Dragon Age II is great, and here's why!

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Posted by Legion_ (1669 posts) 1 year, 16 hours ago

Poll: Dragon Age II is great, and here's why! (256 votes)

Yay 32%
Nay 68%

I've recently been playing through Dragon Age II for the fifth or sixth time. And I have to say, I love this game. I don't get why it's gotten such a bad reputation. My gut feeling says it's probably just because the internet was intent on hating the game from the start, and they would never admit to being wrong. Do they ever?

Anyway, I thought I'd list a couple of reasons why Dragon Age II is fantastic, and certainly a much better game than it's predecessor. And when you've read it, I'd like for you lovely people to vote in the poll. The key word here is after.

Let's get started, shall we?

Dragon Age II has a great story. Yes, I said it. The game has gotten a reputation for having a bad story, however, I don't see it that way at all. In fact, this multi-layered tale is much stronger than the rather generic and bland story of the first game. What makes it so great you ask? Allow me to tell you. I have emphasize one thing first however, which is that Hawke is clearly meant to be a played as a mage character. If you are not a mage, the story loses several of it's strongest points. What are those strong points? Let's have a look.

  • A well written Cain and Abel story. This is perhaps my favorite part of the game. The tension and unresolved emotions between Hawke and his younger brother, Carver, is truly worthy of praise. It actually manages to capture the jealousy and envy that can drive a wedge between siblings. Now, again this comes with a couple of strings attached. First off, Hawke has to be a mage. If not, Carver dies in the very beginning of the game. I also think it's important that Carver becomes a Templar, which only happens if you exclude him from your expedition. I think a great deal of foreshadowing suggests that this is "canon". Most importantly the quest "Family History", which reveals how Carver got his name. And there you have it. The two brothers are finally fighting each other. Cain and Abel.
  • Another well written story, this time about racism. Who would have thought Bioware could actually write a story about racism in a fantasy world, and make it pretty relevant in our society today? For the most part, that's what they did. Sure, they stumble a few times, but in general, this story about the shipwrecked Qunari, far from their homeland, and the hate and hostility they meet, is pretty darned good. They even have the good sense of writing a quest about conversion to a new religion. In a not-so-subtle way, the city of Kirkwall is the United States of America, and the Qunari are muslims. Had they not handled this as well as they did, it might have turned out pretty foul. Luckily, there are no good or evil men in this tale, only different men.
  • A third well written story? That can't be. Oh but it is. What is it this time? I'm not sure if Bioware actually intended this, as this story has gotten far more relevant after the games release. Still, it's there, and it's hella good. The story I'm talking about is of course the main storyline in the game. The conflict between the Templars and the Mages. So let's break it down. The Templars are a limited group of people who crave control over a large amount of people. The Templars are powerful men and women tasked with keeping control over the truly powerful. If this sounds familiar, it's because your living it. The Templars are the government, they are the people tapping into your phones, watching your every move, controlling your lives. That of course makes you the Mages. The truly powerful people. The people they fear. The people who are content living under a controlling government, because you are scared of what happens if you take the safety off.

Wow, that was a mouthful. Safe to say I think the writing and story of Dragon Age II is pretty fucking excellent. But that of course is just one half of a Bioware game. The other half?


I think there's just no way around it. Combat in Dragon Age II is at least one and a half million times better than in the first game. At least. First off, no damned auto attacks. Auto attacks are hella boring. Good riddance. Then of course it's the visceral nature of the combat this time around, it actually looks painful. In a good way. And the most important aspect of combat? It's responsive and a lot of fun. It's just fun to pull off spells that make you feel truly powerful, while still having to think strategically in tough fights. I think they hit a nice cord in that aspect. Your party is supposed to be powerful, so let them be just that. Some fights should be easy, and some fights should be hard. Not just always hard, because then you feel like your controlling a gang of fifth graders against the Roman empire.

That's basically it. Of course the game looks a shit ton better than the first, and the setting is a little more original than forrest country number five thousand and fifty. Reused areas you say? Yeah that's unfortunate, but not as big of a deal as people make it out to be. At least they look great.

So, finally you can answer my question.

Dragon Age II, yay or nay?

(You're a proper cock and balls if you just voted without reading)

#1 Posted by Rowr (5862 posts) -

It was the game to signal bioware selling out to EA and it's dilution tactics to convert something to mainstream ultimately killing the studio. EA have done this a million times.

