Dragon’s Dogma 2 (Xbox Series X) Review

A Vocation Worth The Resume

Dragon’s Dogma 2 (Xbox Series X) Review
Dragon’s Dogma 2 (Xbox Series X) Review
Brutalist Review Style (Version 2)

As a gamer who plays almost any RPG (more than once), I couldn’t wait for Dragon’s Dogma 2 to finish installing since I finished my latest run of 2016’s Dark Arisen two months ago. For a fan itching for that same feeling that the unexplored world of the original Dragon’s Dogma unleashed on fans in 2012, Capcom’s return to the medieval world filled with adversaries and pawns is long overdue. Capcom brought back mostly everything fans loved about the original in Dragon’s Dogma 2, with an improved and bustling overworld, buttery smooth battle animations, and an overall level of polish. Eight years of sharpening has done justice.

First and foremost, newcomers do not have to play Dragon’s Dogma or its follow-up, Dark Arisen, before diving into the sequel. The storyline in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is straightforward — although it does use the all-too-familiar ‘amnesiac protagonist’ crutch. Your created character — a tip of the cap to Capcom for the robust character builder — has been separated from their heart and reborn as an Arisen, an all-powerful character that can control ‘Pawns’ and due to your newly acquired Arisen status, you’re also the rightful ruler of the land. Your ultimate goal is to track down your murderer (hint, it’s a dragon) and exact revenge on your winged rival for making your heart a second breakfast.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 (Xbox Series X) Review

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is like an isekai anime series with fewer steps and far less world-building. I’ve seen countless comparisons between Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen and things like Skyrim or the Dark Souls series of games, but in this sequel, there are no tomes of lore exposition (or “Lusty Argonian Maid” textbooks). Without the extra depth of years of in-game lore, Dragon’s Dogma 2 gives players far less to trudge through and understand, giving much more focus on gameplay occurrences in its stead. DD2 is filled with unique mechanics that immerse the player into true roleplaying as their chosen Arisen. 

Dragon’s Dogma 2 shoved me into the Arisen pottery barn where I would fashion my story’s Arisen, and I was given some options. The option between a human and cat-like humanoid race (called the Battahl) and four starting character classes. You have your Marvel’s Avengers of Dungeon Hero RPG class choices between a fighter, thief, mage, and archer class.

“DD2 is filled with unique mechanics that immerse the player into true roleplaying as their chosen Arisen.”

After realizing my typical choice of half-healer/half-warrior isn’t available (more on this later), I decided to create my character likeness as the fighter. Like the name, Dragon’s Dogma 2 allows you to make two characters — a feeling like the excitement I felt when Pokémon X and Y gave you two starter creature choices — and my second character was a healer mage.

As an Arisen you can command a party of up to four Pawns, and that’s precisely what the second character creator is. Each Arisen has its very own servant called a Pawn. A Pawn’s sole purpose is to serve the Arisen in combat — by serving as a pack mule — and every other aspect of the game. They’re essentially a created-character sidekick.

Pawns can also be recruited by other players in their own Dragon’s Dogma 2 universe, like message sharing in Elden Ring. You can peruse the Pawn ‘marketplace’ when visiting a town’s Rift Stone. There are even Pawn leaderboards to show which is most popular, but it’s anyone’s guess who will be Homecoming King and Queen.

This unique concept has been improved upon from the original title, and Pawns can now have specializations, such as the ability to accrue many items upon discovering a new location or even foraging for extra crafting materials when out looking for them. This makes sharing Pawns a must and a more intriguing concept. Let’s be honest: The pawns are the most valuable pieces on the board.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 (Xbox Series X) Review

But wait! There’s more! Pawns can also retain memories. If an Arisen has found a hidden treasure chest —or has completed a quest that you’ve worked on together before — in their universe with their Pawn, the recruit will remember the location and show the Arisen where it is. Imagine an RPG with limitless party members created by the community. This is what Dragon’s Dogma 2 accomplishes. A unique idea pulled off with a flourish and a great concept worked into the DNA of Dragon’s Dogma 2 that feels revitalized by years of development.

“Imagine an RPG with limitless party members created by the community. This is what Dragon’s Dogma 2 accomplishes.”

While having a goal and making friends is important, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is at its best when embroiled in the flames of combat or taking a scenic route towards a new town or quest. Oftentimes, I wouldn’t know the exact pinpointed location of where I was supposed to go, instead, I would be told something like “just try what I did” by an NPC.

