My biggest problem with Dragon Age 2 (Spoiler warning)

Like many who have played this game, I have issues with Dragon Age 2. But in spite of those issues, I've generally tolerated those problems because I overall enjoyed playing the game and watching the story unfold.

However, there was one issue which utterly ruined my enjoyment of this game and it's story, and that's the character if Isabella, specifically her involvement in the Qunari conflict.

A little background for those unfamiliar with the game. The Qunari are a non-human race who have been living in the city of Kirkwall, the main setting on the game, and whose presence has led to violence and strife between them and the other inhabitants of the city. Things come to a head during the latter part of the game when all-out war breaks out.

It is then revealed that their only reason for being there was to look for a book that was considered sacred by their people. Stolen, in fact, by Isabella. Unless certain requirements are met, Isabella will not return the book to them and will, in fact, try and escape with it.

This is what bothers me the most about the game. When I played it the first time, I made decisions and actions that I felt I would do in a given situation, and allowed my reputation with the other character to simply be what they will. But unless I have a very high reputation with Isabella, she'll escape rather than willingly give the book back.

And because she did not return in my playthrough, I had to engage in a big battle that I simply couldn't win. Now you could maybe accuse me of not playing the game well if I lost the fight, but it's clear to me that the only way for me to get the best chance of winning the fight, and thus progressing in the game, was to get into Isabella's good books.

This bothers me because the only way to do this is to take actions and dialogue choices that I wouldn't want the player character to do. This takes me out of the RPG element of the game as it betrays what I wanted Hawke to be as a person. I've always like RPG's in the past because it allows me to have the character act out what I would do (or at least what I'd want to do) in certain situations. But making it so I can't progress without Isbaella's approval, they've forced me to have my character act against what I'd want him to do. So that meant I had no choice but to take a set number of actions in order to please a character I didn't really care much for in the first place.

The only good thing I can say about this situation was that Isabella coming back and giving the book back gave me an opportunity to do something I WOULD do in that situation: hand her over to the Qunari. I know that makes me sound like a horrible person, but consider, this woman's actions, regardless of the motivation, resulted in a war that led to innocent lives lost and even the death of Kirkwall's head of state. Her having a change of heart doesn't make up for all the bad which resulted from her decision. Handing her over not only gives a criminal what they deserve, but also ensures that the conflict ends without further loss of life (i.e. the Arishock).

So yeah, that's basically all I had to say about an aspect of the game which spoiled it for me.

I'm just glad to see a DA2 post that isn't OMG IT SUCKED CUZ IT SUCKED BIOWARE RUINS EVERYTHING MRAWWWW.

I've picked up that most games with morality systems want you to either play to mostly good or mostly evil, and middle of the road characters usually get shafted. It's unfortunate and needs to be fixed, but I didn't have too much of a problem with it. Then again, I usually roleplay as characters who would go for absolute good or evil. Also I really liked DA2 because characterization always wins me over no matter how asinine the plot is.

Also, you didn't like Isabella? She's everyone's favorite pirate wench!

I remember when I first got to that part. I did not have a high enough relationship either way with Isabella, and sure enough, she took the book and ran. Immediately restarted and made sure that I got her friendship locked in (I don't like doing rival). This made some parts hard to play, as Isabella tends to disapprove of certain actions that an upright, good, honest person takes. Denying the elves their revenge on that poor traveler for example. Who gets upset at that?!
However, she also greatly approves of other things that I do. Taking in the elf slave at your house and saying that you'll pay her, or mercy-killing the murderer instead of capturing him.

So yeah, her character is a bit difficult to get along with and very hard to max out, one way or another, because she is so flighty. Still, I would never hand her over to the Arishock, because I liked her. She kept things grounded in reality when everyone else was letting their egos and heads get too big.

"The point is, I'm far more likely to get a shiv in the back than being eaten by an Abomination." Exactly, Isabella. The world doesn't revolve around mages and templars, despite what each side wants you to think. Although, in Dragon Age III, that looks like it's going to be the case.

I didn't like finding out what Anders was going to do and then not having the option of shoving a sword through his spine preventing him from completing the thing in the first place.

I admit, I was running out of comrades by the end of my playthrough. Most of them do something -really- stupid that, despite your best of advice and guidance, they will do no matter what.

thejboy88:

And because she did not return in my playthrough, I had to engage in a big battle that I simply couldn't win. Now you could maybe accuse me of not playing the game well if I lost the fight, but it's clear to me that the only way for me to get the best chance of winning the fight, and thus progressing in the game, was to get into Isabella's good books.

This bothers me because the only way to do this is to take actions and dialogue choices that I wouldn't want the player character to do. This takes me out of the RPG element of the game as it betrays what I wanted Hawke to be as a person. I've always like RPG's in the past because it allows me to have the character act out what I would do (or at least what I'd want to do) in certain situations. But making it so I can't progress without Isbaella's approval, they've forced me to have my character act against what I'd want him to do. So that meant I had no choice but to take a set number of actions in order to please a character I didn't really care much for in the first place.

