Truth: Dragon Age 2 Is A Real Game

By Jim Rossignol on July 8th, 2010 at 4:08 pm.


The Official Dragon Age 2 site is live. No trailer just yet, but that’s coming on the 17th of August, apparently. There is some fey concept art, too, and that possibly links to the last of the details that the site holds:

a whole realm rendered in stunning detail with updated graphics and a new visual style

So possibly not looking like the original. Which could be a good thing. Or could just be a “let’s not look like The Witcher 2″. It also promises “dynamic new combat mechanics”, which could be hot air, or could signal a Mass-Effect-2ification of Dragon Age’s RPG processes. Your speculations, readers?

EDIT: Looks like Game Informer got the scoop for this month’s issue.

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223 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    Dragon Age 2: Subtitleless

    Shame that I won’t be able to rehabilitate Tuffty my Dwarven lesbian. I was looking forward to fomenting a proletarian revolution in Orzammar. :(

  2. Wulf says:

    “[...] could signal a Mass-Effect-2ification of Dragon Age’s RPG processes.”

    I hope so, I really do. And not just in combat, but across the board, even in allowing for a little more character freedom. In Dragon Age, I felt like I was an arse in a world of arses, and I didn’t really have much of a chance to be anything else. In Mass Effect 2, I at least felt like I had some control over how the character behaved.

    In fact, that was one of the things that put me off Dragon Age, and sent me straight into the open arms of Mass Effect 2. I really dislike an ‘RPG’ that gives me no control over how I want to play a role. So I genuinely hope that’s the case. I would very much like for there to be a Dragon Age that I could enjoy. Perhaps this will be it?

    • malnourish says:

      I hope it doesn’t end up like ME2, they abandoned so much of the RPG experience. Parts of the game were great, but so much disregarded what made the first one so much fun.

    • Duffin says:

      Thats interesting, for me it seemed quite the opposite. In ME2 the choices felt so blatantly good or bad, it didn’t seem like there was much of a middle road, you were either a complete dick or completely an unrealistically nice. I’m not quite sure what it was about DA:O but I felt like my decisions were more nuanced and my actions would vary greatly on the circumstances and information I had. It was hard to fall into a Buzz Lightyear action hero role that ME2 seemed to be pusing.

    • Duffin says:

      *pushing

    • Corporate Dog says:

      I’m with you, Duffin. I felt that I was still able to play the typical Boy Scout character that I always play in RPGs, but he was finally faced with some difficult choices, where the sunshine-and-lollipops route didn’t always spell success for him or the world he inhabits.

      I found myself starting to make EXPEDIENT choices towards the end, rather than choices that were driven by an all-too-transparent Good/Evil meter, and I liked how organic it all felt.

    • Ziv says:

      I too, agree with Duffin. like Corporate Dog I play myself in those games-I’m not evil, I’m good natured but not to the point of unrealism. Dragon Age had some dialog options that fitted exactly what I wanted to say and some that had the general idea but never was I without words (except for the time I accidentally got the queen of ‘dammit I forgot the village name’ to murder her own son).

    • Hidden_7 says:

      I find that an odd sentiment, Wulf. For me Dragon Age had quite a range of ways you could play your character, and even better, didn’t deign to decide that one choice or another was “good” or “evil.” Mass Effect 2 was a great game, but it was the story of Shepard. Your choices were largely limited to whether Shepard would say “please” or not. Honestly the differences between some dialogue choices seemed to be little more than the inclusion of one word, or the tone.

      Dragon Age, however you had a whole range, from very good natured, to somewhat snarky and cynical, or downright selfish. Often times there were an even wider range of gradients. You could control your attitudes towards tons of things in the game, from how you felt about other races, the chantry, mages, etc.

      If I were to be so bold as to guess what the root of your problem is (and it looks like I’m going to), I would say it seems that the problem is that while you can play a nice and good natured character it doesn’t always work out positively for you. So the issue is more with the worldview than with roleplaying options. I mean, to give an example, in the Orzimarr plotline you’re given a choice between backing one of two political candidates, neither of whom is a particularly nice person. This is not an unrealistic scenario; it’s not being grim in a contrived way to put someone in a situation where they have to choose between two unpleasant scenarios. A goody good character in this situation will still be a goody good, but they need to choose. Are you lamenting the fact that you can’t opt out of the whole bleak situation, chiding the dwarves for their defective politics? Because I think you actually CAN skip recruiting sections of the game, leaving yourself less equipped for the final attack on the Darkspawn, but if your character can’t stomach the things he’ll need to do to secure allies he’s welcome to opt out.

      Further, the world ISN’T all dark. Alistair is an incredibly optimistic and positive character. Sure, he’s sarcastic at times, and gets sad about your plight, but overall a positive character. The Redcliff quest someone mentioned early was solved in the optimal way by being all sweetness and light, to actually a bit of an unrealistic degree.

      In any case, I really can’t understand the criticism that Dragon Age offers fewer role-playing options than Mass Effect 2. It boggles my mind.

    • Premium User Badge Devan says:

      I’d also like to chime in that I enjoyed DA:O much more than ME2, and ME1 was somewhere in between for me. I haven’t spent very much time trying to figure out why DA was better for me, but I share many of the impressions mentioned above.

  3. Ian says:

    A little disappointed about there seemingly not being a series of Origin-specific opening sequences again as I really liked that.

    Otherwise just looking forward to MOAR INFOZ.

  4. westyfield says:

    Well, I’m about 20 hours into DAO and no sign of it ending anytime soon. Here’s hoping these announcements don’t contain any spoilers (“ten years after so-and-so killed other person after thing happened!”, etc.)

    Also: I just noticed that there are people under the dragon’s wings.

    And also (part II): Why do so many people seem to dislike DAO’s graphics? They’re a bit brown but seem fine to me. It’s the animations that really get me.

    • Wulf says:

      If asked personally, I’d have to say that it was all a bit too Tolkien and uninspired.

      I suspect that I’ve been spoiled by books, but upon seeing the word “fantasy” I tend to expect so much more than that. There was nothing there really to capture the imagination. It wasn’t a very romantic setting, it was almost more of a medieval setting with some magicks tacked on. I suppose that such a fantasy-lite approach can work for people who like realistic fantasy (oxymoron?), but I find it a little off-putting.

      The sorts of fantastic tales one finds in books leave the Dragon Age approach somewhat wanting. I can understand films not doing it because you’d need a much larger budget for a film than a game, and you could never get away with lower res textures in a film, but what’s the excuse for a game being so visually boring? There isn’t one, really. And Uru from ’03 was more visually interesting to me.

      I hope with the sequel they’ll get a little more… well, fantastic?

      I could stand it if it wasn’t, and it isn’t my largest concern in regards to Dragon Age, but it’s something that I hope for nonetheless, you know?

    • Wulf says:

      To try and express this a bit further…

      A game which features an armadillo in enchanted mechanical armour > a game which features a stereotypically faceless ‘dark’ race versus a pretty ‘light’ race who spend most of their time aping Tolkien’s Free Peoples.

      It wouldn’t hurt them to be a touch more imaginative, and if they were, the game would be less visually boring.

    • The Hammer says:

      It’s interesting that you say it was a bit too Tolkien, Wulf – I found the whole thing to be not Tolkien enough, though admittedly because of the fantastical reasons you describe. It was a definitely a post-modern kind of fantasy, the kind which riffed off gangster movies, heavy metal, and Gears of War style brutality. I’d have to say that a less boisterous, more generic setting would have irked me less, though neither would have been ideal.

    • Fumarole says:

      [...]it was almost more of a medieval setting with some magicks tacked on[...]

      That would pretty much be the definition of dark fantasy, with magic often optional.

    • Wulf says:

      @Hammer

      Fair enough, I didn’t explain that as well as I should have. I was trying to explain that they tried to present the story as a very typically and staid good versus evil thing (even though pretty much everyone in the storyline was something of a dick, including my own character, though not by choice).

      Perhaps Tolkien wasn’t the best way to put it, but it was all too… typical, one-dimensional, like it had been done a thousand times before, it felt far, far too familiar for all the wrong reasons. It felt like it was old, or from a time when fantasy was new and unexplored, so giving people swords and having them traipse around marshland whilst acting all moody would be new and interesting in and of itself.

      So I guess that’s what I’m trying to convey.

      @Fumarole

      Fair enough. I certainly wouldn’t dispute that, and I suppose my point by logical extension is then that I find dark fantasy to be somewhat trite and boring? Oh well. One can’t be expected to like everything.

    • The Hammer says:

      “Fair enough, I didn’t explain that as well as I should have. I was trying to explain that they tried to present the story as a very typically and staid good versus evil thing (even though pretty much everyone in the storyline was something of a dick, including my own character, though not by choice).”

      Aye, but it’s the point in your brackets that was crucial. They were going for Gears of War Tolkien, which didn’t really work. It just came across to me as blunt, juvenile, and a bit simplistic.

      There were certainly elements to the story, and the characters, that I liked, and I did l find myself playing the game a lot, but ultimately every time and I came back to it I found more and more not to like. Got 30 hours fun out of it though, so all good.

    • kyrieee says:

      Uninspired is the word when it comes to Dragon Age

    • Jeremy says:

      I think adding to that for me was the expectation that we were going to be seeing something completely new and different and exciting. We were promised a truly gritty and adult oriented game, something we had never seen before, and instead were given a fairly typical fantasy story, with people wearing dirty armor and being able to sleep with one another. It all felt slightly disjointed throughout my entire experience with it, and it kind of made it stand out for me even more. There were moments of absolute brilliance (in my mind) that ended up falling short.

      One that sticks out to me is when you first arrive at the village where you begin searching for Andraste’s ashes. The scene was set so perfectly, creepy kid singing in the way that creepy kids often sing, the guard that is gruff and wants you to leave, the shopkeeper who is obviously hiding something, but in the end it was all so… typical. Just kill everyone, loot their bags/chests/etc. and move on.

      This wasn’t a bad game, and it was one of my favorites for the year, but I wouldn’t ever elevate it to classic status because of some of these gripes.

    • westyfield says:

      “I’d have to say that it was all a bit too Tolkien and uninspired.”

      Hmm, perhaps that’s it. I’ve never read or seen The Lord of the Rings, and I usually steer well clear of fantasy. The setting put me off DAO for quite a while, but I finally caved after playing Mass Effect 1 and 2 and seeing how brilliant they are.
      I don’t find it uninspired, because this whole ‘dragons and elves and swords and ancient, mystical, magical evil’ thing is entirely new to me.

    • skalpadda says:

      It was also quite ugly technically. The lighting was terrible, lots of low-res textures, not a lot of variety in models and plenty of things that just looked a bit clumsy, such as dwarves essentially just being stock human models with shorter legs.

