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  • Writer's pictureJames Stephanie Sterling

Dragon's Dogma 2 - Dragon On & On & On (Review)


Dragon's Dogma 2

Released: March 21st, 2024

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Systems: PC, PS5 (reviewed), Xbox X/S


Dragon’s Dogma 2 would be repulsive enough if Capcom was just being lazy when it made a shockingly unimproved sequel to a game that felt archaic in 2012. However, since this bullshit launched with 21 in-app purchases including microtransactions to speed up an excruciatingly slow experience, it really can go chuck itself in the ocean. 

Twelve years ago, Capcom released a game that, while willfully obtuse and outright inconvenient to play at times, managed to offer enough epic adventuring and charmingly stupid dialog to win a lot of acclaim. If it was old fashioned back then, it’s brutally archaic now. Everything about it, from its unresponsive controls to its inefficient menus to its endless obsession with trolling players feels like a waste of time. 


That’s it in a nutshell, actually. Dragon’s Dogma 2 is just a waste of fucking time. 


Oh, and if saying that is considered insulting, please do remember that Capcom is selling those microtransactions to make playing it faster. When even the publisher openly admits it made a game so fucking miserable to play it can slap a price on playing less of it, what am I supposed to think? 

With its spiteful approach to travel, pitiful encumbrance limits, and complete refusal to modernize itself in any way, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is antithetical to the notion of convenience. To publish a game so against quality-of-life gameplay improvements yet have the sheer temerity to sell quality-of-life at a premium is stunning in its open contempt. Then there are the microtransactions that are just plain worthless, like the points you need to hire companions - unless you’re swapping out Pawns every few minutes you will never run out of these.


Capcom’s simply selling a con along with weaponizing the worst elements for financial gain

Speaking of worst elements, that’s very much how this tripe feels overall. Heavily inspired by a litany of classic games while learning all the wrong lessons from them, Dragon’s Dogma takes the more needlessly belabored aspects of Monster Hunter and flavors them with absolutely every bad thing Shenmue ever did. It’s a horrible blend of snailish adventuring and doing fuck-all that has been deliberately set up to screw players over at any given opportunity. 


Not to be a stuck record, but I need to emphasize again that Dragon’s Dogma didn’t feel modernized enough twelve years ago, and nothing evidenced it more than the dysfunctionally malicious fast travel. 


Hoo boy.

Fast travel is so skeletal in its implementation that for most of the game it’s essentially nonexistent. In order to fast travel anywhere you need to find an incredibly rare consumable or buy it for half as much as an entire house costs. Even worse, you can only travel to designated “Portcrystals” and their placement (or lack thereof) is an actual joke. You can easily play for dozens of hours and find only one such crystal, a single anchor in a sprawling hellhole that mimics an open world but is really a repetitive maze of linear paths. To say most towns and cities can’t be fast traveled to is to undersell the artificial Portcrystal drought.


There are major quest hubs that require constant revisiting, and they don’t have fast travel points. It is lunacy.

Of course, this game has a characteristically snide solution - a collectible item that lets you place your own warp point. A collectible that, of course, is even rarer than the consumables needed to use them, and if you ever want to move one of the tiny few you can grab, you must manually retrieve it and then walk it to your new goal. Oh, and looking for Portcrystals in-game is like trying to get into the fucking Bilderberg Meeting.


It's a fast travel system that requires two separate rare resources and is largely unworkable, but rather than make it even the slightest bit better, Capcom chose instead to monetize it. You may very well be tempted to make a deal with that devil if you walk halfway around the world and find your destination has no other way to return when you leave. Just a disgusting bit of leverage on the part of the publisher.

Whatever you do, you’ll never be able to fully avoid many excessively long hikes. Towns are spaced out to where traveling between them can take at least twenty minutes, and it won’t be time spent eventfully. The awful map is merely a web of noodly paths that respawn enemies and traps in the same place every time you’re backtracking through them which you’ll spend 75% of your playtime doing. 


Oh, and because this game can’t hate its audience enough, Dragon’s Dogma decided stamina should drain out of combat, and should do quickly, which means you can’t even keep sprinting. 

I’ve been playing Rise of Ronin at the same time as this, and the difference is night and day.


Not only does Ronin have free fast travel, but its warp points are liberally and conveniently placed. On top of that, you get a horse, a glider, a grappling hook, and infinite stamina when exploring. I once found myself hesitant to pick up a crafting material, then remembered I wasn’t playing Dragon’s Dogma 2 where you can become too heavy if you pick up enough feathers. Then I laughed, laughed, laughed. 