I apologize if I'm coming of as belittling or rude, I promis I'm not, but I'm curious as to why you had a hard time with the Arishok and his squad. What difficulty were you playing on? I can understand having a hard time on normal if it's your first go round, the game really started beating me down when I got the deep roads in Act 1, but when I hit that wall I just turned the game down to casual and it was no big deal.

How did you play Dragon Age 2, speaking from a strictly combat perspective? How did you level up your characters. I'm not saying you have to min/max, you certainly don't. But I never experienced the issue you were having, so I'm wonder how you got to that point. *takes out notepad*

I had a hard time fighting that guy, too. But that was because I was rushing through, rather than taking the time to gain experience and level up. I loaded an old save and by the time I caught up, I kicked his ass. So maybe you just need to back up a bit and get stronger?

thejboy88:

And because she did not return in my playthrough, I had to engage in a big battle that I simply couldn't win. Now you could maybe accuse me of not playing the game well if I lost the fight, but it's clear to me that the only way for me to get the best chance of winning the fight, and thus progressing in the game, was to get into Isabella's good books.

Can't you just duel the Arishok? As I recall it wasn't that hard. But I played on like easy or normal mode because the DA2s gameplay is garbage.

thejboy88:
This bothers me because the only way to do this is to take actions and dialogue choices that I wouldn't want the player character to do. This takes me out of the RPG element of the game as it betrays what I wanted Hawke to be as a person.

You don't get to automatically win at everything when acting however you want. The fact that the NPCs and the world respond to your actions/words and they actually influence the game around you is the hallmark of a good RPG. Having you just say stuff and it plays a 5 second clip of their response and then nothing concrete comes of that isn't a good RPG. It's a shoddy skinners box where you're just jumping from meaningless cinematic to meaningless cinematic.

Ahh yes 'the pirate whore,' gods her outfit made Miranda's catsuit look tame.

I preferred 'goddammit Anders' over her, and he was an insane abomination by the end of the game, at least his arc gave some deeper insights as to why he was an insane bastard. She was just 'yeah that book is the reason for the Qunari being here and I'm going to keep it, lol thx bye!'

If it weren't for Varric and Averline I would have stopped playing.

thejboy88:
Snip.

Well I'll give you credit, I can't say I've ever heard someone complain about DA:2 by citing Isabella's role in the Qunari conflict. And yeah, I suppose if you were only nice to her just so you could avoid a fight then handing her over would seem like sweet revenge for you.

Personally I always liked her, the conversations she had with Aveline were pretty funny. Most of my playthroughs I liked to keep friendly with her, but of course just to see every possible outcome in the game I did a playthrough or two in which I made sure she didn't come back. Can't say I ever found the fight that difficult, though with the right build in that game a mage can take pretty much anything. :P

Usually most people complain about what Anders (think that's his name, haven't played that game in a year or so) ends up doing.

If I recall correctly, I liked the game for the most part, but the minor thing that really irked me was since I pissed off the pirate chick and she left the group I was incapable of collecting all the crafting ingredients since I think one of them existed only in a mission for her that I would have done after the point she left.

You might want to know that having a high enough rivalry (50%) also makes Isabela show up at the end of Act 2.

http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Questioning_Beliefs_%28Isabela_Act_2%29

You know what is funny? I actually didnt get Isabella or the Elf dude my first(and only) time through the game. I somehow missed them both, and I have only the vaguest idea how. With the elf dude I think I just left a different way than you were supposed to when exiting the manor. With isabella I just didnt go to the bar at the right time I guess. odd.

I've found it's easier to fight the Arishok if Hawke is a rogue, so he can use ranged attacks. Also, just give Isabella whatever she wants and she'll come back every time. It works for me, anyway.
My biggest complaint, if anyone cares, is how whiny Anders and Fenris were.

1. Isabella comes back if you have high rivalry, not just high friendship. Of course, the whole friendship/rivalry thing is flawed to begin with, as increasing one should not decrease the other. It should really function more like the faction reputations from New Vegas, where both positive and negative relationship values existed independent of each-other (so you could get reputations like "merciful thug", "smiling troublemaker", "dark hero", etc., not just villified-neutral-idolized).

2. If you have a high enough reputation with the Arishok himself, you can force a duel between just the two of you. This is super easy for mages, quite easy for archer rogues, a bit tougher for melee characters, and fucking mind-numbing for sword-and-board warriors.

3. Trust me, if you kept Isabella, she had a much dumber part in the third act...

thejboy88:
snip

Just gonna say, if your character was in a state of relationship with her that he is completely ready and willing to hand her over the moment she comes back, then Isabela is acting exactly as Isabela would. She's smart. She wouldn't come back unless she felt like she had your support and friendship. She's acting exactly in her character.