      On the subject of fantasticalness (uh? English fail.. Fantasticality? Whatever.), there were some parts, in particular the dream sequence, which felt truly inspired, but I agree they could have made more of it, even within a darker low fantasy setting.

    • Wulf says:

      @skalpadda

      It’s funny, I remember that dream sequence as the one, sole stand out feature of the game, for me. If the entire game had been up to that, then it might have been something. Unfortunately, considering the size of the game, it was 1% that and 99% staid, often-tread, dull pap. Sickeningly so, and so drawn out.

      There were only one or two areas where I even raised an eyebrow, and I can say that it never really surprised me, it didn’t do anything that was so brilliant that it caught me off guard. I found everything predictable. I’ve been more surprised by some animated fantasy features than I was by Dragon Age.

      Really though, if they’d built it all around crazier ideas like that dream sequence, and it was 99% of that and 1% of the sickeningly dull stuff, then it would’ve been a game I would’ve loved and remembered as an all-time classic, actually deserving of some of the praise it had received.

      Are you listening, Bioware? I want to like your Dragon Age IP, but stop making it so bloody boring! I should not be passing out when playing your game.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      See, it’s funny, Wulf, you really don’t. You want a different IP to like. Making Dragon Age more fantastic and unfamiliar and bizarre would be making it less Dragon Age. Like you said, not everyone can like everything, and it’s clear you just aren’t that down with dark fantasy. Which is fine. But the “boring” bits aren’t really a lack of imagination, but a deliberate attempt to keep it “grounded.”

      The world is incredibly full and fleshed out, the codex entries go on for days, it’s just that the world they have built isn’t one where they want people to be wearing armadillo armour. They want it to be a gritty, and somewhat mundane at times, inspired by things like the Song of Ice and Fire series. This is very intentionally a world where magic is feared and mistrusted (on that note, I think the way they deal with magic is actually rather inventive). The goal wasn’t to think of the craziest off the wall unique things they could, and populate a world with that, but to make a world that is recognizable in many ways and that seems, at least a little, like it could work.

      Basically, they weren’t trying to make Zeno Clash or Planescape or Morrowind and they just failed on the execution, so it seems odd to lament the fact that they didn’t quite make it there.

      So yeah, to reiterate, what you really want is for Bioware to do a different fantasy IP, because clearly Dragon Age isn’t for you. I’ll grant that decent RPGs are getting few and far between these days, so if you like the genre it could be heartbreaking to have one of big and few game series be mired in a setting you dislike, but you can’t please everyone all the time.

    • Wulf says:

      @Hidden_7

      “See, it’s funny, Wulf, you really don’t. You want a different IP to like. Making Dragon Age more fantastic and unfamiliar and bizarre would be making it less Dragon Age. Like you said, not everyone can like everything, and it’s clear you just aren’t that down with dark fantasy. Which is fine. But the “boring” bits aren’t really a lack of imagination, but a deliberate attempt to keep it “grounded.””

      Well, this is where we have to agree to disagree, because you can keep something grounded no matter how crazy-insane it gets, this is something that Grant Morrison taught me. All sorts of impossible nonsense happened over the course of every series he wrote, but the characters had emotions, feelings, goals, proper interactions, and they were as real as any writer’s characters could be.

      In my opinion, creating living characters is the best way to keep things grounded, because then you experience the world through the characters. Saying that you need to do it via the environment and the overarching story is a bit lazy, you could have the most bizarre world, the most exotic story, and providing you write it properly and have real characters, it can still be grounded enough as to not scare people off.

      But that’s just my take on it, you know?

      “The world is incredibly full and fleshed out, the codex entries go on for days, it’s just that the world they have built isn’t one where they want people to be wearing armadillo armour. They want it to be a gritty, and somewhat mundane at times, inspired by things like the Song of Ice and Fire series. This is very intentionally a world where magic is feared and mistrusted (on that note, I think the way they deal with magic is actually rather inventive). The goal wasn’t to think of the craziest off the wall unique things they could, and populate a world with that, but to make a world that is recognizable in many ways and that seems, at least a little, like it could work.”

      Which is fine if you like that sort of thing. Just like Grand Theft Auto is fine if you like that sort of thing. That’s the difference between you and I. You found the heightened levels of familiarity to be comforting, for whatever reason, but I found the ridiculous levels of unnecessary familiarity to be cloying and twee. That’s really the best way that I can explain it. It’s traditions were too traditional, the staid storyline was a little too staid, and overall it was just a story I’d encountered a hundred times before.

      Perhaps I’m just older than you, and perhaps age has seen me exposed to more dull fantasy writing than you’ve been, but I tire of it. You find it enjoyably familiar, I find it an excuse to be lazy, it’s just a cheap way to dodge the need for imaginative writers and designers, and it does feel like a cheap, lazy dodge to me. I found it so overbearingly dull that I actually passed out once or twice. It’s the ring-counting-to-find-a-tree’s-age of games.

      The problem I had with Dragon Age is that it was so stubbornly and consistently visually mundane, so aesthetically dull and uninspired, that most of it was the sort of thing you could easily do with a group of LARPers across various settings, and I expect more effort than that from a game.

      Maybe you don’t want the level of creative vision that I do, but you’re acting as though just a little visual flair – elements put on show that couldn’t be found in reality – would completely gut the game of all the normal, boring familiarity that you find so necessary. I’m not saying that we need to go to any extremes, I just think that it doesn’t need to be that boring.

      And to make another point, you seem to link familiarity to being able to write in great detail about things, but various books (like Iain M Banks for one author) have taught me that this is just simply not the case. If you want an example in game form, I’d advise checking out the Myst games, specifically Uru. Uru could be breathtakingly exotic and hauntingly beautiful, and yet it had books everywhere with detailed information on just about everything in the world. And if Cyan can do it, if Cyan can write at length about such a bizarre setting, then I don’t see why Bioware couldn’t make their setting a little more strange, and write about that at length.

      “Basically, they weren’t trying to make Zeno Clash or Planescape or Morrowind and they just failed on the execution, so it seems odd to lament the fact that they didn’t quite make it there.”

      I’m not saying that they should, I’m just saying that the game doesn’t need to be quite so excessively visually dull and boring, that it could use a little spicing up. My comments above were never that they should completely rewrite their IP so that it stops being Dragon Age, but rather it wouldn’t kill them to hire a few imaginative artists and put in at least one or two things that would have me gasp with surprise.

      “So yeah, to reiterate, what you really want is for Bioware to do a different fantasy IP, because clearly Dragon Age isn’t for you.”

      This isn’t necessarily true. I just want them to get a little more inventive,

      “I’ll grant that decent RPGs are getting few and far between these days, so if you like the genre it could be heartbreaking to have one of big and few game series be mired in a setting you dislike, but you can’t please everyone all the time.”

      I think you can, I think it’s possible to write a gritty story whilst still being able to keep it fantastic, it doesn’t have to be so grounded in reality that you’re weighed down by anchors and can barely move within the space of your mind, since everything is so locked down and there’s just no room for imagination. I’ll say it again: this is a chance for them to break away just a little bit. They can keep it mature, but as Hammer put it, Gears of War’s Tolkien is boring and done, done to death.

      It wouldn’t kill the game for them to mix it up visually. Really I’m just saying that I thought it was lazy, and I feel that they could do so much better. If I feel that something is lazy, then I can’t just silently nod my head in support. If I do, that’s basically saying that I support further games being lazy.

      I think Dragon Age could be something that both of us could enjoy. Who knows? You might actually enjoy it more if they mixed it up just a little bit.

    • Ian says:

      When the last time Bioware DID do something that made you gasp at their imagination? I’ve not played Mass Effect 2 but certainly from KOTOR onwards I’ve not seen anything that’s made me think they’d been particularly inventive and, I’ll be honest, my standards on that front aren’t especially high not having read a great deal of fantasy.

      I’m not saying that you’ve no place to expect more from Bioware or to expect that Bioware should expect more from themselves but, y’know, pattern recognition. :-P

      As it was I loved Dragon Age. I enjoyed the gameplay as much as anything (although not to the point I enjoyed the nigh-endless grind through the Deep Roads) and the brown didn’t particularly bother me.

    • skalpadda says:

      Ian: Mass Effect and even more so ME2 have some really great set pieces and locations. Dragon Age does have a couple of them as well.

      Wulf: I think you’re talking a bit at cross purposes with Hidden 7. There is a point to having these terrible things and war sweeping over the rather mundane villages and forests. I do agree that they could have made more out of the things that touched on the actual fantasy elements though.

    • Ian says:

      Oh there are bits in Mass Effect, KOTOR, etc. that I love. I like Bioware games a lot. But I tend to now think of them as the sort that tend to try and make the best of the sort of thing we already have rather than blowing my mind by catching me off-guard.

  5. JohnnyMaverik says:

    I’m glad they haven’t gone the direct sequil root as it would have ruined the brilliant ending of the last game, where

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *SPOILERS* I died, and I’d quite like to stay dead thanks…

    ————————————————————————————————

    *OK ITS OVER NOW*

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing where they’re taking it…

  6. Corporate Dog says:

    I think this means that Dragon Age 2 will be a shooter. And blobs will be your primary enemy.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Yes, look at him in his furry Hazardous Environment Suit, with his big bloody crowbar. And Kotaku have “revealed” that the top down view is going this time round.

  7. Gunsmith AKA NanosuitNinja says:

    as long as they keep it a PC game and then port it down to the toy machines then im really looking forward to it.

  8. Nallen says:

    I found the combat in DA utterly confounding. Turned the game to easy mode in the end. It was so huge, and so unforgiving and…tedious! every corner turned was a bloody great quagmire of pausing and casting and potions.

    I’m sure I was terrible at the game and that didn’t help but I just didn’t enjoy it at all!

    • Meat Circus says:

      Have you ever played a WoW-like MMO? The game seemed to be geared towards forcing you down a tank-and-spank setup (Main tank, two of [offtank/melee DPS/ranged DPS] + Wynne tutting from the sidelines), but it certainly wasn’t going to tell you this.

      This is a problem for those that don’t know what tank-and-spank means.

    • The Hammer says:

      Yeah, Meat, it’s definitely a post-WOW RPG. That actually suited me, because the old Baldur’s Gates games were stuff I could never get into, because I was too much of a thicko to understand the combat concepts, and survive the fights.

