When Dragon Age II Fell Apart

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ccdohl:
Also there's the addition of the craptastic dialogue wheel, lack of race choice, lack of aesthetic customization in companions, reused areas, those quests where you would find an item and bring it to some random person for some reason, and the goofy departure from the aesthetic of the first game. All of which make the game a huge step backwards from its predecessor.

Let's not forget those problems.

Or the atrocious writing. Seriously, this thing practically needs its own Plinkett review.

Undead Dragon King:
I found the ultimate outcome of either side's support to be a very interesting and different way of showing players that their decision on whom to support may not always be vindicated, especially after choosing your final side in the battle for Kirkwall. Yes, Meredith may be insane, power-hungry and corrupted, taking the Templars to an absurd overreach of their station, BUT she was right about the mages the whole time, since Blood Magic is widespread in the circle, and Orsino himself is a blood mage also. Even if it could be spun as that the mages were practicing Blood Magic to resist Meredith's insanity and repression, demonic possession and corruption -and all the chaos and destruction surrounding that- still occurs, no matter what their original motives were.

I think that the point that BioWare was trying to make here is that both sides were in the wrong, and that no matter who Hawke eventually allied with, it feels like you made the wrong choice. I think it's a fresh and innovative way of showing players that just because they have a story and choices that are unique to them, that does not automatically mean that the story will have an ending where their choices feel vindicated.

If the game had depicted that one side was clearly in the right and lorded it over the other faction whether you allied with them or not, that would be problematic storytelling. However, since the leaders of both factions are revealed to be inherently evil at the end, I think it was a refreshing look at the "no way you can come out of this smelling like a rose" ending.

the problem is that the observant or neutral character doesn't have any options, the option to not side with either should be present. Like in the OP, his character took pains to stay neutral, but was forced to choose, where he should have had the option to say "fuck you both". all three could have been downer endings, but it wouldn't feel like you were forced to side with a group you disagree with.

I think the game was falling apart the moment that act III started, though Best Served Cold was probably the most ridiculous instance of the game giving you a middle finger. You finally meet a more rational faction in the game. Their leader orders your sibling released and asks you to join their cause to overthrow the tyrannical faction that rules them all. So then a random blood mage murders that leader in front of EVERYONE and they all side with her against you, forcing you to kill the rational faction and make a decision that will plunge the entire region into absolute chaos. That was the stupidest thing that happened in the entire game. If they didn't want you to have this option, why even present it in the first place? It wasn't tragic when the option disappeared just because of how it disappeared. People weren't exactly joining up with John Wilkes Booth after he shot Lincoln, they hunted the guy down.

Anyway, I think it was falling apart in a narrative sense because of how mages are portrayed at every turn. Every asshole with a paper cut ended up turning into a blood thirsty monster who wanted your flesh. When you remove Orsino from the list at the very end, that adds up to zero sensible mages in the entire game save you or your sister. This game pulled the cardinal sin of not ignoring choices, but invalidating them right before your eyes.

I played the game before I read all the nitpicks from the nay-sayers and I liked it. I liked my character and I liked the combat and I liked the story. Another thing it has going for it is the fact that it actually works - I can put the disc into my PS3 and, you know, enjoy the game. Something that I cannot do with skyrim, for all the praise and GOTY awards it's got.

JMeganSnow:
snip

This.

One cannot expect the game to mirror YOUR personal view of the character, you can only take into account what has happened in the game, so its natural for the Mages and Templars to think that you are working for Meredith, seeing as you just killed a bunch of them (there is no way for them to know the full story of WHY you had to kill them, so its the only conclusion they can come to). YOU (the author of the article) might have a different view of your character and his alignment, but the truth is that the rebellious Mages and Templars could only see and judge from your actions.

Darkmantle:
the problem is that the observant or neutral character doesn't have any options, the option to not side with either should be present. Like in the OP, his character took pains to stay neutral, but was forced to choose, where he should have had the option to say "fuck you both". all three could have been downer endings, but it wouldn't feel like you were forced to side with a group you disagree with.

That's the thing. You DO have the dialogue choice of wanting to stay neutral during the moment of decision. But then, if you stay neutral, what kind of "Champion of Kirkwall" would you be, as the game points out to you when you choose that option? You are a public figurehead who is as inexorably tied to Kirkwall as the Templars and the Circle, and both sides are now engaging in all-out war for what their vision of Kirkwall would be like. The swords would swing and spells would fly whether you walked away or not. To stand aside and let the fate of the city that you Champion be decided by someone else would be cowardly and a fundamental failing of your station as the protector of the city, which you had spent the last decade of your life cultivating. You would lose all credibility as a hero by the people of Kirkwall no matter who won the war if you just did nothing. When Anders struck the first blow of the battle, your time of neutrality ended. You, for the good of the city, had to choose whom to support.

