Dragon Age 2 Impressions

The skill trees are extremely limiting.

I didn’t have high hopes when I saw all the changes being made to the series, so I don’t feel as crushed as I probably would have been. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it was a pretty lackluster experience.

It just didn’t seem like the story was important at all. There didn’t seem to be much of a connection to the original game at all. I guess that is to be expected since they seemingly scrapped their plan of using origins as a starting point for your Gray Warden character in the rest of the series.

All the backtracking was monotonous as well. Not only does everything take place in the same city/countryside, but the fact that they repeat dungeon layouts, in typical Bioware fashion, is downright nauseating. They don’t even change the mini maps at all, which is really annoying when it shows branching off paths that you can’t ever access.

The combat actually seemed pretty cool at first, button mashing aside. However it quickly became clear that while they sped up the combat, fights seemed to take almost longer than in DA:O. I don’t know how, but enemies just would not die. It took forever to chip them down. I’m not saying I want quick fights, but I also don’t want to spam fireballs for 5 minutes.

The dialogue system is just downright depressing. I knew it was incredibly watered down compared to the original, but I didn’t know it was going to be almost worse than Mass Effect’s system. The really frustrating part is picking options that you want to say, only to hear your character say something almost completely different. What could possibly be the reason behind that?Β  The skills system was limiting and the itemization was lousy as well.

I don’t know how to feel, really. I plan to do at least one more run at it to see if anything differs much, but I don’t feel very excited about it. It’s by no means a bad game, but compared to what it could have been I find it very disappointing.

  • This saddens me. I was really anxious to try it this summer when I get home. Now I’m not so sure.

    From what Graev told me privately, I think he held back a little here. When I told him I was anxious to play he said: “You’ll probably like it.”

  • I was looking forward to trying this as well. This saddens me as I loved the original game.

    BTW…I cancelled Rift and uninstalled today. I wish you all good luck it just wasn’t for me.

  • I unfortunately agree with graev, I was really excited for this game as I am for any Bioware release. However, I was a little disappointed that all my work in DA1 was somewhat pointless.

    I liked the combat more than the first, though it seems your companions dont have enough to do, and the dialogue system pales in comparison to MEs system. There didnt seem to be much consequence to saying something funny, nice, or bad.

    To me there doesnt seem to be much replay value like there was with the first.

  • I haven’t played it and I wont because it feels rushed to me. Feels like L4d1 to Left4dead2… came out so fast afterwards that you had to wonder how good could it be? They had to cut corners everywhere and to me it sounds like DA2 did just that…

    Frankly I am surprised at Bioware.. not usually like them.

  • Played DA:O and found it entertaining, but pretty dry in parts (e.g. the dwarf dungeons seemed interminable). I downloaded the demo and played a bit, but found the same lack of luster, now with pew-pew combat mechanics. Pass.

    It did inspire me to dig out my BG2 CDs, though.

  • ::shrug:: I’m enjoying it. The combat is really enjoyable w/o removing the tactics of DA:O. At the ‘normal’ setting its easy and allows you to work out the abilities, where ‘hard’ feels more like where DA:O was. Definately less epic a story line then DA:O, and the chatter between your companions pales in comparison, but moves a lot less ploddingly.

  • I just finished it… (literally like 20 minutes ago)

    Skill tree’s – don’t mind them

    Area Repetition – seriously i hate sundermount so much. mini-map thing sucks.

    Combat – feels faster, didn’t mind it but completely different from DA:O. i didn’t even have to set up tactics for this play through.

    Dialog – i like the wheel thing but a little more info would be nice so hawke doesn’t say something completely opposite of what you thought.

    Story – Other than the grind for 50 gold in act one, i liked the story. It was very much all over the map and un-linear. Biggest complaint is that it is to short, the expansion better be at least similar length.

    Itemization – completely agree, ignoring the fact that you can’t change the armor of your companions there just seemed to be less all around, vendors seemed useless other than to sell stuff to, I don’t think i ever bought anything from them.

    End verdict. Different game. DA:O was epic, this was a virtual story, both enjoyable. DA3 is going to follow in DA2’s footsteps, i’ll keep on playing because i enjoy the setting and the lore but the epicness has faded.

  • I have not played the first game, but I was actually looking forward to try this one out.

    Should I dig into this one, or would you recommend playing the first game instead ?

  • I like DA2. It has somewhat similar ‘delayed consequences” as that found in the Witcher.

    I find the skill trees to add plenty of ways to customize not only your own character, but the companions too.

    That the game spans over a decade is a nice way to develop both the plot and the relationships between characters. When you romance a character, Hawke has known that person for years, unlike the old system where you hook up, talk a few times and then you got a thing going.