    • WhiteLung says:

      Yeah until you have both tank and healer the combat is quite difficult. But once you do and you set their tactics up it pretty much plays itself you just have to tell them where to stand. Which unfortunatly made the deep roads the most boring experiance I’ve ever had to endure in an RPG.
      The combat does need some changes but I hope it stays closer to tactical than hank ‘n’ slash but with the loss of the tactical view it seems unlikly.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Is tank-and-spank really a modern RPG thing? That was the best strategy in all of the 80′s party-based RPG’s I loved too (Bard’s Tale, Dragon Age, Knights of Legend).

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Dragon Wars, even.

    • Nallen says:

      While I’m conceptually familiar with Tank & Gank from Asheron’s Call/EVE I came in to DA from the Beshesda school of RPGs and expected that essentially enough twatting with a sword and/or colourful effects would get the job done, rather than getting everyone killed 15 seconds after catching aggro.

      Easy mode made it a lot more like this, but the story didn’t really grab me either. Was pretty disappointed all told. Janeway’s daughter caining Alistair was fun though. Hilarious incidental dialogue is something all party based games could do with more of, see Uncharted 2 for details.

    • Nallen says:

      @WhiteLung
      I finished that section and turned it off for good! Just couldn’t face doing something like that again.

    • bleeters says:

      I feel so alone for loving the Deep Roads :(

    • Jake says:

      I played it pre-AOE nerf, and each pull went like: 1- send in the dog, it eats their caster then dies. 2- Morrigan casts blizzard, then spams cone of cold and that other freeze spell. 3- Alistair is inevitably frozen as he is an idiot 4- My character, a warrior, goes round each mob critting them one by one so they shatter.

      My second play-through I made mage character and didn’t kill Wynn so each pull involved 3 mages casting earthquakes, oilslicks, firestorms, deathclouds – basically just an enourmous AOE pile of immobilising death. Everyone in it would fall over and not be able to get up, including that idiot Alistair.

      I didn’t bother finishing the second playthrough though as every single pull involved going through the same cast sequence and it was very dull. In fact, this so soured the game that I never played the expansion either.

    • Premium User Badge Devan says:

      Hmm, I particularly like DA’s style of combat, although I’m sure there’s room for improvement. I have mostly only played as a mage and I like to have one or two other mages in the party specialized in different things so that I can combo together a bunch of different effects for different occasions. Of course, you need the right level of difficulty too. I like fights where I need to pause in order to win, because I like controlling multiple characters and taking advantage of range and debuffs. It’s more of a tactical combat than an action-oriented kind, and I like it that way.
      Oh, and that tactics screen where you can set rules for the AI of your comrades is pure gold. I wish they would open it up even further to allow pairing of boolean conditions or even full scripting instead of a simple else-if ladder.

      Of course, sometimes I just want to push through the storyline and not be bothered with with strategizing for every encounter, but the farther you get in the game the easier it is to do that anyway. This combat is good for me. I like it more than ME2 and more than other games like the Witcher. I hope they keep it :)

  9. Simon Dufour says:

    I’ve made a complete analysis of the features on my blog. I’ll try to make a resume here.

    First, they say the game span a decade. Interesting. Then, they we’ll rise from destitute refugee to Champion of the land. It’s interesting because they actually scraped the human commoner origin in Dragon Age: Origins. Now, it seems we’ll do exactly that in DA2. What’s funny is that in the Dragon Age Books, it’s exactly what Loghain do. Start commoner and becomes a commander of armies and champion of the land. Note, commander of armies.

    Then, there’s the most interesting feature. Think like a general. Now that’s new. Why would we have to think like a general unless… we’re a general. Sweet huh. And what do generals do? Control armies.. and direct supply and makes strategies. Then, there’s the weirdest part. Fight like a Spartan. WTH. Why did they have to bring Spartans in the discussion? If there’s anything I wasn’t doing in Dragon Age: Origins, was fighting like a Spartan. Then, they talk about new fight mechanics and that “YOU” will be put right in the heart of battle. Note that in none of the feature do they talk about companions or party. It’s always about you thinking like a general and figthing like a spartan. Then, you could ask yourself what they meant with heart of battle. heh.

    I don’t know why but the sentence about a whole realm rendered in stunning detail, it made me think like the map will be wayyyy bigger than those in DAO. In fact, it made me think open-world. Or.. something similar. I mean, I never felt like Ferelden was a whole realm rendered in any kind of detail. We didn’t see the whole Ferelden, we saw landmarks of Ferelden.

    The rest just planly say that the game will look completely different than the first. In fact, reading the key feature, I would NEVER have guessed it was about Dragon Age 2. I would have said something like an Open-world action RPG with a storyline. These features makes me more confused than anything. I’ve talked about the features in more length on my personal blog.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      PC world seems to agree with me that we’re talking about real-time combat here. They also make a lot of links between this and fable.

      http://www.pcworld.com/article/200691/dragon_age_2_announce.html?tk=rss_news

      I’m not too sure what to think. But right now, all I can think of these feature is a more sandboxed, button-mashing experience.

    • jackflash says:

      The console kids weren’t pleased with the original, so clearly DA2 needs to be more consoley in every way. Amirite?

    • Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

      @Simon, Jackflash

      Yes, from reading the comments gamers at console sites seem to be very happy that DA seems to drop all that faggoty “reading”, “strategy” and “role playing” this time in favour of CINEMATIC ACTION WITH FULL VOICE ACTING!!!!

      Dragon Age actually outsold Mass Effect, but consoles gamers are clearly the core market whose opinion matters most.

  10. Koozer says:

    So they’re making it more like Mass Effect and less like Baldur’s gate? Think I’ll be leaving this one alone.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Yes, damn BioWare for wanting to make it more like Mass Effect 2, the best game they’ve ever released.

    • Nallen says:

      Worth playing ME2 without playing ME?

      Tbh DA put me off the ME games :(

    • Simon Dufour says:

      @Nallen, you can, just go see the “Mass Effect” in 5 minutes on youtube. Then jump in Mass Effect 2. It works.

    • Andy says:

      Definitely. ME2 is a phenomenal game regardless of whether you played the first one.

    • Koozer says:

      I’m not saying Mass Effect’s mechanics aren’t good, I just don’t want to play “Mass Effect: Now With Dragons!”

      Unless they make Mass Effect turn based and top-down, then I’ll be happy.

    • Jimbo says:

      I agree that Mass Effect 2 was a better game than Dragon Age, but that still doesn’t mean that moving the latter closer to the former is a good idea.

      At the moment they have two very good, very successful and very different stable mates (with Dragon Age apparently the more successful of the two as far as I can google). I don’t think ‘actionizing’ Dragon Age and moving their properties closer together is the right move for them or the consumer.

      I can definitely get behind them switching to a fixed and presumably voiced main character though. It’s a lot easier to write a compelling story around for a start, but mostly because I found the whole ‘silent protagonist’ thing in Dragon Age totally incompatible with the cinematic approach they were going for – it was jarring from start to finish for me.

    • TheHumanBlur says:

      @MeatCircus. I hope that was a joke.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Not at all. Mass Effect 2 is the culmination a decade’s worth of BioWare thought processes that have let them realise that the essence of an RPG is not letting ‘RPG mechanics’ get in the way of playing the game how you want to, and it’s a superb experience for it.

      Baldur’s Gate is an exceptional game in many ways, but it’s of it’s time. Nobody would design a game like that now, for many reasons.

    • Fumarole says:

      Baldur’s Gate is an exceptional game in many ways, but it’s of it’s time. Nobody would design a game like that now, for many reasons.

      Dragon Age is that game..

    • Vinraith says:

      Not at all. Mass Effect 2 is the culmination a decade’s worth of BioWare thought processes that have let them realise that

      …shooters sell better than every other genre.

    • skalpadda says:

      Vinraith, you mean like that shooter.. World of Warcraft? Or The Sims?

  11. The Hammer says:

    From the GameInformer front page, it looks like they’re using the Journeys art-style, somewhat? That’ll be interesting – if it does, that will be the first cartoonish Bioware game, won’t it?

    Asides from the Sonic DS game, obv.

    Also, the tone of the game is looking interesting, if the early PR is anything to go by. This might be jumping to conclusions a little too quickly, but it seems a little less rawk-on for now.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Given that all they’ve shown in this announcement is concept art, I’d hesitate before coming to any conclusions about how the game will look.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      They clearly talk about a new art style. Since the first one was aiming toward realism.. it’s difficult to see how they could make something not toony.

    • Andy says:

      A toon version sounds oddly appealing to me.
      Perhaps even something is caricatured as the penny arcade strip they did.

    • Wulf says:

      I’d be all for that, Dragon Age could use a little more colour, maybe that’ll help with making it feel a little more fantastic instead of… well, so bloody dreary and drab.

  12. Jad says:

    I loved the story and the world of Dragon Age, but I really wasn’t a fan of the combat style. I would prefer either direct control over a character, like in Mass Effect or Morrowind, or (before people lynch me) a true turn-based hardcore tactical system. But the pseudo-turn-based, RTS-like, “my guys will do things without me but that will get them killed so I need to micro-manage them anyway” style of Dragon Age seemed like an awkward compromise between the two above options.

    I know its similar to the combat systems of classics like Baldur’s Gate, but I didn’t like those systems either. I fact, I remember absolutely loving the story and the world of Planescape and groaning every time a bit of combat interrupted my exploring. Dragon Age brought back lots of those memories, and I still haven’t finished it because I actively hate getting into combat.

    While it would be excellent for Dragon Age 2 to become a full-blown turn-based game (or a point-and-click adventure game! woo!) — if the new XCOM isn’t even turn-based, we know DA2 won’t be. So if “dynamic new combat mechanics” means a turn to a more action-y style, I won’t be disappointed.

  13. toni says:

    if they wanna do the universe they created justice they have to keep the overall “feel” and “look” of it. Which was the worst part about DA1 apart from the boring, predictable story. new combat – I’m in. but not like last time on the front line, this time only on sale.

  14. Premium User Badge innokenti says:

    I can only hope that we get to cause mercenary army shenanigans in Antiva.

  15. TheApologist says:

    @Wulf – I agree 100% with what you said below about the art style and it being a more fantastic fantasy next time, and a bit less derivative.

    But the RPG-ness of it I really like. I liked having to plan my party alongside what my character could and couldn’t be, and that those hard choices felt like they meant something in the moment-to-moment tactics of battle.

    Not denying Mass Effect is good stuff, but I like Dragon Age for being something different.

  16. Lobotomist says:

    Mass-Effect-2ification = meaning: dumbing down , drastically reducing complexity

    This should infact be the new term used in game reviewing

  17. Freud says:

    I think full name should be Dragon Age II: The First Sequel.

  18. cw8 says:

    ME2 is trash compared to Baldur’s Gate 2, the best Bioware game ever.