And that's the best part. No matter whom you side with, you're allying yourself with an evil leader. It's an excellent guage in a game of which is the lesser of two evils. And that decision is why, for all its design flaws, I can't fault Dragon Age 2's story.

ccdohl:
Also there's the addition of the craptastic dialogue wheel, lack of race choice, lack of aesthetic customization in companions, reused areas, those quests where you would find an item and bring it to some random person for some reason, and the goofy departure from the aesthetic of the first game. All of which make the game a huge step backwards from its predecessor.

Let's not forget those problems.

The reused areas and piddly little fetch quests were fairly lame, but the lack of changes to the companions didn't bother me a bit. I thought it was actually an interesting departure from the norm, really.

Thank you for writing this up. You hit the nail on the head. That is exactly the point where the game jumped the shark in my opinion and went from "engaging story with OK gameplay" to "unmitigated disaster". "OMG! Templars and mages working together, yeah!" "Wait...why are they attacking me?"

Your research in putting this together is much appreciated.

Undead Dragon King:

Darkmantle:
the problem is that the observant or neutral character doesn't have any options, the option to not side with either should be present. Like in the OP, his character took pains to stay neutral, but was forced to choose, where he should have had the option to say "fuck you both". all three could have been downer endings, but it wouldn't feel like you were forced to side with a group you disagree with.

That's the thing. You DO have the dialogue choice of wanting to stay neutral during the moment of decision. But then, if you stay neutral, what kind of "Champion of Kirkwall" would you be, as the game points out to you when you choose that option? You are a public figurehead who is as inexorably tied to Kirkwall as the Templars and the Circle, and both sides are now engaging in all-out war for what their vision of Kirkwall would be like. The swords would swing and spells would fly whether you walked away or not. To stand aside and let the fate of the city that you Champion be decided by someone else would be cowardly and a fundamental failing of your station as the protector of the city, which you had spent the last decade of your life cultivating. You would lose all credibility as a hero by the people of Kirkwall no matter who won the war if you just did nothing. When Anders struck the first blow of the battle, your time of neutrality ended. You, for the good of the city, had to choose whom to support.

And that's the best part. No matter whom you side with, you're allying yourself with an evil leader. It's an excellent guage in a game of which is the lesser of two evils. And that decision is why, for all its design flaws, I can't fault Dragon Age 2's story.

or, as the "protector of kirkwall" would you be more inclined to kill BOTH sides, pfft, only cowards walk away, I would rampage through the middle of BOTH of their armies. If they cant get along, they all deserve to die. Is that decision present? defend the city by eliminating both factions?

cause that's how my char would play it.

Darkmantle:

Undead Dragon King:

Darkmantle:
the problem is that the observant or neutral character doesn't have any options, the option to not side with either should be present. Like in the OP, his character took pains to stay neutral, but was forced to choose, where he should have had the option to say "fuck you both". all three could have been downer endings, but it wouldn't feel like you were forced to side with a group you disagree with.

That's the thing. You DO have the dialogue choice of wanting to stay neutral during the moment of decision. But then, if you stay neutral, what kind of "Champion of Kirkwall" would you be, as the game points out to you when you choose that option? You are a public figurehead who is as inexorably tied to Kirkwall as the Templars and the Circle, and both sides are now engaging in all-out war for what their vision of Kirkwall would be like. The swords would swing and spells would fly whether you walked away or not. To stand aside and let the fate of the city that you Champion be decided by someone else would be cowardly and a fundamental failing of your station as the protector of the city, which you had spent the last decade of your life cultivating. You would lose all credibility as a hero by the people of Kirkwall no matter who won the war if you just did nothing. When Anders struck the first blow of the battle, your time of neutrality ended. You, for the good of the city, had to choose whom to support.

And that's the best part. No matter whom you side with, you're allying yourself with an evil leader. It's an excellent guage in a game of which is the lesser of two evils. And that decision is why, for all its design flaws, I can't fault Dragon Age 2's story.

or, as the "protector of kirkwall" would you be more inclined to kill BOTH sides, pfft, only cowards walk away, I would rampage through the middle of BOTH of their armies. If they cant get along, they all deserve to die. Is that decision present? defend the city by eliminating both factions?

cause that's how my char would play it.

Your char is suicidal? From a gameplay pov, it may be possible to kill hundreds of enemies, but as a story option, this but be silly.

I haven't gotten around to playing DA2 yet but I've been following it and the controversy surrounding it as closely as I can. That seems like a fantastic ending to me, and right in line with everything else I've heard about the game. DA2 seems to be very much about boldly destroying a lot of the classic fantasy tropes we've come to expect, rather then simply subverting them as it's predecessor usually did. Hero's have lives beyond a single journey that takes them to a single dramatic resolution, tales are unreliable, and not all dwarves have beards.

