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I put nearly 100 hours into Dragon's Dogma 2 before I realised it was all just a tutorial for the Warfarer vocation

 Warfarer vocation.
Warfarer vocation.

By the time I wrote my Dragon's Dogma 2 review, I'd played for 100 hours, completing one playthrough and starting my second. That's a heck of a lot of game to play in a single week. Most of that time, however, was just spent preparing for the true Dragon's Dogma 2.

When you make your little baby Arisen, you pick one of four vocations: Fighter, Mage, Thief and Archer. You can't go wrong with any of them. Once you reach the first area's hub, you can unlock two more: Sorcerer and Warrior. These six vocations form the roster of basic classes, and you'll be able to tackle anything the game throws at you by sticking with them. But there are four more to discover, which offer more advanced ways to play.

Magic
Magic

Of these four, you'll probably encounter the Mystic Spearhand first, though if you've read my review you'll know that I had some issues unlocking that one. It's a hybrid martial/magic class, and it's utterly rad. The Trickster will likely be your second, and like the Mystic Spearhand you simply need to talk to someone to unlock it. This vocation is a unique proposition that puts you in a support role, where you'll use illusions to manipulate your foes while doing very little direct damage.

Then there's the Magick Archer, which took me forever to unlock. Unsurprisingly, it mixes magic and archery, with your arcane skills ensuring that you always hit your target. It's also got some nifty support skills, so you're not always focused on dishing out direct damage. Finally, there's the Warfarer. The game-changer.

While you can technically meet the NPC, Lamond, who unlocks this vocation for you whenever you want, it's going to take a lot of effort. You need to make it all the way to the volcanic island in the south, and unless you've gone through nearly the whole main quest you're going to need to take some very tricky alternate routes where you will almost certainly be murdered in seconds. And then you'll need to get the fella drunk on booze that is very hard to get in the quantities he needs.

A party running across a bridge
A party running across a bridge

Thankfully, we've already broken down the steps you'll need to go through to get this alcoholic trainer all boozed up, which will require you to do a wee bit of crafting and take a trip to a master forger. So hop on over to our guide on how to unlock Dragon's Dogma 2's vocations to skip all the stress.

It's a bit of a palaver, and very much indicative of Dragon's Dogma 2's specific brand of nonsense. Essentially, to fulfil Lamond's demands you need to be very familiar with the game's bullshit. It's infuriating, but it makes sense in a twisted, sadistic way. The Warfarer vocation is only for veterans, and you need to prove you get Dragon's Dogma 2 to earn it. Yes, this game has broken me.

I was convinced it wouldn't be worth it. By the time I had helped this annoying lush out, I was done with the whole endeavour. "Screw this shite," I thought to myself. But oh boy, it was totally worth it.

You don't know jack

See, the Warfarer's unique hook is that it is essentially all of the vocations in one ridiculous package. Every single piece of gear, weapon and unlocked skill can be applied to it. Now, there are some important limitations. You need to waste a weapon skill slot on the Warfarer's single unique skill, which lets you swap weapons on the fly. That means you only have three left. And you can only use a skill if you're wielding the corresponding weapon. But while the weapon skills are undeniably handy, the real power of the Warfarer is that you get every single core skill. These are a vocation's innate abilities, and thus do not need to be assigned—you can always use them as long as you're wielding that vocation's weapon. And the weapons themselves, even without the weapon skills, still have their own strengths and utility.

So, for instance, a bow can still come in very handy if you want to target weak spots, even if you don't bother slotting in one of the Archer's many weapon skills. If you switch to a Sorcerer's staff, meanwhile, you can still use its Galvanise skill to rapidly regenerate stamina, as well as the Levitate spell that lets you temporarily float in the air, no matter how you put together your skill loadout. You can then pair that with a Warrior attack, floating upwards, immediately switching to a two-hander, and then plummeting down to the ground with a smash attack.

To make the most out of this incredible suite of abilities, however, you first need to actually unlock all of the skills by levelling up each individual vocation. If you've hardly put any time into Thief, you can still use dual daggers, but you won't have the core or weapon skills. You also probably won't know how best to deploy the vocation's talents. An intimate level of knowledge is required, then, not just of the combat system, but of each individual vocation.

Warfarer vocation
Warfarer vocation

Aside from Magick Archer, I've played them all pretty extensively, but the Warfarer still makes me feel like a novice all over again. One of the things I'm still figuring out—and this is super important—is the weapon order. Ever since I watched the vocation spotlight, I've wanted to use Levitate to float up to a cyclops, and then switch to a one-handed sword to stab it in the eye. The only way to achieve that is putting the sword right after the staff in the weapon order—you only have a split second to switch, so if it's further down the order you're going to be too late. But I also love floating above the battlefield and then coming down on enemies with a massive hammer. And I can't do both.

The potential here is just ridiculous.

It's best to break each part of the order up into multiple pairings, with every set of two weapons representing a specific combo. I like using the duospear before daggers, for example, because I can stun my target and magically dash towards them with the Mystic Spearhand's weapon, and then immediately follow it up with a savage Thief attack, like Skull Splitter. Powder Charge is an equally fun alternative, because the dash allows me to quickly latch onto a monster, after which I can then plant an explosive on its body.

The potential here is just ridiculous. Each of these 10 vocations offers so many creative ways to play on their own, so when you combine them all it's… well it's almost too much to take in. This is why I rushed towards the Warfarer very early on during this playthrough: I want to play most of the game this way because I have so much still to learn, even after preparing for nearly 100 hours.

Warfarer vocation
Warfarer vocation

Even though I've murdered dozens of ogres and cyclops and a fair few dragons in my time with Dragon's Dogma 2, I'm genuinely giddy whenever I bump into another one because it's an opportunity to try out something new with the game's best vocation. Do I want to summon devastating elemental spells as an opener and then rush in with my strongest weapon and just start swiping? Do I want to start on the high ground, peppering its head with arrows, before dashing onto its back and then unleashing hundreds of stabs with my daggers? Maybe I'll use some Trickster illusions to tempt it into a ravine, where I can then float up to the top and drop some boulders on top of its stupid head. Honestly, the number of possibilities makes me a tiny bit anxious.

One of the reasons I'm so excited about Dragon's Dogma 2 finally being out is the prospect of watching players significantly more skilled than me digging into the Warfarer. I just know some of you folks are going to do incredible things with the vocation. It's going to take a while, because this is an endgame vocation, and more realistically a second playthrough vocation. But eventually the videos are going to start appearing, and I'm going to devour them all. Who knows? I might actually be quite good at it myself by then.