    • Unaco says:

      Indeed. Baldur’s Gate 2, and ToB (and BG1 + ToSC with BGTuTu etc) are possibly my most loved games ever. I’d be more than happy to pay £30 + £15 per expansion + £5 for DLC Quests etc. for a game made in the Infinity Engine, if it had the same (or similar, dunno if they could reach those levels again) quality, longevity, openness, size, of the Baldur’s Gate games.

      I might even install it again… BG is like Deus Ex for me… someone mentions it, and I have to fight the urge to install it (the 180hours I could sink into it I should probably sink into my PhD these days).

    • Unaco says:

      Actually, maybe calling ME2 trash is a little harsh…. I haven’t played it. Did play some of ME1, and thought it was OK…. great storytelling, wonderful cinematic feel… but combat felt somewhat awkward, and I had 1 of ‘those moments’ (really annoying part where I had to cheese to get through, and even then it was random as to whether I got through ‘successfully’)… so stopped playing. Also, it just wasn’t Baldur’s Gate… but I don’t think it ever could be. Maybe I’m just spoiled.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Yes, the combat *is* awkward in Mass Effect, mainly because RPG conventions keep getting in the way. In Mass Effect 2, the shooting is allowed to stayed on its own two feet, and it’s a massively superior experience in every way.

      Also, the Vanguard can go “swoosh-BAM!”. Which is aces.

    • Fumarole says:

      For those interested, here’s a mod that combines BG and BG2 into one game, as well as adding lots of other stuff.

      http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/cebua/step_by_step_moddingguide_turn_baldurs_gate_and/
      Best game ever? You decide.

    • cw8 says:

      I completed Mass Effect 2 as a Vanguard in Insanity. It didn’t feel like an RPG, most of the time it felt more like a shooter/action game. If I treated it as an RPG game, I would’ve hated it instantly, heck they even removed the Inventory system that was present in ME1. As a action game, it’s better especially on Insanity, like wiping for 4 hours in the Platform Battle until I used the Assault Rifle instead.

      But still you can’t compare ME2 and BG2, one’s an action game the other is one of the peak games in the CRPG genre.

  19. Shagittarius says:

    I know I’m probably mostly alone in this but I did not like either of the Mass effect games. To me it felt less like a game and more like an interractive soap-opera. While Dragon Age had a lot of dialog it didn’t shy away from the meat and bones of combat and stat tweaking. True, there we’re lot’s of disappointments in the Dragon Age mechanics but I hope when they talk about adjusting mechanics they are talking about improving strategy elements and not dumbing them down even more the way ME2 did.

    I hope they keep these two games distinct from each other in mechanics and not just end up being two of the same games reskinned for SCI-FI/FANTASY.

  20. Nick says:

    Hope everyone enjoys playing a human.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      That’s what I think too. They seem to be scrapping the “Origins” part. From the text on the website, they also say that you were one of the few survivor of the destruction of you home. This stuff is really similar to Loghain story in the books. Yet, it doesn’t really make sense for dwarves or for elves.

    • Premium User Badge James G says:

      It is human only. Fixed origin too my the sounds of things. Surname, Hawke.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      Having a fixed character is not really a bit thing. I remember having a argument with someone at some point. If you have a fixed character, it can make it even more character centric. I remember that in Dragon Age, I had more feelings for Leliana than my own character.

    • Premium User Badge James G says:

      I agree. In the earlier thread, I was wondering about motivation for PCs who weren’t looking for power, that becomes much easier if you have a fixed origin.

    • Nallen says:

      @Simon
      Was that the girl with the cute accent that giggled about candy floss? I had feelings for her. In my pants.

    • Nick says:

      Guess I’m alone in enjoying creating my own character in RPGs.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      I had a crush for Leliana too :). She was cute and had a ridiculously exotic accent. Yet, she’s a bard. So she could totally wreck you in 2 seconds. I remember asking her to tell me all the stories she knew just to hear her talk. I guess this must count for something. She was a nice character. My dwarf however, just stared straight.. at everyone. lol.

    • Nick says:

      Although it works in some games, I was rather hoping it would carry on from the previous game in that respect. I mean you didn’t create your own character in PS:T, but then I really doubt this will come anywhere close to the quality of that game.

      Mass Effect was always more action/cinematic based so it was a natural fit.

      I just resent being forced to play a generic muscle bound human with an awful name (Hawke, REALLY?). It just sounds like they are throwing out a great deal of what I liked in the original.

      Oh well, I guess eventually the only non indie games being made will be FPS or TPS and Civilisation, so at least I’ll have one game to play.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      I don’t understand. In PST you were forced to play a generic immortal ugly zombie. What’s the difference. Do not be too hasty to judge. When DAO was released, people complained about non-voiced main character and that the conversations were too linear and too generics. I think they deserve our attention. The simple fact that they’re taking the risk to make drastic change to a working IP is quite something. I just read on twitter that Dragon Age was more internationally successful that Mass Effect.

    • pipman300 says:

      hey you could be a generic big breasted human too.

      unless they scrap gender selection too.

      that’d suck.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      You can play female or male and any of the 3 classes. Rogue, Mage or Fighter.

    • Wulf says:

      @Nick

      Well, the thing is… I don’t get much enjoyment out of the Dragon Age ‘choices’, really. Let’s look at what they provide us with:

      - Human
      - Slender Human, Pointy Ears (Elf)
      - Short Human, Beard (Dwarf)

      Soooo… we basically have races that are human with minor physiological differences. Frankly, what you said to open this post is what I would have said to someone playing the original Dragon Age. I’d really like to see a roleplaying game offer some exotic choices: mechanical constructs, were-critters/sapient animals (various types, including avians and insects), sapient plant-forms, Dragons (full-size ones, a la Istaria), golems, elemental critters, energy forms, spirit collectives, and so on.

      I really can’t take much joy in creating a character that’s just a Human or a mutated Human with very mild physical variations. Usually I just skip over the visual aspect and try to customise the personality as much as I can.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      I think you’re getting to hung up on the visual of races. Every person that has ever lived has been a human, and yet there’s a huge variety in persons. By limiting your choices somewhat they were able to do origin stories and have those work into the way your character is placed in the world. It’s all good to let me be a swarm of insects sharing a hive consciousness, but if this is never remarked upon in the game world because it’s one of 15 race choices then it just amounts to a palette swap and stat differences. It has hardly anything to do with actual character.

      Compare to Dragon Age where my two characters are a male elf and a female human. They don’t look very distinct from one another, but the former grew up in a ghetto and thus has a huge chip on his shoulder and a pretty big anti-authoritarian bent, whereas the second grew up in a cloistered scholarly environment and thus is more analytical about things and feels more duty-bound to uphold the status quo. My first character didn’t see anything wrong with apostates or “forbidden” magic at all, it was all beyond him, the latter doesn’t have any nice words for blood mages.

      I could do all these things in say, Morrowind, by just inventing these backstories in my head, but in Dragon Age my characters are defined by their actions. I know my Elf Rogue is testy because he’s constantly able to sass humans for racist comments and my mage can give her opinion on magic because she’s asked it because she’s a mage.

      This is why I’m sort of upset they are doing away with the origin stories. I thought that was the one really wonderful mechanic in Dragon Age. I would have been fine if your only choice was human, but you have like 6 possible backgrounds, all of which providing different openings and motivations for your character, and all of them having a constant effect on the game and how people view your character. It was one of the first RPG games where I felt I was really playing the Role I’d chosen/invented and not just making stuff up as a companion piece for my character that never had any bearing on the game.

  21. DeepSleeper says:

    I haven’t been paying attention. Is this the new New Shit?

  22. Premium User Badge James G says:

    Not convinced that we’ll see fundamental changes in the combat system, at least not to the extent that we’ll be getting something more like ME2, mainly as the distinction always seemed one of the key factors that defined Dragon Age. Exactly what the changes they are hinting at will be though, I’m not sure.

  23. Simon Dufour says:

    Anybody noticed that none of the key features talk about controlling a party?

    • Premium User Badge James G says:

      Have Bioware ever made an RPG which didn’t have a party though? I mean, I’m not saying they won’t. but I have no reason to be suspicious. They even mention allies on the website, which could be in reference to party members, and the silhouettes beneath the dragon could imply party members, albeit a remarkably high number.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      As I stated in my analysis, it seems they’re making us an army general. A few places in the key features, they hint at that. “Think like a general”, “champion of the land”, “Rise to power”. Then, with the story of Loghain in the book where he start human commoner and becomes a general of Marric’s army. I think the silhouette could be key persons in the army. Chief scout, master archer, etc. The cinematic experience make me think they’re making battles bigger and badder and maybe more indirect cutscenes. It never says you’ll control a party directly. However, the part about Fighting like a Spartan do hint at teamwork.. Spartans were organized and disciplined. I just wanted to point out that they don’t talk about parties, they talk about YOU.

    • Freud says:

      It would be interesting if they made battles into something similar to Total War. But seeing as making sequels to big budget games is about not really taking any chances, I would be very surprised to see something like that. If I were to guess, I would expect to see them refining and simplifying the system from DA:O.

      I guess it is not all the developers fault either. A lot of the customers are more than happy with more of the same.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      I was not really think about a Total War kind of gameplay. Do you remember the keep you have in NWN2? Think about that kind of gameplay.. with on the road, with an army. I think it’s possible and modular enough to make a different story every time. Your decisions would matter because it would change where you go and who you encounter, etc.

      That stuff is possible with the dragon age engine. Hard.. but it’s a new game.

  24. Derf says:

    Oh, another Neverwinter Nights spin off. Not that NWN was anywhere near as good as Baldurs Gate.

  25. Jeremy says:

    I’m pretty excited for this, and while I liked the direction of the art in the sense of the grittiness of the theme, I still think it looked bland. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the overall story in Origins, but I absolutely loved what they did with each of the individual Origin stories. If they could expand what they did with those origin stories into the overall story arch, I think DA2 would be all the better for it.

  26. pipman300 says:

    while i like to talk trash about dragon age allot it was still a fun game, i hope they drop the faux edgy blood drop trail thing on the map get some more infleunces besides the wikipedia page for the witcher and the first few chapters of a song of ice and fire.

  27. Psychopomp says:

    So, let me get this straight.

    There’s talk of them scrapping the updated 90′s CRPG combat.

    They’ve confirmed they’re going with a Shepard system, which despite my love of ME2, I hate. Shepard is not my character, he’s some twat who won’t stop repeating me. It also signals a move to an ME type plot, with tons of superficial choices, and opposed to Dragon Age’s plot, which was completely different depending on your choices.

    And it’s coming out, supposedly, on February 1st. Two years to make a full blown RPG?

