Preview: What's New in Dragon Age II

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goliath6711:

Since when should Bioware, or any videogame company, exclusively cater to your specific interests at the expense of mine or anyone else?

All I'm seeing concerning this and Mass Effect 2 are one set of whining fans whining about improvements that were made to satisfy another set of whining fans.

They cant "exclusively cater to my specific interests". They can "cater to my interests" though. Since they arent right now though, and since I PAY FOR THE GAME, I think that entitles me to..... oh thats right, tell them to go fuck themselves if they would rather go after a different market.

If they dont like it, tough shit, its part of ignoring one fanbase over the other. Same applies to any butthurt fanboys who cry because their favourite developer catches flak.

Its simple really. A game that offers me something I enjoy, I will buy and praise (like ME1).

A game that changes halfway through the series to force an unnecessary and over the top focus on a different genre and fanbase, well....... Lets say I think the results are pretty obvious.

Dont worry though, when game developers give me games for free, Ill be more than happy to drop my sense of entitlement. As long as I remain a potential consumer who has to pay with their own money though, those poor little angels at Bioware (or any other developer) are just going to have to deal with that big bad sense of entitlement I get from expecting a product I pay for to cater to some of my interests. Of course by extension, when they no longer do so, they can no longer expect my money, and as a little bonus (given that last I checked I had the right of free speech) I can voice my opinion on the new direction they take.

Im sorry if that disturbs you. Better get on the phone to Bioware and tell them to give their games out for free if they dont like consumer opinions that arent glowing beacons of joy and excitement when they ignore certain groups of customers expected to pay for their games.

I'm liking all the changes they're making. I loved Origins but man that game has weird problems. The difficulty thing is so true, on more than one occasion I ran in to sequences that were unbeatable for the most part. I had to actually leave areas, re-arrange my group, get insane amounts of health potions and then return making sure everyone was constanly healed up just so I could progress. Some people claim these were sections you weren't meant to do yet but this was main story progression stuff and the groups after those hard ones were suddenly normal again. So yeah the difficulty was screwed at times.

Most of these changes look awesome and I'll probably still buy the game but having the main character be a preset is moving towards the JRPG way of things I though Bioware hated. Anyway I might be pleasently suprised.

Good article Susan, thanks.

Symbols on the dialogue wheel? Oh good grief. Why do Bioware have such a mental block with the dialogue wheel? It's like they've put a round peg in a square hole and now that they've seen it doesn't fit they've decided to use a giant hammer on it. Wouldn't it be so much simpler to just get a square peg and be done with it?

In other words it shouldn't be all that difficult to properly paraphrase what Shepard/Hawke are about to say, but if that really does pose such a challenge for Bioware (and one can only assume it does, given their offerings so far) then why don't they just cut out the paraphrasing altogether and write on the dialogue wheel *exactly* what is about to be said? Honestly it boggles the mind.

Anyway, I'm not sure yet whether I'm interested in DA2. I didn't get DA1 because it looked - in every way - like a massive step backwards for RPGs. From your article it sounds like the second instalment might drag the DA series into the 21st century, but I'm still not seeing evidence of any real innovation in (or even refinement of) the RPG genre here. Which is a shame.

WTF? They took out the combat system? The most fun part of the game was the combat system. Rogues did not feel like warriors, and mages were way different that either of the other two. The normal difficulty was hard at first but after awhile I had to move it up to hard because every fight was taking like 5 seconds. I had the computer version so perhaps the interface made the game easier to play? Anyway, I love how the review touts:

"Hawke isn't a particularly glamorous hero, but that's the point: the theme of DA2 is that there are no chosen ones, no pawns of prophecy - just people doing the best they can on any given day."

Yet, we are confined to be named HAWKE, a person who is a HERO, and not just an ordinary person but a CHOSEN ONE that we MUST control like a PAWN OF PROPHECY whose story is being told by a narrator that follows his lordships' every move.

Crafting:

The crafting process sounds a little less annoying, but you could buy everything in stores in Dragon Age Origins without any problems.

Skill Trees:

"If you want to spend several levels making sure you're deadly with a shield, you can, but your path to other talents is clear if you'd rather not bother."