Rise of Ronin was developed with the thought that people playing it shouldn’t have their time treated as valueless. Every part of Dragon’s Dogma 2 seems to be designed with a very different thought in mind:


"Fuck you."

Quests are often so vaguely described to the player as to border on misleading. Sometimes important things simply aren’t marked on the map for no other reason than to delay your progress. Conversely, some obsolete markers will remain on the minimap indefinitely so they keep looing important. It is obscenely easy to make quests unwinnable without ever being given a clue you’ve done something wrong. Hell, things can be so poorly explained it’s easy to think game progress is bugged when you perform an action and nothing apparent occurs in response. 


Being an outmoded yet thoroughly pompous exercise in testing the limits of human patience, Dragon’s Dogma obviously took a lot of cues from the aforementioned Shenmue. This manifests not just in obfuscated objectives and a preoccupation with tedium, but in the use of a continuous day/night cycle to enhance said tedious obfuscation even further. 

There is no real reason for NPCs to make you wait several days before allowing you to complete a task for them, but anything to falsely drag the experience out even just a minute or so longer, right? I mean, for god’s sake, one sidequest involves following a man around town all day watching him pose idle at a bar for five legit minutes. He doesn’t even speak, you are supposed to watch him in static silence. You can try to speed things up by sitting on a bench to pass time, but if he’s moved by then you are screwed because he is not on the map or highlighted in any way. In fact, if an NPC ambushes you with dialog while you’re tailing someone they’ll merrily continue walking, wandering out of view while you furiously attempt to back out of a forced conversation. 


Rise of Ronin, by the way, gives you a watch that can change between day and night without having to find a bed, pay an inn, or sit on a bench multiple times. It also won’t make NPCs miserably slow to follow you and really hard to find if you lose them on an escort mission (this usually means backtracking all the way to the beginning of the escort, because of course).

Lacking in basic lock-on features, with targeting that can just about discern the general direction of enemies, combat is similarly unpleasant to engage in much of the time. Good luck being a melee character - if your inaccurate attacks aren’t outright missing enemies to begin with, your slow animations will often ensure they step out of harm’s way easily. Whatever role you play though, expect battles to be little more than an extension of Dragon’s Dogma’s “fuck you” attitude.


Fighting is a bloody mess of poor controls, unreliable commands, and bosses that have almost no A.I. and will regularly fall into the ocean halfway through a fight, taking all their loot with them. 


Yeah, the ocean thing feels incredibly rewarding after fighting some dickhead that constantly stunlocked you because Capcom’s obsessed with big monsters stunlocking you. Seriously, between this, Monster Hunter, and Lost Planet, no other suite of videogames has so many huge creatures exploiting recovery animations to line up extra shots before the player can respond. Naturally, this awful trope is at its worst here, the game helping itself to your hit points with looping attack traps that rob you of control for lethal thirty second periods. 

Much of what I’ve said here could be applied to the original game as well, and that’s because they’re identical. Rather than improve upon anything, rather than evolve in any single way, Dragon’s Dogma 2 provides a carbon copy of what came before. It’s such an indistinguishable experience, in fact, that it doesn’t even need to exist. You can literally just replay Dragon’s Dogma on your Xbox 360 and you’ll get exactly as much out of it as you can from its sequel.


Are there good experiences in this game? Sure thing, and if you read any review of the original Dragon's Dogma, you'll find out all about 'em!

Despite its many flaws, I always did like Dragon’s Dogma, but I nonetheless recognized a litany of problems and looked forward to the day a sequel could address them and provide something that felt, y’know, more playable. Instead, we have a sequel that’s doubled down on all the shitty, antiquated, mean-spirited nonsense. Well, at least it can be said Capcom successfully produce the exact game it set out to make and nobody can take that away from them. It’s just a shame the game they set out to make was garbage. 

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is outwardly hostile to its audience, embracing everything that made the original such a hassle to enjoy. A game designed with the purpose of wasting a player’s time, which makes Capcom’s “time saver” microtransactions all the more sickening. It’s a glorified xerox that you will adore if you believe Dragon’s Dogma was literally perfect when it released in 2012 and absolutely none of the progress within games development in the past twelve years meant one fucking thing. Indeed, if your idea of a good time is having a terrible time, you’ll love this malignant resurrection of ideas and implementations that should have stayed long dead.

Oh, and if you’re a fan of the game, and you're furiously exposing yourself to this review just to make yourself mad, well done on proving how much you love having a bad time. Hell, I didn’t even post this to Twitter!


3/10

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