    Yeah, no thanks. You’ve completely ruined any optimism I had for the sequel to my favorite RPG in a decade. Keep your shallow, 10 hour long bugfest. I’ll just mod Dragon Age.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      Isn’t it kind of hasty? They don’t have to write an entire universe this time around. It already been set. They also have a lot less things to draft. All they have to do is create a story with their assets. I’m pretty sure their engine was already built too.

      The key features clearly state that you decisions shape the world. That wasn’t the DAO. In DAO, the action last for a couple of weeks. It was all about who you recruit for the last fight. That’s it. Now, we’ll be talking in decades. If they’re true to the advertised feature, choice would matter even more than in the original.

    • Jimbot says:

      I agree with Psychopomp. I played play Mass Effect when it was called Mass Effect. I really don’t need that sort of stuff in a game that’s a callback to the CRPGs like Baldur’s Gate. I love the Mass Effect series, but the mechanics in that game work because they set out to make a soap-opera in space. Dragon Age is a fantasy game that established itself as an updated CPRG – it’s too radical a departure. I like to have choices of the type of character I create then choices of how I play that character.

      I agree that it’s too early to write off completely, but it’s also too early to be this enthusiastic about it. I don’t want Dragon Effect, I want a sequel that improves upon an already established formula.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      It stays a Bioware and Dragon Age game. I personally like the setting and the story more than the gameplay itself. Therefore, I’m excited to make a more cinematic version of Dragon Age with a completely new story.

    • Jimbot says:

      By “cinematic” I assume you mean “like Mass Effect”? Lets take a look at Mass Effect’s dialogue system. I have nothing bad to say about that system in Mass Effect. It works well for that type of game and story they wanted to tell. But in a RPG like Dragon Age, it would be severely limiting. In Mass Effect you have Roughly five choices: “Good; neutral; jerk.” If you had the appropriate amount of Good or Jerk points then two more opened up: “Super good; Super jerk” – these two being magical options that convince anyone to do anything.

      In Dragon Age, you had a silent protagonist during dialogue because there were plenty of options to be had. They all covered the morality spectrum and the bits in between or the “gray area”. In a world of choice, using Mass Effect’s “cinematic” dialogue wheel would severely limit your choice.

      That’s the only definition I get from people who use the word “cinematic”. Dragon Age is plenty cinematic. Yeah, the characters don’t pace around when you talk to them and the facial animations are as good, but that’s more of a graphics thing than anything. Characters in both games also do that one finger pointing thing during a conversation too. Beyond that, cinematic is just a PR buzzword. Using it to describe what you want out of a game is very vague and generalized.

    • Vinraith says:

      Shepard is not my character, he’s some twat who won’t stop repeating me. It also signals a move to an ME type plot, with tons of superficial choices, and opposed to Dragon Age’s plot, which was completely different depending on your choices.

      Exactly. More VO means less options, and that’s simply a bad thing.

    • Jeremy says:

      Definitely hasty, but it’s the nature of gamers to make quick judgments so they don’t get their hopes up too high :) Opposite of movies, where people flip out about a new Spiderman movie, then realize it’s utter garbage and get all pissed off about it.

      Honestly, I am kind of glad they’re focusing in on one character rather than allowing a larger span of options for customization. The forums are all ablaze with how upset they are about this, but I think it offers a different kind of customization. We’ll still be able to choose how our character looks and his class, the only thing we can’t choose is the race, which was admittedly rather superficial anyway, in terms of actual functionality. Honestly, they’re just taking away one layer in their multi-tiered illusion of choice. Of course, this does nothing to assuage the betrayal of people who really love playing as dwarves or elves. What it will allow though, in my mind, is a greater and more focused storyline for the one character, and it will allow a little more narrative I think.

      I still think that with any game of this type, where there is customization of a character, it takes away from the personality of that character. Essentially, we have to connect our own motivations and desires with this character we play. BioWare can’t ever give the main character a personality, because that would essentially be taking the reins out of the players hands. To me, it’s a bit of a lose / lose situation, because we end up being in control of a character we can relate to visually, but is unfortunately a bit of a dud. I felt this even with Shepard in ME2, but I felt it … less? Not sure how to explain it, but I think BioWare at this point is trying to find a balance between allowing customization and not creating, ultimately, super boring main characters.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      that’s exactly what I think Jeremy. Good post.

    • Jimbot says:

      But that’s the whole point of a CRPG. Your protagonist isn’t supposed to have a personality, it’s supposed to have your personality. It’s your avatar and connection to the game world. There is no illusion of choice when it comes to character because it’s all part of the fantasy and escapism that is part of video games. It’s effect on the game minus brief mentioning is usually all people need to get into it. If you create a dwarf and people call you dwarf and other dwarves talk about dwarf stuff to you, then people will be happy because the game confirms the choice you made. It doesn’t effect a major outcome of a pivotal plot point, but it immersed you in the world.

      Making your character a Shepard is making someone else’s character. In Dragon Age 2, you will be playing someone else’s fantasy figure and the only illusion of choice you have in that game is its appearance (which is really superficial) and how you kill enemies.

    • Jeremy says:

      It sounds like we just have a different order of priorities, which I’m more than willing to accept :) I know the visual representation is superficial, but that really connects me to the character that I play, and I think race is mostly an extension of that visual image, so for me it’s not a huge detractor.

      I would disagree about the personality thing though, I do think it’s possible to create a personality while still allowing the player to make decisions. Shepard has gotten kind of a bad rep for this, but honestly, looking back… he/she had a personality (more of one than my DA characters), and I was still able to make all the choices I would make as if I were in that position. My ability to make a decision isn’t what gives me a personality, it’s in the voice, the way I say things, etc. Every decision I made as Shepard is a decision I would have made in real life (if real life had space ships and stuff), so I don’t see how narrowing down my ability to choose his race makes Shepard less like me, and turns him into some developer controlled character. Dragon Age will still have 10 years of moral choices to sift through, all of these choices controlled by the character, the only thing I can’t choose (as far as we know so far) is the race of the main character.

  28. Oak says:

    Definitely. ME2 is a phenomenal game regardless of whether you played the first one.

    It is, but I wonder how different (and less affecting) the experience is gone into cold. I’d strongly recommend playing ME1 first.

    • Oak says:

      Gah, that was a reply to Andy.

    • Wulf says:

      Not everyone would agree with you, reef, considering that not everyone likes that sort of thing. I know I certainly don’t, and this is why:

      http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/escapism

      Reality is exceedingly dull, and I’d like to keep reality out of my escapism as much as possible, thankyouverymuch. I often think that games are far too boring, I’d like to see them go really out there, with bizarre and wonderfully exotic landscapes*, and fantasy races which aren’t just a human with mild physical variations, that actually have a compelling culture that’s outside the norm**.

      The point is is that I play games not for familiarity, but to find something that’s so different from what I experience on a day to day basis that it’s wonderful. I don’t want it to be Earth, I don’t want people doing the things I do on a daily basis, I don’t want it to be a history lesson. I don’t want to always understand it, I don’t need every mystery laid out before me and perfectly explained, I don’t want it to be familiar… I want it to be amazing.

      Of course, depending on how imaginative you are, and relative to that your desire for novelty (which is fuelled by imagination), your mileage may vary.

      * – Uru, I’ll never forget the breathing trees, they were so creepy, and eerie, and yet so compellingly beautiful at the same time. Why can’t fantasy ever have environments that don’t exist in the real world?

      ** – The Charr are a great example of a non-human race with a particularly odd culture, their culture being industrialised Mongols. Why can’t we have more races like this? The Charr are so delightfully unusual.

    • Wulf says:

      That was meant as a reply to Ripbeefbone below. I’ll repost it there.

      I’m not sure if I’m being especially unobservant as to where Reply buttons are today, or whether something a bit funky is going on. Huh.

  29. Ripbeefbone says:

    I’m bored with this saving the world shit. How about something real that I can relate to.

    • Grunt says:

      EA do this “The SIMS” series that might be up your street…

    • Ripbeefbone says:

      Hoho! I see that because I’m tired of lame juvenile male power fantasies I must not be “hardcore” enough, good one!

    • Matt says:

      Next up, Bioware’s new “comment on blogs” RPG

    • Psychopomp says:

      I don’t think he was insulting you.

      Thanks for the insight into your mindset, though

    • Jake says:

      I think Grunt was pointing out that The Sims is a game where you do stuff everyone can relate to. Saving the world sounds way more fun than Dragon Age: Internet Poster or Dragon Age: We Are Out Of Milk.

      Besides, I am sure there are guys out there called Hawke who save the world all the time, and they deserve a few games that they can relate to at least.

    • U.N.I.T.Y. HQ says:

      I really agree with this. It’d be nice if games started addressing some more mature, relateable things, instead of the same fantasies over and over. They wouldn’t even have to switch stories wholesale, in games of such size as most modern RPG’s there’s still ample opportunity to have something to relate to.

    • U.N.I.T.Y. HQ says:

      Also, just because the Sims is a game about the boring parts of everyday life, I don’t think that’s what Ripbeefbone meant. I think he’s referring to actual story and content of a game, which in the Sims is determined by the player and thus is very generalized. I could see how he could interpret Grunt’s comment as snark, even if it wasn’t intended as such. Bioware does have a problem in catering to adolescent power fantasies, and if that in turn were balanced out with having some mature relationships and conflicts within them rather than a long string of situations whose main aim is to boost the player’s ego, it wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

    • Jeremy says:

      Anyone named Hawke is instantly a Hero.

    • jackflash says:

      That’s what is so great about PS:T, right? You’re not out to save the world – you’re out to save yourself (and your companions). It was a very human game, and much more emotional then any other RPG I’ve played since.

    • Premium User Badge James G says:

      Is it necessarily ‘saving the word shit’ we’re going to see here though? I mean, the scant information we have so far suggests political power struggle. While I wouldn’t be surprised if Bioware somehow shoehorn in an ‘or the world is doomed’ line, at the moment we still have the chance that will be avoided. Or course, raising to power is itself something that doesn’t necessarily have huge appeal in isolation (doesn’t for me at least) but they could easily craft some drives. (These wont be able to accommodate every possible PC attitude, but that can end up true for most plots.)

    • Meat Circus says:

      Dragon Age: Get A Quote On Car Insurance Fast
      Dragon Age: Delays on the Central Line
      Dragon Age: Sky+ Forgot To Record Eastenders Again

    • Ripbeefbone says:

      Yeah, thanks for completely missing my point by jumping right to jokes about the sims and car insurance. I’ve been able to relate more to the stuff in Rockstar’s latest games than anything else out there, those are roles I can actually get into and enjoy. The family stuff at the end of Red Dead was especially well done. But as you’d figure you ask the average gamer what grand theft auto they liked the best they’ll go for one of the earlier ones because of all the “crazy shit” you can do.