This doesn't seem better in any way, you could do this in the first one. I don't see why they need to change it from single skill tree progressions.

Visuals:

"It's still hard to argue that the PC version didn't look a bit dated. For all its magic and fantasy, Ferelden was a remarkably brown place and its inhabitants were the same old Lord of the Rings-style creatures that we've seen and killed a thousand times."

So... we won't be fighting any Darkspawn then? That's a relief... what about wolves? Hmm... okay, Ogres...? I'm guessing those will all be in the next game. The graphics looked amazing to me in Origins, so I don't know why the reviewer decided to put that down as a negative in the last game.

The Hero:

I have commented on this to death already, no need to put it down for what it is. Depth traded for a voice (not even your own, but Hawke's) and dialogue for a simple wheel. The rival dynamic is interesting, but might not work that well in practice.

So does it work?:

I don't know, but it sound freakin' horrible.

Xaositect:

goliath6711:

Since when should Bioware, or any videogame company, exclusively cater to your specific interests at the expense of mine or anyone else?

All I'm seeing concerning this and Mass Effect 2 are one set of whining fans whining about improvements that were made to satisfy another set of whining fans.

They cant "exclusively cater to my specific interests". They can "cater to my interests" though. Since they arent right now though, and since I PAY FOR THE GAME, I think that entitles me to..... oh thats right, tell them to go fuck themselves if they would rather go after a different market.

If they dont like it, tough shit, its part of ignoring one fanbase over the other. Same applies to any butthurt fanboys who cry because their favourite developer catches flak.

Its simple really. A game that offers me something I enjoy, I will buy and praise (like ME1).

A game that changes halfway through the series to force an unnecessary and over the top focus on a different genre and fanbase, well....... Lets say I think the results are pretty obvious.

Dont worry though, when game developers give me games for free, Ill be more than happy to drop my sense of entitlement. As long as I remain a potential consumer who has to pay with their own money though, those poor little angels at Bioware (or any other developer) are just going to have to deal with that big bad sense of entitlement I get from expecting a product I pay for to cater to some of my interests. Of course by extension, when they no longer do so, they can no longer expect my money, and as a little bonus (given that last I checked I had the right of free speech) I can voice my opinion on the new direction they take.

Im sorry if that disturbs you. Better get on the phone to Bioware and tell them to give their games out for free if they dont like consumer opinions that arent glowing beacons of joy and excitement when they ignore certain groups of customers expected to pay for their games.

How dare you express your opinions on a web forum! Oh wait, I just did the same thing.

Jeffro Tull:
You definitely have to give respect to Bioware as a company. They are the only company out there with the gumption to re-evaluate everything within a game when they are making a sequel. I have a friend who was complaining about the possible differences when DA2 was first announced. All I could say was that it worked for Mass Effect.
Bioware has amazed me since KOTOR and still manages to capture my interest to this day. They are the best right now, and they can go further.

I too respect a company that can come to realize that they cannot create the same measure of the game as they had done ten years ago and decide to give up on all pretense that they can. Kudos, Bioware.

If it's broken, don't fix it, just tear it out. Kudos to that method, Bioware, kudos.

Woodsey:
When was the difficulty balance "way off"?

The part where you meet the Dragon Andraste and her loyal Reaver followers. I tried so hard to do that on normal and after 2 hours I had to give over and drop the difficulty level down for that section. Even though the difficult is supposed to adjust, the number of potions, etc. you have access to can make a huge difference. Especially when you have a save where you can't switch up your party members before an unexpectedly difficult part.

I do dislike that they called the easy setting "casual". Casual is about how much time you have available to spend on a game, not really about difficulty, imho. That I would like to see changed, but it's minor.

I am reaaaally wary about this new edition. I'm afraid it might take break the feel. And I am not a big fan about playing humans. Especially since I can do that in a good 80% of other games. Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic are good games, but I don't like them that much. It's a make or break thing for me with Dragon Age 2.

