Dragon’s Dogma 2 has me feeling homesick for Baldur’s Gate — and that is nice

The opposite day — and don’t be concerned, I’ve already secured permission to inform this story — I noticed one in every of VG247’s personal, in a second of passion throughout a dialogue of the wondrous deserves of Dragon’s Dogma 2, to utter the next assertion: “F**okay Baldur’s Gate 3.”

And honest sufficient, to every their very own, however as I turned again to trudging the size and breadth of the dual kingdoms of Vermund and Battahl on foot (as a result of there are no mounts or quick journey, in case you have not heard), preventing off procedurally generated enemies each six or seven steps, my esteemed colleague’s phrases made me realise one thing. I am homesick for Faerûn.

Baldur’s Gate 3 was one in every of my favorite video games of 2023, however attributable to a variety of circumstances — not least of which was the discharge of Dragon’s Dogma 2 — I’ve solely managed one correct play session since getting back from my Christmas break. It has been at the back of my head for some time now that I missed it, however at this second, I realised I used to be lacking it loads.

Now, on paper, Dragon’s Dogma 2 ought to be scratching a variety of the identical itches as Baldur’s Gate 3. However in follow, other than each being fantasy RPGs in broadly medieval European-inspired settings, the 2 video games have surprisingly little in frequent.

Struggling to decide on between Dragon’s Dogma 2 and Rise of the Ronin? Take a look at our head-to-head assessment video right hereWatch on YouTube

Along with the standard gripes across the lack of correct quick journey, the one-save restrict discouraging experimentation, and the irritant that’s doubtful microtransactions, there are some extra nitpicky criticisms that I might degree in opposition to Dragon’s Dogma 2 right here. For instance: as a educated medievalist in a former life, the cod-Shakespearean dialogue inexplicably favoured by many excessive fantasy settings styling themselves “medieval” is an instantaneous turn-off for me, and it is on full show right here.

I am not normally one to concern myself with damaged immersion in video games, however listening to one in every of DD2’s NPCs mission their stilted dialogue to the rafters throughout a supposedly casual and even intimate dialog is a complete temper killer for me, particularly after Baldur’s Gate 3 was undeniably carried to acclaim largely on the energy of its characterisation.

OK, so I am being a little bit bit flippant there, however truly that little grumble did assist me familiarize yourself with the factor I am lacking most about Baldur’s Gate 3 proper now: the frequent moments of humanity liberally sprinkled amid the sword-and-sorcery fight encounters. I miss my vampire husband and my on-fire spouse and my hilarious bestie with the magical nuke in his chest, all of whom made for excellent firm simply sitting across the campfire in addition to within the warmth of a pitched battle. I miss being woken up in the course of the evening by Scratch and the Owlbear Cub having a playfight. I miss the sensation of my Tav being only one largely incidental particular person caught up in a wider world the place everybody was the principle character of their very own story, and reacted accordingly.

Astarion in Baldur's Gate 3
The truth that I organically developed cutesy nicknames for my favorite BG3 companions speaks volumes concerning the bonds you possibly can type with these characters, I feel. | Picture credit score: Larian

Dragon’s Dogma 2 does certainly have one thing actually distinctive in its pawn system, and the choices for customising your companions on this approach are impressively wide-reaching, however the trade-off is that they don’t have any actual life to them outdoors of contented servitude to you as their Arisen. This sport casts you as very a lot the principle character in its world, and even non-pawn NPCs aren’t proof against having their little lives largely revolve round yours. You may have so many selections in Dragon’s Dogma 2, however saying the incorrect factor and having half your occasion up and go away you is not one in every of them, as a result of no one’s actually eager about a full of life trade of opinions; it is a world influenced by what you probably did, however not a lot involved with why you probably did it.

Positive, there is a pleasant frisson each time I return to Melve and the dragon renews its assault, severely threatening to kill off a plot-critical NPC within the course of. The concept that the procedurally generated world can simply unilaterally elect to deep six a serious character is definitely an thrilling one — though it is value noting that the identical factor can occur in Baldur’s Gate 3, through which case it is fully at your discretion as a possible mass-murderer, in case that is what you are into. However the level is: repel that dragon as soon as once more, and all Lennart or Ulrika wish to discuss to me about afterwards is the place the plot’s sending me to subsequent. Evidently no one’s ever obtained the time or inclination for a correct chat.

In Dragon’s Dogma 2, it is kinda lonely being The Chosen One, is maybe what I am getting at.

A character in Dragon's Dogma 2 looking mildly perturbed.
Brant is a superb character, however there is not any avoiding the truth that he is all enterprise, even whenever you’re simply hanging out on the pub. | Picture credit score: VG247/Capcom

So, do I remorse taking part in Dragon’s Dogma 2? Completely not, and now that I am over the worst of the teething issues (attending to grips with the rhythm of fight in a big open world with out quick journey; wrapping my head round that odd 1.5-slot save system), I actually am having fun with it for probably the most half. I am nonetheless delivering VG247’s minority report, in as a lot as I do not see it ending up as something near my GOTY, personally, however I am not having a horrible time by any means.

However most significantly, taking part in Dragon’s Dogma 2 has given me a invaluable new perspective on my relationship with RPGs, a style I’ve all the time counted as one in every of my favourites. It is taught me to understand the distinction between a tightly authored RPG and a chaotic procedural one, and that whereas there’s craftsmanship to be admired within the development of each, I personally have a powerful desire for the previous — and that is OK! I am all the time in favour of experiences that go away me higher capable of articulate the explanation why my opinions have fashioned, and DD2 has supplied a helpful lesson on this, as an undeniably well-made RPG that simply is not fairly to my preferences.

The attention-grabbing factor right here is that I do not assume I am alone: I’ve but to fulfill anybody who’s actually into each Baldur’s Gate 3 and Dragon’s Dogma 2. I am positive there are many fantasy RPG followers on the market who’re consuming effectively proper now, however it looks as if everybody I’ve heard from to this point no less than has both jumped ship now that DD2’s out, just like the nameless Welsh colleague with a background in appearing I discussed earlier than; or, like me, would favor to stay with BG3 over the newer launch given their druthers. I discover it fascinating that 2023’s widely-acknowledged GOTY and 2024’s first GOTY hot-tip appear to lack a lot overlap of their passionate fan bases, regardless of their very comparable fundamental premises.

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