Dragon Age II Goes Gold, 55 Mins Of Footage

By John Walker on February 11th, 2011 at 9:50 pm.

When knighthoods go bad.

One day, in the distant future, we will have online meetings, conversations and indeed demos of games that don’t begin with. “Uh… uh… yeah… I think so, yes, just give me… Hi! I think things are working now? Can you hear me at your end? Yes? Good, great, let’s get started.”

A new walkthrough live chat trailer thing has appeared for Dragon Age II, which is out in precisely one British month. It’s a good chance to see the game running as it really runs, rather than in a smooth, rehearsed sequence. It’s narrated by Mike Laidlaw, who is great, and I think is being played on a 360, which is less so. But hey ho, it’s a remarkable 55 minutes of footage, accompanied by the silently heckling crowds of chatroom onlookers. And it’s gone gold today! Which is good news, since PC Gamer’s review is already with subs.

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99 Comments »

  1. Robin says:

    Do we know the “final” sales performance of Dragon Age 1 on the PC?

    • JackShandy says:

      I did hear it outsold Mass Effect, but no hard numbers.

    • Mac says:

      Shame that they moved away from the tactical game – it’s just Action Game #13246326745 now ..

    • Azradesh says:

      Well according to the review I read, (PC Gamer UK) it’s like an action game on the lower difficulty setting, but just as tactical on the higher settings. So I wouldn’t worry, just don’t play on easy or medium, play on insane.

    • MattM says:

      The Nightmare mode of Dragon Age I was actually pretty balanced and a good choice for a first playthrough.

    • Joshua says:

      @Mac
      Did you even watch the above video?

  2. Ridiculous Human says:

    Is PC Gamer’s review John Walker’s review?

    • James G says:

      Yes, I’d like to know the same. I’ve already heard rumours with respect to the score, so knowing who wrote the review would be good for understanding exactly what that score means.

    • James G says:

      Bah, and now I look like a fool. I’m very glad I didn’t include the sentence complimenting Walker in that post now. (Although as that compliment was in comparing him to me, YMMV on whether that was a compliment at all.)

    • Deano2099 says:

      PCG’s review is by Rich McCormick.

    • James G says:

      Ahh, that is encouraging then. I noticed that Rich was fairly positive in his previews as well, although I find previews aren’t always the best indication wrt. the final product.

      Still not entirely sure what to expect from DAII though. The first game was okay, but seemed to lack soul, and in my mind was eclipsed by ME2 only a couple of months later. Yet, on paper I should have preferred DA:O, as pause-and-play approach is generally more my cup of tea. So with DAII, clearly taking pages from ME2′s book, I’m honestly not sure what to think.

    • Maykael says:

      I only care about John’s review on this. I loved Origins for exactly the same reasons as he did and I’m rather curious if they pull it off this time around as well.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      Apparently, this one has more “soul”. To paraphrase the review, in the first DA, Bioware created an incredible world and made it boring as hell by filling it with the bog-standard “we must kill the big monster threatening the world” quest, but with the more focused storyline it apparently really comes into its own.

    • Thants says:

      That’s how I felt about the first Mass Effect.

    • Surgeon says:

      I devoured my copy last night, and now the 11th of March can’t come quickly enough.

      The other important point Rich makes is that your choices and decisions have a large impact on your own game, due to the 10 year story. To add some more paraphrasing, your decisions can come back to bite you in the arse years later.

      I was sold once I read that.

    • Nick says:

      The real question is.. did Rich like the original and how much?

  3. The Dark One says:

    For the past few years, Bioware’s PR team has done a pretty good job of lowering my expectations for their products. It’s coming out two months later, but I’m still more excited for Witcher 2.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Exactly the same case here.

    • darthmajor says:

      They realised that that was the secret to exceeding everyone expectations – make everyone think it’s going to be totally shit and then when you release people go “HOLY CRAP it’s much better than i thought, it’s awesome!” :D

    • Lambchops says:

      Yup.

      It’s odd how cold every preview has made me feel so far. Then again I felt the same about Origins (to the extent where I didn’t even really watch that many of the trailers and previews after seeing one too many awful ones) and it wasn’t until Walker sang its praises that I got interested.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Don’t forget to buy the DLC, there’s DLC, DLC, DLC, DLC, oh and the full game is coming soon, also it’s not as badly mangled on the PC as people think it’ll be, it’s only consolified a bit, but there’s DLC, and pre-order prizes!

