video games

Which should you buy? ‘Rise of the Ronin’ vs. ‘Dragon’s Dogma 2’ 

Gelo Gonzales
Which should you buy? ‘Rise of the Ronin’ vs. ‘Dragon’s Dogma 2’ 
If you're a PlayStation gamer, and just plan to buy one game this weekend, which of these high-profile titles that came out on the same day, March 22, is for you?

Disclosure: Sony and Capcom provided a copy of their respective games for review purposes.

It’s rare that we see two releases this big happening on the same day. Usually, game publishers don’t drop their big titles on the same day as another big title. 

But that’s exactly what’s happening now. In one corner, there’s the PS5-exclusive samurai action open-world title Rise of the Ronin, and then there’s the multiplatform sequel to a 2012 action RPG cult hit – Dragon’s Dogma 2.

If you’re not a PlayStation gamer, obviously, there’s not a debate here. But just in case the game eventually comes out for the PC as some former PlayStation-exclusives have, you’ll have some idea if it’s also a game for you. 

We know they’re two different types of games, but just in case your budget only allows for one game on release day, March 22, what game would be a better fit for you? 

If you want to be wowed by graphics…

If it’s the best graphics you’re after, go for Dragon’s Dogma 2. The game feels like a full step ahead of Rise of the Ronin. I first played Rise of the Ronin, and thought it did have some pretty scenes, even if, overall, it felt below standard graphically for a PS5-exclusive. Dragon’s Dogma 2 reinforces that last point. I’ve only played for about 5 hours but already, I’ve had a lot of wow moments where I walked slowly, and smelled the flowers or trees, in this case.

It uses Capcom’s RE Engine, and just looks amazing overall, and is very immersive because of it. But one bad thing: in spite of its visuals and amazing character creation capabilities, the mouth animation looks absolutely horrible. I mean, what happened here?

For instant happiness…

If you’re looking for instant gratification, Rise of the Ronin is your game. Ronin will give you that gamer action-dopamine high with every satisfying parry you make that’s often capped off by unique, flashy fatal blows. It has some bite-sized action moments, and perfectly-sized missions, that allow you to just jump in anytime for immediate fun without requiring too much of an emotional or time investment.

Dragon’s Dogma 2, meanwhile, is a slow-burn type of game. You need to be in a certain mindset going into this game. A very patient mindset. The game makes no accommodations for impatient gamers. There’s no easy way to fast-travel, there are no quest markers, maximum healable health goes down as you take damage that can only be recovered by looking for a camping zone or going to an inn. The game goes for a more realistic flavor, which to some, may feel tedious.

You’ll have to prepare well for a quest, and plan your travel route, otherwise you’ll be stuck backtracking.

As it stands though, I think Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a game that becomes more rewarding as you make deeper progress through time, while Ronin just grabs you from the get-go, and is bursting with personality. Dogma 2 has a more serious, realistic, muted vibe.

The setting: Japan at a crossroads in the 1800s or a classic-style medieval fantasy world?

Do you want to explore Japan in the 1800s at a time when the country was opening up to Western influence, leading to an interesting mix of Japanese and Western elements? Or do you want what looks to be the most visually stunning depiction of a medieval fantasy world filled with castles, griffins, and goblins?

Because if you’re a fan of samurais, katanas, geishas, and cherry blossoms, Ronin is a can’t-miss game. Conversely, if you love your Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings or what have you, you can say the same for Dragon’s Dogma 2. It depends on what kind of setting you’re feeling now.

The question of difficulty

If you get a sense of dread thinking about the battles and overall oppressive feeling in Souls-like games, you’ll have a chance to like any of these games. Rise of the Ronin is more like a Souls-lite, borrowing elements from Souls-likes, and then just tuning things to be more forgiving.

While Dragon’s Dogma 2 may be harder than Rise of the Ronin, the battles going from level 1 to level 12 have so far been manageable, easy even. Nothing has been as stressful or dreadful as going up even against a normal enemy in Demon’s Souls. The battles so far lean more towards a more traditional action-RPG than a Souls-like.

Sometimes, it even feels like what the combat in Baldur’s Gate 3 might have been if it wasn’t turn-based. There’s a deliberate feel to it, and you can also get doused in oil, throw rocks, and use similar-feeling skills and spells.

And a big part of that, for both games, is that you have companions helping you out in battle. Called Pawns in Dragon’s Dogma 2, you can have up to 3 other active companions that can fight with you or heal you, although you can’t actively control them. Without map quest markers, they can also help guide you as to where the next mission is. They’re a little bit chatty though, and sometimes I wish there was a mute command.

In Ronin, you can have 2 other companions in battle that you can switch playing as anytime, and can revive you if you go down.

In any case, battles should be less of a hindrance in progressing in these two games than true-blue Souls-like, if that’s a concern for you.

So that’s it for now, these are at least some of the major differences between these two different games that, at their most basic, will still have you adventuring and killing baddies.

Personally, I lean more towards Ronin since I’ve played that more, and I love the setting, and the flashy action, but I understand, and am also excited, about how Dragon’s Dogma 2 could really grow on me with time, once I get over its no-easy-fast-travel, umm, quirk – which as some outlets like PC Gamer have noted as part of its appeal. –

How does this make you feel?

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.