To start, I want to say that I am on my third play through right now, so I am not going to say that the game is terrible, but it was disappointing. (In fact, my first play through, I was so disappointed that I almost didn’t play again, but I’m so glad I did. That second play through saved the game for me. Thank the man who created Fenris and Inon Zur, because they singlehandedly made me love this game.)
I like to start positive, so I will say this first –
1) the soundtrack is brutally perfect. It is haunting, moving, and helps to create the world where I desperately love to escape to.
2) The game play and combat are pretty seamless. Some complain about button mashing, but I play as a Mage or Rogue and still pause at the beginning of each fight to go at them strategically, so it didn’t really bother me. In fact, I found it as smooth as an Antivan. 😉
3) You had some fantastic characters. Fenris is probably my favorite character that I’ve ever encountered in a video game, ever.
4) The return of previous DA:O party members and the events of DA:O being integratable. Fantastic.
5) The sibling consequences depending on your class choice. LOVED IT!
6) The in-play banter between a love interest Fenris, a married Aveline and Isabella was hilarious! I love the mystery of potential three way banter and want MORE. Perfect!
(Many people have already made comments on map repition, and button mashing and all that, so I will focus on the major thing I found lacking.)
Character Interaction, Character Interaction, Character Interaction…
1) (Why can’t I randomly talk to party members in game? When you’re out with friends and you want to shoot the breeze, do you say, “Hey, let’s go to the mansion you’re squatting in and chat”? No, you turn to them and talk, with the onlookers interjecting as they see fit. The absence of this aspect was the first BRUTAL disappointment I felt. Literally, it made me miserable.)
2) (The romance options were immersive in the first DA. When you were putting the moves on Alistair, you knew it in every interaction and in-play banter that he was in love with you. You could smooch and jump him whenever you saw fit. The loss of that was yet another spike driven between player and the DA world. Even when Anders MOVES IN WITH YOU you can’t talk to him unless it is quest related? Though seriously, why would you want to talk to him, since he only ever talks about his agenda. Even so, when you’re in a romance/friendship, you talk to the person more than six times in ten years. I’m just sayin.)
3) (And let’s be real, where are my cutaway sex scenes for a female Hawke? Where are my random make outs or fights? Why did I not see Fenris’ full body tattoo at any time, but a male Hawke DID see Merrill in her underwear for three minutes? As a girl, I feel I got shafted, and not in a good way. :P)
4) There were story/character inconsistancies as well
(in play banter about Fenris and Hawke not being together when they were officially back together – Sebastian being for mercy throughout the WHOLE game until it was time to kill Anders, etc.- This one is a bit nitpicky, but again, they cause a rift between gamer and game which Dragon Age (and Bioware) has been known for completely tearing down.)
5) A common party screen? In DA:O I could go to camp and change out everyone’s weapons/trinkets. Now, I can only do that if they are in my party at present. This is a HUGE inconvenience when you’re trying to equip everyone with their best items and you can’t compare unless you are near a GATHER YOUR PARTY location and change it out six times.
6) Gifts? What the hell? They were such an added plus to the first game, trying to figure out who will like what by the conversations you’ve had to that point. Yet again, a character layer that was lost.
My first playthrough, I chose to Romance Anders. (I play these games FOR the story, and when there is a romance angle to the story, I am involved. When there isn’t, I’m not. I’m clearing that up right now. And I speak for 99% of all the girls that play your games.) By the end, I was SO disappointed with the game due to reasons others have mentioned, but mainly because it was as though my choices in character relationships made NO difference on Anders’ actions/comments/words/intentions. I still wanted to play it through again whilst romancing Fenris out of curiosity because he seemed a more interesting character and Anders was SO unsatisfying. That second play through, Fenris literally saved the game for me. He actually seemed to react to my choices, unlike Anders. Hearing “I’m yours” when clicking on Fenris was the defining moment for the romance comparison. Anders would have said, “Hey, you remember that quest you need to complete for me?” Had there been more opportunities for mingling with the companions, I may have felt more immersed with Anders, but there wasn’t. At all. And when there was, even if a character was 100% in love with Hawke, it didn’t affect a conversation. Tore me right out of the game. Fenris literally saved it.
I’ve heard comments that these characters weren’t as deep as DA:O characters, but the truth is, I think these characters were brilliant, but the casual player doesn’t get to find that out because interaction is SO limited. Carver was my preferred sibling, Isabella was AWESOME, Fenris was perfect, and VARRIC! Don’t even get me started on Varric. Yet, we weren’t allowed to just ‘get to know them’ because interaction was only allowed when coupled with an agenda.
Character interaction is HALF of the game, maybe more. The stabbing and maiming is a blast and all, but the story and the companion dynamic IS where you gained classIC status. This was NOT the area where there should have been “shaving off.”
There’s a saying “You can’t please ALL the people ALL of the time, but you can please SOME of the people ALL the time.”
We are those SOME. We expected more of what made the first so great. I think in “Shaving off” some of the old, you shaved off the stuff that made the first game SO AMAZING in order to make it more accessible. More accessible shouldn’t be LESS immersive, and more accessible shouldn’t alienate the diehards.
I understand that Bioware was hoping to branch out to the less hardcore RPG lover’s, but the first game was a blockbuster, you had a bestseller on your hands no matter what. There are enough button masher games out there to fill the great divide. Dragon Age stood apart from all of them. It isn’t NEW DA gamers who were lining up to buy this or preordering it, it was the people who worshiped the first. We loved the first because it was fully immersive, the characters were a constant, and it was like literally writing your own fantastic novel as you cleaved your way through Thedas. Now, if button mashers want to play DA2, they can and just skip through the dialog with an easy click of a button. Sadly, the hardcore DA fans CAN’T just click a button and have those conversations back because they never existed to begin with. That’s not fair. These were the people Bioware should have been reaching out to, not the people who may STILL never play DA in their lives.
Dragon Age 3 (And even an Awakenings style explansion) should have more character interaction and freedom, less repetitive maps, and it should be BIGGER not smaller (as DA2 is in comparison to the first game). I love you guys and I love and respect what you do, but don’t lose what makes you amazing by trying to be the other guys. I don’t play the other guys’ games.