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Dragon's Dogma 2 review: Maddeningly chaotic fantasy bliss

Ewan Moore

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| Last updated 

Dragon's Dogma 2 review: Maddeningly chaotic fantasy bliss

Featured Image Credit: Capcom

I never liked Dragon’s Dogma. Or rather, I wanted to like it, but for some reason never quite managed to click with the strange, ambitious 2012 RPG.

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I’m as surprised as anyone, then, that Dragon’s Dogma 2 is currently my clear frontrunner for 2024’s game of the year. It’s easily the best RPG I’ve played since Baldur’s Gate 3. It manages to make me feel a sense of freedom I haven’t felt since The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, and a genuine wanderlust no video game has managed to capture for me since The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

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I am obsessed with it, reader. When I close my eyes at night I think about the paths I’ve yet explore, the strategies I’ve yet to attempt, and the monsters I’ve yet to slay. It’s a sweeping, epic triumph of a game filled to the brim with moments of discovery, joy, and terror, all wrapped up in maybe one of the best real-time combat systems I have ever experienced.

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Dragon’s Dogma 2 kicks off in classic fantasy RPG fashion: you are a lowly prisoner destined for greatness. After building your character in what I truly believe is the most detailed and robust character creation tool ever made (more on this later), you choose your class and begin a life of adventure and exploration.

Dragon’s Dogma 2’s class system is one that encourages experimentation, and it’s easy to build out multiple play-styles that work for you. In the beginning you can choose between a traditional sword-and-shield fighter, a rogue, an archer, or a mage. Each has their own unique sets of skills, abilities, and perks - as well as their own weaknesses.

Dragon's Dogma 2 / Credit: Capcom
Dragon's Dogma 2 / Credit: Capcom
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As a fighter, I spent the first few hours of my time with Dragon’s Dogma 2 charging headfirst into battle, using my shield to send goblins flying over cliff edges and getting my sword well and truly caked in monster brains. This approach did of course mean I’d often be the first to get yeeted through the sky by an angry troll, or picked up by a pissed off dragon, but swings and roundabouts.

As the game goes on, new classes eventually open up, and you have the option to switch it up whenever you feel the need to try something new. Naturally, the more you play as any one class the more you’ll rank up and earn powerful new skills, so you’re encouraged to play around with all of them to find what works for you. Dragon’s Dogma 2 also gives you the option to simply auto equip the most efficient gear and weapons for your current build, so you’re not always farting around in menus.

Combat has a wonderful sense of weight to it regardless of which class you choose. Enemies and allies alike can be sent soaring through the air, or crippled after being butt-stomped by a mighty beast. You can also fling yourself at larger enemies and climb up them to hack away at weak spots or attempt to bring the foe down so your party can really dig in and do some damage.

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Dragon's Dogma 2 / Credit: Capcom
Dragon's Dogma 2 / Credit: Capcom

This strategy is fairly high risk, obviously, especially if you attempt to cling to a monster with wings. If a dragon decides to fly away with you on top of it and you run out of stamina, the fall is going to kill you. No two fights ever feel quite the same, and many of them can end in completely unexpected ways. At one point I was fighting a cyclops when it broke the bridge I was trying to cross. Quite by chance, we managed to trip the beast up, causing it to fall and get wedged in the chasm. I simply used the cyclops as a makeshift bridge and went on my merry way.

Chaos truly is king in Dragon’s Dogma 2, and attempting to find order in this world would be a fool’s errand. Monsters can attack wherever you are, for one thing. I was once doing some shopping in the game’s first major city when a troll came tearing through the main gate and started smashing up guards. What I thought would be a quick fight with a small group of bandits in the hills turned ugly when a gryphon flew down from the sky and decimated my party. Even camping or fast travel can be interrupted by ambushes if you aren’t careful. This is not a game that wants you to feel safe or relaxed.

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Perhaps my favourite thing about Dragon’s Dogma 2 is that it’s really, properly funny. This isn’t so much to do with the writing or story, which is primarily a standard dark fantasy with lots of very serious chat and political machinations, but the character creation system and pawns.

Not long into Dragon’s Dogma 2 you’ll get to use the character creation tool once more to build your very own pawn. This is your main companion throughout the game. You choose a class for them, equip them with gear, and assign their abilities. You can also change their class whenever you fancy it, meaning you can keep yourself and your pawn ready for any challenge.

Dragon's Dogma 2 / Credit: Capcom
Dragon's Dogma 2 / Credit: Capcom

It’s here that Dragon’s Dogma 2 brings its multiplayer features to the fore. See, your pawn can actually travel between worlds, meaning other player-created pawns can join up with you on your quest. You can travel with a party of four, so you can have two player-created pawns join you and your own companion at any time.

Because Dragon’s Dogma 2’s character creation system is so brilliantly complex, you could encounter pretty much anyone during your travels. You can specifically search for pawns at certain locations, but I found it much more entertaining to simply stumble across them while exploring the world.

At one point I was joined by an incredibly camp Kratos from God Of War, who would constantly make sassy remarks every time I didn’t follow his directions. Much later on, when I was exploring a dark mountain pass, a trouser-less Timothée Chalamet came sliding down the gravel hill and offered his services. The juxtaposition of dark political thriller and ridiculous player-created characters is a genuinely beautiful thing. Perhaps my only issue with pawns is that they never shut up, and you’re likely to hear them have the exact same conversations more than once. A lot more than once, in fact.

Aside from being hilarious, there’s real value in joining up with other players’ pawns. If you’re exploring an area a pawn has already been to with their own master, they’re able to guide you towards treasure chests and other secrets, should you be inclined to follow them. You can also set custom quests for your own pawn, and get special rewards for completing them.

Dragon's Dogma 2 / Credit: Capcom
Dragon's Dogma 2 / Credit: Capcom

The sheer amount of things to see and do in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is absolutely staggering. While I’m not sure everyone will be fans of the limitations on fast travel and cryptic nature of the game’s side quests, those who properly embrace it will understand these seemingly frustrating systems have all been designed to give you a genuinely unique, one of a kind experience. No two playthroughs of Dragon’s Dogma 2 will ever be the same, and I think that’s incredible.

It’s also worth noting that Dragon’s Dogma 2 is an astonishingly pretty game, and I had absolutely no issue eschewing fast travel if it meant I could spend more time admiring the rich, grassy fields and rays of glorious sunshine striking through densely populated forests. Plus no matter how many times you travel the same path, you’re almost always guaranteed to notice a cave you missed before, or a dirt track leading off down somewhere completely unexpected. I haven’t been this consistently surprised by a game since Elden Ring.

It may have some rougher edges and potentially obtuse systems that could put some players off, but if you can stick with it and settle into its unique groove you stand to experience a genuine all-timer. Capcom has created a cinematic, epic adventure that is somehow also completely unique to every player. Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a surprising, maddening, glorious masterpiece.

​​Pros: Stunning open world, huge number of quests and secrets, inspired combat system

Cons: Pawns can be a little irritating, some rough edges that make it less accessible for more casual gamers

For fans of: Elden Ring, The Legend Of Zelda, Skyrim

10/10: Perfect

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is available for PlayStation 5 (version tested) Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Code for review was supplied by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Topics: Dragon's Dogma, Capcom

Ewan Moore
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