Dragons Dogma 2 (PlayStation 5)

It’s been some time since Dark Arisen, let alone the original release of Dragons Dogma a couple of generations back, so it was a little surprising to see a sequel that follows the mould of the original game instead of reinventing the wheel. The right decision for such a perilous journey? Lets take a look.

You awaken a slave, working away in mines with other pawns not knowing of who you are or how you got there. In reality you are an Arisen, and after a monster attack that acts as a distraction, and the help of a pawn, you manage to escape. You take flight but its not long until your ride is shot down and you crash within Kingdom of Bermund. But it seems there’s something not quite right here. There can’t be two arisens, yet the Queen Regent is supporting one that currently sits on the throne? It’s not long until there’s more on your plate then just finding out out you really are.

While the delivery can be a bit stilted from having the conversations split up during dialogue outside of cinematics, the game does have a few other tricks up its sleeve to draw you into its world. The use of ye olde English and general visual design creates a believable medieval world, with the passage of time grounding it all. Time passing not only affects NPC’s routines etc but also items and locations within the world. Food for example can ripen and rot if kept in your inventory for too long. This really comes to the fore when travelling there’s no WRPG style fast travel system in place, you have to actually make the journey. Ox carts can take you some of the way, certain stones can actually give you specific fast travel, but travelling by foot is the true adventure. There long arduous nature means you have to make use of camps and live off the land over several days on the road. This can easily rack up your game time too, over 100 hours isn’t unheard of if you want to explore every corner of the world – by foot most of the time for best results.

I was considering posting something about microtransactions, but unlike what folk would have you believe, they’re not required to play the game or enjoy it in any way.

Curiously given the upgrade from Ps3 original & Switch Dark Arisen to this next gen only outing, Dragons Dogma 2 doesn’t actually look that different,. What I mean by that is the game carries the same style so has an unwavering visual continuity that you don’t usually get from sequels coming this much later. The upgrades within this context are plentiful, character detail and environment being obvious, with the raytraced lighting creating a natural look and the physics offering an added visual flourish on PS5.

The physics in particular make for great skirmishes in forests as foliage blasts around the battle and trees are destroyed, or the large destructive set-pieces you’ll see throughout. These moments also allow you to appreciate the animation work as enemies can have little quirks to make them unique, especially the more notable foes, there can also be plenty of funny moments when the physics take over – sending goblins flying with a shield bash to the face is where its at for fantasy RPG’s. The only real visual blemish for me is the NPC draw-in distance is extremely close in cities, which is kinda at odds with the environment outside as valleys and mountain ranges stretch off for miles with little noticeable pop-in when exploring.

The main issue with the game would be in performance. Usually it sits between 30-40, there’s now an optional 30fps cap too, with the odd drop below when running around the various cities. You can disable the games raytracing now for a bump to around 40-50fps, but it does have a noticeable impact on the visuals as the more basic lighting replacement can’t quite match the more natural look of RTGI. A 60 fps mode would be ideal for some, but not something I can see given checkerboard rendering is already in play, and even on PC the CPU side of things is getting thrashed. Could I get at least an 120Hz VRR mode on PS5 Capcom? The LFC would at least help the 30-40fps this game generally sits between.

Just like the graphics there’s a lot familiar with Dragons Dogma 2, if you’ve played the original then most of its systems will be easy enough to relearn, newcomers may take some time but its nothing a WRPG vet can’t handle. For the most part the game is an action RPG that will have you exploring the world and completing quests, with the occasional large boss type battle thrown in to keep you on your toes. Not only are these tough, but they can be a spectacle as you grab onto and scale these beasts. Climbing a troll to plunge a sword into their skull as everyone scurries around like Ants below never gets old – just don’t run out of stamina doing it as the recovery is brutal.

Luckily all this is not done alone as you are the Arisen, so a party of pawns is ready to assemble. Your first pawn is your own and will stay with you throughout, levelling up and growing alongside the player too, while others can be sourced just walking around the world or in the rift. Most of these are created by other players so there’s a nice little online camaraderie involved as your partner can head out on adventures with others too and give you the details later. Most other systems will be recognisable to many RPG players, crafting and weapon enhancements for example, but there still some differences among these too such as the inventory & levelling system. Inventory directly impacts character here, the more carried the more heavier you are and the slower the movement. It becomes an impossible balancing act at times until trinkets help, especially at the start when given a ‘modest’ camping kit, something desperately needed for adventures, which weighs 7Kg – a third of what you can carry at the time!

You character can level up in numerous ways, on a basic personal level and with your job/vocation. The basic job is your class really, and this can be improved as your vocation level increase, before upgraded to a more advanced job. At times you may need to procure certain items to advance a vocation, but you can also freely switch at will if you’ve hit something of a brick wall – same goes for your pawn. It sounds as if its all praise for this, and rightly so for me, but there are some niggles. Only really minor like things like the inns, this goyt literally has a bed in the corner of a shed and wants 1500 gold? To be fair the controls took a little getting used as well, it doesn’t really control like stuff I’ve played recently. The first few hours you’ll be taking the occasional trolls fist or Minotaur hoof to the face as the wrong button is pressed, but it doesn’t take long to get to grips with and feels right once you are.

Dragons Dogma 2 is fascinating in that even though it only seems like an expanded and enhanced sequel to the original at times, it still ends up feeling somewhat fresher than most games in the fantasy WRPG genre. While that could come down to the way the world looks & feels grounded, for me its really the unmatched sense of adventure Dragons Dogma offers that few, if any, others can match. That planned 3 day journey turns to 7 due to the emergent nature of the gameplay, and you arrive at your destination battered & bruised but bursting with consumables and junk to prepare for the next adventure. There are a few niggles with the game no doubt, but they are usually things that can be overlooked or progressed by, so its really down to each individual how effected they can be. All in all, the game is certainly worth some consideration



Captures the essence of adventuring like very few games have before it.

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.

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