    • MattM says:

      Some of the DLCs for DA:O continued story threads that were prematurely dropped in the main game, but otherwise seemed to offer only short somewhat unsatisfying experiences. The prices on the dlcs has also remained way too high compared to the cost of the complete edition and it feels like they are punishing the people who bought the game first. As much as I loved the first game, I think I will wait for the complete edition this time around.

      Edit, To compare, the DLC costs $57 while the bundled edition has been on sale for around $20.

  4. Astatine says:

    I was really stoked about this (I loved Origins), but now it turns out it’s being released two weeks after Rift, which is going to eat my life.

    Why couldn’t it have been the other way round?!

    Gah, these release schedules that aren’t organised around me… *rolls eyes*

  5. daphne says:

    Looking for’ard to it, but I still have some slight queasiness regarding Bioware’s attitude towards the series…

    For the first game they were all like: “Epic world! Detailed Lore! Origin stories! Choices with real consequences attached! Spiritual Successor to BG! 80 hours!”
    For the second they are more like “Dive deep into action! Streamlined systems! Took pages out of Mass Effect 2′s book! Single character with a distinct persona on an adventure spanning 10 years!”

    There’s probably somewhat overblown contrast there, but I do wonder whether the way DA2 is going to be was determined early on, or whether it was in a sense reactionary to how the winds were blowing? Think the opposite of how DLC felt absurdly retrofitted to Dragon Age’s inflexible design from who knows which year (‘cept Shale, which, in retrospect was not the harbinger of good DLC, but (I’m guessing) a textbook example of cut content).

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Their marketing has made me even less likely to buy it.

      I wasn’t thrilled with DAO, although it had it’s very good moments. It just lacked something when compared to BG2, and so never felt good enough.

      The sequel looks even less like the sort of RPGs I like, so I will pass.

      But for every person like myself that will not be buying it, I’m sure there will be plenty of others to whom this is targeted perfectly.

    • Lilliput King says:

      daphne: You’re basing this on their marketing, which has traditionally not been particularly close to the actual game eventually released.

      Dragon Age 1 had very little to do with the new shit, is I guess what I’m saying here. I’m just gonna reserve judgement ’till after I’ve played it.

      Incidentally though I don’t think Shale had anything to do with DLC or cut-content. As she came free with every registered copy of the game, I’d say she was a pretty transparent attempt to give the second hand market a reduced experience.

  6. ordteapot says:

    I think I hear a mouse clicking in the background!

    • endaround says:

      Yeah since the UI isn’t taking up the whole screen its the PC version. You can see the 360 in higher def on Giantbomb.

    • Chaz says:

      Yep I would say that is the PC version too as it looks like it’s being run at a high res, squashing the UI down into the corner. Also I would be surprised if the 360 version has a bottom bar like that.

  7. Danny says:

    Wow, after finishing DA with all it’s horrible repeating combat encounters I click on this video….And am instantly fed up again with it’s combat system.

    Sorry, but I just can’t take any more. I almost have to throw up if I think about that Dwarf area in Origins. On and on, the fucking place just didn’t want to end.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The interminable Deep Roads was the reason I could only manage one play-through of Origins. I just couldn’t face it again. It’s not just the length of that sequence, it’s the very limited types of Darkspawn, and the repeating groupings. I hope there are more types of Darkspawn in the new game. Or better yet, few Darkspawn at all, and other enemies to fight.

    • Duffin says:

      Just played it through and I don’t think it was THAT bad. At that point in the game I read all the codex entries the second time round and it made the game much more fun. The deep roads isn’t half as boring if you read the entries, it gives a cool perspective of the darkspawn from the dwarves perspective – that essentially they’re facing a constant blight, a real siege mentality.

    • Nick says:

      Deep Roads was the worst area in the original, imo. I don’t mind combat heavy areas but it went on too long and didn’t have enough interesting variations or miniquests to give it purpose.

    • Jockie says:

      I really liked the deep roads, pre-day two patch when it was ridiculously difficult and each battle felt like it meant something. I’m not normally a ‘play it on hardcore nub’ kind of person, but DA’s combat feels a lot better and far more tactical on nightmare mode (whereas awakenings is broken and easy whatever setting it’s on).

    • Bureaucrat says:

      True, the Deep Roads were at least 50% too long. But they were redeemed somewhat in that they had the best boss fights in the game. That casteless gang leader, the spider queen, the broodmother, and whoever you decided to fight at the Anvil were some of the more fun opponents that the game offered.