@Susan: Thank you for the detailed review/first look. I may not want to jump on this one the day it comes out, but I am happier knowing what got changed in advance than getting surprised after plunking down a deposit. It's a good article. :)

I want to be exited about this game, but in all honesty I like the witcher better atm and that game is like 2 years older than DOA, I wish they would really flesh this game out seems like a lot of the depth of the game was sold in the add on, and quite frankly I demand more from full priced games at the get go.

Susan Arendt:
Preview: What's New in Dragon Age II

Dragon Age "looks better, plays better, and has an entirely new story," but is it still Dragon Age? A way better one, yep.

Read Full Article

if Shepard gets a cameo in Dragon Age 2 Oghren should get a cameo in Mass Effect 3

as cool as an idea that that is, Shepard doesn't have a face...or a gender for that matter
it would be hard to pull off

Gyrefalcon:

Woodsey:
When was the difficulty balance "way off"?

The part where you meet the Dragon Andraste and her loyal Reaver followers. I tried so hard to do that on normal and after 2 hours I had to give over and drop the difficulty level down for that section. Even though the difficult is supposed to adjust, the number of potions, etc. you have access to can make a huge difference. Especially when you have a save where you can't switch up your party members before an unexpectedly difficult part.

I do dislike that they called the easy setting "casual". Casual is about how much time you have available to spend on a game, not really about difficulty, imho. That I would like to see changed, but it's minor.

I am reaaaally wary about this new edition. I'm afraid it might take break the feel. And I am not a big fan about playing humans. Especially since I can do that in a good 80% of other games. Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic are good games, but I don't like them that much. It's a make or break thing for me with Dragon Age 2.

@Susan: Thank you for the detailed review/first look. I may not want to jump on this one the day it comes out, but I am happier knowing what got changed in advance than getting surprised after plunking down a deposit. It's a good article. :)

I imagine they scale it slightly for the areas you're "stuck" in and would have to reload a save to escape. With Andraste you have to come back later if you're too low a level.

RenegadePacifist:

Jeffro Tull:
You definitely have to give respect to Bioware as a company. They are the only company out there with the gumption to re-evaluate everything within a game when they are making a sequel. I have a friend who was complaining about the possible differences when DA2 was first announced. All I could say was that it worked for Mass Effect.
Bioware has amazed me since KOTOR and still manages to capture my interest to this day. They are the best right now, and they can go further.

I too respect a company that can come to realize that they cannot create the same measure of the game as they had done ten years ago and decide to give up on all pretense that they can. Kudos, Bioware.

If it's broken, don't fix it, just tear it out. Kudos to that method, Bioware, kudos.

I sense a bit of sarcasm...

One simple question goes unanswered for me. Am i going to be completely dependent on having a rogue type character at all times to open chests? It's for that reason that Rogue seemed to overshadow all other choices for the main characters class, it's just plain convenient, not having to switch to Zev or someone every time you saw a treasure chest.

They really should have a cameo of commander shepherd in the gameeven if it's for ten seconds just as a laugh at the beginning of the game

Fumbleumble:
Don't care..

Everyone trots out the same tired old BS about Bioware's 'excellent' writing....

Well I say you're all just sheep bleating away and that you wouldn't know HONESTLY good writing if it bit you on the arse.

Bioware's spewings are the same crap reguritated again and again, there isn't an 'original' story in the entire house.

GOOD writing is tight, cohesive and logical, with twists here and there.... Bioware has none of that any longer and haven't had since Jade Empire and that was truly the end of it and it's been sketchy at best since BGII.

Good ISN'T pages and pages of turgidly dry backstory that hopes to beat you down with the sheer amount of irrelevence, and Bioware is now all of that... DA is just the same story they've been telling since BG1... the stage is the same, they just messed around with some of the players backstory. Is no-one surprised they're not sick and tired trotting out the same old wretched fantasy offering, because I'm CERTAINLY sick of the same crap over and over again.. Big evil rears it's head, only one man can stop it and on the way he makes some friends.. Is Bioware really unable to think of another senario? REALLY?.. and DA2 looks more of the same, but this time you don't even get make your own character o.O.

