When Dragon Age II Fell Apart

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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

To your points on not being able to blame Meredith for seeing Blood Magic everywhere; if you played through Origins as a Mage you would see that Blood Magic isn't evil by nature, but seen as evil because the Chantry doesn't like it - Wardens use it all the time. It's hard to see Meredith as reasonable because she hates/fears a group of people for how they are born. It's hard to see Orsino learning Blood Magic as unreasonable as he is supposed to be the leader of all Mages (though his decision to become an abomination was extremely unreasonable).

Now as far as Anders goes. I was playing Hawke as me (as I always do the first time around, which sucks for me considering the game mechanics are too bad to make it replayable), so in a relationship with Merrill and Anders was moreorless my best friend (besides Varric obviously). When Anders did what he did I was absolutely dumbfounded at first; left gaping at my computer screen feeling weak, helpless and betrayed. He had me help him. So what did I do? I executed him. I agree with his idea that Mages should be free of the circle and that the Mages needed a push but not that. He deserved what he got.

What pissed me off when I looked through all the options regarding Isabella (who annoyed the piss out of me and disliked me as much as I disliked her so she didn't show up in Act II), that one wasn't to explain that the blood of every dead Qunari and citizen of Kirkwall in these battles - including the Viscount - was on her hands and whatever happened to her in Par Vollen was too good an end. People do seem to forget in all of this that Isabella has so far killed as many, if not more, people than Anders.

Faerillis:
Big Snip

Good points. Everyone plays the game their own way, so obviously some people are going to like different characters. But for the sake of discussion since you ended on a comparison between the body count that Isabella and Anders racked up, let me offer this. It is true that Isabella caused the Qunari uprising by stealing their sacred book. Had she done something very unpirate-like and took responsibilities for her actions by fessing up and returning the book, the whole Qunari attack wouldn't have happened. I'll grant you that.

However, by that logic, Anders is responsible for countless more deaths. True, Isabella's actions caused many to die in Kirkwall...but Anders sparked a civil war that has (according to the ending cinematic of DA 2) engulfed the entire world. The blood of everyone that dies in this magic civil war is on Anders' hand.

My first playthrough of the game I was like you, Anders was one of my favorite characters because I liked both him AND Justice in Awakening. That, and he was the healer, so definitely a handy fellow to keep around :P. That said however, just like you I was completely drawn in and when the church kerploded, I was staring jaw-dropped at the screen just think. "Dear god Anders....what the FUCK have you done?!" And, just like you, I couldn't stand such a betrayal of trust (since like you said: you help him make all the preparations for his magic bomb). So yeah, I executed him as well.

As to the point about blood magic, that's where I think things get a little confusing. It was my understanding based on what is learned in DAO that Blood Magic can only be taught/acquired by dealing with demons. While it's true, the magic itself isn't inherently evil, it is the fact that you must consort with demons in order to use it that makes it a big no-no. Look at what happens at the end of Merrill's story. No matter what, you have to kill her beloved keeper. And if you don't play your cards right, you'll end up having to slaughter her entire clan...all because she needed blood magic to fix the evil mirror and she had to make a deal with a demon in order to do it. Case in point: when you fight Orsino, he confesses that he's never used blood magic until that very moment...and what happens? He turns into a frickin' demon/abomination.

I'll admit that they never clearly and officially say that you must make a pact with a demon in order to use blood magic (though that is the only way The Warden, if a mage, can unlock the Blood Mage specialization), but evidence has shown that where there is blood magic there are often demons. Look what happens in Redcliff, and The Circle Tower in Fereldin, and that haunted orphanage in the Denerim Elven Alienage, and hell, even the death of Hawke's mother.

So yes, Blood Magic, like all magic, is just another tool for a mage to use. However when you think of all the magical attrocities that have occured, more often than not: Blood Magic is involved.

That aside, it's also forbidden because blood magic doesn't use magic/mana...it uses life force. :P

That said though, yes, in both DAO and DA2, my main characters (when mages) ALWAYS use blood magic because it's so powerful. :3

RJ 17:

Faerillis:
Big Snip

Bigger Snip ;-P

Well Anders (and Isabella) weren't so much about betrayals of trust but more about their actions deserving of death. If Anders had told me and gone through with it, he still would've deserved death. And you are absolutely right that Anders actions causing more deaths; I meant to stipulate that as a death toll where the story of Hawke ends but apparently I excluded it (and yes it was intended as a little trick to make an incorrect statement correct).

And your points about Blood Magic are largely true. Blood Magic isn't naturally tied to Demons, but because it fell out of use for so long Demons are the only beings that know the secrets and thus deals must be struck. This is a large part of why I think just about every damn mage using Blood Magic could actually be played to BioWare's advantage; surely some Mages didn't include in their deal that they couldn't go ahead and teach other Mages the proper use.

And actually when it came to my Hawke I didn't want to use Blood Magic, mostly because you only get two people with the heal ability in the entire damn game and it's on a ridiculous cooldown, so I was a Force Mage and Spirit Healer (Forces Mages felt so disappointing, though I guess largely because they were never really introduced) but to call it OP in Origins is like calling Mages OP in Origins: a little bit of an understatement.

Your point on Blood Magic is definitely true, though that's the nature of incredible power - and yes, of making deals with incredibly powerful demons to be sure. Yes, Blood Magic uses life force not mana repels some people but I still think the ban created by the Chantry is at the core of the matter, and that only because of how the Chant sees magic due to the Imperium.