There is still some bioware magic in this game I assume specifically with the writing, but it was the beginning of the end.

Add to that the godawful combat and shitty graphics. Which I guess you like for some reason, but i'm going to assume you didn't get into much of the combat of earlier games from the studio.

#3 Posted by AlisterCat (6134 posts) -

I am replaying it right now. At the end of Act 2. Also, no.

The writing is great. Themes, characters, conflicts. All really good stuff. Merrill is my favourite, Anders is particularly strong.

The main problems are lack of variety in the environments. More specifically, reusing the same exact locations just throwing up walls and such to change the areas you have access to. Lack of resources and rushing of development. I don't blame the developers themselves but it is terrible. The second issue is the combat and I don't agree with you. The animations and flow are greatly improved. It feels more dynamic and savage. There is perhaps 1% of the strategy is left. The balance is in favour of making it flashy and severely diminishes the entire point of the gameplay from the first. They may as well have gone all the way and made it in to a God of War style game with direct control.

Also, there are minor quest problems that existed in Mass Effect 3 (and I don't think it's a coincidence) where you find random stuff out and about, and magically get a quest marker knowing just who to give it to with no real set up. Below even MMO level fetch quests.

Everything else is great though and the game doesn't deserve it's reputation for being terrible, but does deserve its reputation for throwing away a lot of what made the original a classic.

#4 Posted by Stete (784 posts) -

It's nowhere near as good as the first one, but then again when Bioware half-asses things it's better than what most developers put out there. I really enjoyed Dragon Age II, but the glaring omissions and cutbacks caused by the ridiculously short development cycle can be seen from miles away.

#5 Posted by Zelyre (1375 posts) -

Still Nay.

I think I would have enjoyed DA2 if it was sold under a different title. Dynasty Age or Dragon Age Warriors. (The S makes it cool, right Squeenix?) Hell, it could have been a plastic instrument game, but as long as the game was sold as Dragon Age: Bards, and not Dragon Age 2, I would have enjoyed it more.

I happened to really enjoy the combat of DA:O, as I played it on the PC. It played like how I imagined a modern day Baldur's Gate would. Throughout the marketing, Bioware told us that DA2 on the PC would feature the same type of tactical gameplay. The perception of what I got was a more visceral Dynasty Warriors. But without Liu Bu.

Instead, Bioware told me what to expect through marketing and then failed to deliver by a long shot.

I enjoyed the character interaction better in DA2, I enjoyed a tighter, smaller, less grand-epic story that DA2 offered. But there was too much lazy design in DA2 that ruined the package as a whole. If you're going to redesign areas, at least don't make it so incredibly obvious. Seriously Bioware, I can see the door frame behind that boulder.

I can sum up Dragon Age 2 as a filet dinner. The vegetables were cooked perfectly and seasoned perfectly. It's a shame the filet was cooked well done, dropped in a bucket of salt, drowned in A1 sauce, and then served on a cardboard square.

#6 Edited by Tennmuerti (8355 posts) -

Nay, for dozens of reason already discussed in other threads a hundred times over.

Even the story, trying to relate some things tangentially to real world equivalents doesn't make it good, most stories do that to one degree or another anyway. It's a shallow baseline, not some noteworthy achievement. Stating how Hawke is meant to be played undermines any points even further. The strategic aspect of the combat was stronger in the first game. Fluctuating difficulty can be a good thing, but not when 99% of the game's combat is a tedious joke. You could make a powerful party in 1 too if you knew what you were doing. So that leaves graphics and the visceral nature of combat: button => awesome! Not really prime selling points for an RPG crowd.

It's never been a terrible game. But it's not great either. Just a sub par effort after the first entry. Anyway there are some positive things on the horizon for DA3 it seems fro what we know so far.

#7 Edited by ShaggE (7174 posts) -

Yes! I'm totally with you. I get why it's considered a terrible sequel, and it really is, but I very much enjoyed DA2 despite its major problems.

#8 Posted by Splodge (2281 posts) -

I only recently played DAO for the first time. I absolutely loved it. Msotly because of the similarities to Baldur's Gate. That kind of combat is one of my favourite things. There is nothing I love more than meticulously building my characters and planning out each fight as strategically as possible. The satisfaction gained from finally winning a really tough fight through mixing it up with character builds and planning out movement and attacks was AWESOME.