Maybe the execution was off, I wouldn't know. But just based on the description of the ending that IS a brilliant exercise in tragedy, I don't really see how it could be anything else. There's no right answer and everyone sucks, and all you have to do is decide which one you think sucks less. With all the problems society in this universe faces that feels so much more real to me then the usual method of introducing moral gray areas: where the heroes have a few faults and sometimes the villains almost-but-not-quite start making sense.

DA:O was great, DA2 was sadly crap...

Ending sucked. Made no sense considering I could've slaughtered all the Templars or the Mages by myself, all I'd need is enough arrows. No need for lyrium swords or blood magic.
and Final boss then, whoop! Leliana and yer done!
And I sit there going, what? Okay where's my slideshow of "what happened to who" thing you did the in the first game?
Why can't I talk to all my buddies to here of their plans?
WHY THE F*CK CAN'T I CHOOSE WHERE MY CHARACTER GOES AT THE END?!

I liked the tragedy type ending really, it's nice to see Bioware taking a break from the "you are the Chosen One, now go save the world" thing they've been sticking to ever since... Well... Ever i suppose?

Good to see a "Chosen One" who can't do shit for once.

The combat was crap though, i liked the leveling and rival/friend system but the hordes, my god the hordes!

Didn't really care about the copypasta environments though... It's hardly a gamebreaker in my eyes, the fact that all the items had little to no description or name annoyed me more. Weird how you only miss the "+10 staff of penetration" when it's gone...

bjj hero:

Dennis Scimeca:

Dragon Age 2's story is just plain broken.

I loved DA:O but never got around to playing DA2. I hope to at some point. The complaints Ive heard havent put me off I just always have other things to play.

Copy paste dungeons? Well there are plenty of similar buildings thrown up on housing estates etc so is it so far fetched?

Onto the OPs point about "Best served cold". We can all get dragged into things that dont concern us, having worked in prisons Ive seen "neutral" people have to side with gangs from their area because they were targetted by rival gangs thinking they're affiliated. Similar things happen in places like Northern Ireland, and the middle east. You are roped in with a group you dont have any real links with and have to stand your ground or flee. Whats is so far fetched? Sometimes other people make your choices for you.

As far as the ending; what's so wrong with both sides being arse holes? Isn't that most wars ever fought? Look at recent events in Libya where most observers agree that NATO, the pro Gaddafi fighters and the "freedom fighters" are all guilty of war crimes. (Thats Bombing civilian targets, deciding someones a pro Gaddafi supporter to be tortured and killed based on skin colour and burying deserters alive respecively to name a few allegations). Life is not so black and white unless you believe TV and movies.

He was not complaining about it not being black and white. He was mad that if he choses the mages they are evil and the templars are good. If he picks the templars they are evil and the mages are good. The mages should either become abominations neither way or both ways or else it doesn't make any sense.

ImSkeletor:
[quote="bjj hero" post="6.338796.13710153"]

He was not complaining about it not being black and white. He was mad that if he choses the mages they are evil and the templars are good. If he picks the templars they are evil and the mages are good. The mages should either become abominations neither way or both ways or else it doesn't make any sense.

But that isn't even the case. Whichever side you pick, Orsino becomes an Abomination (Harvester, actually) and in both cases Meredith is insane and you have to kill her. You only encounter blood mages in the gallows (aside from Orsino) if you sided with the templars.

I liked that it was a gray, crapsack world with few clear moral black/white areas.

The ending that I didn't like was playing as a mage, supporting and siding with the mages at every opportunity, Anders' afraid, insecure reactions and dialogue make no sense.

---

ImSkeletor:

He was not complaining about it not being black and white. He was mad that if he choses the mages they are evil and the templars are good. If he picks the templars they are evil and the mages are good. The mages should either become abominations neither way or both ways or else it doesn't make any sense.

A mage needs to be versed in Blood Magic to become an Abomination at will. In all endings, those mages still know how to use Blood Magic, even if some are not driven by the plot to use it in that way.

It's therefore natural when games like Dragon Age II, whose characters and story are arguably stronger than their mechanics, roll around, those narrative-loving critics are so pleased.

I must have read the paragraph this was in 6 times because I thought my sleep deprivation was affecting my ability to read. Did't make much sense to me with that "roll around" in the middle :/

OT: The game for me fell apart when the dialogue I was choosing didn't sound like it mattered. There were times when I declined to do something, only ending up having to do it anyway.

*shrug*

tmande2nd:
Its like I say:

Dragon Age 2 was not an RPG, simply a playable dramatic documentary like we seen on the BBC.

This.

DA2, sadly, was just The Random Adventures Of This Guy/Gal Who Does Some Stuff And Then Things Happen.

The utter lack of a single storyline ruined the game, sadly. It had potential that it squandered by being a handful of frayed threads, rather than a single story with a lot of sidequests, like the first.