Now does this break your game? No, of course not. The fight is hard, yes, but you can slog your way through it. In fact, it should be more in-line with your character to fight and punish the Qunari for waging war on the city. After all, if your version of Hawke finds Isabela responsible for the war with the Qun for stealing the relic (which she did so because she felt it was her only choice) even after she came back to try to do the right thing, then your version of Hawke would just as well find the Arishok responsible for waging war in the first place despite the fact that he did so because he felt he had no other choice. He's still responsible and thus, according to you moral compass, should also face justice for it. Placing the blame entirely on Isabela doesn't make sense if you can just as easily justify the Arishok's attack.

And regardless of if you're only choosing to kill Isabela over the Arishok to subvert anymore loss of life, you're still making the informed choice to kill one more person, which would be the same if you chose to save Isabela and had to kill the Arishok. In the end, there's no way to peacefully end the conflict. Handing Isabela over to the Qun results in the same loss of life as if you just kill the Arishok, i.e. one last person has to die before the war can end.

Either way, the story is playing out exactly as it should. Don't blame Isabela for reacting to the situation exactly as she would given the way you've played the story. You made the choice and laid down the tracks as they are, now you must follow the plot-rail to the end.

thejboy88:
I have issues with Dragon Age 2. But in spite of those issues, I've generally tolerated those problems because I overall enjoyed playing the game and watching the story unfold.

You mean the generic unforgettable story that it presented, that managed to make the world which the first created to feel flat and boring? The way everything is so streamlined that nothing managed to feel exciting or how they use cameos from the first which completely ruins the character. Did you also tolerate playing in the same area repeated 20 times over, or how combat wasn't build a around any kind of tactics since it was a spawn in jumble. Or how almost all the new companions are 2 dimensional(except for Anders who was taken from Bioware's DA1 expansion during their transformation into EAware).

If you managed that and still thought the worst they did was some minor detail which forced you to do a hard fight, then i suggest you take your complaint up with EA as I am sure you are sure they will notice and respect you enough to not make such a silly mistake again.

However I am quite aware you aren't this naive, I see this over and over again threads like this that try to spark the hate one have against EA, while under the rouse for serious debate or the thoughts of a collected mind. Well you succeeded are you happy now?

To discuss this non-problem as if it was a problem is the same as giving the game artist value which it does not deserve.

If all this not true however then you probably played the console version, in which case any further discussion is irrelevant as PC Gamers and Console Gamers(people who play a tactical pc rpg on console) have different metrics of why they like/disliked a game.

Maybe it's just me but Isabella always sucked as a party member.

Kurt Cristal:
I'm just glad to see a DA2 post that isn't OMG IT SUCKED CUZ IT SUCKED BIOWARE RUINS EVERYTHING MRAWWWW.

Boy, that didn't take long.

mrhateful:
"I have issues with Dragon Age 2. But in spite of those issues, I've generally tolerated those problems because I overall enjoyed playing the game and watching the story unfold."
You mean the generic unforgettable story that it presented, that managed to make the world which the first created to feel flat and boring? The way everything is so streamlined that nothing managed to feel exciting or how they use cameos from the first which completely ruins the character. Did you also tolerate playing in the same area repeated 20 times over, or how combat wasn't build a around any kind of tactics since it was a spawn in jumble. Or how almost all the new companions are 2 dimensional(except for Anders who was taken from Bioware's DA1 expansion during their transformation into EAware).

My that diatribe had... nothing to do with the original issue and only served the purpose of soap boxing for its own sake.
Well done, boyo.

Shit. I forgot...

4. `runscript killallhostiles makes some of the worst excesses of that game far more tolerable, and would have helped you a lot in that situation, assuming you were playing it on PC.

Meh, I had my own issues with all of the characters except for Varric and Aveline. Varric may be overrated, but he's a good, solid character. Aveline is spectacularly written and fleshed out. Between the two of them they're the only ones who really have their own motivations throughout the story and will actually look you in the eye and say "No, that's a bad idea. Don't be an idiot." or "You're a good friend, but I'm not going to do that because I don't agree with you." The rest of the characters vary between melting like butter in your hand and conforming to everything you do and doing their own thing despite their apparent love for you and the blatant stupidity of their actions. I never had the specific problem you're having, but Isabella is a Pirate Whore and not much else, no matter how far you get in the game with her. Even after her "change of heart", she remains a Pirate Whore and her character doesn't change in any meaningful way. She just happens to come back instead of disappearing into the sunset.

Really, the game is so full of problems and corner-cutting that I'm surprised it made it past a first draft stage writing-wise, much less coming out as a full game.

thejboy88:

A little background for those unfamiliar with the game. The Qunari are a non-human race who have been living in the city of Kirkwall, the main setting on the game, and whose presence has led to violence and strife between them and the other inhabitants of the city. Things come to a head during the latter part of the game when all-out war breaks out.

Humans can be Qunari. The Qunari are followers of the Qun, so Humans, Elves and Dwarves can be Qunari. The species name that you're associating the name Qunari with is Kossith.

As for your reason for disliking the game, that's perfectly fine. You're allowed to dislike/like things for whatever reasons you want, and I like how you explained you reasons without coming off as expecting everyone to agree with you.

 

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