    • Jake says:

      Dragon Age: Family Stuff.

      I agree really though – I think it’s mostly just down to the fact that so many games are badly written and bland – there is no reason saving the world or any other teenage fantasy should be boring, but after having blandly saved bland worlds a half dozen times it wouldn’t hurt to have some variety. Or at least, better writing. That said, I did think Dragon Age told a relatively decent story – they pitched it as being fantasy in the George RR Martin vein, but the game didn’t live up to this. It had the style, but not the depth.

      But then again, Dragon Age may end up as prelude to Dragon Age: Two and the plot could turn into something more interesting.

    • Wulf says:

      (Let’s see if I can get the reply right, this time! :D)

      Not everyone would agree with you, reef, considering that not everyone likes that sort of thing. I know I certainly don’t, and this is why:

      http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/escapism

      Reality is exceedingly dull, and I’d like to keep reality out of my escapism as much as possible, thankyouverymuch. I often think that games are far too boring, I’d like to see them go really out there, with bizarre and wonderfully exotic landscapes*, and fantasy races which aren’t just a human with mild physical variations, that actually have a compelling culture that’s outside the norm**.

      The point is is that I play games not for familiarity, but to find something that’s so different from what I experience on a day to day basis that it’s wonderful. I don’t want it to be Earth, I don’t want people doing the things I do on a daily basis, I don’t want it to be a history lesson. I don’t want to always understand it, I don’t need every mystery laid out before me and perfectly explained, I don’t want it to be familiar… I want it to be amazing.

      Of course, depending on how imaginative you are, and relative to that your desire for novelty (which is fuelled by imagination), your mileage may vary.

      * – Uru, I’ll never forget the breathing trees, they were so creepy, and eerie, and yet so compellingly beautiful at the same time. Why can’t fantasy ever have environments that don’t exist in the real world?

      ** – The Charr are a great example of a non-human race with a particularly odd culture, their culture being industrialised Mongols. Why can’t we have more races like this? The Charr are so delightfully unusual.

    • Ripbeefbone says:

      I’m aware of what escapism is, and I realize most people feel otherwise as I already said about GTA and don’t get me wrong I’m all for breathing trees. My problem is there is no variation. There’s nothing but super soldiers who singlehandedly save the world to play as. There isn’t even an everyman saves skyscrapper from handful of terrorists videogame equivalent. I’m just bored with all this, and it doesn’t seem like things will ever change while I still have the reflexes and motor skills for it.

    • U.N.I.T.Y. HQ says:

      Everyone seems to be getting on him for thinking he wants a game about going to the store or paying bills or something like that. That seems like it’s completely missing the point, because I don’t think he’s talking about that. If this isn’t a correct reading, ripbeefbone, feel free to say so.

      I didn’t do a very good job with my muddled comment earlier, but my take on what he’s saying is that he wants real situations, things you can relate to as a person. The setting is unimportant when it comes to this. You can set it in outer space or a far off fantasy land or what have you. What makes any story interesting is the content, the depth, what it says to us as people and what we can relate to on a human level, and that’s what I think he’s getting at and which I completely agree with. That’s what makes the best fantasy and sci-fi so interesting, the characters and the relationships, the commentaries on very human things in very different settings. The best of any genre story focuses on these things, while the ones that are panned as generic just follow the basic tropes of a genre or story without adding any actual depth. This is where I fear Bioware is heading, and has already fallen into with many of their stories.

      You can still do fantasy, still have grand, sweeping epics that take you to new places, but it has to have heart, and depth. Because if that isn’t there, then what makes that world worth saving, and what makes that game worth playing?

    • U.N.I.T.Y. HQ says:

      Ripbeefbone, you posted just as I was writing that last one. I just wanted to add that I completely agree with wanting to see some variation in protagonists and general storylines as well. Where are the games following in the footsteps of Grim Fandango, of Crimson Skies, of The Last Express? Enough with Space Marines already.

    • Wulf says:

      See, this is why I have a short name, I’m feeling kind of sick at the moment and not up to remembering long names… x.x

      @Ripbeef

      “I’m aware of what escapism is, and I realize most people feel otherwise as I already said about GTA and don’t get me wrong I’m all for breathing trees. My problem is there is no variation. There’s nothing but super soldiers who singlehandedly save the world to play as. There isn’t even an everyman saves skyscrapper from handful of terrorists videogame equivalent. I’m just bored with all this, and it doesn’t seem like things will ever change while I still have the reflexes and motor skills for it.”

      Now, you know… had you said that from the beginning, I would’ve nodded and agreed vehemently with you, and I would’ve supported you completely. The vibe I got from your article, especially with the example of Grand Theft Auto (that was a real red herring, wasn’t it?), is that you wanted things to be innately familiar. Sort of that you wanted the Bill & Ted of heroes; bloke who works at a nearby petrol stop gains superpowers, but has to deal with the fact that with great power comes great responsibility.

      This brings me to another point: I found Spider-Man to be one of the most boring heroes of the Marvel Universe, and I found the X-Men (the Clairemont and Morrison ones, at least) to be some of the most interesting. This is all for the same reason, I found Spider-Man far too familiar.

      Now, I will say that I’m not really supporting the everyman hero idea here, nor the skyscraper full of terrorists, because for me that’s a current day setting, and such things are a huge turn-off. I can’t help that and I’m sorry. Alpha Protocol actually had to be as good as it was to get me to play it, because if it hadn’t had a compelling storyline, I probably would’ve ignored it. Now, an everyman in a completely foreign and exotic world, and his rise to power, all to say… save his town from being trapped in some sort of looping time bubble, and rescue his love in the process? That’d be something.

      I think what you’re saying, if I may be so bold, is that what you’re after is a game which has a series of more local storylines. This was actually talked about with the recent Doctor Who, and Moffat saying that he wanted to do more episodes where the Doctor just saves a little village or town. So instead of saving the world, you just save a very small part of it. Hell, you might save the world incidentally in the process, but you’re doing it just to save that small part of it.

      Variation I can agree with, local stories I can also agree with, the only thing that would really bother me is a modern day approach, or something that’s too familiar that it puts me off. But that’s just my personal take on things.

  30. Langman says:

    Although rather overrated by many, Dragon Age was still a solid RPG. Combat system had major issues in my opinion, so I have no problem with the concept of replacing it with something different.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      I agree that the combat system wasn’t good. It was its major flaw. The action was generally too chaotic and enemies too unpredictable. You were always waiting for potion to see if you couldn’t finish the fight with 1hp left and save a potion. It could be entertaining however. Archery was sad.. and there was no fight that really gave a feeling of not being the center of the universe. enemies do nothing until you get in range, etc.

  31. Vinraith says:

    If they stick to the old-school mechanics (even the somewhat stripped down variety from DA:O) this is pretty much an automatic preorder. On the other hand:

    or could signal a Mass-Effect-2ification of Dragon Age’s RPG processes.

    that would render it a bargain bin purchase, at best. DA’s combat was fine, if you want to improve it feel free to slow it down and provide even more options, but please don’t turn it into a damned action game.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I loved ME2, and I nothing but agree with Vin.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, I should probably say explicitly that I liked ME1 and ME2, but I don’t want to see the Dragon Age franchise turn into that. The whole point was to revive old school RPG’s, this would destroy that.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      They’re definitely revamping the combat system. Just check the press release. They’ve made it work once with Jade Empire. I want to see more info first but I’ll give Bioware a chance, that’s for sure. While DAO was fun the combat could be a bit plain sometimes.

    • U.N.I.T.Y. HQ says:

      I dunno, I thought Jade Empire’s combat system could’ve been great, but just ended up being a repetitive, unstrategic, janky mess of button-mashing. I was really hoping for more, but maybe I’ve been spoiled by God Hand and other console games.

    • bleeters says:

      My only real gripe with Dragon Age’s combat was trying to melee a target that was moving, either resulting in that ridiculous shuffle-feet side stepping your characters did whenever attempting to intercept a moving target that was running past them, or vainly chasing after them until they stopped.

    • Premium User Badge James G says:

      I’m surprised to see praise for Jade Empire’s combat system, I didn’t care for it myself. To me, it seemed that it degraded into little more than a dull clickfest. That said, I didn’t care for Jade Empire much as a whole, something about it never clicked with me.

      That said, despite my optimism with regard to DA:O’s combat system, I have no strong ties to the specifics. It worked well enough, but it seemed more functional than anything else. I sincerely hope we maintain the party-based plan based approach, but I’m not particularly bothered if the individual elements make a re-appearance.

  32. ZIGS says:

    Dragon Age 2, now with a cover system!

  33. DoucheMullet says:

    Am I the only person in the universe who does not enjoy Dragon Age? I mean, I can see all the effort and time put into it and understand that it must be a really great game. I guess it just isn’t my thing.

  34. Kab says:

    If the speculation here is correct and this *is* the new shit then I want the old shit back.

    I enjoyed the Mass Effects and bought them both – you play a role in what is a shallow (but oh so shiny) cinematic experience but with a voiced main character, who is not me… esp as I preferred the female voice acting so played the lady Shep. I bought these 2 games on the Xbox as it seemed more appropriate – a shallower but flashier (and frankly more polished) console game – and very good for all that.

    Dragon Age was a different kettle of kippers entirely and in my opinion in every way better (also a true PC game and that is the platform I bought it on) – I got to *choose* a role to play (in my book that is an important aspect of a role playing game), I could play *me* as I wanted to play. I don’t want to forced into an identikit lead character decided upon by some writer in Canada – I want to make decisions that matter – Dragon Age did this far better than Mass Effect (Alpha protocol did it far better still)…

    I enjoyed the tactical combat with its difficulty spikes, I DO NOT want some Fable-esque button mashing or some shooter masquerading as an RPG (Mass Effect).

    I DO NOT want some cartoony, stylised graphics… sure improve the look and feel but don’t chage it to some cartoony crap (Old Republic MMO I am looking at you)…

    I want a party with a large number of in depth characters to interact with, adventure with, get to know – as others have noted the best charactrers in the name are not you or the more ephemeral NPCs but those who form your party – Morrigan, Leliana etc…

    In short if the speculation is true (and it is ia big if – but the evidence so far certainly points in that direction) then BW have ripped out everything I enjoyed about Dragon Age and I doubt I will buy – certainly not new.

    I guess what I do want now is Witcher 2 – hopefully CDProjekt Red will keep the faith.

    • Fumarole says:

      Doesn’t I don’t want to forced into an identikit lead character decided upon by some writer [...] directly conflict with I guess what I do want now is Witcher 2?