From what I have read and from watching gameplay footage, I know I have to avoid the sequel. I simply wont enjoy it. Dragone Age without the things I mentioned above, is just another action RPG. I enjoy the challenge of Bioware games, but DA2 has stripped that out.

I don't care if anyone else likes it, I just cannot see myself enjoying it. It's a shame really, because I really like that world.

#9 Posted by Franstone (1214 posts) -

For me it was the environments or lack there of.
I liked how they changed the combat to be quicker, felt like a better fit in my opinion.
Tactics felt the same to me, they were just executed at a faster pace which felt right to me.
That's why they keep showing photos of all these new locations the past few weeks, that was their big failure.

#10 Posted by HH (836 posts) -

you don't need to convince me, i've thought highly of it since the first time i played it.


The main problems are lack of variety in the environments. More specifically, reusing the same exact locations just throwing up walls and such to change the areas you have access to. Lack of resources and rushing of development. I don't blame the developers themselves but it is terrible.

Terrible? Terrible how? it's completely irrelevant, it's a cut corner that games have always used and continue to use. If you see past it, it doesn't effect the game at all.

There is perhaps 1% of the strategy is left. The balance is in favour of making it flashy and severely diminishes the entire point of the gameplay from the first. They may as well have gone all the way and made it in to a God of War style game with direct control.

1%? how did you arrive at such a determinate figure? yes it added the flash, and the ability to action your way through on normal, and the controller response does feel different, but the the core gameplay underneath it all is the very same as origins. if you up the difficulty to the point where you need to use behaviors and pause-control you will find that 100% of the strategy is intact and in full working order, even with, shock and horror, second and third waves of enemies that arrive out of nowhere.

#11 Posted by Evilsbane (5071 posts) -

Sorry but no way, the enviroments alone were the most repetitive garbage I have ever seen especially coming off DA1 at the time. The combat felt sloppy they tried to move it closer to action and it did nothing but make it look and feel awkward. And if I am "supposed" to play it as a mage then the game has already failed as an RPG. It was a huge step back for the franchise for almost every aspect and will make me wait till well after release to pick up DA3, fuck them and their repeat dungeons oh ill just drop a boulder here completely different! Oh this same entrance that took you a different dungeon years ago now its some personal part of your story and not at all a dungeon amazing what 6 years can do.

#12 Posted by FLStyle (5569 posts) -

No no no no no.

The persecution of the shipwrecked Qunari, I'll give you that one. I thought it was well done.

But Carver was an annoying, whiny man-brat and the Templar/Mage story was more about one loopy Knight Commander than anything. That conflict was far better served in the Dragon Age: Asunder book.

The combat in DAII was ass. It was button mashy, it was catered to lazy console players and I want no part of it. Dragon Age games are RPGs, not action games dammit.

And it looked terrible, I've seen PS2 games with less rigidly moving character models.

#13 Posted by HH (836 posts) -

lol at all this yapping about the environments.
like it suddenly really mattered for that one moment in time when this game came out.

#14 Edited by Zevvion (2999 posts) -

If you like it better that's fine. You seem to know and understand why you like it better, so for you, yeah it probably is.

Others don't think so and they also have good reason not to like it. I like Mass Effect 3 best out of the ME series. Am I wrong? No. Doesn't mean everyone should see the game how I see it.

#15 Edited by Legion_ (1669 posts) -

@flstyle said:

But Carver was an annoying, whiny man-brat and the Templar/Mage story was more about one loopy Knight Commander than anything. That conflict was far better served in the Dragon Age: Asunder book.

Well, it's a book. Books are the premier way to tell a story. Obviously it'll be better.

#16 Edited by AndrewB (7782 posts) -

Dragon Age 2 is great. Here's why.

Aveline. /Thread

#17 Posted by phampire (292 posts) -

A big part of enjoying an RPG is exploring a world and being immersed, having environments lazily reused over and over bummed a lot of people out, myself included. I didn't mind the slightly more action oriented combat because the underling tactics were still present. I loved DAO and clocked it under a week but I struggled to maintain the same enthusiasm for DA2 (I got half way) and I have yet to finish it to this day. So nay I say!

#18 Posted by forkboy (1334 posts) -

I appreciate the arguments the OP makes. There's some good points there, though I don't agree with everything. I haven't played it since it came out so I really remember absolutely nothing about the plot/narrative, can't comment there. But yeah, I'm on the "Nay" side here. Maybe if it wasn't the sequel to Dragon Age Origins I'd be able to look at it more fairly but it was a very disappointing sequel to possibly the last great big PC RPG. I just can't get past that fact.

