Dragon’s Dogma 2 Is an Astounding, and Sometimes Frustrating, Masterpiece

Inverse Score: 9/10


My party was on the verge of catastrophe. The roaming pack of bandits we’d started fighting had run headlong into a herd of goblins, but the catastrophe wasn’t over. Suddenly, a deafening roar echoed from above, followed by a Griffin careening into the battle like a meteor. Things had just gotten so much worse.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is an awe-inducing roleplaying game, a marvelously detailed world highlighted by a staggering focus on freedom and exploration. It’s an experience that doesn’t hold your hand, trusting the player to follow their own path at every turn. That idea, and some heavy simulation elements, can sometimes make Dragon’s Dogma 2 feel obtuse and frustrating, but it’s part of the process of creating an experience wholly unlike anything else. Dragon’s Dogma 2 is destined to go down as a defining moment for open world design, mentioned in the same breath as Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring.

Weaving a Web

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is filled with fascinating stories, who’s personal stories all weave in and out of your own.


In Dragon’s Dogma 2, you assume the role of “The Arisen,” a prophesied hero destined to save the world from the Dragon. The Arisen is accompanied on their journey by Pawns, human-like beings whose entire existence is to serve their master. Before you start the game, you’ll create your Arisen and a main Pawn using an absurdly in-depth character creator, easily one of the best in recent memory. After an initial opening, you’re unceremoniously dumped into the world with only vague directions on how to proceed.

The world of Dragon’s Dogma 2 is split into two countries, the human-ruled Vermund and the Beastren realm of Bahhtal. The story and history of these two opposing kingdoms weaves in and out of nearly every main and side quest in the game, and there’s some surprisingly deep political intrigue to uncover.

What’s most important in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is the ingenious innovations it makes to the narrative of an open world game and questing. It feels like Breath of the Wild-level of innovation, as Capcom has masterfully found a way to tie complex storytelling to exploration. Quests aren’t ever marked on your map, but rather discovered organically within the world. While you can often stumble into a big new side quest, you can also hear NPCs discussing them as you wander towns, have Pawns tip you off to people who might need help, or find visual cues that lead you.

The limited fast travel in Dragon’s Dogma 2 ends up not being a problem because of how densely the world packs in discoveries.


This creates a rich tapestry of interweaving stories and quests that make the world feel alive, and that variation then extends to the actual quest design. Dragon’s Dogma 2 doesn’t just throw generic fetch quests or combat encounters at you, but often challenges you to engage with its world in dynamic and inventive ways. One quest had me racing the clock through a misty swamp to save a noble lord, while another had me following an NPC through his surprisingly dull daily routine.

There’s a tangible variety to what Dragon’s Dogma 2 has you doing, but so much of it is reliant on the player striking out and taking the time to go off the beaten path. There is a dedicated main narrative, but plenty of the game’s lore and story lies in optional content. It’s not always apparent in the moment, but when the final credits started rolling I found myself surprised by how attached I felt to these characters and how much I felt like I belonged in this vast fantasy world.

The Right Pawn For the Job

Dragon’s Dogma 2 has a good amount of enemy variety, but expect to do a lot of battling while you’re exploring.


The world itself is the other layer of this, and where the game’s second major component, combat, comes into play. Just like with questions, the world is littered with discoveries to find. Caves hide valuable treasure and equipment and dangerous boss enemies can be found tucked away on optional paths.

In Dragon’s Dogma 2, you choose a Vocation, which is basically a job or class. There are four starting Vocations (Fighter, Mage, Archer, Thief) but more are unlocked as you progress through the game. Each of these Vocations is remarkably different and focuses on fulfilling a different role. For example, Fighters are best used to gather enemies' attention and tanking hits, while Archers can bring flying enemies to the ground and provide support.

Combat is, once again, an area where Dragon’s Dogma 2 gives you the basics, but trusts the player to uncover the depth. Using Vocations requires a lot of experimentation, putting together different party compositions and builds to see what works best. It’s good then that combat, mechanically, feels fantastic, with responsive controls that lean into the specialties of each Vocation. The later Vacations blend gameplay styles for fantastic results, like the Mystic Spearhand that fuses magic spells with offensive weapons.

Where combat really shines, however, is in the emergent moments that pop up. Dragon’s Dogma 2 has a seamless open world with no loading screens. What this means is that some wild events can happen as AI chugs along. Like I mentioned at the start, this can sometimes result in massive battles as monsters fight each other or run into your party already in battle. Enemies can also follow you into town, resulting in massive brawls as dozens of NPCs run in terror and the guards jump into action. There’s a physics engine that can also result in some hilarious moments, like characters sent flying after an Ogre punts them.

The physics and dynamic AI in Dragon’s Dogma 2 consistently lead to surprisingly hilarious moments.


One of my favorite details is the Pawns themselves, as dozens of other player’s Pawns roam the wilds. More often than not, there will always be one or two Pawns nearby whenever you run into enemies, meaning you’ll have allies on top of your own party. You’ll consistently run into the same Pawns, who exclaim how much you’ve grown or changed. Despite these being AI-controlled characters, it creates this kind of bond with other players who’ve created them. A Pawn named “Taylor Swift” who I saw an hour into the game had suddenly grown into this incredible level 50 archer 40 hours later. I could see the journey of other people’s Pawns, and it felt bizarrely comforting to recruit a familiar pop star-inspired companion to my party. It helps enrich an experience that’s already brimming with personality.

The one problem that crops up with Dragon’s Dogma 2 comes down to the complexity of its simulations. At times, it almost feels like there’s too much going on, as NPCs' behavior can break or you can lock out entire quests by making the wrong decision. In my game, I did something that turned guards in the prison hostile to me, attacking me on sight whenever I got too near. The problem was I had multiple quests in the prison, so whenever I needed to go there I had to lure the guards into nearby caves so I could talk to important characters.

Unfaltering Vision

Pawns now have much more personality than the first game, and really feel like companions that make your journey less lonely.


Dragon’s Dogma 2 is unforgiving in every sense of the word, combat encounters can quickly spiral out of control, and its obtuse quest design can be frustrating. This is compounded by the fact that there’s a single save file that constantly autosaves after big events, meaning you need to live with the consequences of your actions. Inevitably this will turn some people off of the game entirely, but I have a hard time faulting Dragon’s Dogma 2 for drilling down on its vision so hard. More than once I found myself frustrated by obtuse quests or ridiculous difficulty spikes, but I wouldn’t erase those frustrations even if I could.

That’s exactly what makes Dragon’s Dogma 2 feel so special. More and more we see games, especially open world ones, chasing trends and adopting the same formula or mechanics. But with Dragon’s Dogma 2, Capcom could care less about everything that’s happened in the 12 years since the original. This is a game that wants to do its own thing, and either you’re along for the ride or not.

There are times you can feel Dragon’s Dogma 2 groaning under the weight of its own ambition, but the sheer confidence of its unfaltering vision keeps it surging forward.


Dragon’s Dogma 2 launches on March 22 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

INVERSE VIDEO GAME REVIEW ETHOS: Every Inverse video game review answers two questions: Is this game worth your time? Are you getting what you pay for? We have no tolerance for endless fetch quests, clunky mechanics, or bugs that dilute the experience. We care deeply about a game’s design, world-building, character arcs, and storytelling come together. Inverse will never punch down, but we aren’t afraid to punch up. We love magic and science-fiction in equal measure, and as much as we love experiencing rich stories and worlds through games, we won’t ignore the real-world context in which those games are made.
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