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Thread: Dragon Age II Reaction
01-04-2012, 10:54 PM #1
Dragon Age II Reaction
I picked up Dragon Age II late on Friday and put a significant chunk of time into it. I just started the second section of the game (I guess there's going to be a focus on the Qunari?) and I've been enjoying myself immensely. What's bugging me is that the entire reason I put off buying the game for so long is that the fan reaction--people who enjoyed or even loved Origins and Awakening--made it sound incredibly disappointing.
It's one of those cases where I recognize virtually all of the criticisms: combat is too easy, waves of enemies are stupid, the visual quality is noticeably worse (though the art style is better), the lack of companion inventory is disappointing, the repeated environments are tedious, and I'd go so far as to say the new layout of the skill system is confusing (not helped by the fact that no single character, including Hawke, follows a single, unified skill system).
But what couldn't come across in the reviews is that I'd enjoy the companions so much. These people actually seem like friends, so even the boring ones (Aveline!) are likable. The passage of time allows their relationships to take on new depth (Varric's quiet dedication to keeping Anders and Merrill safe is touching) and the performances are all great.
I also didn't realize that having a voiced player character would actually be a point in the game's favor! I don't know about the female version, but male Hawke is a loveable smart-ass. He's got far more personality than just about any other RPG protagonist I've ever played, and the game is frankly much better for it.
I'm not saying that other people are wrong, mind you. The game could break my heart before the end, and a lot of this is subjective. It's just a shame that all of the criticism--while consistent and accurate--failed to make it seem possible that the game had strengths that I would value over its (many, noticeable) weaknesses. I'm kind of ashamed that I didn't buy it earlier and show the game some support. I do think they probably should not have marketed it as a direct sequel (just as New Vegas wasn't Fallout 4). I'm now retroactively saddened by the cancellation of the expansion. I hope that they won't sweep everything they did here aside as a failure, because, if nothing else, I want to see more characters as well-written as the ones in DA2.
01-04-2012, 11:12 PM #2
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- Jun 2011
02-04-2012, 12:09 AM #3
You raise a good point, though. DA2 is filled to the brim with design choices that either run contrary to how an RPG should work (like no two characters sharing the same selection of skills, despite there being only three classes, or not being able to adjust armor for party members, or etc.). I've been won over by the game because (so far) the writing is executed so well that I forgive it for its many mechanical sins. I wouldn't recommend it as a great RPG--and I simply cannot defend it as such--but as a lightweight game that's engaging enough to give me something to do while I enjoy a great cast of characters, I've been extremely pleased.
Like I said, I like her. She works best as a straight-woman for the more colorful cast members, but you have to admit that of all the party members available she's by far the least interesting. And by "interesting" I don't mean "likable" or "relatable" or "pleasant." Isabella is more interesting, but that's because she seems to be an alcoholic swashbuckler swimming with venereal disease (or she's going to Anders' clinic to get frequent abortions, which, to be fair, is certainly edgier).
@The JG Man:
I like Fenris! I'm actually trying to pursue a romance with him, which is challenging because his views on mages are rather, uh, hardline, which clashes with my view on the matter, and he frankly doesn't have many opportunities to flirt. Anders, on the other hand, is apparently extremely desperate, as a single flirtation with him has him promising to flood the streets in blood to protect me.
Oh, the plot has plenty of time to fall apart and piss me off. I don't mind the aimlessness at all, but that's just me; I recognize it, but it's compensated for by strong characterization. Good characters will always trump a weak plot for me.
02-04-2012, 12:35 AM #4
14-04-2012, 03:13 AM #5
He runs off to join the Templars at the end of the game if you side with the mages, but having even a small positive relationship with him will allow you to appeal to his loyalty to Hawke. I got a very ambivalent romantic subplot with him, in which we consummated things and he broke things off. In the end it seemed like he finally decided to take the plunge with Hawke, but I didn't get the achievement and so apparently didn't get the full version. It was kind of interesting, though, to see something other than a straight-up "WE ARE IN LOVE NOW" or a "WE ARE NOT IN LOVE" scenario.
14-04-2012, 03:59 AM #6
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02-04-2012, 08:42 AM #7
08-04-2012, 10:06 PM #8
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- Jun 2011
08-04-2012, 10:59 PM #9
Nice write up. I will likely get around to purchasing the DLC sometime soon and giving them a spin.
I'm looking forward to III also. I think the intention is to have the grey warden (if they live) and Hawke together, though whether that's true who knows.
Last edited by Kadayi; 08-04-2012 at 11:02 PM.