    • Simon Dufour says:

      lol.. you are quite right my friend.

    • Kab says:

      LOL – when I wrote that I knew someone was going to pull me on the inconsistency…

      It is inconsistent but I liked both… And I don’t see why all should morph into the one game design paradigm… both types would be nice… hence my entire argument really – I did not dislike Mass Effect – I just don’t want *every* game to insist on using that model.

    • Kab says:

      Additional:

      Andrzej Sapkowski is a darn site better writer than anyone at Bioware – so the character into which I am being forced is more nuanced and deep.

    • Jeremy says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t really feel like the customization options were incredible in Dragon Age. I chose 1 of 3 races, aka, short, skinny or average human, then chose 1 of 3 classes, where 1 of those classes essentially told the same exact story regardless of your race. After that I made my face and was given a last name. So, now we are allowed a single race, we choose from the same base classes, I make my face and am given a last name.. I just don’t feel as hopeless about this as others seem to. Not only that, once you got through the origin and initial Warden stuffs, your race more or less didn’t impact anything.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Jeremy

      Not only that, once you got through the origin and initial Warden stuffs, your race more or less didn’t impact anything.

      That was your choice, of course. For me, my race (Dalish Elf) impacted every single decision I made in the game, as I was actively role playing. Removing role playing options is a minor complaint compared to actionizing the combat IMO, but it still sucks. If we’re going full Shephard with this, where I’m playing my variant of someone else’s character rather than a character of my own, it’s a real shame.

    • Jeremy says:

      Oh, well that’s an entirely different world altogether. I was meaning in terms of functional customization. I did my best to get involved in the roles as well, but after a little while I was no longer a “dumb ol’ elf” I was just a heroic gray warden. I felt like it lost the racial tension far too quickly.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Jeremy

      And don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with you about that. I’m just saying that in getting rid of those options they not only rob us of the kind of in-game differentiation you and I hoped for, but also of a lot of metagame role playing opportunities as well.

  35. Seamus says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that “Mass Effect with dragons” sounds like a fantastic idea?

    I don’t know, the whole idea of taking pen-and-paper RPG mechanics and translating them into real-time, where your party is AI-controlled, and the AI is next to useless and regularly ignores your input seemed like a stupid idea to me. It always felt like those mechanics were more of a compromise than anything else.

    I played a little bit of Dragon Age, but gave up about 4 hours in after coming to the conclusion that the combat was just no fun at all. At least with ME/ME2 the AI did what it was told most of the time.

    I agree with the chap above who said they should either go the ME2 route and turn it into a hack-and-slash with RPG leanings, or just say balls to realtime and go for a purely turn-based approach.

    But eitherway, DA’s combat sucked bigtime and needs to be overhauled hugely if Bioware want a sale from me this time.

    • Vinraith says:

      Am I the only one who thinks that “Mass Effect with dragons” sounds like a fantastic idea?

      No, I’m sure if you conducted a survey of the general gaming public you’re in the resounding majority. Isn’t that obvious from the fact that they’re changing the franchise to suit?

    • Meat Circus says:

      No, it does sound awesome. If they can refine, polish, descend into the heart of and open out, as they did with Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2, they can achieve something spectacular.

      What they must not do is listen to the RPG Codex crowd, who all too often tend to believe that RPG mechanics exist for their own sake, the master of the game rather than the servant.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Meat Circus

      RPG mechanics are fun. If you don’t find them so, that’s fine, but I fail to see why every RPG on Earth should have to be turned into an action game. Choice and variety is a good thing, lock-step homogeneity is not.

    • Jeremy says:

      I love the barely concealed disgust lurking beneath your first statement Vinraith :)

      I agree though, I wouldn’t want a complete redesign of the combat system though, and I also agree that RPG mechanics are fun. Clearly, the combat system could use some refinement, but variety is indeed the spice of life, and Mass Effect 2 is Mass Effect 2. No need to have a love child between DA and ME2.

    • Meat Circus says:

      I love RPG mechanics, but they must be subservient to the game (as in Mass Effect 2) and not overpower the game (as in Mass Effect).

      That said, I would suggest that DA:O’s problems were very different to Mass Effect’s, so will require a different solution.

    • Seamus says:

      Just to weigh in on this, I think if they could iron out a lot of the flaws in DA’s current combat system, I’d like it a lot more. But I kind of get the feeling a lot of its flaws are inherent in the way the combat system was built. If BW could refine it so that you had total, accurate control of all your party members simultaneously, in real time, while still letting combat feel visceral, immediate and convincing, then I would quite possibly want to have Bioware’s babies.
      However, this is something that would be crazy-difficult to do. Nigh-on impossible, maybe.

      So in lieu of that, I’d be quite happy to settle for a streamlined, Mass Effect 2-styled experience, as quite frankly (now I’m gonna get lynched for saying this), I find a lot of the mechanics present in traditional CRPGs to be tedious and boring.

      Sure, I’d like more options over the character I create and the agency he or she has in the game world, but if that equates to tedium, menu-diving and micromanagement, then count me out. Battle For Wesnoth provides me with all the cerebral, turn-based goodness I could handle anyway :)

    • Psychopomp says:

      >Am I the only one who thinks that “Mass Effect with dragons” sounds like a fantastic idea?

      No, I think it sounds great too.

      Now get it the fuck away from my updated 90′s CRPG, which happens to be the last of a dead breed, and we’re fine.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Jeremy

      Not so much disgust as a sort of resigned depression, really.

      I can’t be sure yet, of course, but it certainly looks like the last AAA RPG developer is about to cease developing the kinds of RPG’s I enjoy. Again. Unlike with TBS, 4X and the like there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the mid-size developer pool to pick up the torch on this one, and that makes me very sad indeed.

  36. Gritz says:

    Maybe it’s just because I played on Nightmare, but I thought the combat was the best part of DA:O. It’s the closest thing to the Infinity Engine games we’re probably ever going to get in this era of gaming. Most encounters felt like a small puzzle to solve, just like the best fights in BG2.”Streamlining” it any further would be a real shame.

    Pretty much the only thing I’d change is the ridiculous over-sized weapon models which magically float on your back, enormous hands, silly blood splatters and unbelievably ugly mage robes and hats. Get rid of that and give me a lot more of the same things that made the original great and I’ll happily spend another 120 hours playing the next Dragon Age.

    • Kab says:

      I endorse this post… and I also played on Nightmare!

    • Meat Circus says:

      Oooh, nasty.

    • Jeremy says:

      Seriously, the mage gear was awful. New artists for that please, even an option to turn off the hat… that freakin hat. Worthless. I think I found one that wasn’t embarrassingly ugly.

    • Seamus says:

      Not to seem like a pedant, but my experiences were pretty different. The idea of fights being akin to puzzles is indeed a cool one, and something that I could totally get behind, but I found that the AI for your party made this sort of thing to be nigh-on impossible. My best-laid plans in battles would often be put to rest by really stupid things such as ranged characters not staying ranged (I would often find my archer, in spite of me explicitly telling him to remain ranged, would run up to a group of enemies and get slaughtered by a low-level critter while he repeatedly tries to shoot it at point blank), or my close-combat dude standing still while getting surrounded, and then drinking all my potions.

      Indeed, the only guys that were any use or did what they were told were my magic users. I tended to find the best tactic was to just get Morrigan to cast tons of AoE spells and then just run in and twat all the enemies with a sword. Needless to say, this got pretty boring.

    • Jeremy says:

      Yeah, that AI was a pain to work with. It was so bad that I ended up just having to micromanage all fights, which also created the problem of people just standing around sometimes if I wasn’t paying 100% attention all the time. I like basic AI mixed with management. If you’ve got a sword, and you’re just standing around while the person your arm just brushed against is getting hit with a mace, make the effort to help ‘em out.

      Also, if you’re a ranged character and you run out of mana/energy/arrows, that is by no means a free pass to start clubbing an ogre with the twig in your hands.

      The power struggle between AI being on or off.

    • suibhne says:

      @Seamus: Maybe this isn’t the best defense of the game’s combat overall, but Hard and Nightmare difficulties absolutely demand that you turn off most or all Party AI and exert full control over your party. When you do so, you don’t have to worry about any of those complaints.

    • Gritz says:

      Yeah on Nightmare the only tactics I would set up is using potions and defensive modes when HP/Mana are low. Everything else is managed manually (I wouldn’t say micromanaged because it really isn’t very hard or tedious), like a party-based RPG should be.

  37. Simon Dufour says:

    From the press release, Bioware said they wanted to keep the feel of the original but make a more action experience. Your character will make a fortune and change the world. More cinematic gameplay. You play as Hawke, the human Rogue, Mage or Warrior. Completely new art style and prettier graphics. Same universe.

    That’s what is currently known.

    It’s not an expansion for Dragon Age Origins, it’s a completely new game with it’s new perks, it’s new battle system and it’s new story.

    Just see it has a new game but without having to learn a new universe again.

  38. TheHumanBlur says:

    For all its shinynes, DA:O was dull and far too familiar. I rarely cared about any character or what they had to say (with the exception of shale & my dog- which says something). Ditto Mass Effect. (haven’t played number 2) Bring back the glory years Bioware!

  39. Serenegoose says:

    Wait. Wait.

    I have to play as a human? Oh FFS. Sorry, but boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooriiiiing. I’m sick of this ‘you have to play as the boring race!’ What if I want to play as a RODIAN, or a DWARF, or something like that. I hate it when I get a fantasy game with various races and it’s full to the brim with ‘but not for you, you can be the boring one.’ Didn’t anybody notice that the best starting story in the entire game was the female city elf? You know, the least assuming (besides the dwarf commoner) upbringing actually had the biggest impact?

    Will I also not be able to play as a Mage this time round? Maybe you can just decide for me that I really want to use a sword and shield, eh, just in case I become too interesting?

    As for different art style, well, if they’re not setting it in ferelden then I’d hope so, because ferelden only got away with being entirely brown due to the fact that it was a rural backwater. 3 cheers for Orlais, or Par Volen, perhaps? Maybe some colour this time? It’s a really, really sad day when you have to say ‘yes, but World of Warcraft actually gives me more options on how I create my character’.

    This spree of hyperbole brought to you by a goose.

    • Mr Lizard says:

      Are you going to stand for that, humans?

    • Serenegoose says:

      Of course they will. Humans are entirely too boring to object. That’s why books/games/movies are compelled to depict them as completely implausible heroes. Grab your sword and fight the horde/orcs/bad guy of the month, for FREEDOM AND JUSTICE and other really, really boring things.

