Dragon's Dogma 2 launches to "Mostly Negative" review bombing after microtransactions reveal, and man, what a bummer [UPDATED]

Dragon's Dogma 2
(Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Update: Capcom has responded to the situation in a new blog post, reiterating that most of the items available for purchase are also available in-game. Notably, Dragon's Dogma 2 has also risen back up to "Mixed" on Steam.
  • As Dragon's Dogma 2 launched on PC Thursday evening, a previously hidden suite of microtransactions became available for purchase.
  • Things you can buy for the single player ARPG include fast travel points, Rift Crystals for hiring Pawns and buying special items, appearance change and revival consumables, a special camping kit that weighs less than normal ones, and a few others.
  • In response to the microtransactions, Dragon's Dogma 2 is being review bombed, with the game currently sitting at "Mostly Negative" on Steam.

Update (March 22, 2024): Capcom has responded to the ongoing controversies surrounding its microtransactions in a new blog post, reiterating to players that most of the items available to purchase can be acquired through gameplay. As I wrote in this post originally, we can confirm this now that several of our writers (myself included) have either completed or gotten very far in their playthroughs. However, I think it's important to emphasize that not all of these items are common finds, and some are only available in limited quantities.

Notably, the article also confirmed that Capcom is looking into adding an easy way to start a new game in Dragon's Dogma 2 soon, though you can delete your save file to do that at launch. I wrote a short guide on that process you can refer to if you want to start over.

Following its launch, Dragon's Dogma 2's rating on Steam has slowly but steadily improved. At the time of writing this update, it has risen to "Mixed," with 42% of all reviews giving it a positive score.

Original article: As I write this, Capcom's new ARPG Dragon's Dogma 2 is now officially playable on PC through Steam, with the game slated to go live on Xbox and PlayStation consoles in just a few hours. What was supposed to be an exciting and celebratory launch of a sequel that fans have been waiting for for over a decade, though, has been marred by controversy.

RELATED: Must-read Dragon's Dogma 2 beginner's tips (avoid our mistakes)

When the game became available, a previously hidden suite of microtransaction purchases did as well. These include everything from the Rift Crystals used to hire other players' Pawns to Art of Metamorphosis tomes required for changing your character's appearance, along with Wakestone revival items, Portcrystal fast travel points, one-use keys to escape prison cells, incenses for editing a Pawn's inclination (the inclination your Pawn gets is randomized, by the way), monster lures, and even special camping equipment that weighs less than normal gear. They're all visible on Dragon's Dogma 2's DLC page.

The price of these microtransactions ranges from $1-5, and while some appear to only be purchasable in limited quantities, it looks like others can be bought infinitely. And when you consider that Dragon's Dogma 2 is a $70 single player RPG, it's not surprising that players are...not happy, to put it lightly. On Steam, it's already plummeted down to a "Mostly Negative" rating, with only 34% of reviews positive.

You can buy special camping supplies that weigh less than the ones you can find in-game, making inventory management less of a hassle. (Image credit: Windows Central)

"Then, after pre-purchasing the Deluxe Edition, I went to install it today and saw a whole page dedicated to it's Micro Transactions in the store," wrote player Superius. "How do you even have the nerve to put any kind of micro transactions in an already fully priced SINGLE PLAYER game. It's so wild to me." Ezz makes the same point, rather succinctly: "Great game held down by scummy microtransactions."

Indeed. Much of the Windows Central team (yours truly included) has had early access to Dragon's Dogma 2 for quite some time now, and we're in love with its incredible combat systems and rich fantasy world (read our Dragon's Dogma 2 review for more on that; the team wasn't made aware of the microtransactions beforehand). But I'd be lying if I said these microtransactions haven't dampened some of our writers' enthusiasm for the game, especially since a handful of them are particularly egregious. 

Of the lot, the two that frustrate me the most personally are the $2.99 Portcrystals and the $1.99 Ambivalent Rift Incenses. The former monetizes the ability to fast travel wherever you want in the game world — Portcrystals are extremely rare to find in gameplay — while the latter's random nature essentially turns changing your Pawn's inclination into a slot machine you can spend $2 to "re-roll." Oh, and I'm pretty miffed about the $2.99 Explorer's Camping Kit, too, as it weighs less than the kits you'll find in-game and can be purchased infinitely from in-game vendors once unlocked.

Rift Crystals are one of the things you can buy, allowing you to skip earning them completely and simply purchase anything that requires them. (Image credit: Capcom)

While the vast majority of what you can buy can be found in-game, they're items that are extremely difficult to find, cost a ton of Rift Crystals to buy (and hey, there are microtransactions for that, too), or are only available in limited quantities. We've only been able to find two Art of Metamorphosis tomes for sale at a single NPC's shop despite finishing the game, for example, which suggests that there may be a limit on the number of times you can change your appearance unless you're prepared to fork over some cheddar.

And again: this isn't a free-to-play live service experience or anything like that. It's a $70 fully priced single player game. And it's an incredible one, which is why the shocking reveal of all these microtransactions is such a colossal bummer. Genuinely, this is one of the best open world RPGs I've ever experienced — but now, it's being overshadowed by greedy nickel-and-diming. And goddamn, that sucks.

Editor's note (Jez Corden): I just want to add here that Capcom didn't hide these microtransactions from us before I published my review, they were detailed in the review guide via a link detailing DLC, which I had assumed referred to preorder bonuses. Either way, when I typically when I review games, I avoid reading the review guide, because I want to go in with a blank slate as if I was playing purely as I would in yesteryear as someone who had just purchased the game for the first time. In the past I've received review guides that included developer explanations with PR language that I felt might be designed to try influence my opinion of a game. I feel like discovery is part of the gaming experience, and so, I've typically avoided review guides. I hadn't shared the guide with my team, either. 

Either way, my take is that, when you conduct interviews saying that fast travel was intentionally restricted (as it was in the original) because travelling on foot was designed to be fun, it sort of undermines your position when you start selling port crystal fast travel points as a microtransaction. These port crystals in particular are incredibly rare in-game. I only found a couple in my initial playthrough, and a third on my second. 

The game is ironically best enjoyed without paying for the microtransactions in my view, but it still leaves a sour taste — particularly when things like fast travel and character re-customization could very easily be free inclusions, per any other game. It's a slippery slope to ex-EA's John Riccitiello and his infamous "I want to sell bullets in Battlefield" microtransaction quip of yesteryear. 

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • ChipBoundary
    Review-bombing should be a crime. I hate the gaming community, so much. They are literally the worst humanity has to offer. They aren't legitimate reviews of the product. Oh no, micro transactions in a single player game. Totally pay to win. How is that any different than buying a cheat device back in the day? I don't want to love on this planet anymore.
    for a 70$ game its fair when the negative reviews are towards its practices and its technical aspect.
    id be happy to informed regards the things ive heard of "new game", server-side profiles, its essential part of the game being monetized, and 2 DRM's?