For me DA2 did fall apart in act 3 chiefly because its run by the idiot ball, and not any human motivations anymore.

For me it was when the awesome promise of a kickass storyline coming from the Deep Roads run (end of chapter 1) was utterly wasted by NOTHING HAPPENING.

Seriously, we are shown an ancient idol with clear evil power predating even the Dwarves, we have the fraternal betrayal, the abandonment deep in the earth, surrounded by antediluvian monstrosities and demons and dark ones and then POOF YAY WE ARE HOME AND THERE WERE NO CONSEQUENCES AFTER ALL HAH HAH HAH OH HEY A SIDEQUEST THAT WRAPS ALL THAT UP LATER ON IN A NEAT LITTLE PACKAGE HOORAY.

:c

Wilhelm Figge:

Darkmantle:

Undead Dragon King:

That's the thing. You DO have the dialogue choice of wanting to stay neutral during the moment of decision. But then, if you stay neutral, what kind of "Champion of Kirkwall" would you be, as the game points out to you when you choose that option? You are a public figurehead who is as inexorably tied to Kirkwall as the Templars and the Circle, and both sides are now engaging in all-out war for what their vision of Kirkwall would be like. The swords would swing and spells would fly whether you walked away or not. To stand aside and let the fate of the city that you Champion be decided by someone else would be cowardly and a fundamental failing of your station as the protector of the city, which you had spent the last decade of your life cultivating. You would lose all credibility as a hero by the people of Kirkwall no matter who won the war if you just did nothing. When Anders struck the first blow of the battle, your time of neutrality ended. You, for the good of the city, had to choose whom to support.

And that's the best part. No matter whom you side with, you're allying yourself with an evil leader. It's an excellent guage in a game of which is the lesser of two evils. And that decision is why, for all its design flaws, I can't fault Dragon Age 2's story.

or, as the "protector of kirkwall" would you be more inclined to kill BOTH sides, pfft, only cowards walk away, I would rampage through the middle of BOTH of their armies. If they cant get along, they all deserve to die. Is that decision present? defend the city by eliminating both factions?

cause that's how my char would play it.

Your char is suicidal? From a gameplay pov, it may be possible to kill hundreds of enemies, but as a story option, this but be silly.

See the downer ending comment I made earlier, you would have to be insane or knights-templarish in your devotion to take that path, so STILL no matter what you do it's a downer ending.

What's nice is the choice, the way they have it, your char is just forced.

EDIT: yes my char is like a Knight-templar (figuratively), just how I played him.

Darkmantle:
[quote="Wilhelm Figge" post="6.338796.13710660"]

See the downer ending comment I made earlier, you would have to be insane or knights-templarish in your devotion to take that path, so STILL no matter what you do it's a downer ending.

What's nice is the choice, the way they have it, your char is just forced.

You can't make every choice available. DA:O never gave you the choice not to become a warden. In Baldur's Gate you weren't able to say: "Wow, everyone on the sword coast is trying to kill me, i'm outta here!" Very few story-driven games give you the choice not to participate in the story.

To me, the whole narrative structure fell apart after the end of act 1, without a clear goal from start to finish. The game felt like a 3 part mini series, with a last act clearly rushed. Act 2 was awesome, but only because the Arishok stole the spotlight, even tough that book twist with Isabela was stupid (you waited 3 years to tell me that?!), and I lost her after wasting an afternoon on Insanity to duel with the Arishok because I didn't use her a lot thanks to her infamous aura glitch. Go me.

I hated Best Served Cold for the aforementioned no reflection of our choices, and I didn't like the ending choice either. I roleplayed an overprotective big brother to Bethany as a warrior Hawke (polite answers most of the time with a few sarcastic ones, but going all agressive when she was threatened). So lacking the choice somewhere along the lines of "I'm not in this for your rebellion, I just want my sister to be safe" really made me pissed, since this game was hyped as a super personal story. That personal story aspect fell flat to its face with Bethany removed at the end of Act 1 (adventuring with her was the best part of Act 1 imo) and your mother killed in Act 2, that last glimmering hope when you meet your cusin in Act 3 wasn't good enough to make it live up for all the praise and hype it got pre-launch. I didn't go for either love interests, so no opinion about those.

I really wanted to replay it a few more times to squeeze out as much roleplaying as I could (planned a sarcastic mage and a dickish/agressive rogue presonality), but thank god 2011 was a blast, and DA ][ was a disappointing opening for a rollercoaster gaming year and I didn't have the time.

Wilhelm Figge:

Darkmantle:
[quote="Wilhelm Figge" post="6.338796.13710660"]

See the downer ending comment I made earlier, you would have to be insane or knights-templarish in your devotion to take that path, so STILL no matter what you do it's a downer ending.

What's nice is the choice, the way they have it, your char is just forced.