    That the companions keep their visual armor is alright with me. Not really any different than that of ME2.

    Combat is good. And Keen, you need to upgrade your weaponry and get the proper skills to do damage. My 2hander Hawke is obliterating mobs like there’s no tomorrow. He’s geared for pure damage though, so his tanking ability is limited (Aveline is a good tank).

    I actually only agree with the repetitive area designs. Bioware should’ve done something here. Not only less repetition, but also more areas in total. It’s alright that the majority of the story is set inside the walls of Kirkwall, but they could’ve added so many more areas.

    I like the somewhat political aspect of the game. Just wish they would’ve expanded on it and added more intrigues and political minefields that you were forced to maneuvre through. Could have been cool.

    Oh and the wheel is alright, though it could indeed use some better tweaking and add more choices.

    It tries to mimic ME2 a lot, but many of ME2’s features that appears in this game works better in ME2 and its setting.

    Also, Hawke is no Commander Shepard. He/she lacks the same aura of authority that Shepard has. Some of the companions are actually good. They’re not as cheesy as some of the DA:O ones.

    DA2 is a different kind of RPG than DA:O and as soon as people realize that they’ll probably going to enjoy it more.

  • I loved the first game a lot, it got 80 hours out of me, and I still haven’t gotten around to awakenings…

    From everything I have heard of DA2, I just won’t even buy it. I was disappointed in almost everything I heard from it and the actual release ended up even worse than I feared.

    I’m devastated =(

  • Dragon Age 2 was an absolute bore. The middling, blurry plot. The flat and lackluster characters. The repetitive maps and repeated journeys through the same dungeons… It was such a dumbed down and lifeless title that I’m still shocked Bioware put it out. It will prove a sales disappointment in the end and may ultimately prove the undoing of a formerly promising bit of IP.

    Thank goodness Skyrim is coming to redeem the genre….

  • I have a feeling with bioware growing in size and being bought by EA they are trying to take the Bioware RPG story method and make it formulaic so that random second tier teams can use it and they can pump out games faster.

    Basically EA probably wants to turn it into a game factory vs a game developer.

    Because of that i think you will see a lot more Bioware games with a lot less love then their previous titles.

  • It’s already a game factory.

    They seem to be continuously developing at least 3 games at a time. Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and SWTOR.

    Thank you EA for destroying a great developer by putting the bottom line first.

    Game wise, this game is bad. It’s real bad. It’s clear that it was a money grab as it should have spent more time in the oven, a lot more time. It’s so bad that I won’t be buying anything Dragon Age again. Or actually, I won’t be supporting Bioware anymore after ME3, because that name no longer means what it used to.

  • I’m guessing your review was from an Xbox, it seems a lot of negative reviews have come from the xbox side but more positive reviews are coming from the PC side. I wonder what the difference is?

    So far I’m enjoying the game on the PC. I’ll be starting ACT 3 tonight. There is no over arching story like in ACT 2 other than gathering your party and leaning a little about them. After I figured that out I didn’t mind as much. It’s nice at the moment not to have an over arching linear story just yet, it makes me wonder whats coming next. I hope ACT 3 doesn’t disappoint.

    It’s no Origins as far as depth goes but I like the character development in DA2 and the fact that my characters move much faster and fluid than in Origins.

  • I am only in Act 1 but so far:

    I don’t like the speed of combat – not the duration – but the absolutely frenetic pace at which my 2H guy attacks is ridiculous: he’s wielding a heavy weapon not a hollow rubber sword yet he hacks away like a dervish.

    I’ve collected a few Runes but nowhere does it tell me how to equip them (turns out you can’t in Act 1?).

    The Companion Armour is at once annoying and a nice convenience: now I can sell any armour I personally won’t wear as there’s no risk an NPC will need it later. Never had so much inventory space.

    Far too many codes to redeem to get digital goodies: I had literally 5 codes to enter and I’d hate to think people are having to pay for some of his stuff.

    I don’t mind the Skill Trees so far though I can forsee regretting my decisions later….

    As a Brit I was pleased with the greater diversity of British accents this time: Northern English and Scots on top of the usual blight of Southerners πŸ™‚

    I like it but it’s got nothing like the draw of DA:O which had me hooked for 100+ hours.

  • At first I got a little tired of the repetitious dungeons and reused content but I dismissed that as being a limitation of where you were and, to some degree, being a result of console limitations – can’t have one game take up all the HD space.

    Perhaps these aren’t console restrictions rather limitations and deadlines set by EA? I felt ME2 was similarly short and more focused on companions than content that ME1 was.

    I have enjoyed DA2 so far though much in the way I enjoyed Diablo.

