Dragon’s Dogma 2 review: The best open-world game of the modern day

Do you want to go on an adventure? Too bad, you’re going

Dragon's Dogma 2 review
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Capcom)

Laptop Mag Verdict

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is an open-world fantasy RPG at its peak. You will get lost in the woods for eight hours picking berries and realize you need to eat dinner in real life… and in the game.


  • +

    Excellent character creator

  • +

    Immersive world design

  • +

    Incentive experimentation

  • +

    RE Engine looking sick


  • -

    Basic mechanics restricted behind classes

  • -

    No lock-on

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Sunlight pours in from the canopy. Blades of grass crunch under the weight of each step. A light breeze caresses your skin and breathes life into the surrounding trees. It’s not the wind. Turn around. Go ahead. I can wait. It won’t. A creature with a toothy maw, sharp scales, and lungs of fire flaps its wings at you. Before you have enough time to think about being the brave Arisen you're destined to be, you remember that your level is still in the single digits and that the monster consuming two-thirds of your screen has six health bars.

That’s Dragon’s Dogma 2. My words won’t do justice to describing the levels of immersion that Capcom delivered in this expansive open-world fantasy RPG. Modern open-world games feel like an endless checklist of tasks to complete — they scratch that completionist itch, but they don't capture the intrigue of the world. Exploration without expectation is adventure. Getting sideswiped by an ogre popping through a clearing in the forest or diving into a pitch-dark cave to discover god’s least favorite creation — each step of your journey as the Arisen is as unpredictable as the last.

It’s been 12 years since the original, and letting Capcom cook this long delivered the Dragon’s Dogma 2 we all wanted. Say hello to the latest entry of our best PS5 games, best Xbox Series X games, and best PC games lists.

I am Arisen

Yes, I spent two hours in the character creator. No, I spent only thirty minutes in the Pawn character creator. Yes, I’ve considered restarting to remake my character. Yes, you can re-customize your character at the barbershop. No, it costs some weird currency that I do not have access to. And yes, obviously the character creator is good.

(Image credit: Capcom)

After an embarrassing amount of time creating characters, I began my life as a Mage, which was as brief as the walk to a tavern (I’ll go into why later). I switched over to Thief and went off into the woods. There was a weird rock in a cliff face. I tried attacking it, and it broke. I climbed through the opening and found myself atop the cliff. There was a circle of rubble down in a crevice where I happened upon Runestone, which spat out another Pawn. My party was growing. I realized I was supposed to be escorted to the capital, and I completely ditched my escort. Whoops.

After reaching the capital and eventually ditching the main story objective, I fled into the woods once more. My Pawns pointed out points of interest around me like treasure chests and coins — I felt like I was in an actual adventuring party, questing in the woods. We climbed up another cliff face where I found a treasure chest, and two paces away was what looked like a golem. It wasn’t moving, so naturally it scared the fecal matter out of my body. Being the only person in the group capable of making choices, I jumped on its back and spent the next 30 minutes in pitched combat with this massive creature with too much health. It was awesome.

If you ever hear monster noises in a cave and don’t see any monsters, look up. I screamed so loud that my dog barked when three lizard creatures descended from above and tried to turn me into a juicy kebab. “I might look tasty, but I’m not for sale” is what I said to them before running up the stairs and jumping backwards to impale them on my sword. No, I will not tell you how many times I died and had to reload.

I recount these vignettes all to say that Dragon’s Dogma 2 makes me feel like a genuine explorer. In a world brimming with curiosities and monstrosities, your tools of interaction are the vocations, and each one offers new and exciting mechanics. As a Fighter, I can send an ally soaring on my shield to grapple with a large foe. As a Thief, I can kick off walls to reach heights that would normally be inaccessible.

Everything you interact with either gives you better tools or more experience, so you get better at the game without intending to. And since vocations provide unique passives that can be employed with any vocation, there is even an incentive to level each one. While I cannot take on a dragon just yet, let alone the dragon, you best believe that I’m in the woods somewhere gathering berries.

I am not

Although I am enjoying Dragon's Dogma 2, certain elements break the immersion.

(Image credit: Capcom)

There’s no basic dodge or block. This is a feature I hated about the original Dragon’s Dogma that made almost every vocation feel unplayable (outside of the Ranger). While the vocations in Dragon’s Dogma 2 feel better to play, basic mechanics, like dodging and blocking, should be universal. Right now, only the Fighter can block and the Thief can dodge. It shouldn't be difficult to give these vocations a better version of the aforementioned mechanics to maintain their uniqueness. Without these mechanics, vocations like the Archer and Mage have to run away if an attack comes their way. As you might imagine, that doesn’t work often.

There’s no lock-on. I get it, that can break immersion, but as a Mage that cannot target a different creature with a basic attack, I want to throw my controller at the screen. For melee-based vocations, those narrow caves are hell on the camera and disorient my targeting. A lock-on would fix this issue. At the very least, the Mage should have a focused aim similar to the Archer. I want more control over what I’m doing, and since I don’t, it kills it for me.

The Brine. You cannot swim in Dragon’s Dogma 2, and how the game explains this is the Brine, a force that just chews you up and spits you out on the shore. This is silly. Let us swim, damn it. I don’t expect this to change post-launch, however, since there are a few platforming puzzles around the Brine. But more than that, if your Pawns fall in, they will just get murdered. That’s more frustrating when you learn that Pawns die with your loot. 

Developers should also add a few quality-of-life features post-launch, such as allowing players to transfer items in bulk to party members, automatically transferring Pawn loot to the player upon dismissal, and implementing an auto-loot setting to avoid struggling with the small hit-box for looting. I would also love more map controls. Markers like caves and towns don’t indicate when they’re cleared, so it’d be nice to have a bunch of stamps to make use of in the map. And when we switch vocations, we should immediately get access to storage and our inventories to swap gear.

The dogma of dragons

I’m not rushing the story, I’m killing lizard people. But I do have high expectations for the narrative of Dragon’s Dogma 2. I couldn't care less about the political intrigue; I felt the same about the original. However, what I am interested in is the cycle.

(Image credit: Capcom)

Those who played the original Dragon’s Dogma know the truth about the world, why the Arisen exists, why the dragon is destined to terrorize the land, and why the Arisen is meant to defeat it. However, given the original’s ending, it makes sense that Dragon’s Dogma 2 takes place in a parallel world.

I’ve already heard some things from certain NPCs about the “truth” of the world, suggesting that it might play a bigger role in the story. I hope so — Dragon’s Dogma dropped a bomb shell’s worth of lore on us toward the end. It would be a huge oversight not to use it.

Once I’m 100% done with Dragon’s Dogma 2 in a month (or five), I plan on writing my thoughts on the story in a separate piece. While I’m not a fan of the political stuff, the cosmological lore in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is juicy, and it deserves its spot in the sun.

Bottom line

As the latest entry in the company’s relatively new IP, Dragon’s Dogma 2’s open-world philosophy is so grand and immersive that it doesn’t even feel like a game sometimes. It might not have clicked for people back in 2012, but here’s hoping that Dragon’s Dogma 2 influences some developers just like Breath of the Wild did after 2017.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is not without its flaws, however. In some aspects, it feels like a 2012 video game. I played the original game last year, and there are some old ideas carried over to this title that should have been left behind — taken out behind the shed and shot, to be specific.

Regardless of its old bones, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is without a doubt the best open-world game of the modern day.

Rami Tabari

Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.