    • Saul says:

      I felt queasy before I even entered the deep roads. wandering around the dwarven city was the exact point where I had had enough of the game. I remain perched on the precipice, and will almost certainly never enter them.

      DA2 actually sounds a whole lot more interesting, although I’m still worried there’ll be way too much combat.

  8. Qjuad says:

    I’m actually pleasantly surprised – it looks quite enjoyable.

  9. FalseMyrmidon says:

    How do I convert from British months to American months?

    • RQH says:

      I think in this case you subtract 3 days, since the American release is March 8, as compared to the European date, March 11.

    • Duffin says:

      Boooo!

      Wait this comes out on the 11th and Shogun 2 on the 15th, oh dear…

  10. Tei says:

    The game looks very cool. In a instaclassic way. I think this one are going to be a fantastic good game.

  11. obvioustroll says:

    Hopefully this won’t get leaked.

  12. karthink says:

    I read the above as “narrated by Marc Laidlaw” and was very puzzled for a moment.

  13. Skusey says:

    Will John be telling us Wot He Thinks about this? I really liked his review of the first game.

  14. mlaskus says:

    I really like how the Stoneskin or whatever it was called buff looks like, also the world map is quite great.

    @John Walker
    You liar, that was no 55 minutes of footage! All the sexy hacking and slashing and wizarding gets replaced half way through by some fatty. :(

  15. Marshall Stele says:

    Ah, the trademark Bioware “pace while talking” move. The combat does look cooler, but I’m… waiting for interesting characters. That dwarf dude looks like he might be an interesting fellow, but I might find myself longing for Oghren.

    Edited to add: Should have finished the video before commenting. They’re still having casual plot related conversations while covered in blood? Is this a common thing in Edmonton?

    • Qjuad says:

      You can turn blood effects like that off in the options.

    • Marshall Stele says:

      As in, I can turn off the option where the characters are pretending their faces aren’t all bloodsplattered? Because that’s really what I want. I want them to notice and react. Maybe they can wipe their faces. They just got out of a battle. Maybe they could be breathing a bit heavier.

    • Qjuad says:

      Yes, you can – you can also set it so they change their socks after long walks.

    • ohnoabear says:

      My favorite was my character conversing nonchalantly while on fire. I wish there was an option to turn that on permanently.

  16. thebigJ_A says:

    On the party screen they show at around 23:20, is the guy on the back right the elf apostate mage from Awakenings? I liked that guy, he was like an immoral Alistair.

    That reminds me, I never finished Awakenings. I ought to do that.

    Also, I’m pretty sure this is the PC version. You can hear mouse clicks and keys pressed. Plus, he scrolls through the menus in a way that looks like he just has the mouse pointer hidden.

  17. Zogtee says:

    It really looks stunningly generic and bland. Unlike the ME games that actually has some coherent art direction going for them.

  18. Blackberries says:

    How has this game already been released? The last one was only put out a couple of months ago. Right? Dammit, time. Cease your inexorable march.

    I’ll go and tear open my sub copy of PCG. While I’d have liked John’s opinion again, to compare to the first review, I’m sure whoever did review it did a bang-up job.

  19. Nick says:

    I flat out hate much of what they have done with it, but I will be happy to be pleasantly surprised by the actual meat of the game. Its very much a wait and see though, rather than instant purchase.

  20. Longrat says:

    So erm, I can appreciate gameplay over graphics as much as the next guy but.. Why do the graphics for this game look so BAD? I mean, they look worse than DA:O did, and that’s quite an achievement. I don’t get it!

    • destx says:

      I have to agree. The graphics aren’t old-tech “bad”, they’re just ugly as hell. It’s like they’ve mashed resources from 5 different games, nothing seems to fit.

  21. thebigJ_A says:

    Canadians say “zed”? I thought they were like us Americans who say it “zee”. You know, the proper way. ‘Cause it’s a letter, not a friggin’ word!

    • Dave says:

      Yeah! Like ‘W’! Oh, wait…

    • Azradesh says:

      That’s because it is zed, it’s never bloody been zee!

    • Teddy Leach says:

      ‘Zee’ is silly, twee, and disgusting.

    • Vinraith says:

      If it’s “zed” then the alphabet song ceases to rhyme. That’s too horrible to contemplate, so clearly it’s “zee.” That said, this European business of putting a horizontal strike through the letter to distinguish it from 2 is a good idea.

