Dragon Age 2 Impressions


Good stuff.

It consumed a good day and a half of my time and reduced me to grunting at TheWife in response to whatever she was talking to me about. I still have not beat the game.

It feels more like Mass Effect does than the first Dragon Age, though I do still have to force the NPCs to do certain things to avoid failure (like heal or drink a potion). I suppose I need to adjust some setting son the Tactics which could remedy that.

The shift to Mass Effect-like play solved a number of my issues with the first one and they pushed focus more towards one aspect of play (action) rather than trying to appease several crowds (the other crowd preferring the Baldur’s Gate-like game play). I suspect my job has influenced me to prefer not having to manage people in games I play – I just want to play and not have whoever is following not do stupid stuff. Dragon Age II delivers on that.

The other Mass Effect-like change was having a single main character with one storyline rather than trying to cater to several. You’re {somebody} Hawke. All the dialog reflects that. Also the selections you make don’t necessarily reflect what you say, rather how you say it which is good.

The other issues I had were with the blood splatter, which is still present but I don’t find it as bad or sickening for some reason. Either was I too tired and zombie-like to notice or they’ve adjusted the color of it so it’s not as dirty a brown-red color so it looks more… right.

Really, it’s an improvement.

I could actually see playing this game on the console easily enough and I don’t feel it’s interfered too much with the PC version (which I own). The one annoyance I have with the controls is that you can click to move with the mouse which isn’t a console item. It’s a legacy device from the Baldur’s Gate-like play style. This frustrated me greatly as the same button to select a target to focus all abilities on is the same one use for moving. I looked in the options for a way to disable it but could not find it.

I have no complaints otherwise.

Graphics good.

Animations good.

Sound was fantastic – though TheWife complained at how loud it was. I swear for the talking it was like they put the volume low but bolstered sound in combat. Checking the settings you could control this and make adjustments but it seemed like there was some hidden multiplier on the sound. i.e. I set dialog to 10 and combat sounds to 5 but there must have been a 0.5 multiplier on the dialog sound setting while there was a 1000 multiplier on the combat sound setting. Maybe I unknowingly increased the sound for combat because the jarring sounds of combat were just so good.

Story good.

Side quests good. So far I’ve only tripped over a few that weren’t clearly marked on the map or didn’t have specific text to take you to a region.

Too many things at once got a little overwhelming at times. It felt like the larger my party, the more shit I had to do to appease everyone. Lots of going back and talking to party members in their home locations (sound familiar to Mass Effect players?).

The story is definitely a good one and I have to wonder how things play out with the different class picks from the start – I started with a Rogue type, then switched to a Warrior and ran with the Warrior. I am really curious to try it as a Mage given the context of the game content – I wonder if there would be any real differences?

It’s a great game. If you like good story, action and lots of exploding bodies. Very entertaining. You might not like it as much if you preferred the Baldur’s Gate (or Neverwinter Nights) style of having to control most of the party’s actions.

 

I just skimmed a post by Graev which does mention something that was somewhat frustrating and likely a limitation of the console. Repetitive dungeon layouts. This mainly occurs with the side quests or companion quests where you reuse areas though it does dip into the main story quest a couple of times. I sort of dismissed that.

The skill tree scaling back does not bother me so much, other than there was no obvious skills to cover off picking locks – I’m running with the assumption that it’s governed by the Rogue’s Cunning attribute but I’m not sure. It’s something that shouldn’t need to be assumed but then, I didn’t read the manual.

 

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4 thoughts on “Dragon Age 2 Impressions

  1. It says right in the description of cunning that it is used to pick locks. With every multiple of 10 being an “unlock” for each level of chest.

    My biggest complaints by far are (360 version) and only just started Act 2:

    Loot/Armor: Almost nothing has a name just says ring, ornate ring etc. No way to find at a glance a specific ring. The lack of armor for companions sucks. Especially since you find TONS of armor..that your main character can’t use because they are geared toward specific classes, and which none of your companions can use because they locked everyone in to their armor. This is my largest complaint by far, the other two are fairly minor to me (and one isn’t something bad about the game itself but the franchise)..

    Reusing areas, lack of areas in general. Reusing ares would not have been so bad if they had more of them so it wouldn’t be quite so obvious that you are in a dungeon/area that is the exact same layout as another.

    The complete abandonment of their initial purpose of using Origins to set the foundation of your Warden from DA:O for the entire series. They completely tossed it to go the ME2 route. While I like Hawke the fact that so little of your first adventures show up kind o sucks. To be honest I don’t even think this should count as a sequel they changed it so drastically. They could have named it Dragon Age: New Beginning or something.