After realizing the cat-folk I spoke to was tailing me, I followed a shady group of hooded figures and came across a hidden well, followed by a ladder, followed by an obstacle course complete with seesaws and swinging objects to help knock you to your doom. It’s surprisingly easy to get lost in Dragon’s Dogma 2, and Capcom demands that you do. The world is filled with secrets, and finding them is titillating. This is the true magic of Dragon’s Dogma 2. It feels like anything can happen at any point, like in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign with a DM on a power trip.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 (Xbox Series X) Review

Combat is what makes Dragon’s Dogma 2 great. With a countless combination of infinite potential party members and an ocean-deep recruitment pool (constantly added to by Capcom themselves), combat has endless opportunities. It turns out, after visiting the Vocation Guild, I was able to change my class to the other three base classes so I could thread abilities and such at a whim and advance to even higher classes. This opens combat into a circus.

As a fighter, I was able to jump off a ‘borrowed’ Pawn named ‘Junior’ and leap 25 feet into the air to assail an unsuspecting Cyclops. After missing the enemy, I fell to my doom and landed splat on the cracked foundation of a poorly stone-masoned bridge. On my second try, I landed and grabbed onto the enemy. After climbing to the side of its head, I was able to repeatedly stab it until it fell to its back. This small segment of combat had MANY working pieces, and Dragon’s Dogma 2 handled all of it (including another Pawn rapid firing off spells in the distance).

“Dragon’s Dogma 2 is at its best when embroiled in the flames of combat or taking a scenic route towards a new town or quest.”

While climbing up to the Cyclops’ head, the creature became aware and shielded its weak spot (its eye) with its free hand to stop me from getting to it. This also made the Cyclops blind, so my party members were able to knock it off balance, and after seeing the Cyclops fall, I got an idea. I reloaded my save, and in another instance with the same Cyclops, I was able to continuously shield bash its legs until it staggered.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 (Xbox Series X) Review

I kept repeatedly bashing its leg until it toppled over a cliff. Hilariously, gravity worked as intended in Dragon’s Dogma 2 and the creature was just big enough to replace the bridge it destroyed with its fall. So, in between two masses of land, a large Cyclops was the bridge (it did eventually fall, though), and it was usable!

These mechanics are not exclusive to the Cyclops either. After knocking a small goblin off balance, a good shield bash sent him flying over a ravine to become a red splotch on the ground, maybe 40 feet below. The shield bash is my favourite skill in Dragon’s Dogma 2, and it’s not close. It launches enemies comically into the distance, and it’s great fun to watch ‘frightening’ enemies sail off into the sunset.

Other skills can be used in tandem. A thief can kick an enemy and knock them off balance for a finisher move (or a shield bash, you pick). A mage can freeze an enemy, and you can hit them with a heavy slash to shatter them. Lizard enemies can get their tails lopped off, and they become weak afterwards. Goblins go flying, and you can even pick them up yourself and throw them, or you can push massive boulders onto enemies; the list just goes on. There are almost limitless ways to get rid of adversaries in Dragon’s Dogma 2. Capcom just hands over the reins and suggests, “Do.”

There are a few hiccups to contend with in Dragon’s Dogma 2. It’s incredibly tedious (early on) to fast-travel around the world. First, the Arisen needs to find an oxcart sign, then you have to wait for the driver at a special waiting seated area, and then you have to sit on the cart and pay a fee. I’m all for immersion, and this is a great addition for those who like to watch the scenery go by (I’ve even done it a few times). But just hitting a map button and hitting travel to areas you’ve been to is also a solid choice.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 (Xbox Series X) Review

There’s another method of fast travel that just feels insulting in the early stages of the game, where you can locate Portcrystals, and even place Portcrystals yourself. Travel between these is limited by using Ferrystones, which may as well not exist early on because they’re so rare, expensive, or both.

I’ve also noticed a few times the quest log didn’t update as intended when working on quests. I like Dragon’s Dogma 2’s way of sending the player in the direction of a quest and expecting you to figure it out, but if the quest log doesn’t update when completing quest steps, it has become a one or two-hour-long scavenger hunt to get back on track (in my case).

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a triumph. Eight years after Dark Arisen’s release, Capcom has proven they still ‘got it’ when it comes to making Dragon’s Dogma. Everything fans love about the original has returned. The vocation system, the pawn system, and combat have all remained intact and stunningly improved upon. While the storyline is basic, the world Capcom has delivered is anything but, and Dragon’s Dogma 2 excels in every aspect that makes a game great while looking good doing it. While most RPGs tend to lean on heavy lore, Capcom brings the genre back to basics and says, “Here, have fun,” and I’ll continue to meet that demand each time I dive back in.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 – XBX
  • A Grand Adventure – Dragon’s Dogma 2 begins in a subterranean jail, where the Dragon’s voice echoes in the fog of lost memories.
  • Single-Player Cooperation – Up to three mysterious otherworldly beings, known as Pawns, accompany the Arisen throughout their journey.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE
Philip Watson
Philip Watson

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