#19 Edited by Veektarius (5345 posts) -

FWIW Carver died in my story so that first point isn't even relevant to me!

I think the characters, dialogue, and combat in DA2 are all better than DA1, but the game itself is built poorly. Most missions involve short jaunts through dungeons containing only a few rooms (we'll ignore the fact they all use one of about four map templates), giving the game a trivial air. It's kind of like a mobile game. Pick it up, finish a mission in ten minutes, and you're done until the next time you play. The only mission that felt like the appropriate length to me was the Felicia Day DLC - there's nothing comparable in the main game.

Nevermind the total clusterfuck of an ending. I thought it was way worse than ME3's, and they didn't even try to fix it. I don't think that DA2 is a terrible abomination the destroys all of my faith in Bioware, but calling it "Great" is surely a bridge too far.

#20 Edited by EXTomar (5031 posts) -

Should have been called Dragon Age: Cheap Fun Action Adventure. And the ending is bad where I'm unsure where anyone would say "it is a well written story".

#21 Posted by geirr (2866 posts) -

Nay, cuz it's rubbish.

#22 Posted by seveword (205 posts) -

I had zero fun playing the game, and I played it twice. I was mystified that I didn't have any fun the first time through, so I had to play it again just to double check. Still no fun, in any way whatsoever. Annoying characters, crap combat and terrible environments (all 4 of them) make for a terrible game in my book.

I'm glad you got something out of your purchase of the game, but I regretted every dollar I spent. EA and Bioware killed off every ounce of interest I had in that franchise, they could go to the damn moon and have talking unicorns and I would still never touch the next game.

#23 Posted by Hailinel (25787 posts) -

@hh said:

lol at all this yapping about the environments.

like it suddenly really mattered for that one moment in time when this game came out.

Actually, it does matter. The majority of the game's dungeons are all just the same copy-and-paste templates so lazily disguised you can actually see where the blocked-off doors are. And for a game that takes place Kirkwall over the course of ten years, the city doesn't change. At all.

#24 Posted by Hunkulese (2968 posts) -

It was a pretty average game.

The story was pretty good after the first act. The combat was fun but not better than the first. They were doing two completely different things and both have merit. Reusing the same handful of environments for every quest really ruins the game though. You expect some decent world building and immersion from an RPG and acting like changing one door changes the environment erases all of that. It was also super annoying how every single fight had an extra group of enemies spawn halfway through.

#25 Posted by Nightriff (6349 posts) -

Dragon Age II is by no means a bad game, plays alright for the most part, some fun characters, and a mediocre plot. But its a shitty Dragon Age game and had to follow up a huge hit and fan favorite in Origins. That is my biggest problem with the game is that it is the sequel I didn't want.

#26 Posted by Karkarov (3781 posts) -

Is Dragon Age II a good game? Yes. Is it a "great" game? No. I am sorry but the story is very par, it is not that great. The characters are either god awful bad or they are Varrick, Aveline, and Aveline's boyfriend. The repeated maps and textures didn't help. But yes it is a good game despite all that. The third one needs to be noticeably better though.

#27 Posted by FLStyle (5569 posts) -

@legion_ said:

@flstyle said:

But Carver was an annoying, whiny man-brat and the Templar/Mage story was more about one loopy Knight Commander than anything. That conflict was far better served in the Dragon Age: Asunder book.

Well, it's a book. Books are the premier way to tell a story. Obviously it'll be better.

Don't make excuses, the Templar/Mage in DAII conflict could've been written just as well and we all know it.

#28 Edited by EXTomar (5031 posts) -

A friend put the issues with Dragon Age 2 like this: It would be as if George RR Martin said the follow up to "A Game of Thrones" was some 50 page graphic novel that was in the style of 90s comic book. It isn't that someone can't enjoy or like that but there are going to be issues suggesting declaring it sequel or followup.

#29 Posted by Zelyre (1375 posts) -

@hh said:

lol at all this yapping about the environments.

like it suddenly really mattered for that one moment in time when this game came out.

It wouldn't have been such a big deal if they weren't so lazy about it. Using tileset dungeon building is one thing. It's what Neverwinter Nights did. You can crank out dungeons super fast that way. But Dragon Age 2 literally had a handful of maps that they simply walled off for different areas. THREE rocks would have covered the door frame 100%, but they only put enough rocks there to physically block access to the room you could still see.