    Though I have to admit that them not importing a bunch of stuff is why I bought the 360 version and not the PC like I did with DA:O. The gameplay is very well suited for the gamepad and it’s nice to be able to lay on my bed and play it :D.

    If I had to give the game a grade I would give it somewhere around a 7. If they had started the DA:O franchise like they had with ME with one central character in mind that would probably bump it up a point or so.

  2. Yeah, I completely missed that Cunning tooltip or was it context sensitive? i.e. if I had a rogue selected it meant something else?

    Loot/armor: agreed. That is a pain, though it does make the odd named piece all the more eye-catching, often for good reason.

    Armor for companions get this upgrade nodes over time or as you find them or buy them from merchants. So far I’ve only seen Anders’ armor change, and I think that was only in going to a darker color.

    I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a lot of armor replacements to start, but that was mostly due to having the Dragon Blood Knight (or whatever) which was better than most things to start.

    They do import settings from your DA:O save (PC to PC) – I’m not sure what you mean? I was ecstatic to discover they imported what information they could from my DA:O save even though I didn’t complete DA:O (I will eventually).

    I agree with the rating. The reuse of the maps is pretty killer for me. I’d probably give it a 7.5 or 8 because I actually like the one central character concept from ME. I also really like exploring and delving dungeons and it was a pretty big let down in that regard.

  3. Cunning always says what it does about the lockpicking. It’s at the end of the description though so you probably just read the part where it says “increases crit DMG and tuned out the later portion.

    What I mean is that it isn’t personal like it was from ME to ME2. My character in DA 2 has absolutely nothing to do with the characters from the first one. This is partly why I am saying I don’t view it as a sequel. When the only thing that really effects you from the first game is the destruction of an insignificant town from that first game, you basically have nothing to tie yourself from one game to another. So I took the comfort of playing from my bed over importing stuff that doesn’t mean anything personal to my character.

    What was the point of having all those cool Origin stories(mage, elf, dwarf, warrior etc.) only to throw them away from one game to the next?

    The whole thing feels like EA bought them and came in and said”Oh hey ME1&2 did great lets scrap the original idea for the Dragon Age franchise to make ME with swords.”

    The only things I took out of DA2 as better than DA:O

    Skill trees pruned. There was a lot of needless crap in the original from DA:O. Most (but not all) in DA2 feel usefull ans make a difference.

    The shift in graphical style. I like the new art direction and it really struck home when I saw the first Qunari in game. In DA:O I came away with the impression that the Qunari might be a different race but in game Sten just looked like a really tall human.

    Voice Acting: Pretty much everything is an improvement, though the fact that elves are all Celtic took a little getting used to.

    Combat: From the flow to the animations all a solid improvent. Still not sure why every creature in the game seems tobe nothing but a balloon full of blood though. I didn’t find it disgusting in DA:O or DA2, just weird. I think the effect they wanted would have been better served with less blood spatter. As it is you see so much of it you just tune it out.

    Tactics: Defaul tactics are actually somewhat useful now. yet they STILL haven’t added “Use healing potion if you are about to die nimrod” into any of the defaults.

  4. Most likely the case with Cunning. I was feeling very, “WEEEEEE I WANNA PLAY!” so I skimmed lots of stuff.

    Right, from ME to ME2 it’s still you. I think they had to step away from the Origins way of playing to cater more to the console player. That and they had a decent enough formula with the ME type games. There are a lot of cameos from what I’ve seen so far.

    I still suspect it being called Dragon Age 2 was more of a push from EA but they probably could have gotten away with Dragon Age: Something Else.

    I found the animations in DA:O that went along with the voices to be too animated. It’s like everyone in the game was incapable of talking without waving their hands around. It seems better in DA2.

    Some of the death animations seemed a bit silly. There was one where the person gets blown apart and it looked a little like a manikin getting knocked apart with some blood splatter in the background. I haven’t really noticed it again heh.

    Yeah, that was one of the first things I did with the tactics – added in having them take a potion when too low. It doesn’t always seem to work though. I think some of the heal tactics target other players when they’re below 10% – that really isn’t helpful as you advance into later parts of the game and stuff starts hitting harder.

    I think there was one part in the undermine or whatever where my only character left was the main one and I had to kite the mobs around while my potion cooldown finished up. hehe

    Still, fun game and a nice break from the conventional MMO genre. 🙂

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