  22. Veracity says:

    He actually called her Lady Hawke! Is this a thing?

    There seems to be a little much “yep, Origins sucked for this, but don’t worry, we totally fixed it”. How long did the first one take to develop? In fairness, I don’t know what else I expect him to say.

  23. mkultra says:

    Oh, dear. I am completely underwhelmed.

    Edit: Also preordering.

  24. Nick says:

    Also could they have any more close up camera shots of her fucking cleavage? Jesus christ I’m getting sick of that sort of thing in modern Bioware games.

  25. RyuRanX says:

    The dialog wheel is pathetic. You have three answers which you can see the result of your choice before you choose what you want to answer.

    You can pause during the combat and so what? It’s nothing like Dragon Age: Origins. Enemies are weak and don’t require any strategy and positioning of your party. The mage was in front line “tanking” the enemies with no problem. Also, no friendly fire means no need for tactics. The combat basically resumes to shoot everything you have at the enemies. That was the “tactic” used in all the fights showedduring the presentation.

    Ugly interface.

    Streamlined companion inventory.

    One good thing about the game: night & day cycle. ;)

    • Bureaucrat says:

      Tactical positioning barely mattered in DA:O, either. Combatants had no zones of control (and barely any collision detection) such that all an opponent had to do to get past your line of fighters and smash your mage’s toothed-condom-wearing head in was keep walking.

      Instead, tactics rested primarily on clicking a mystical button labeled “Taunt,” which would immediately exert mind control over every nearby opponent (regardless of their training, discipline, or lack of ability to comprehend spoken language) and make them shift the focus of their attacks. Oh, and apparently wearing big metal armor made enemies (yes, all of them) think that hitting/poking/biting you was a good idea.

      I’ll try the demo when it comes out and see what I think then.

    • bill says:

      have tactics ever mattered in a bioware game? Cos i never noticed it. Combat (and inventory interfaces) sure aren’t their strong point.
      Baldur’s Gate, KotoR, etc… all had totally spammy combat that involved very little thought, tactics, positioning or anything other than pausing and lining up all the most powerful attacks.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      I remember a fight or two from KOTOR, where I was running away in circles, hiding behind obstacles, and returning fire from time to time. That was most tactical fight from their games, and I was actually quite impressed, because KOTOR wasn’t truly Real Time, yet it somehow worked. But all other fights – spam.

    • Azradesh says:

      That play through was on normal, you realise this right? There’s two difficulties up from that.

    • briktal says:

      I have to agree that it looked pretty much just like combat in Origins, except with a less “realistic” style to it (things like that charge attack, but also the overall visual style) and I guess you can’t zoom the camera out all the way.

  26. Nimic says:

    I so want to be excited about this, but Bioware are making it hard. I’ll still buy it; in fact, I’ve already preordered it, but I do not want it to turn into Mass Effect in fantasy land.

  27. Selix says:

    I could be friends with the design and production value, also the revised combat system (it’s probably better than the old one). But the quest design and writing is where it fails. This Isabella is totally uninteresting, and so is her wit, or the “heartbreaking” clich├ęs of the abused slaves, where Bioware expects one to change from smirking and smug about dick-jokes and ridiculous amounts of gore to teary-eyed in a heartbeat.

    • Inarborat says:

      Agreed. Besides the dwarf Varric, the only other party character I’m interested in is $7 Day 1 DLC. Poor form, Bioware. Tout your writing and characters and then rip it out to nickle and dime people. I’ve had enough of badasses with hearts of gold and family conflicts from Bioware’s writing department. The Hawke voiceovers sound much too posh for my liking, too. Isabella’s breasts are absolutely absurd.

      Controversial statement alert: That’s why I loved Zaeed in ME2. He was a pos mercenary and nothing else. With him, I didn’t have to suffer through familial melodrama like every other character.

  28. Brumisator says:

    Mark Laidlaw? but he works at valve!
    …oh…wait…Mike. Mike Laidlaw.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      OH.

      Thank you. I was wondering how such an awesome writer and cool guy became so… Bioware-y.

      Thank goodness they’re different people.

  29. bill says:

    I still think the idea of a 10 year story for your character is pretty unique and interesting. Are there any other games that have tried such a story? Stories in games are usually limited to a very very limited structure – so it’s nice to see something more interesting at last.