It wasn't even like you were backtracking that often. You were visiting different "locations". The copy-paste environment was incredibly blatant.

#30 Posted by Achaemenid (99 posts) -

I find it absolutely baffling how anyone can say that DA II has good characters and story. The characters are pure design by committee soulless pandering to the obsessive fans. I mean come on. How is merril anything but a horrible nerd's wet dream? And fenris? Come on. Every character is just a dumb gross gimic.

#31 Edited by ma_rc_01 (382 posts) -

They were too busy making "interesting" characters that they forgot to make them likable. Except Varrick, Varrick rules.

#32 Edited by Veektarius (5345 posts) -

Since I came out saying the characters were better and some others, e.g. @achaemenid and @ma_rc_01 tore them apart, I will clarify that they are better because DA1's characters are terrible, except for the golem.

#33 Posted by armaan8014 (5786 posts) -

Nah it was just a really boring experience

#34 Posted by Zirilius (849 posts) -

DA 2's characters are better except for Anders. Fuck that guy!

You know the main reason I like DA2 was because it's not the all story. You aren't the chosen savior. You aren't saving the world for the umpteenth billion time. You are more or less just a regular joe who works who was up as he tries to enter the city and during that time you are just isolated to the city and its surrounded area. That's it! You are the hero of Kirkwall and while your actions might have ramifications across the world the story and its events are isolated to Kirkwall.

#35 Posted by RVonE (4771 posts) -

@legion_ I somewhat agree. It made my GOTY 2011 list where I wrote some reflections on the game. If you're interested, you can read it here.

#36 Edited by themangalist (1853 posts) -

I voted nay. Though I agree with your points, I only saw the POTENTIAL of those storylines and not really an adequate execution of them.

Here's why:

If the war between mages and templars is the main theme of the game, there needs to be a stronger moral grey area. In the end, it is incredibly easy to sympathize with the mages instead of the templars because the set-up for "mages need to be controlled" is extremely weak, while the oppression of them is real. On the gameplay side, you can't do without a mage in your party, and there aren't really pro-templar characters either (other than the dlc). I really wanted the danger of blood magic (or uncontrolled magic in general) and hence the importance for the templars to exist be magnified. I do not think there is anything on the mage's side that was worse than the templars "raping" the tranquils.

Also, Kirkwall never really reflects anything of the world state, and that damages the impact of the events when they happen. Other than having your statue erected, nothing really changes in Kirkwall. If only we could see the rising tensions in the city through the placement of npcs, random encounters throughout the city and so on, everything would make sense when the "pay off" in the story comes. Just the notion that the world isn't that alive makes it a lot of lost potential. My dear sister is locked up, I wish I had the opportunity to visit her. There's so much immersion opportunities just squandered.

I have to say the Qunari arc (Act II) has amazing writing though. The Arishok is truly menacing, and the end of the arc is very satisfying, when the knight-commander makes her first appearance.

@andrewb said:

Dragon Age 2 is great. Here's why.

Aveline. /Thread

You're right! Aveline is awesome!

#37 Posted by Bane122 (883 posts) -

I definitely like 2 more than Origins. I can understand the issues people have with it but most of them just don't matter much to me.

The environments, for example, weren't much of a downgrade from Origins to me. Yeah, Origins didn't reuse specific layouts like 2 but textures were. It got to where when I was told to go to some underground crypt or something I knew to expect the same shitty looking green stone walls covered in spiderwebs. Whether it is reused layouts or textures, both games became quite boring to explore. Which leads to the other issue, the size of the worlds. Origins had a bigger world but so much of it looked the same it just didn't matter to me.

And while I enjoyed the characters of Origins, it had a pretty generic story with a non-villain. DA2 fixed that.

Either way, pretty stoked for Inquisition and curious to see if it fixed all the issues people had with 2, my guess is yes. But even if it does, I doubt the people who have made up their mind that Bioware is now garbage and done will recognize it.

#38 Edited by EXTomar (5031 posts) -

*shrug* If they go back to the story of the Grey Warden I maybe interested. Do you know what is more interesting than "Templars vs Mages"? It is this conflict set against the "omg the world is ending because the dark spawn are EVERYWHERE!" The fact they/Bioware are already suggesting "that story is done" already hints at how disappointed I will probably be with their angsty drama that seem to come from teenage books.