  • Sad to hear. I like to root for Bioware, even though I have some issues with their “formula” and their games aren’t really my cup of tea (as has been discussed elsewhere on the blog very recently).

    That said, as much as I’m not one of the faithful, I was hoping this would be a good game, and that my negative impressions of the demo would be proven wrong in the long run. Hopefully some more depth makes itself known on the second playthrough for you folks.

    Nice writeup overall, it comes off as very balanced and fair given how negative Graev’s experience seems to have been.

  • I’d have to agree with Kim. I don’t quite know what Keen is talking about with “long” battles. I can Fireball and Hemmorage my opponents to death and then finish off the survivors with Spirit Bolt at a rather rapid clip. Granted I actually buy weapon, armor, and accessory upgrades from shopkeepers if I see something worth having.

    The companion armors are kind of nice: I can sell armors off and the characters maintain a sustained look throughout the story (for Aveline, the Guard Captain, this is esp. important) but I also hate the fact that I can’t customize my guys’ armors.

    The dungeon area thing is annoying, I will admit. I share Keen’s frustration with the minimap not even being truncated to reflect the actual size of the area. I don’t know how many times I would run to check a side room or corner only to find there’s a concrete wall covering the door.

    I don’t mind the skill trees so much. The Dragon Age trees weren’t much less restrictive – if anything they had talents that just chewed up talent points (like the persuasion bonus, and trap disarming talents). I spent quite a bit of time figuring out which skills I would want for my character, and thanks to the Maker’s Breath I was able to make changes and fix things once or twice to tweak talents to my liking.

    The dialogue wheel was kind of irritating — like others I found that Hawke would say things I didn’t anticipate when I made my choice. And, also like someone else said, I didn’t feel there was much consequence for choosing to be a smartass. Only once or twice did I lose a whopping 10 friendship, which I gained back rather quickly.

    All in all it’s an alright game. I didn’t have the problems with the skill tree, itemization, or combat that others did. But I must agree that the repetitive dungeons and recycled minimap were regular frustrations.

  • I totle agree with wufiavelli Bioware game factory comment. Thats mostly what this is. Some side team using systems they dont understand. The Main group of bioware is hopefully working on Old Republic and this is just some bad EA employs… otherwise bioware is dead and just another group owned by EA…. (please dont ban me EA!!!)

  • and one thing i think everyone should really think about. People say the game is “alright” or “not bad” thats fine. But we are talking about bioware. Every game they have released for the past 10 years have been game of the years or Game industry changing games. Dose Dragon age 2 compare to those games? no… Is dragon age 2 the next “big thing” Deffently not.. Is dragon age 2 worth playing “as much as any other mmo no one really cares about”

  • @Wren: Fyi, that’s Graev not Keen.

    @Elspath: I hope that this doesn’t start spreading to other titles. I also hope it’s only an issue for sequels.

  • DA2 is an action adventure game with RPG lite elements πŸ˜›

    I prefered the old-school tactical style of DA:O more myself too, but I’m not going to say that DA2 isn’t fun. It’s fun in a different way.

    I’m into act 3, and the first thing I’d say is that my characters feel far more powerful than in DA:O. All the various styles are fun to play.

    Oh, and those Maker’s Sigh potions in the Black Emporium add-on are freaking sweet. Set your whole party up with the exact attributes and abilities that you want.

    Another tip, set-up custom tactics for your team. You get ALOT more tactic slots than in DA:O. Use them. You can make your team work alot smarter with the tactics options. Don’t be afraid to build some complicated tactics.

  • @Keen I hope your right to but look at history. Small game companys becoming to big then fade away. Usly the few good Deves that remember the way things used to be leave to make there own company and the sequence starts all over…

  • I’m mystified by yours, and others negativity about this game. Is it because you were expecting DA:O, despite all the advertising and previews that suggested it was more Mass Effect 2.

    My agreement with your negative comments first: the repeating maps are annoying, but you know, I’ve been playing cRPGs a long, long time – so repeating maps are not a surprise for me. In fact, that’s normal. The mini-map is lazy though. Yes, it can happen that what you click on the conversation is not what you expected to say. This happened to me twice in my place through that I can remember.

    But on the flip side, this is a rpg that actually tried different things with the narrative. A mis en scene beginning; unreliable narrator; narrative gaps; long term, embedded stories; beautiful foreshadowing. No, no-one expects you to feel sad that the siblings kicks the bucket in the first 10 minutes. But you should start emphasize with the rest of your families reaction to it, and understand how it affects your scene.

    There is no central epic “QUEST” in capital letters, it’s just the story of how you affect a city. This is not bad. It makes you part of the story, not _the_ story. And they do things in secondary quests that make later moments work narratively that would and have felt dead in other computer games. When was the last time you were actually worried that the chirpy little sister was actually dead?

