest there.

This leads to my second issue, saving. I hate how saving works, flat out this might be the worse way of saving I’ve seen in a long time. When you die you have two options. You can reload the last quicksave or load front the last time you stayed in an inn or campsite. In order to not lose progress while playing and still have full health to take on what needs to be taken on you have to save a ton. I felt the need to frequent campsites or inns. That means searching them out, which takes up a decent fraction of your play time. And, of course, it's not like you can fast travel back to an inn.

Have I seen Dragon’s Dogma 2 to the finish? Not even close. There is so much to discuss with Dragon’s Dogma 2 that the story is not even the front-and-center item to talk about. It’s there, it gets better the further in you play. It’s everything else here that I fell in love with. An in-depth character creator that lets you make two fully fleshed-out characters. A combat system that just feels fun, and different - depending on which vocation you choose. Events that happen in real-time, with consequences, or rewards, depending on how the events play out. Random encounters and hidden elements everywhere you walk, all make the world feel even more alive and full of life. And the pawns. One of the coolest additions to a game I’ve seen in a minute. 

I've been playing Dragon's Dogma 2 for about a week, and I feel like I've just scratched the surface. There is so much to see and do, so much land to explore, and so many distractions that keep pulling me happily away from the primary storyline. It is no exaggeration to say that I feel like I'll be playing Dragon's Dogma for years to come, and I'm very happy with that state of affairs. 

If action role-playing games are something you are into, then Dragon’s Dogma 2 is your next big game. It’s that simple. You may have been thrown off by talk of the lack of fast travel. But the game’s director Hideaki Itsuno, is right: a good game doesn’t need it. Dragon’s Dogma 2’s world is covered with experiences to have. It could be a hidden cave, a simple treasure chest, or even a giant griffin that just wants to create chaos for you and your party of pawns. Combat is easy to understand, and different enough from vocation to vocation that when I get bored with one class, I can easily switch to try something different. It’s not about the destination, but rather the journey. As silly as it sounds, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is all about the friends we made along the way.

Rating: 9 Excellent

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragon's Dogma 2

About Author

I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

View Profile