#39 Posted by OurSin_360 (1047 posts) -

To me it was just, boring. And the main character they forced on you was annoying, having the freedom of choice in creating your own character with a different race each with a different origin in the first game really made "hawk" feel like a step backwards.

The combat was better, but the environment was dull and the character design even more generic

#40 Posted by UlquioKani (1283 posts) -

I never noticed the repetitive environments so the game basically played like a faster origins for me. I enjoy both games equally. DA2 had a pretty shitty ending but I enjoyed some aspects of it's story more. I liked that your party members were hanging around town as opposed to sitting around a camp fire. It made the characters have more life by having them do other things without you.

One of the biggest improvements over the original is the fact that they got a voice for the main character. It made dialogue in the second game way more interesting. As for the combat and skill tree stuff, I found that stuff to be pretty much intact in 2.

#41 Edited by Wess (180 posts) -

I think Dragon Age 2 had some interesting ideas and themes, sure, but that didn't make it anything close to an amazing game for me. Like you, I think the story surrounding the Qunari was pretty cool, I enjoyed talking to their leader and thought that part of the game was generally interesting and well written. I didn't think about it in terms of real world social context (which for me, that line being there doesn't make it any better or worse), but I thought it was done well enough in the game to be interesting. The setup of the Mage vs Templar dynamic is interesting, and there are some interesting points to it (throughout both games), but I could not get past how the final scenes of the game play out.

From what I remember (at least from my playthrough), both the leader and the Templars and the Mages end up being corrupted, by an evil artifact and blood magic respectively. I personally felt that nullified all the time the game had spent building them as opposites, but overall morally grey. I thought it was a cheap way to have you have to fight them both and not feel bad about turning on either of them, or something. I'd have to rewatch those scenes to get more specific, but I distinctly remember feeling like it was sloppy/lazy/unearned.

But really, the main issue I have with your argument for the story is, you basically admit that its only good if you follow a certain path. There are 3 class options, and 2 options about whether to take Carver with you in Act 1, so that should be 6 valid options, and you are saying that the story is excellent, even though you admit only one of those 6 paths is so. Maybe that isn't an issue to you, but to me that's a huge bummer.

As far as the gameplay, I think the basics of the combat are fine, but everything about the lazy quest design, reused environments, and enemies literally spawning out of thin air in waves during encounters turned me off so much, its really hard to appreciate the game's mechanics. That's not to mention various performance issues and bugs that I remember having. It's unfortunate, like you say, that the game was as sloppily produced as it was, and while I agree there is some merit to what they tried to do, it is simply too marred by its many problems for me to say its anything but bad.

Anyway, I say nay. Not that you're wrong to enjoy it, but I most certainly did not. I'm hoping Dragon Age 3 is a game we can both love.

#42 Posted by Animasta (14820 posts) -

I like the game an all, but it is not great. Not great at all.

#43 Posted by development (2946 posts) -

Well you make it sound interesting, and I'd agree that Dragon Age 1's main story was a generic borefest, but I played probably half of the game and just drifted away from it because I wasn't feeling anything at all for the story or the gameplay.

If what @wess just said in the spoiler tags is accurate... then yeah, I would not have enjoyed that one bit.

#44 Posted by Random45 (1411 posts) -

Haha, while I agree that the story and companion dialogue can be good and entertaining at times, I disagree with you COMPLETELY about the combat. The combat in DA2 is VERY dull, it's so dull in fact that I'm astonished that you've managed to play through the game five damn times. I actually had to switch the game to easy because I was getting so sick of the prolonged fights! I remember there was a fight with a dragon at the mines during act 3 that had to have lasted nearly 20 minutes... God this game just had a horrendously boring combat system.

You also failed to mention the other common critique the game got: the repeated environments. It actually made me feel nauseated after a while when I would visit yet ANOTHER same location. I know some games do this, but nowhere NEAR the extent Bioware did it in this game. I blame this on the game being rushed of course, but it still doesn't make it fun.