    • Jake says:

      Counterpoint: How about making some fantasy games without dwarves and elves and orcs and goblins in? Humans are plenty interesting enough without saying that there are also short drunk angry humanoids and thin elegant magical humanoids. What do you gain by picking a dwarf besides inheriting a load of tropes from other games, or Warhammer or Tolkien – they are just little rotund people with beards! Why do they exist? It could be worse I guess, Tolkien could have invented a race of anthropomorphic woodlouse people that would go on to be in every single fantasy story for the next 70 years.

      And Orcs and Goblins are all very well, but again, they are in everything, even if they are called Darkspawn or Uruk hai or whatever. Then there are gnomes, what is the point of them? I am sure most fantasy games include them by default even though no-one likes them, they just get added at some point because everyone assumes they are meant to be there so no-one says anything.

      Why can’t I go adventuring with a party of realistic humans without having to listen to a comedy alcoholic Scots dwarf or a mysterious elf. Or a mage – mages can do fireballs, this I know is a fact, I would be pretty shocked to play a fantasy game without a mage casting a fireball. Fireballs have managed to become very boring, which shouldn’t even be possible.

      Taking more from a Game of Thrones or the Malazan books into Dragon Age would be fine by me, get rid of the dwarves, elves, orcs, spiders etc. You can keep dragons, dragons are cool. Magic in moderation. Oh, and definitely no giant spiders, giant spiders just suck

    • Wulf says:

      That sounds mind-numbingly dull, sorry Jake. I all ready tire of the human races we have now. The thing is, Dragon Age had only human races.

      Say what you will, they were all humans.

      You had some short humans, they had beards, but they didn’t even have a culture which differentiated themselves in Dragon Age, they were very literally just stocky humans. Stretch a dwarf up across the Z-axis and you have a human.

      You had some slender humans, they had slight ear mutations, and they had only a token culture. They were oppressed and whatnot, they used to be tribal, but they were still fairly human, there wasn’t really anything to distinguish them from humans.

      By comparison, take a Universe like Guild Wars. You have giant, feral cats which have somehow managed to cobble together a civilisation based on strength, which is very much akin to the Mongol peoples and their tribes. They were met by the strength of the Gods worshipped by their would be slayers, but they had no such advantages. They had to fight, tooth and claw, to hold their land, and eventually to push back.

      They were tricked for a little while, into believing they had their own Gods by their shaman caste, and almost enslaved in the process. A war sparked within the Charr, the faux Gods died, and the Charr went back to their own ways, but they’d learned that they could take and hold land even without the aid of any such Gods, and this only strengthened their resolve. They turned to industrial technology in order to press on with their war campaign, and right now they’re at about the WW1 era.

      It’s sort of like a fun what if, what if the Mongols hadn’t been fought off, what if they’d become a military strength? And what if they were really visually different and aesthetically appealing giant cats, instead of boring humans which you see every day, every time you leave your house? I really wouldn’t see any appeal in making Charr humans, unless someone is a human fetishist or something and needs absolutely everything to be human. There are humans in Guild Wars, but the Charr are more interesting to me on a personal level.

      Why so interesting? If I were to step outside right now, I’d not see anything like the Charr. I could travel the world, go to the most remote locales, and I would still never see anything like them. There’s something simply wonderful about that kind of escapism, and thanks to ArenaNet it’s well written, quality escapism to boot. I mean, if we’re going to stick with humans and a very real-to-earth fantasy setting, then why not just put together a LARP group? All you’d really need is a LARP group.

      I play games – especially fantasy and sci-fi games – because I want to see something that I couldn’t see just by stepping outside my door, I want a bit of escapism, and frankly… I’d take a Charr on my party any day, over a human or a human-with-minor-physical-mutations (see: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Hobbit, et cetera).

      To be honest, how you could play a game centred solely around humans – who tend to inspire yawns of tedium rather than anything else – and not be bored is beyond me.

    • Jake says:

      Well, if you like cat people that is your prerogative, I don’t really have any argument against that except that I think in other media there are plenty of good stories that don’t feature cat people. I can suspend my disbelief as well as the next guy, but sometimes you’ve just got to wonder at these fantasy tropes, and it seems like we agreed that dwarves and elves are generally pointless.

      Still if there was a good explanation and story for the cat people, I’d consider it – I am all for imagination as long as it is backed up by decent writing. And I put up with cow people in WoW for long enough, I’m open minded. I will draw the line at hippo people or aubergine people though.

  40. skalpadda says:

    I’m thinking people in this comments thread are getting way too worked up about Jim’s pure speculation of the Mass-Effect-2-ification of the combat system. Jim’s awesome and all but it is just speculation.

    • Kab says:

      Speculation that is not only confined to this thread, and which is heavily backed up by the known facts and, most tellingly, by chief writer David Gaider’s comments on the official DA2 fora.

    • Psychopomp says:

      The fact that Bioware seems to be ignoring any questions about whether or not combat is now an action game, whilst they respond to many of the other concerns, is worrying.

    • skalpadda says:

      I haven’t read the Bioware forums, but making the combat system feel more action-oriented doesn’t necessarily mean chucking out most of the RPG stat tweaking like they did with ME2. It could simply be that they want to have more streamlined ways to give out orders, less reliance on pausing or setting up fights in different ways, just to take a few examples.

      That said, I really I do hope they keep the “PC feel” that DA:O had intact.

  41. StoryOfHat says:

    Oh dear, the dumbing down of Bioware games continues.

    This is how it started with ME2, with ominous signs like this.

    No thanks Bioware, you already turned one of my favourite games ever into little more than a jumped up Gears of War clone. I think it might be time to jump ship – the EA takeover doomsayers were right, and Bioware now produce mediocre garbage designed to reel in cash.

    Its a pity. I was hoping Mass Effect 3 might make drastic changes from Mass Appeal 2: The dumbed down effect. All those years of loving Bioware and being loyal, and this is how they repay me?

    • Jeremy says:

      In all fairness, while ME2 may not have been your preference, a great many people including those in the critical sector found ME2 to be an incredible gaming experience.

  42. Fumarole says:

    Making the combat closer to ME’s will prevent me from buying the game, at least at anything more than $10 or so. I can’t be the only person who loved the combat scripts, can I?

    • Seamus says:

      I loved the concept, I just wish they worked as intended.

    • Karthik says:

      Closer to ME or ME2?

    • Psychopomp says:

      Either. Hell, at this point, I’m not buying anything that used to be a strategy game, or RPG that’s now been turned into an action game, just on principle. I’m not fucking okay with this.

      inb4peoplethinki’mboycotting

    • Vinraith says:

      @Psychopomp

      I know what you mean. Hell, I’m starting to regret having bought Mass Effect 2 (at full price, anyway), despite having really enjoyed it, just because it could be seen as encouraging this shift.

    • mrmud says:

      Yes!
      While I really like ME and ME2, I dont want every single RPG to be in that mold.
      My favourite game of all time is still BG2 and DA is the closest we have come to that game in a long, long while and it would be a huge loss if its also the last such game.

  43. Jash says:

    Something about the artwork posted reminds me of icewind dale. Getting inspiration from that game would not be a bad thing.

    • Seamus says:

      Yeah, Icewind Dale kicked a lot of ass. What would be really cool is if, like Icewind Dale, you got to design your entire party. I know that’s pretty wishful thinking, but I’ve always been far more attached to characters that I’d designed or created myself; even if it means giving up some of the character’s personality it allowed for more room for interpretation and imagination. Hopefully the gentleman on the image is just a template, as Shepard was in Mass Effect.
      Seriously, letting me design my entire party in DA2 would mean a first-day purchase from me regardless of the game’s mechanics.

  44. Karthik says:

    The only thing I really enjoyed in Dragon Age was the title track, In Uthenera.

    The combat was a chore, and the whole religious zealotry involving the chantry was off-putting.

    Now Mass Effect, on the other hand, remains an amazing game no matter how often I come back to it. I’ve played through at least four times in the past three years, mixing and matching classes, personal histories and paragon/renegade leanings. The combat is tactical enough, even if the biotics were a little broken. And the suit, weapon and amp upgrades are ace. A shame ME2 took away most of this stuff.

  45. suibhne says:

    It’s interesting to me how divided people seem to be on this stuff – on DA, on ME, on ME2 vs. ME, on DA vs. ME and DA vs. ME2. I have my own strong opinions, too, but Bioware clearly can’t please all of us.

    I have only two observations to make:

    1. Given how distinct ME and DA have been, and how Bio folks like Dave Gaider have publicly talked up the two IPs as very distinct, I have a hard time believing that the studio won’t keep them as very distinct – not just in subject matter, but also in gameplay mechanics.

    2. Given what we experienced with the “New Shit” prior to DA’s release, the one notion on which we should all agree is that DA2′s PR might give us very little idea of DA2′s actual gameplay systems and content.

    • Jeremy says:

      Haha, too true. They don’t have their best minds working on PR.

    • cjlr says:

      @Jeremy:
      “They don’t have their best minds working on PR.”

      No shit. Remember their trailers?

  46. Stabby says:

    I hope they stylize the game a bit more, give it some character.. like, the art on their site. Attempts at making realistic looking characters always end up with awkward looking animations and stuff.

    • John says:

      Judging from the concept art you might get your wish of a more stylised look. It’s looking like a Saturday morning space cartoon at the moment.

    • Seamus says:

      That’s a crass exaggeration. It’s a more painterly and stylized illustration style than what was in the 1st game, that’s all. Hopefully it’s a sign that the art department are a bit more confident with the setting, and this should hopefully translate to a less stiff, awkward and clinical graphical style in-game. For a ‘dark fantasy’ title, the game sure did look plastic and shiny. I for one can live without that uncanny valley of photorealism.

  47. Mengtzu says:

    I’m really hoping to see a toolset or toolset update. Making new modules in a prettier engine (and hopefully better balanced system) would be awesome! Having the mod scene strangled in its cradle by migrating away the audience would be sad.

    I’m not really fussed about a more actiony rpg vs a pause-and-commands style, as long as it’s balanced. DA:O suffers from some balance holes (mages, consumeables) that make it extremely easy for those familiar with them, and quite difficult for everyone else. It’s been a challenge for me making mods – my first (Fragments of Ferelden) is far too easy to be satisfying for me, but my second (Classic Week, which is balanced around consumeable spam and the stronger spells) is very difficult for more casual players to get in to.

  48. kout says:

    Seriously? Not even one mention to the surname, Hawke?
    Possible names: Mike, York, Arc.

  49. Freud says:

    If they are simplifying combat, it is without doubt to make game easier to play on console. Controlling a party and all the different spells/abilities using pause is quite easy on the PC. Doing the same on consoles is a chore.

  50. Toaster says:

    Me, I’ma going to play the Ultima 6 remake, and avoid this messy discussion altogether.