The best quest in Dragons Dogma 2 turns my weird hobby of NPC stalking into an actual objective

If you’ve read my duology on spending far too long queuing in Hitman, you’ll know I’ve a predilection for the virtual people watching of NPCs in games that have some sort of schedule system. “It’s a wholesome pursuit of game design knowledge!” I stammer, as the guards approach. “It gives me a greater appreciation for the obscure details lurking in the hidden corners of virtual cities!” I protest, as I’m clapped in chains after being caught staring through a blacksmiths window for four hours watching him eat the same heel of bread, rubbing my hands together and grinning manically. Imagine my glee, then, when an early quest in action RPG Dragon’s Dogma 2 not only condoned my weird hobby, but actively encouraged it.

Alfred is bardic beggar you’ll likely first encounter by Vernworth’s city square water feature. He’s doing a spot of medieval busking, spinning some brilliantly localized rhyming yarns to whoever will listen. He also periodically asks for beer money, even if you think he’s shit, which is a great pitch. Onlookers come and go, but after listening to him gas up the nobility with tall tales for a spell, you’ll likely spot a particularly enthusiastic permanent fixture off to the side. Have a chat, and he’ll tell you he reckons there’s something fishy about Alfred. He never sees much patronage from busking, but he never seems short of coin. Follow him around for a bit and see how he makes his money, won’t you? My annoyance that I’d just given Alfred several hundred gold immediately dissipated at the prospect of some quest journal-sanctioned stalking.


This isn’t one of those irritating tailing missions from, say, Ass Creed either. Dragon’s Dogma 2 appears to feature a very rudimentary detection system for places you’re not supposed to be, but Alfred didn’t mind at all as I spent the next, oh, say, 45 minutes waiting for him to stop busking and trundle off to his next location, which happened to be the pub. He enthusiastically greeted his missus, sat down, and drank until sundown. All this waiting may sound incredibly boring on the surface, but it gave me ample opportunity to watch dozens of NPCs go about their day, each animation and line melding together to what I can confidently say is admirable impression of a fever dream medieval city.

Here are a few things I picked up. Firstly, the water feature in the center of Vernworth is actually a guy cutting off a big lizard’s head, with the water spouting from the recently bereaved neck hole. I’m sure most of you picked up on this immediately but I’m usually sprinting around town trying to climb on things, so the Alfred-watching gave me a lovely chance to catch my breath and take in the sights. Secondly, Vernworth’s citizens have a peculiar habit of announcing to the world that they’re pissing off for an early supper in the middle of the day, which I support wholeheartedly. Thirdly, there’s a bloke at the pub that alternates between lecturing anyone who’ll listen on proper nutrition and shouting “it seems naught can end our desire for oblivion!”, which, coincidentally, is also what I say when buying shots. He is my new favourite NPC and I will probably stalk him later.

I will not spoil the origin of Alfred’s mysterious wealth, not least because the satisfaction I got from the actual quest resolution is secondary to how much I enjoyed just observing how much effort and detail went into the hundreds of entirely unhuman but massively charming people in DD2 . Arguably, they’re quite a minor part of the game, too, at least in terms of how you explicitly interact with most of them. I will certainly feel at least a tinge of guilt the next time I accidentally swing my greatsword through several of them the next time a minotaur decides to pop into the city.


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