    But i must admit that if i hadn’t heard about that then i’d have zero interest in this, as nothing in the trailers looks remotely interesting.

  30. sendmark says:

    I think I will try playing the Lady Hawke, normally I even choose a boring human male when it’s customisable, but the male Hawke looks too boring and contrived even for me.

  31. luttman23 says:

    anyone know of a higher res version? linkage plz!

  32. jackflash says:

    God this looks boring.

  33. fenriz says:

    oh lord, exclamation marks. WoW all over again

    • Vinraith says:

      Because WoW invented putting exclamation marks over quest-givers heads, right? Good lord man, when were you born?

    • fenriz says:

      why do i get this answer so often? Why do people reply recycling phrases they read before and not out of their own considerations? Who cares who invented exclamation marks, i don’t wanna see exclamation marks that give me hints. Who says i need hints? Why does the game have to assume i’m not intelligent enough to inspect the environment and figure the talking’s interactions? Why do i have to accept a game’s subliminal insult to my exploration skills and patience?

      I don’t get it. What’s the point in knowing who gets to be the inventor? Is there a Thomas Edison’s paradise with naked angels or something?

    • Ludden says:

      I agree fenriz. It’s unfortunate catering to intelligence and patience isn’t that high on most game makers agenda any longer.

    • fenriz says:

      a button to highlight QGs?? Oh man this is terrible.

      I remember back in Baldur’s you had no idea who would give you a quest, you didn’t even know it WAS a quest, you’d just start a conversation with someone and if you heard a scribbling noise there was a new entry on the journal and even that entry could just be a “thought”, you had to “extrapolate” a “task” out of it and see if it worked. And before that i remember the ultimas… and SSI rpg’s

      What happened??? Are there still gamers who like a challenge? Are there too many “new gamers” who invaded our space?

      Can you link me to one of those DS2 let’splays?

  34. Kevin says:

    The one thing that arguably made me the most miffed about this game is the fact that Bioware isn’t releasing mod tools for this game. Sure, like nuclear power, a lot of people on Dragon Age: Nexus are going to be using it for great evil (i.e. “Better Sex” mods)”, but that just makes all the cool stuff like new weapons, armors, and balance tweaks seem that much more awesome when it’s used in the name of good.

    • Inarborat says:

      You know why? They have SLEEK, SEXY Armor DLC ready and waiting to sell you at a low, low Bioware points price!

    • Fronk says:

      They said that the engine is very similar and that you can just use the DA:O mod tools for DA2 and that they might release some stuff later to make it easier for people to adapt it to DA2

  35. Valvarexart says:

    I already saw some of this gameplay a few months ago, with the same narrator. Pretty kewl but I have higher expectations for The Witcher 2.

  36. WJonathan says:

    At around 1:00 I hated this guy too much to watch any more.

  37. kilki says:

    I sometimes download games that i think are not worth the money and so i did with dragon age origins.. But after playing for like 1 hour i had to delete it and buy it on steam. That game was so epic and i have already prepurchased the sequel, and i cant wait!

    I should have known that bioware always turn out games with an epic story line and awesome gameplay :)

    Kilki

  38. Kevin says:

    Pandering to the so-called “wider audience” never made sense to me considering that the “wider audience” is a lot smarter than publishers give them credit for. Case-in-point, WoW isn’t a straightforward game; sure it’s no Digital Combat Simulator: A-10C or Galactic Civilizations in terms of depth and complexity, nor is it the most mentally stimulating MMO out there. But, you’ve got to juggle things like aggro range, DPS, mob hate, and equipment speccing for PVP, which takes a lot more brainpower to play than, say, a CoD game, and it’s still the biggest earning game out in the market.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      This.

      People aren’t stupid, they simply have to *want* to learn how to play the game.

    • Azradesh says:

      I see your faith in humanity hasn’t been smashed into tiny, tiny pieces yet Jim. :P

    • Red_Avatar says:

      To be fair, Kevin, most WoW gamers won’t know these things either until after 50+ hours of playing and having it be explained to them by their guild members. You don’t even NEED to know much about these things until you go on raids or do PvP. In games such as Dragon Age, they’ll just whine and bitch when a game is too hard because they’re too lazy to find out how to play the game best.

  39. RegisteredUser says:

    I would have watched this if it weren’t on console.

    Also I hurd they goan put sum dlc in my dlc so i can enjoy sum dlc while i download me sum dlc for my dlc.