Faerillis:

RJ 17:

Faerillis:
Big Snip

Bigger Snip ;-P

Well Anders (and Isabella) weren't so much about betrayals of trust but more about their actions deserving of death. If Anders had told me and gone through with it, he still would've deserved death. And you are absolutely right that Anders actions causing more deaths; I meant to stipulate that as a death toll where the story of Hawke ends but apparently I excluded it (and yes it was intended as a little trick to make an incorrect statement correct).

And your points about Blood Magic are largely true. Blood Magic isn't naturally tied to Demons, but because it fell out of use for so long Demons are the only beings that know the secrets and thus deals must be struck. This is a large part of why I think just about every damn mage using Blood Magic could actually be played to BioWare's advantage; surely some Mages didn't include in their deal that they couldn't go ahead and teach other Mages the proper use.

And actually when it came to my Hawke I didn't want to use Blood Magic, mostly because you only get two people with the heal ability in the entire damn game and it's on a ridiculous cooldown, so I was a Force Mage and Spirit Healer (Forces Mages felt so disappointing, though I guess largely because they were never really introduced) but to call it OP in Origins is like calling Mages OP in Origins: a little bit of an understatement.

Your point on Blood Magic is definitely true, though that's the nature of incredible power - and yes, of making deals with incredibly powerful demons to be sure. Yes, Blood Magic uses life force not mana repels some people but I still think the ban created by the Chantry is at the core of the matter, and that only because of how the Chant sees magic due to the Imperium.

:P I thought we were discussing why The Chantry had placed such a harsh ban on Blood Magic. If they saw all mages as inherently evil (as they see Blood Magic to be) then mages would likely be killed on sight, not allowed to even be pinned up in a Circle. I do think that both games make it a point that whenever you're going up against a Blood Mage, you're gonna be fighting various demons (Desire and Rage, mostly) along with a gaggle of shades. Which sums up my point that where there's blood magic around, there's definitely going to be wicked spirits. Also I'd imagine it probably has something to do with Blood Magic being the only school of magic that has mind control spells, allowing you to literally enslave and enthrall people.

But Blood Magic aside, let us turn our attention to Force Magic. Personally I think that might actually be the single most useful magic school in DA2! Good god, you've got the spell that sucks everyone into one nice big cluster at the middle, allowing you to slap down the AoE Slow spell, which in turn sets up the rest of your AoE's for maximum damage. Get a warrior in there with some staggering attacks and Maker's Fist (or whatever, the lift'em up and slam'em down spell) absolutely massacres them. If you ask me, I'd actually say that from a functional standpoint, Force Magic is more overpowered than Blood Magic!

On the topic of the narrative of the game, I will say that "Dragon Age 2" was a giant mess on a lot of levels above and beyond the points mentioned. One thing that got me for example is that I imported my DA1 data, and at points when characters from DA1 show up such as Alistair or Leliana it totally disregards what I decided to do, or what I played. For example I was playing a mage and was sleeping with Leliana, her overall reactions in service to the Chantry are massively out of character. Not to mention the whole question of the Circle having been abolished in a similar turn of fate, given that such was the request my character made of Alistair (as the new king) at the end of the game. Granted his proclaimation would not have carried a lot of wright in Kirkwall, but I think it would have altered his apperance and actions/dialogue substantially.

The whole problem was pretty much that of Bioware's original question of "do you mind if we limit character creation of Hawke to not have any origins, and no racial choices?" which met an overwhelmingly negative response, and yet was then claimed to have met with positive support from the community, extended into the entire game. Bioware pretty much decided it was going to do, what it was going to do, and anything you think or decide you want to try in the game doesn't much matter.

I agree, the whole thing was a giant mess with all the mages leaping into the arms of blood magic and turning into abominations left and right (which is contrary to the portrayal from the first game)

Then there is the whole issue with the recycled enviroments, lame pseudo-brawler type combat (which is oddly contridicted by the loading screens which encourage you to block with fighters or use chokepoints which is a joke given how things spawn by jumping off buildings and just run after whatever target they decide they want to go after), and perhaps most annoyingly the inabillity to prepare before fights because the monsters just tend to appear when you walk into the trigger area. My "favorite" was those mini-boss spiders that would sometimes just pop in on top of you while your walking by, you can't see them ahead of time, and it's not like they are hanging from the ceilling where you can see them if you look carefully. It's just "poof, it's there"... I mean I think I should have noticed a spider the size of a bloody elephant.

I personally think "Dragon Age 2" is just flat out a bad game on just about every level. It's just that it's a bad game with high production values in certain areas. The voice acting and character designs for example are top notch, elements that one would expect to be in a much better overall game. The storyline and plot development isn't worthy of the characters, and the gameplay itself is just flat out lame.

To be honest I consider "Dragon Age 2" worthy of giving a pass to though because to be fair to Bioware they WERE trying to get "The Old Republic" out, and I think DA2 shows the signs of them rushing out a sequel for once (which they normally don't do) while their focus was on another, bigger, project.

I confess to some concerns over ME3 (which we will see if are deserved in a few days when my copy arrives and I've had a chance to play) because the majority of the development was done while Bioware was involved on "ToR" as wel.

To be honest I think EA kind of misuses Bioware, it's not the kind of company that can do what it does on a larger scale by just hiring more people to expand it. It succeeds by having a very specific team of people generally focused on one project at a time. All comments about EA's business strategies aside, from a developement standpoint it seems like EA has had Bioware keeping multiple balls in the air pretty much since they merged, and while they have been able to keep up with that with their cinematics, I don't think they have been able to put the same level of focus into their gameplay. EA really needs to have Bioware do one, and only one, thing at a time... that's my opinion.

All true. That ending was utter rubbish. Somewhat enjoyed getting there but it was like making love, both parties rolling over in exhaustion and neither one finished; what the hell?

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