You can't make every choice available. DA:O never gave you the choice not to become a warden. In Baldur's Gate you weren't able to say: "Wow, everyone on the sword coast is trying to kill me, i'm outta here!" Very few story-driven games give you the choice not to participate in the story.

I never said I wanted the choice to leave the story. I wanted the choice to pick the side I wanted to pick, as mentioned in the article, the templar/mage alliance, OR my own damn alliance, so I don't have to side with the two sides, neither of which I like. It's a binary choice, there should be a different option. And how is deciding to protect the city from both of them not participating in the story? and if I DO want the choice to not participate, maybe it's just a bad story.

Wilhelm Figge:

Darkmantle:
[quote="Wilhelm Figge" post="6.338796.13710660"]

See the downer ending comment I made earlier, you would have to be insane or knights-templarish in your devotion to take that path, so STILL no matter what you do it's a downer ending.

What's nice is the choice, the way they have it, your char is just forced.

You can't make every choice available. DA:O never gave you the choice not to become a warden. In Baldur's Gate you weren't able to say: "Wow, everyone on the sword coast is trying to kill me, i'm outta here!" Very few story-driven games give you the choice not to participate in the story.

The point was more that the game basically forces you to pick up the idiot ball. There's a difference between asking the player to pick between two equally valid choices and asking the player to pick between two equally invalid choices when they can easily think of a better solution. The "pick a side" dichotomy isn't exactly new ground for video games, either - both Witcher games and New Vegas, to name a few recent ones, did the same thing much more intelligently.

I agree with everything said. There were acts leading up to "Best Served Cold" that while they make it believable, still leave it as quite a stretch. I'm glad the story's getting a more detailed analysis as many of the reviews I've seen focus too much on the dungeons seeming like (as our own Yahtzee so eloquently put it) they'd "started opening franchises", and how non-RPG the combat was and how overly-streamlined the leveling system was. All understandable gripes, but not on the level of the actual story of the game. Something Bioware tends to master and that to many RPG fans, is the most important aspect of said genre. ESPECIALLY in a multiple-game story like that of Dragon Age.

The worst part I think of the story, is that it didn't FEEL like Dragon Age. It felt like some asshole runs around doing remedial tasks for 12-15 hours, then gets thrown into a mini-war ending in a boss fight with not a dragon, but some crazy bitch who got to close too a glow-ey crystal thing. It does little to connect the events or the "Champion" to the world around him or to establish his part in the final game, which was really the whole purpose of Dragon Age II. As i said when I initially reviewed this for a now defunct site about a week after release, it felt like a larger-scale downloadable content story than an actual game. The kind of thing you spend 20 or 30 bucks on to keep the masses busy until the real game comes out. It would have been acceptable, maybe even pretty good for that price, with the lowered expectations of typical DLC, but it just feels too small and too hastily thrown together for a full-fledged game. Yet alone a full-fledged game that's a sequel to one of the best RPG's of this console generation by one of the masters of the art.

Darkmantle:
the problem is that the observant or neutral character doesn't have any options, the option to not side with either should be present. Like in the OP, his character took pains to stay neutral, but was forced to choose, where he should have had the option to say "fuck you both". all three could have been downer endings, but it wouldn't feel like you were forced to side with a group you disagree with.

For that to work, you would need two new options:
1. Fight no-one. Hawke would just walk away and leave them to it. This would be a massive anti-climax. Good in a narrative sense, but awful in a gameplay sense.
2. Fight everyone. This would be strong from a gameplay perspective (it would make more sense of the double bosses). This would a popular option, just like the 'no masters, no Gods' option in New Vegas. As for a narrative perspective, I guess it would leave Hawke in an awkward postition. Hawke saved the city, but they would only see the destruction. Hawke would lack allies on either side and be hunted in exile by both. It could've been interesting. I personally wouldn't choose it because Bioware games are about tough decisions, picking the least worst option and not just about solving everything with blood.

Great article filled with perfectly valid points.

Another that I would bring up is how hard it is to have any sympathy for the Mages at all. You're supposed to feel sorry for the as they're locked up like prisoners in a building that actually used to be a prison. Meredith enacts the harshest of all punishments, Tranquilization, a fate that would be considered infinitely worse than death itself for even the slights of infractions. Annnnnnnnnnnnd yet every - single - mage you encounter is a blood mage. Even the quest where you're trying to find a young mage boy who has apparently been kidnapped by slavers, you go to a werehouse out in the docks and find the slavers ganging up on a poor mage girl who's begging for help....then just up and turns into an abomination. It's really hard to say "Yeah, the Templars are definitely being too harsh on these poor mages" when it certainly seems that everything the Templars say is true. Orsino is the only level-headed mage you encounter in the entire game, and even HE turns out to be a blood mage/abomination in the end. True, the Lyrium Idol that Meredith had forged into her great sword clearly drove her insane the way it drove Varric's brother insane...people said "Meredith has gone mad! She sees blood magic everywhere!" Well maybe that's because Kirkwall is filled with blood mages! I mean hell, you yourself have the option of becoming a blood mage, and yet NO ONE EVER CALLS YOU ON IT! Everyone in your party knows that blood magic is a terrible, evil thing, and yet every time you slit your own throat or impale yourself on your staff to draw blood for the blood magic, everyone just kinda....looks the other way. I mean hell, you can put on a full show of blood magic in front of every noble in the city when you have the duel against the Ari'shok (spelling), but apparently you're the Champion so using magic that is absolutely 10,000% forbidden by Templars AND Mages is alright.

