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Dragon’s Dogma 2 NPCs are making CPUs weep and tanking the frame rate, but Capcom is ‘looking into ways to improve performance in the future’

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a stellar RPG, but as you may have noticed in our performance analysis it’s not exactly the smoothest one. It’s incredibly demanding on CPUs, resulting in performance issues that you won’t be able to escape regardless of how beefy your rig is. Capcom is aware of this, it says, but it seems unlikely they’ll be resolved by launch.

Speaking with IGN, a Capcom representative explained that “a large amount of CPU usage is allocated to each character and dynamically calculates the impact of their physical presence in various environments. In certain situations where numerous characters appear simultaneously, the CPU usage can be very high and may affect the frame rate”.

This explains why, as Nick noted in his performance analysis, “any location where there are a lot of buildings and NPCs” puts a heavy strain on CPUs, and “overall performance drops considerably”. This is most noticeable in the Vermund capital of Vernworth, which you’ll encounter early in the game. It’s the most densely-packed settlement, with lots of NPCs wandering around at all times of the day.

I assumed I’d have no issues given that I was reviewing Dragon’s Dogma 2 on a high-end setup: RTX 4090, Intel i9-13900k, 32GB RAM. And for much of the game the frame rate is completely acceptable. With ray tracing on I’ve been getting around 80-100 fps, sometimes higher, when adventuring in the wilderness. But any time I hang out in Vernworth, it tanks, and I rarely get higher than 60 fps, and it often drops to 40 fps or lower.

Tweaking graphics settings does little good. This is also something that Capcom acknowledges, but it’s still looking into solutions. “We are aware that in such situations, settings that reduce GPU load may currently have a limited effect; however, we are looking into ways to improve performance in the future.”

While Dragon’s Dogma 2’s NPCs aren’t brain dead mannequins and follow specific routines, few of them are what I’d consider essential. Apart from those relating to quests, most of them do end up serving mostly as set dressing, giving locations like Vernworth the illusion of life. I doubt Capcom’s solution will be to cut the number of NPCs, but if that were to happen there’d be little lost.

The performance issues didn’t massively detract from my enjoyment of what is an exceptional RPG, but most players aren’t going to be running it on a PC with my specs. And given the amount of time you’ll spend in Vernworth, the issues are absolutely noticeable, even when they’re not being very disruptive.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 launches this evening in the US and at midnight in the UK. To find out when it launches in your region, take a look at our Dragon’s Dogma 2 release timetable.

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