May 24, 2024

Played “Dragon's Dogma 2”: a role-playing epic with cosmetic flaws

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More than ten years after the first part, the sequel “Dragon's Dogma 2” is finally getting started. Similar to “Elden Ring,” Capcom shows a fantasy European Middle Ages where dragons and other monsters make life difficult for our hero. The unique selling point of “Dragon's Dogma 2” is not the story and battles, but the helpful henchmen who support our hero with swords and advice.

A hero with amnesia – this has happened before, right? Like many before him, our hero doesn't know what's really going on. But it soon became clear that he was the so-called awakened person who was appointed ruler of the country. However, “Dragon's Dogma 2” is like Westeros: dastardly conspirators everywhere. So our hero grabs the loyal henchman, swords, bows or magic wands to uncover conspiracies and destroy monsters big and small at the same time.

Like its predecessor, “Dragon's Dogma 2” is a role-playing game in which players roam the land, completing quests and taking down monsters in hack'n'slay style. Initially, players can choose a class. Fighters stand right in front, bandits attack from ambush with lightning speed, and guards and mages attack enemies with arrows and powerful spells. As always, there are experience points that automatically give our hero better personal stats when he levels up. If the player gets bored with their chosen character class, they can simply change it in the guild houses and transform from a wizard to a thief.


Quests take players from one place to another. Once they have to fight a dragon, they once again have to search a cave for survivors. Then you have to clear monster areas or help a few quest givers find important items. During our testing sessions, we quickly noticed that there aren't always clear paths. The game allows a lot of freedom, but it doesn't take players' hands and doesn't explain much. If you want to explore a lot, you have an advantage here.

What's special: Players don't travel across the country alone, they get a companion. This so-called “main follower” does not leave the player's side and supports him in battle. He can be equipped with better weapons and armor and increase experience levels like a hero. Over time, he also learns new skills that he uses himself, especially in combat. Sometimes he also has tips on quests.

In addition to this main minion, the player can also recruit up to two additional minions into so-called Rift Stones. These minions do not gain any experience points, but they quickly become a requirement – without them, the player has little chance of facing larger opponents such as dragons or minotaurs. What's special: In offline mode, they are computer generated, but in online mode they are the main henchmen of other players who went out on their own during the break. Through their individual adventures they gain experience or give gifts to the hero.

Each minion has its own abilities and “nature”. Good followers do not let their master out of their sight; simple or direct followers rush quickly into battle. From some point in the game, followers can also specialize and become surgeons or logisticians who organize the ever-growing inventory.

In battle, followers act independently. Player control is limited to commands such as “Go!” “Help” and some protective spells. As a result, the followers are plunged into battle alone. In turn, players can perform attacks with their hero in real time. Melee fighters can try to grab the opponent to throw them off balance or push them towards their comrades. When a hero or minion climbs onto the back of a rampaging Minotaur and delivers blows to it, it's a bit reminiscent of games like “Monster Hunter World.”

Exciting: Mages must take the casting time into account for each spell. This can cost you precious seconds, but you make up for it with powerful lightning strikes or carpets of fire. What follows is a sometimes chaotic skirmish. Minions attack opponents, while Mages mostly stay in the background. During our encounters, we often had the feeling that we had little control over what was happening and simply had to rely on our followers.

Great but immature game: Dragon's Dogma 2 throws players into a whirlwind of emotions. (picture: Capcom)

Away from combat, your party of heroes can rest at campfires to replenish life points and stamina. There are merchants in the cities for new armor; Barbers change appearance and inns where heroes can rest. Longer distances are covered with bullock carts or travel stones, allowing rapid travel from one place to another. There are hidden chests everywhere, and there are also small skill tests in which the heroes jump over chasms. There are many raw materials in inventory that players can use to brew new potions or upgrade their equipment from the dispenser.

Some of the design decisions are questionable. There are hidden missions, but no gameplay mechanics like “evasion” or “hide” – we just pass through guards. Other NPCs also seem indifferent when we break into their house and simply loot their chests.

Technically, the game also gives a contradictory impression. The landscapes are beautiful and detailed, especially in the outdoor areas. However, the characters' facial expressions cannot keep up with the richness of detail in the natural scene. At times, during gaming sessions, we had the feeling that the frame rate on the Playstation 5 dropped a bit under the graphics load.

“Dragon's Dogma 2” is a large-scale role-playing game that awakens the desire for exploration in players. The game world is large and offers different solutions in some missions. There's also an engaging character system that allowed us to experiment a lot during our testing sessions.

Chaotic battles were less successful. Additionally, the game feels lighthearted and technically immature in places. This spoils the fun and makes “Dragon's Dogma 2” a game for role-playing fans who can turn a blind eye.

“Dragon's Dogma 2” will be released on March 22 for Windows, PS5, and Xbox Series. It costs about 70 euros. USK of 16. In our testing, we played the PS5 version for a few hours.


(BME)

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