There's that quest where a mage-sympathizing Templar calls you out to a cave and says "A bunch of escaped mages are hiding in here. If I go in they'll think I'm there to arrest them, but I want you to go in and help them escape before the rest of the Templars get here." Once you reach the end, the mages beg for their lives at which point you can either turn them over to the Templars or indeed let them all go. The thing is it makes absolutely no difference which choice you make because you see those same mages again in the next act. If you turned them over to the Templars, they're understandably pissed off at you. If you let them go, apparently within a couple days they were captured again and they immediately blame you for it...which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. And, sure enough, they all turn out to be blood mages anyways and they all end up dying by your hand on the Wounded Coast. That being the case, why couldn't you have the choice to kill them all in the cave to begin with? "Oh because those are the mages that end up kidnapping your sibling in the final act." Yeah, well I took Anders with me to the Deep Roads so my sibling neither died nor joined the circle/templars, he/she got to live on as a member of the Grey Wardens.

Which brings up the subject of Anders himself. Clearly he is an extremist, as crazy of a mage as Meredith is crazy as a templar. Why in god's name do you trust a person who is clearly possessed? Granted, you're given the option to either not take him or kick him out of the party any time you wish, but it makes no difference. He still flips out and blows up the church. If you side with the Templars, you should immediately see that he is an abomination and either turn him in or kill him on sight. If you side with the Mages, you should see that he is clearly a danger to everyone around him and to the Mage's cause and either turn him in or kill him on sight. The blame for the church getting kerploded in what is apparently the fantasy equivalent of a magical nuclear bomb lies at the feet of Hawke for not doing something about Anders sooner. Just because I hate extremism in any form, Anders was my least favorite character and thus least used character (which kinda sucks since he's supposed to be your healer :P), but that said I did like how if you bring him to the Deep Roads with you your sibling gets to join the Grey Wardens rather than dying of the Blight or, if you left them back at home, joining the Circle or Templars. Also I liked how if you take him with you on that quest where you enter the Dreamwalker's dream, he actually turns into Justice.

There were numerous other problems with the story, but all in all I thought it was pulled off well. I really liked how the story was actually told as a story, one of Varric's legends and tales. It makes the games narrative an actual narrative. To be honest, I had my own problems and nit-picks with the story (such as what I mentioned about it's hard to call Meredith crazy for seeing blood magic everywhere when there IS blood magic everywhere) and this article has added some new ones to the list. But in the end I still liked the story. Though another reason the ending sucked was that it really didn't matter which side you chose, you still end up killing all the mages and Meredith, so that kinda blows.

But hey, at least Bioware managed to 1-up themselves as far as creating a character that was sexier than Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins. Mmmmmmmmm.....Isabella...the dirty pirate hooker..... :3

For all the tl-dr losers out there, here's the short version: It's hard to sympathize with the mages, it's hard to call Meredith crazy for seeing blood magic everywhere since there is blood magic everywhere, another couple exmaples of choices that make no difference which one you choose, no matter how you look at it Anders should have been killed or imprisoned the moment you met him, and Isabella is a sexy, dirty little pirate hooker. :P

Nice for Escapist to tell me all about DA2's flaws ONE YEAR AFTER THEY PRAISED IT AS THE PERFECT GAME encouraging me to spend $50 on it. I'm sorry, this article just makes the editorial staff look bad.

Mike Richards:
I haven't gotten around to playing DA2 yet but I've been following it and the controversy surrounding it as closely as I can. That seems like a fantastic ending to me, and right in line with everything else I've heard about the game. DA2 seems to be very much about boldly destroying a lot of the classic fantasy tropes we've come to expect, rather then simply subverting them as it's predecessor usually did. Hero's have lives beyond a single journey that takes them to a single dramatic resolution, tales are unreliable, and not all dwarves have beards.

Maybe the execution was off, I wouldn't know.

Yeah that was the biggest problem really. The idea was great, but it does seem they ran out of time before pulling it off well enough. I still really like the idea that no matter what you choose you can't win, like others said it's a nice change in perspective from normal fantasy RPGs. If only they'd have had more time to pull it off...