And the less said about the mish mash of broken ends, contradictions and plot holes that CONTINUES to be ME, the better. The first sets a good stage, they fire the writer.. the second goes off at a tangent, taking your char down paths that weren't even cosistant with the char of the first and NOW for the third they can't even stick to the rules for the big bad that they set in the first, good grief it was only a few years agao.. didn't they READ what they were writing?... WAAAA FANBOY ALERT... don't say that, you suck.. lies, WAAAA. I DEFY any of you to find ANY part of their recent storylines that can actually be called original.. or at least not rehashed from the same old same old stories that are constantly and persistantly told again, and again, and again.

If ANY of you are actually interested in good writing and originality, go play Arcanum.. or better yet Planescape: Torment, Bioware couldn't hold a candle to those games in terms of writing, not even in their hayday.

Biowares constant repetition is almost as bad as your constant procamations of their 'leetness'... I suppose it just gives you someything to say, and makes you feel as if you're all a part of something.

And I haven't even started on the dumbass gameplay.....

I think you need to learn the distinction between "writing" and "plot/story". I would agree that the plot is not the strongest point of any Bioware game; even KotOR (my favorite of their games), but for the famous twist was pretty standard fare in that regard. No, the thing that makes them great is the writing: dialog, character development, things like that. That's why so many people (myself included)take the time to talk to every party member in their games (besides because of the occasional stat boost): they are genuinely interesting, well rounded characters. Look at how Tali developed within and between the two Mass Effect games. Look at Morrigan's mommy issues and how she deals with them. Look at HK-47 ('nuff said).

I know you've been suspended, but I'd love to continue this discussion in PM if you're good to.

Awesome seriously this is what sets Bioware apart from almost every other developer out there. Dragon Age Origins was an amazing game I put some serious hours into that thing and its loved by critics too, I bet it has a very high overall score. And yet they take the entire thing and change it to make it work even better, while most developers would just be happy to ship out the same game as a tacked on, thoughtless sequel.

Its time to say thank you to Bioware for showing all the love and care the world's you've created deserve. Cannot wait to play this game. Oh and Merry Christmas to all.

Fumbleumble:
SNIP from the first page.

This user was actually suspended for this? They made all valid arguments, probably didn't deliver them in the best manner though. I agree on a few but, regardless, I'll be getting Dragon Age II. Fumbleumble was pretty spot-on about Mass Effect though... ME2 really did distance itself too far from the first one and I felt it's story was inferior.

As for stripping out the old-school feel to the dialog and inventory management from DAO, I rather liked them. It gave me that same feeling I had when playing KOTOR or Baldur's Gate.

But, at the same time, I do like the concept of having a voiced character that you can manipulate how you want. Like in Mass Effect, it's easy to accept the notion of "this is your character's last name and he/she sounds like this" while you can enter any arbitrary first name to feel invested in your creation. This is what I liked about Shepard, their voice adds to the immersion that the Dev's finely crafted experience is trying to deliver.

But, at the same, I like a silent protagonist with a list of dialog choices because, you know, I have an imagination. God forbid anyone actually try to think of how your character sounds in your own head. This is an old-school system that's still never too old to work right. If you have trouble with this, you need to enlighten yourself on the fine narrative in the original Baldur's Gate. It's worth the trouble.

And I had no problems with the inventory system in DAO, I don't know what all that fuss was about. Maybe I just have a higher threshold of tolerance, I have played the AD&D Gold box games from the 80s after all...

Gingernerd:
One simple question goes unanswered for me. Am i going to be completely dependent on having a rogue type character at all times to open chests? It's for that reason that Rogue seemed to overshadow all other choices for the main characters class, it's just plain convenient, not having to switch to Zev or someone every time you saw a treasure chest.

They could add in the "Bash Lock" choice but that's usually accompanied by the chance of breaking a random item inside. Maybe purchasable "skeleton keys"? Or I guess free-form skill learning so anyone can learn to pick locks... but you'd have to have the Dexterity for it.

Honestly, I have no problem switching to one of my Rogue buddies to pick a lock... not really that inconvenient, the option to switch to other party members is there for a reason.

robinkom:

Gingernerd:
One simple question goes unanswered for me. Am i going to be completely dependent on having a rogue type character at all times to open chests? It's for that reason that Rogue seemed to overshadow all other choices for the main characters class, it's just plain convenient, not having to switch to Zev or someone every time you saw a treasure chest.