Finally, you mentioned the Templar vs Mage conflict as being good, but it's so damn rushed that I'm surprised you think that. Act 3 is SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than the first, and especially the second act, and due to that shortened length you don't spend nearly enough time with either the Mages or Templars to really form an opinion about either of them. Furthermore, despite whatever choice you pick at the end, the outcome is exactly the same. You mention there being no 'good' sides, but the ending CLEARLY shows that the Templars were in the right, given that every damn mage in the entire game, INCLUDING the head mage, used god damn blood magic and did forbidden shit. I remember being so frustrated when I sided with the mages and they did that.

I actually played the game, so this isn't just the internet telling me what to think.

#45 Edited by Veektarius (5345 posts) -

@random45: The Templars pretty much are right regardless of what the mages do, if you ask me. Even if they don't turn to blood magic they are a huge risk to society because demons can just take them over. Let me add to the problems with the Templar vs. Mage story that if you choose to play as a mage, the game has no idea how to handle that. Occasional dialogue options point it out, but the Templars don't know what to do about you at all. I would say that they should have disallowed the player to be a mage, except that's the only way to get a healer in your party who isn't Anders.

#46 Posted by RVonE (4771 posts) -

@rvone said:

@legion_ I somewhat agree. It made my GOTY 2011 list where I wrote some reflections on the game. If you're interested, you can read it here.

I wrote this in 2011:


Of the games I played this year Dragon Age II is the most disappointing by far. A ringing endorsement, I know. It's just that I absolutely loved Dragon Age: Origins. To me that's one of the best examples of a game that perfectly balances implementing lessons learned in gameplay design in the last two decades without sacrificing depth in its mechanics, it's story development, character development, overall length, etcetera. Dragon Age II throws a lot of DA:O's brilliance overboard and takes a Mass Effect-esque approach to its design. This is immediately evident from the inclusion of the dialogue wheel. Not that that's bad, it's actually a very good design choice that really benefits the flow of dialogue. What strikes me as the most divisive imported aspect is the fact that the player now a more fixed character in the guise of Hawke. Where in the previous game the player could choose his or her own name, this time you're part of the Hawke family. While that may not seem like such a big deal, the thing is that your family is actually there with you; Hawke travels with her brother, sister and her mother and even lives with her uncle for a while. This greatly affects the space for role-playing in DAII. Your character comes with a very much present and immediate history and a defined personality (even when you get to choose between different types of responses to situations) because of the proximity of her family. In other words, where DA:O allows more player freedom because the character's history is vague, distant and hardly ever confronts the player in whatever is going on at the time, DAII anchors the player in a particular historical narrative that is rendered present by the very fact that that history is embedded and embodied by particular characters that come along with the player on his or her journey. Whatever your judgment may be on this particular aspect of DAII, it cannot be denied that it allows for a more focussed narrative form and enables a form of storytelling that's more directed but also makes the player feel much more involved with whatever is going on in the world.

This aspect is also carried forward by the limiting of the player-agency. In fact, even though the player gets to make tons of choices along the way, the most important story beats are initiated by NPCs who are, more often than not, in Hawke's own party. Whereas it is common for RPGs to let the player initiate most events and make the player responsible for the formation of the opinions held by most NPCs, here, in DAII, you sometimes feel at the mercy of those you thought you could "trust". More often than not, the player is swept away, carried forward, by events beyond his or her control. Mostly, I've come to like this about DAII but then the Anders event happened and I hated it. Fuck that guy.

Of course, the most jarring thing about DAII is the lack of variation in the environment. The same dungeons and areas are used over and over again and not even in a prefab kinda way but literally the same dungeons. You even have to go to the exact same locations! It just feels rushed. This feeling is strengthened by the fact that the music is rushed as well. For example, Fenris has his own character theme while none of the other characters have one. Clearly, the intent was to write a theme for all party members. I read an interview with Inon Zur (the guy who wrote the music of DA:O and DAII) where he flat out stated that the score was unfinished due to time constraints. This is just plain bad.

So why is this game my number 2 game of this year? While the combat is more shallow than its predecessor, I feel DAII did a lot to make it feel more interesting by speeding it up and making it more flashy (yes, shallow indeed); it just looks cool and towards the end of the game the combat gave me a real sense of being a badass just wrecking fools! Also, I feel the artistic style is far more pronounced and memorable than DA:O's generic fantasy style; It's really a step up for the series and I hope they'll retain it for DAIII. But the most important reasons for me to really like this game lies with what the writers did with the characters. The character development is just fantastic in this game. You really feel like your party members are actual people with their own hopes and dreams and their own distinct personalities. Combined with a top-notch voice acting crew and you have characters that are both memorable and very lovable. But that's not all, what I absolutely loved about DAII is the dialogue; it's just really well-written. DAII takes dialogue a step further by including a ton of random dialogue that occurs between party members. To be clear, it's not like in Mass Effect that one of your party members just remarks something, or in Mass Effect 2 that you have to select a dialogue location (sunset on Ilium, anyone?) to make dialogue between character happen. No, in DAII you're just running around in the world and suddenly two of your party members will just start to, you know, talk. More often than not they're actually bickering or exchanging snide remarks; it's absolutely fantastic and just doesn't get old.