DA 2 is an example of one of the few times a will whole heartedly agree with Yahtzee. I don't know the exact quote but it goes omething like " a sequel has to be bigger than the original" Correct me if im wrong ill edit it or something.

DA 2 story was unfocused and only hinted at an overarching plot towards the end. I found the Quanari more interesting than growing tensions between Templar and Mage. Anyway back to my point. Dragon Age: origns plot was focused and always there: Defeat the arch demon and stop the blight a possible world ravaging disaster. Nearly every part of DA: O was raising an army or some other means to combat said evil invasion and an evil invasion of twisted monstrosities is a bigger deal (in my opinion) to wheter the poor mages have there ickle freedom ( I might have considered siding with them if Anders wasn't as zealous as Meridith if not more so).

All in all DA: 2 feels down graded in the story department its not as epic, sweeping or moving, its just some guy/girl piddling about in a city for awhile. The characters are still fantastic though (aside from Merrill and Anders)

RJ 17:
Great article filled with perfectly valid points.

Another that I would bring up is how hard it is to have any sympathy for the Mages at all. You're supposed to feel sorry for the as they're locked up like prisoners in a building that actually used to be a prison. Meredith enacts the harshest of all punishments, Tranquilization, a fate that would be considered infinitely worse than death itself for even the slights of infractions. Annnnnnnnnnnnd yet every - single - mage you encounter is a blood mage. Even the quest where you're trying to find a young mage boy who has apparently been kidnapped by slavers, you go to a werehouse out in the docks and find the slavers ganging up on a poor mage girl who's begging for help....then just up and turns into an abomination. It's really hard to say "Yeah, the Templars are definitely being too harsh on these poor mages" when it certainly seems that everything the Templars say is true. Orsino is the only level-headed mage you encounter in the entire game, and even HE turns out to be a blood mage/abomination in the end. True, the Lyrium Idol that Meredith had forged into her great sword clearly drove her insane the way it drove Varric's brother insane...people said "Meredith has gone mad! She sees blood magic everywhere!" Well maybe that's because Kirkwall is filled with blood mages! I mean hell, you yourself have the option of becoming a blood mage, and yet NO ONE EVER CALLS YOU ON IT! Everyone in your party knows that blood magic is a terrible, evil thing, and yet every time you slit your own throat or impale yourself on your staff to draw blood for the blood magic, everyone just kinda....looks the other way. I mean hell, you can put on a full show of blood magic in front of every noble in the city when you have the duel against the Ari'shok (spelling), but apparently you're the Champion so using magic that is absolutely 10,000% forbidden by Templars AND Mages is alright.

There's that quest where a mage-sympathizing Templar calls you out to a cave and says "A bunch of escaped mages are hiding in here. If I go in they'll think I'm there to arrest them, but I want you to go in and help them escape before the rest of the Templars get here." Once you reach the end, the mages beg for their lives at which point you can either turn them over to the Templars or indeed let them all go. The thing is it makes absolutely no difference which choice you make because you see those same mages again in the next act. If you turned them over to the Templars, they're understandably pissed off at you. If you let them go, apparently within a couple days they were captured again and they immediately blame you for it...which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. And, sure enough, they all turn out to be blood mages anyways and they all end up dying by your hand on the Wounded Coast. That being the case, why couldn't you have the choice to kill them all in the cave to begin with? "Oh because those are the mages that end up kidnapping your sibling in the final act." Yeah, well I took Anders with me to the Deep Roads so my sibling neither died nor joined the circle/templars, he/she got to live on as a member of the Grey Wardens.

Which brings up the subject of Anders himself. Clearly he is an extremist, as crazy of a mage as Meredith is crazy as a templar. Why in god's name do you trust a person who is clearly possessed? Granted, you're given the option to either not take him or kick him out of the party any time you wish, but it makes no difference. He still flips out and blows up the church. If you side with the Templars, you should immediately see that he is an abomination and either turn him in or kill him on sight. If you side with the Mages, you should see that he is clearly a danger to everyone around him and to the Mage's cause and either turn him in or kill him on sight. The blame for the church getting kerploded in what is apparently the fantasy equivalent of a magical nuclear bomb lies at the feet of Hawke for not doing something about Anders sooner. Just because I hate extremism in any form, Anders was my least favorite character and thus least used character (which kinda sucks since he's supposed to be your healer :P), but that said I did like how if you bring him to the Deep Roads with you your sibling gets to join the Grey Wardens rather than dying of the Blight or, if you left them back at home, joining the Circle or Templars. Also I liked how if you take him with you on that quest where you enter the Dreamwalker's dream, he actually turns into Justice.

There were numerous other problems with the story, but all in all I thought it was pulled off well. I really liked how the story was actually told as a story, one of Varric's legends and tales. It makes the games narrative an actual narrative. To be honest, I had my own problems and nit-picks with the story (such as what I mentioned about it's hard to call Meredith crazy for seeing blood magic everywhere when there IS blood magic everywhere) and this article has added some new ones to the list. But in the end I still liked the story. Though another reason the ending sucked was that it really didn't matter which side you chose, you still end up killing all the mages and Meredith, so that kinda blows.

