RPG fans remember the true GOAT of open-world magic: Dragon's Dogma

Dragon's Dogma
(Image credit: Capcom)

Today I'm thinking about the open-world, magic-infused RPG on the tip of everyone's tongue. The game that finally gave casting spells the weight and spectacle you would want from channeling the thaumaturgic. A game with an unquestionably dumb story that still grips you because the world itself is just that cool. A game that some might say was controversial at launch, but only because we mere mortals weren't sure if it's legal for something to kick so much ass. 

That's right; I'm thinking about Dragon's Dogma. And it does my heart good to see that so is everyone else. 

I've been recommending Dragon's Dogma for... Actually, let me just Google the release date. Holy crap, it's been 11 years. How has nobody made a better or equal magic system in all this time? Forspoken had some interesting ideas. Elden Ring made magic absolutely busted, which I appreciate. Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher 3, Divinity: Original Sin 2, arguably even Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Genshin Impact – all excellent games with good magic and/or magic-adjacent powers. But they ain't no Dragon's Dogma. 

"What makes Dragon's Dogma's magic system so good?" I hear you ask. First of all, it lets you cast spells with the coolest weapons that Capcom's ever made outside of Monster Hunter, including magick bows and shields. Likewise, tons of classes can use magic to great effect, with some of the dual-classes offering some of the most useful spells around – many of which, quite crucially, are much more inventive than merely chucking fireballs. You still need to be a sorcerer wielding a proper staff for the really flashy magic, but I'm not complaining because waving a stick around has never been so epic. 

For my money, games too often treat magic spells like guns. You press a button and something very quickly hits a faraway enemy. This is fine for some spells, like Elden Ring's various glintstone rocks or indeed Dragon's Dogma's most elementary attacks, but it is frankly unromantic when applied to grand conjurings that rival acts of nature. 

Dragon's Dogma knew better. If you want to summon a tornado in Dragon's Dogma, you're going to stand in place, muttering into hands gripped tightly around your magic tool of choice, for several seconds. And you're going to like it. Seriously, you're going to like it. In the same way that food tastes better after a hard day's work, magic feels better after some buildup and anticipation. 

You don't get anticipation with a gun! It wouldn't feel special if a tornado just popped up every time you raised your arm. Screw that! Hunker down, focus, put some stank on it. Watch your stamina bleed away as you pour your very being into ripping a page out of mother nature's book and rewriting it to spell the death of whatever was stupid enough to piss you off. I'm talking to you, Seventh Chimera I've Killed Today. 

I don't know why more games haven't picked up what Dragon's Dogma put down over a decade ago, but luckily the return of the king is nigh: Dragon's Dogma 2 has been announced and it's in active development. Reader, sometimes I wake up early just to have more time in the day to appreciate this fact, and you should too. So I'll leave you with the best sales pitch I've ever heard for this wonderful game.

If you love Elden Ring, you'll love Dragon's Dogma. If you hate Elden Ring, you will also love Dragon's Dogma. 

Another miracle for the list: the abandoned Dragon's Dogma MMO is heading to the West thanks to fans. Dragon's Dogma games are Dragon's Dogma games; they're masterworks all, you can't go wrong.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.