Like Skyrim, this game is very flawed but it entertained me to the end. Let's just say that a very disappointing game from the DA team is still a very good game."

#47 Edited by Seppli (11233 posts) -

I played through it once. Bought none of the DLC. I enjoyed the added tactical depth of *Friendly Fire* in Dragon Age: Origins, which forced me to play DAII on the hardest difficulty setting.

For the most parts, I had a great time with it. Some fights were borderline broken though, and I had to cheese 'em like a Gouda. That said, Dragon Age 2 gets a lot of unwarranted flak for its combat. On the hardest difficulty setting it's certainly not the dumb wanna-be hack 'n' slash game so many say it is. If you don't micromanage every little aspect of a fight, you won't get past the tutorial - and it's been immensely satisfying to beat the game this way.

That said, the heavy recycling of the eversame assets was a huge bummer, and the writing fell apart towards the end. Overall, DA2 didn't stick with me like other Bioware games did. It's great crime was to disappoint my even greater expectations. That said, I'd still rather play a Dragon Age 2 over most other games - so yeah...

P.S. Fuck the one-shot-kill stealth guys, and the spawning-out-of-thin-air mid-fight respawns. Those were bullshit!

#48 Posted by Lunnington (364 posts) -

Maybe the reason I didn't hate DA2 like everyone else did is because I played DA1 on a console on like.. easy mode and didn't take advantage of any of the systems that people praised it for. I honestly thought DA2 was pretty alright.

#49 Posted by subyman (704 posts) -

So you have to play a specific class for the story to be any good? Nay.

#50 Posted by LawGamer (432 posts) -

As others here have mentioned, I did not play as a mage, so your entire first point doesn't apply to me. If Bioware really wanted this to be the story, then they should not have given you a choice of class to play.

The bigger issue I had with the story is that it fails to provide a logical context for my actions. In other words, the game has to give me a reason why, as a character, I don't just walk away from the central conflict. In the context of DAII, this means providing me with a reason to stay in Kirkwall, rather than just packing up and going back to Ferelden.

At the start of the game, you are actually given a satisfactory answer to that question. Even though it is pretty apparent from the get go that Kirkwall is not a place you would want to live, you can't go back to Ferelden because you are (a) poor and can't afford it and (b) there is a war against the Darkspawn going on. I don't want to be where I am, and I would gladly walk away if I could, but the story is providing me with a good context for why I have to be here. I don't think it's a coincidence that I actually found the first act the most compelling.

Compare that to later chapters. The initial impression of Kirkwall has only gotten worse over time; the Qunari are restless, the Templars are a bunch of jack-booted fascists, and its clear shit's going to hit the fan between them and the mages. If I didn't want to be in Kirkwall before, I really don't want to be here now. The difference from the first act is that there are fewer restrictions on my actions; the war in Ferelden is over and I'm now Scrooge McDuck rich, which means I could afford to move back.

The problem is that the game never replaces those restrictions with anything else. Since I now have the means to leave, what's keeping me in Kirkwall? Not loyalty; I wasn't born there. Not family; other than dear old mom and an uncle I don't care about, my family is dead (sister joined the Grey Wardens in my playthrough). Not friends; they could move back to Ferelden with me (and if they don't want to that's what letters are for).

So what's keeping me in Kirkwall? Nothing other than the devs saying so. The problem with this is that at that point it becomes the dev's story, not mine. I've lost any sense of agency, and therefore any sense of immersion in the world. My character's decisions are clearly not my own and will clearly have no impact beyond the strict confines of the way the story is "supposed to go."

Now of course you can always argue that every game functions like this; the story is always the one the devs want to tell and players can never have any true agency. Maybe that's true, but a goodstory is one that manages to hide that fact from the player. In DAII, that illusion was broken, and that in turn pretty much breaks the game.

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