But hey, at least Bioware managed to 1-up themselves as far as creating a character that was sexier than Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins. Mmmmmmmmm.....Isabella...the dirty pirate hooker..... :3

For all the tl-dr losers out there, here's the short version: It's hard to sympathize with the mages, it's hard to call Meredith crazy for seeing blood magic everywhere since there is blood magic everywhere, another couple exmaples of choices that make no difference which one you choose, no matter how you look at it Anders should have been killed or imprisoned the moment you met him, and Isabella is a sexy, dirty little pirate hooker. :P

^ This. My feelings on the subject exactly (if only I read the thread before posting my own :P)

There is also a few other problems with Dragon Age 2 and one of the biggest is that there are no consequences; only shortcuts.

You lived at Kirkwall for 10 something years and when someone said "I'll get you for this!" while angrily shaking their fists they never did get you for that (Or when you were used for something and you wanted revenge... You never got that).

You acts as a "noble" never really amounted to anything, you never received any profits from the Dragon Mines between the years (Only quests to kill things) and Kirkwall never changed.

It could have just been a cosmetic change between the more noticable seasons (Winter, spring and Autumn). The city could have had a festival to celebrate random yearly event but no they never took advantage of the one solid place. It was a brilliant idea that was executed terribly.

Then you had that wonderful gem where a character came back to life "BECAUSE I SAID SO; PATHETIC CUSTOMERS!" (Which was never elaborated on... I think). Man that was a PR blunder.

VeneratedWulfen93:
DA 2 is an example of one of the few times a will whole heartedly agree with Yahtzee. I don't know the exact quote but it goes omething like " a sequel has to be bigger than the original" Correct me if im wrong ill edit it or something.

DA 2 story was unfocused and only hinted at an overarching plot towards the end. I found the Quanari more interesting than growing tensions between Templar and Mage. Anyway back to my point. Dragon Age: origns plot was focused and always there: Defeat the arch demon and stop the blight a possible world ravaging disaster. Nearly every part of DA: O was raising an army or some other means to combat said evil invasion and an evil invasion of twisted monstrosities is a bigger deal (in my opinion) to wheter the poor mages have there ickle freedom ( I might have considered siding with them if Anders wasn't as zealous as Meridith if not more so).

All in all DA: 2 feels down graded in the story department its not as epic, sweeping or moving, its just some guy/girl piddling about in a city for awhile. The characters are still fantastic though (aside from Merrill and Anders)

I have heard that argument a number of times, that the story seemed "unfocused", "without purpose", that - as you said - "it's just some guy/girl piddling about in a city for a while". To that I remind people that that's actually what the story is /supposed/ to be like. You're not a Grey Warden, you're not out to raise an army to overthrow a tyrannical usurper to the thrown while also fighting back a world devouring evil. You're just a single person who fled The Blight. The story of DA 2 is the story of Hawke's life in Kirkwall. You arrive as a nobody who can't even enter the city, so you sign up with some thieves or mercs just to get in. After a year or so, Hawke finds himself/herself in need of money so he/she joins up with an expedition. Striking it rich on this expedition, he/she is able to catipult himself/herself up the social ladder to being an aristocrat, if not an out-right noble. Now being someone of mild importance, Hawke finds himself/herself mixed up with the Qunari threat. In the eyes of the Ari'shok, Hawke is the only worthy human in the entire city, and as such he challenges him/her to single combat to decide the City's fate. Upon defeating the Ari'shok and saving the city, Hawke officially becomes one of, if not THE most important person in the city. Given that Hawke is now essentially the #1 peace-keeper, it falls to him/her to resolve the mage/templar situation.

In short, that's what the story of DA 2 is supposed to be. It is nothing more than Hawke's life playing out in Kirkwall, the story of how a refugee goes from being a bottom feeder to the single most important person in the city (even becoming Vicount if you play your cards right). You can't fault it for being "unfocused" or "without purpose" because indeed there is no over-arching goal. Hawke never wanted to become the Champion, it just happened. Hawke never wanted to get mixed up in the mage and templar situation, it just happened. Cest la vie.

RJ 17:
it's hard to call Meredith crazy for seeing blood magic everywhere since there is blood magic everywhere

Haha there's a certain logic to this. Of course, although she does realize she's basically living in the 40K universe, she ends up demanding blood for the blood god/skulls for the skull throne herself. Not that there's anything wrong with her going crazy - like many things in DA2, Meredith would have been effective if she had been done competently.

Gather:

Ah, David Gaider. Why are you using energy to try to make people like your game by fiat when you could be using that energy to make a good game?

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