They could add in the "Bash Lock" choice but that's usually accompanied by the chance of breaking a random item inside. Maybe purchasable "skeleton keys"? Or I guess free-form skill learning so anyone can learn to pick locks... but you'd have to have the Dexterity for it.

Honestly, I have no problem switching to one of my Rogue buddies to pick a lock... not really that inconvenient, the option to switch to other party members is there for a reason.

I would have liked the option to NOT have a rogue in the party. As it is, it's the one class you have to have in your group or you miss out on a ton of XP for disarming traps and opening chests.

I've beat the game 4 times on the PC so far, on Nightmare difficulty. The funnest group was a PC mage, Wynne, Morrigan, and Leliana for the rogue. My mage went Arcane Warrior and would tank as needed, or I would just drop Force Field on whoever collected the most aggro and drop a walking Bomb on someone next to them. :p

Gildan Bladeborn:
Ooh, that rivalry aspect sounds promising - my ingrained "I am always a nice guy" mindset would often clash with my "Min/maxing is life itself" approach to playing RPGs - if a party member would offer a stat bonus if I got on their good side, it didn't even matter that they were an evil son of a bitch and I'd have to ramble on about how much I liked eating kittens, I would take the hit to my good guy street cred for that sweet sweet stat bonus without even blinking.

So a system that still rewards me for roleplaying my paragon of virtue as a paragon of virtue at all times is one I can get behind.

I absolutely agree. If you played DA:O, I'm sure you were tempted to tell Morrigan to stop being so pointlessly annoying once in a while, but couldn't because it would mean losing approval points.

One thing I'm a bit unhappy about is how they took out the branched origins. I played as an elven mage and a dwarven noble, and I found that their intros were sufficiently interesting and unique that I had to force myself to stop restarting with different character permutations and actually get on with the story. Once I did, I noticed significant differences in the way the story proceeded depending on which character I chose, especially as a deposed dwarf noble returning to Orzrammar. I'm sad that the new game will lose that.

The aim is to not only make players "excited about what they're seeing," says Laidlaw, but also to "make sure that the story being told is about the character, and that the scenery is drawing focus to the people."

First of all, this seems like a fancy way to say "linear"

Second, as a fantasy rpg fan, this statement bothers me. To me one of the best parts of a fantasy is the scenery. This sounds like they're putting artistic background design behind "interesting characters".

Ah, yes 'Darkspawn'.

I demand this be in game.

I have to say, I really do like the sound of all these changes. Even though I love DA:O and rank it as one of my favourite games ever, I think playing through a sequel without these sorts of changes to combat and conversation would have made the experience pretty underwhelming. At the very least, the changes will help keep it new and exciting.

And I'll go on the record as saying that I didn't like the silent protagonist at all. Having a silent protagonist made it impossible for me to roleplay, especially with the 'affection' system. The main character just seemed to serve the purpose of saying whatever would get the party to like me more. Playing as Hawke/Lady Hawke will, at least for someone like me, make it a lot more natural, and help give the feeling of a real personality rather than an empty shell with no real characteristics.

To be honest, and I know this is shallow and sort of creepy, but I don't give two craps about plot, gameplay, or graphics... so long as there's another heterosexual male romance option as fantastic and flawlessly executed as Alistair was in DA:O.

dancinginfernal:
Ah, yes 'Darkspawn'.

We have dismissed that claim ;)

OT, I absolutely loved DA:O, I read every Codex entry and talked to every character I found. I didn't mind the graphics or the combat (on Xbox 360), but it's probably for the best that Bioware's reworking them. I really dislike everything else they've revealed about the game so far, though. Hawke seems like a poor man's Shepard, and so far his story sounds extremely linear and uninteresting ("this is how some dude got famous" vs Origins' "ZOMG Blight"). *sigh* I'll still play it, because I've enjoyed every Bioware game since Jade Empire, but between DA 2 and the unprecedented The Old Republic MMO I wonder if they're straying too far from what they do best.