    The combat is fun, the talent trees offering too much choice, not the opposite way around (I have no idea how you get to that expectation). Not managing a single (ONE!) piece of armour out of 5/6 slots on your companions. Is that really a complaint? Really? Madness.

    Not having the inane finding and hoarding of millions of pieces of crafting material. Really?

    You people are dreaming of games that came out 15 years ago. Gaming conventions have moved on. For a long time storytelling hadn’t. Now it has.

  • @bathoz: You do make some excellent points about the narrative that I had completely forgotten! I must agree to being impressed with certain scenes, such as the very beginning with the “legend,” rather than “truth.” Also, the scene where Varric storms in to his brother’s estate solo and begins manhandling all his brother’s guards, and suddenly his brother collapses in to tears of admission of Varric’s greatness… That was curious when it began (“where’d my party go?”) – but hilarious and, I thought, clever when it ended. There are surely other examples of this peppered throughout the game, but that was the most striking example for me.

    It was also nice to perform a quest in, say, Act 1 or 2, and then have those same people come back to you in a later act to further explore their situation and fix another related issue. The half-elf apostate from the alienage sticks out as an example. It gave the world a sense of continuity, that these aren’t generic NPCs I’m working for and will never see again. You get a glimpse in to their lives in the letters they write you and the situations you find them in later as a direct result of your previous actions. It’s definitely good stuff.

  • I am playing it now and am currently really enjoying it, even more so then the first, the fact that they removed Choice of race may be annoying but it introduces Character immersion much more. I feel like im Playing a movie and i love it.

  • @Tay So you feel a deeper sense of immersion when playing a prefabricated character rather than one you can create yourself? How’s that, exactly?

  • The difference between DAO and DA2 is that choices no longer matter. Every choice you make is leading to the same end and same conclusion. In Origins you made choices WW vs elves , dwarfs, mages vs templar. what choices do you make now? Do you pick if the person at the start dies no. do you choose if a person close to you dies no. You fight the same bosses at the end no matter your choice. Thats why there is no epicness.
    But if you want the fights to be fast a rogue bow assassin ends fights in seconds, well as fast as the waves of enemy’s come.

  • I just finished DAO, yes, took me a while, I had a lot of “gaming” distractions. I was looking at DA2 – but the only thing that has me concerned is I read some early interviews where they’re not allowing pc users to zoom out? Is this true in the final release version? I loved using the tactical overhead camera angle, and I won’t purchase DA2 if they removed it.

  • Just finished it, It was nice that the concept wasn’t “Stop generic rising evil X.” Spreading it over 10 years was also nice. The character were not as cool as the first one, neither were the choices.

    Basically refreshing concept lazily executed for a bioware title.

  • I just finished the game an hour ago as warrior and had imported the save game from the previous DA. Executive summary:

    Characters: More down to earth, excellent dialogue. Yes I understand the speech choices, but honestly, top option is diplomatic/supporting, middle humorous/neutral, low forceful. It ain’t rocket science. I never had an issue saying what I wanted to say. However I did save and reload before certain speeches so that I could get both achievements easier πŸ™‚

    Combat: Nice change of pace, actually encourages moving out of the way of the mob doing this huge attack that is probably going to hurt a lot. In regards to duration, bosses aside, I was mowing down enemies left and right. It’s all in the synergy. As a warrior a certain one on one fight with a certain someone was a pain in the rear. Like Varrick says ” I hope those potions did not have side-effects” There were sombe bugs with star assignments of value. Some items were higher rated when they had less stats of the same thing.

    Repetitiveness: There were repetitive areas in the old game. Different dungeon, same graphic, or when you were stopped while travelling. I think there was less of a “feeling” of repetitiveness with DA:O because of more locales.

    I would like to have seen more variation in how the city changed over the years to reflect your actions and not just a certain statue of a certain someone stepping over a head of a certain someone. *cough*

    However, it did give you the feeling of a rags to riches rise and although less “epic” in appearance, it was more involving for me. In the first game you just had the establishment of the status quo. You have templars, and the chantry who are the establishment supposedly good guys and the apostates with few exceptions are invariably bad. Basically on the first one, the world is established.

    In this one, there are far more shades of grey and more sociological concepts explored. Now that the world has been established it allows for creators to have more fun with it and explore more ideas. I compare the same feeling I had with KOTOR and KOTOR 2: The Sith Lords. More shades, more varied characters less black and white.

    I cannot mention any more without spoilers. I sincerely hope we will see a number three and that number three will not be an MMO. If they try too MMOify this too I kick them in the N*** until the Nancy Kerrigan effect kicks in.

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