Dragon's Dogma 2 Dark Arisen

Dragon’s Dogma 2 Needs Its Own Dark Arisen

A new Dark Arisen must rise.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 has been an interesting journey. Over the past week I’ve watched my Pawns slay drakes, ground griffins, and blind cyclopes. They’ve led me to unknown treasures, guided me on missions, and sometimes, for reasons known only themselves, sacrificed their very bodies to the Brine. It’s been an intriguing adventure that has offered more than its fair share of fun. However, the more I play I can’t help but feel like something is missing.

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Like many fans of the Dragon’s Dogma world, I too was pleasantly surprised when Capcom announced that they were working on a sequel over a decade later. I quickly drifted through fond memories of my prior adventure. One where I started as a lowly archer, haphazardly scaling chimeras and hydras. I slowly learned the ins and outs of the world, only to be thrust back into a corner by a new, more powerful, and often more mesmerizing threat. That challenge pushed me ever forward as I mastered various vocations, min-maxing my Arisen (the heroes of this world) so that I may triumph over the ultimate foe, the very dragon that took my heart (in a violent way, not in a fall-in-love-with-a-dragon way like Donkey from Shrek). ?When it seemed clear that I had finally triumphed over the game’s brutal yet enchanting challenges, I was thrust into the Everfall: A place where I could join Arisen from all over the globe in an effort to defeat the game’s true end-game boss. I traipsed through the world over and over, becoming ever more powerful as I rinsed the landscape and razed it clean of all treasures.

A group exploring the open world in Dragon's Dogma 2.
Image Source: Capcom via Twinfinite

Then came Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. It was an expansion that truly improved on everything introduced by this genuinely unique RPG experience. It added more intrigue with its Bitterblack Isle. It was a daunting mount to traverse, but one that left adventuring Arisen aptly satiated with its new enemies and powerful gear held within its intimidating fa?ade. By the end of the journey, even Death himself was nothing but a minor inconvenience in my search for dominance.

Both the initial outing of Dragon’s Dogma and the expanded world of Dark Arisen were punctuated by the seemingly ceaseless options for the Arisen themselves. Dragon’s Dogma has an interesting take on classes. They’re based around the weapon you want to use, but also level independently of one another, even separately from your overall level. Each one influences your stat increases in different ways, however, leaving you to consider how you build your character with various roles, or if you just want to go pure into one thing. Later on, you’d even acquire dual Vocations, classes that benefited from two different schools of power in a way. Magic Archer was my personal favorite, leveraging the wanton destruction capabilities of magic against the pinpoint accuracy of a bow and arrow. You could truly build however you wanted, switching things up as you went, and finding what worked for you. Having a Pawn that you could also customize was just the icing on the cake.

While the original Dragon’s Dogma game was initially slept on, it eventually became somewhat of a classic. The oddities that made it so unique grew on players and cemented it as one of the best action role-playing games of the modern age. So, it came as no surprise that a sequel being announced would lead many to prepare to once again play their role as Arisen as we unraveled a new tale in Dragon’s Dogma 2. With Dark Arisen expanding on the core game, there was no doubt that Dragon’s Dogma 2 would pulverize our imaginations with gameplay and mechanics that transcended everything that came before. The problem is, I, and I’m sure other fans, are still waiting to be wowed.

The Arisen wearing a noble outfit in Dragon's Dogma 2.
Image Source: Capcom via Twinfinite

Don’t get me wrong, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a good game. If you liked the first one, there’s a strong possibility that you’ll like this one as well. But it doesn’t feel like a sequel. It’s as if the team sort of forgot they even made Dark Arisen. As I played longer, I realized what I was playing felt more like it was building on the original core game, ignoring the amazing additions it had already received within the expansion that had breathed life into the game and helped cement its popularity in the annals of RPG history (as well as being one of Capcom’s greatest games). The variety it added to the sizable rogue’s gallery of mythological and fantastical creatures, the interesting new weapons and armor, and an endgame that really tested your mettle left fans chomping at the bit. It paved the way for what could follow and what honestly should have followed.

Most fans of Dragon’s Dogma expected Dragon’s Dogma 2 to build upon that solid new foundation, and reasonably so. That’s usually how these things go: game comes out, game gets updates, game gets DLC that adds a lot of new things, game ends. Then: new game in series follows up and cherry-picks from the previous game and continues to build upon what made the previous game great in its final state. Somehow, somewhere, Dragon’s Dogma 2 got lost on that path.

What we have here is a good game that feels like a Dragon’s Dogma 2.0 rather than a sequel. It doesn’t build, and at points feels pared back. There is less ability to build exactly the character you want right now, with Vocations being more defined and capped by their Maister abilities. You can still become powerful, but it all feels a bit more rigid, at least at the moment. Then there’s the lack of a meaningful perpetual endgame at the moment, something that even vanilla Dragon’s Dogma had. There’s no real equivalent to the Everfall, let alone an expansive dungeon like Bitterblack Isle.

The Arisen fighting goblins in Dragon's Dogma 2.
Image Source: Capcom

This lack of “newness” is compounded by the fact that game director Hideaki Itsuno promised a bigger game during the press run, and most reasonably expected bigger to mean more than just the size of the landscape. More options, more variety, just… more. All of this was provided by Dark Arisen, which helped make Dragon’s Dogma be remembered so fondly.

Right now, Dragon’s Dogma needs that. It needs an injection of something big and something new. The nostalgia of the great Pawn adventure of yore is wearing off. Dragon’s Dogma 2 isn’t scratching that itch for that Dark Arisen adventure. I’d love nothing more than to stand face-to-face with death once again in a creepy dungeon. To step into a world with more than just a cyclops, an ogre, or a griffin waiting for me. To have vocations that feel free to experiment and not locked into typical classes like any other run-of-the-mill RPG. While I’ve had fun with Dragon’s Dogma 2, it hasn’t delivered on these fronts.

It needs… something. And what that something may be is a new Dark Arisen to rise. It doesn’t need to be a Bitterblack Isle. The same enemies don’t need to return. But some element needs to shake things up in Dragon’s Dogma 2 to make it feel like a true sequel, and an element that is more than just a “2” slapped onto a title.

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Ishmael Romero
Just a wandering character from Brooklyn, NY. A fan of horrible Spider-Man games, anime, and corny jokes.