08-04-2012, 11:18 PM #10
However, how could they incorporate Hawke? I'd be quite happy with him as a companion; he actually has enough personality and backstory for that! But since Hawke can be male or female, a warrior, a rogue, or a mage, and noble, irreverent, or thuggish, I just don't think that it's feasible to expect Bioware to be able to do much with him without disappointing fans. It'd be kind of like Anders: they had to very specifically address all of his myriad backstory possibilities to ensure that he could be a mopey advocate of brinkmanship in DA2 while at least acknowledging his personality change, to say nothing of getting rid of his cat. If they brought Hawke back for DA3 in any significant capacity, I shudder to think what awful, off-screen tragedies he'd be subjected to in order to bring him in line with the writers' vision.
01-04-2012, 11:17 PM #11
01-04-2012, 11:42 PM #12
Edit: huh, if we're doing favourite characters then I might as well say mine. I liked Varric, Bethany and Isabela. I thought the family aspect between Hawke and Bethany worked well, and I enjoyed Varric and Isabela's constant sarcasm/banter.
Last edited by westyfield; 01-04-2012 at 11:45 PM.
01-04-2012, 11:55 PM #13
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- Jan 2012
Yeah. After Dragon Age 1 was pretty decent and had a lot of promise for the IP, Dragon Age 2 just kind of did absolutely nothing and was tedious.
The characters are never weak of course, because those games are practically just virtual dating sims at the best of times. Sometimes bland, but it's not nearly as bad as your dialogue as Hawke (ask the shapeshifting dragon that just saved you for a sandwich! Makes sense if you're insane) or some of the general story direction. The first game you wander around a bit as that particular person so you get a feel for them, more or less. In Dragon Age 2, things have already happened, and when a sibling dies, it's not tragic because you haven't even met them. I think the opening also underdoes the tone of desperation when you just win every battle anyways.
Got a lot of hate for that game, but moreover because I played through all of it, hoping at some point it'd become good or fun, because I am a complete idiot. Also because I thought the first one was really good, though the spell system could've used some polishing.
01-04-2012, 11:24 PM #14
But what couldn't come across in the reviews is that I'd enjoy the companions so much. These people actually seem like friends, so even the boring ones (Aveline!) are likable. The passage of time allows their relationships to take on new depth (Varric's quiet dedication to keeping Anders and Merrill safe is touching) and the performances are all great. // I also didn't realize that having a voiced player character would actually be a point in the game's favor!
Also, a cool thing was that the more you used a certain interaction, for example sarcasm, the more sarcastic options you'd have in the future and the less of others you'd have, so you could really hone in the personality you wanted your person to have. I loved that, as morally positive but characteristically snarky was very fun to play.
DA2 played pretty poorly, but it had some good stuff in. Play like DA:O with the character and plot developments made in 2 and 3 could be an exquisite game.
01-04-2012, 11:32 PM #15
You're praising the plot of DA2? Wow. I guess someone had to do it.
01-04-2012, 11:56 PM #16
But the best thing about it was how not everything revolved around Hawke. DA2 has a cast of real people who don't react only to the player's triggers. Bad shit happens out of nowhere and often has no satisfying closure. I understand why people hate this but I found it very refreshing.
I liked the idol's subtle influence on the story too. It was kinda freaky.
Since we're talking characters, my favourite was Bethany. I always wanted a sister lol. She died at the end of Act 1. Broke my heart. Aveline was boring but had a hilarious quest line in the second part of the game and I enjoyed making fun of her.
Also this was the first RPG where I played a rogue, I usually hide behind a sword and shield. Props to Bioware for making this class fun.
Last edited by SirKicksalot; 01-04-2012 at 11:59 PM.
02-04-2012, 12:04 AM #17
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02-04-2012, 12:02 AM #18
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- Stockton-on-Tees, UK
The party members are all good, apart from Anders is a bit too different and also frustrating. I don't know about Fenris because I managed not to recruit him (there was only one sidequest in the whole game I didn't do, and it happened to randomly be a recruitment quest).
Hawke is a bit of a dick, though, especially if you make the mistake of picking too many "charming" options. It's quite annoying to play an RPG where you want to punch yourself in the face.Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.
02-04-2012, 12:11 AM #19
No, stuff happening out of nowhere is just bad writing. The city not changing in 15 years (down to the exact same people standing in the exact same spot) is just plain lazy. Rail roading the plot regardless of your choices is just insulting. They missed an opportunity to make a focused "small but deep" setting focused on a single city and just turned it into a three act story about saving the world except that story doesn't actually start until the third act.
No being a rogue is almost always more interesting than playing a warrior but playing a rouge in DA2 was crap but overpowered. Crap because respawning enemies, enemies appearing out of dead ends and the average mob being 15 guys means theres no point sneaking. Over powered because their feats do mass stunlocks, or let you back stab characters from the front. The rogue was much better in DA:O and just because you haven't played rogue before doesn't mean this was a good example of it. Generally, the combat was a mess of aoe spam attacks.
Last edited by Bhazor; 02-04-2012 at 12:15 AM.
02-04-2012, 12:22 AM #20