That story, told in flashback by the dwarf Varric as he's interrogated by the determined Cassandra, is what will play out during your adventures.

I HATE flashbacks in games. I just lose imersion whien its flashbacks.

Paularius:
That story, told in flashback by the dwarf Varric as he's interrogated by the determined Cassandra, is what will play out during your adventures.

I HATE flashbacks in games. I just lose imersion whien its flashbacks.

Combine this with the limited character choices, it's starting to sound like Bioware is collecting a list of "What the hell were they thinking?!" moments.

Still the three Bioware games that I've played (Mass Effect 1 & 2, and Dragon Age: Origins), I've enjoyed a great deal.

I enjoyed all of the character classes and the variety of abilities in ME, I enjoyed narrative and characterizations of ME2, and DA:O combined my favorite aspects of both ME games. I've given Bioware the benefit of the doubt and pre-ordered DA2.

This is not to say that the games were without fault. The powers in ME2 felt underwhelming, thermal clips were annoying (and the logic behind them felt contrived, since I sent FAR more rounds downrange in ME1 than in ME2), and the Paragon/Renegade system meant that you had to be a goody-two-shoes or a complete jerk at all times (I exploited bugs in ME1 to build up my Paragon/Renegade ratings, and then made decisions based on my own wishes rather than based on what would give me more points).

However, if the game is a letdown, I'll let Bioware know that I'm disappointed, and detail WHY. I suggest that people disappointed by recent Bioware game design choices express their disappointment, citing specific instances. If Bioware gets an overwhelming number of messages saying "Thermal clips SUCK!", "Who POSSIBLY thought that the mineral collection minigame was a good idea?", "If you're going to have upgrades blueprints lying around to be collected during missions, let us revisit those areas if we miss it the first time around!" or "the individual approval system in Dragon Age is superior/inferior to the Paragon/Renegade system in Mass Effect", they'll take note. If they just get a bunch of notes saying "You suck!", that gives them nothing to work with.

Unfortunately, I failed to make my dissatisfaction with some ME2 design choices known, so it's probably too late for any complaints to alter ME3 design choices at this stage. I don't intend to repeat that mistake if DA2 disappoints me.

The more I see about this game the more worried I am. The combat doesn't look too fun, to me. I personally HATE hack and slash games. sure, you can still stack moves for yourself and party mmbers but the fighting just looked like hack and slash. And I actually enjoyed the dialogue system....and the character creation.....UHG! Why not just make it another MMORPG bioware? I'm going to go play the elder scrolls and fallout now..... /whining

Blindrooster:
The more I see about this game the more worried I am. The combat doesn't look too fun, to me. I personally HATE hack and slash games. sure, you can still stack moves for yourself and party mmbers but the fighting just looked like hack and slash.

It may not be so bad on the PC - pause and play is still "optional". Although, if it is optional, that means that the combat can be done just by running in and button mashing, which is worrying. That would not work on the PC version of Origins.

For Electronic Arts, retarding the franchise down is a very logical business move - all the people who want a thoughtful, tactical RPG will STILL buy DA2 because simply put, there is nothing better on the market (FA:NV excepted), no matter how much they whine on forums. AND THEN, all the Diablo, Sacred, Dungeon Siege, and Mass Effect customers will rush out to buy a title that was previously too hardcore for their tastes.

That said, even as a hack and slash, the story should be good enough to make this a good buy, although only when they release the 'ultimate edition' (Dragon Age DLCs are notorious rip offs, and DA2 as a popamole is now no longer so tempting as to make me want it exactly at 8am on 1 March).

-snip- double post (sorry)

Nice to see DA could change, I came into the first game hoping it be good, but frankly after playing more action filled RPG like Elder Scrolls Oblivion, DA:O felt like I went from a speedy mustang back to the Volkswagen Golf I had back when I player rpg in the 90

So as nice as being a god hovering over a distant hero like in the old days, itīs hard beating the feeling of stepping into the shoes of the hero and swing there sword (ok DA 2 isnīt exactly that, but much closer then the first game)

Why not make Dragon Age 3 instead of redoing Dragon Age 2?

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