1

Dragon Age 2 – New Features, What Does And Doesn’t Work, Does It Live Up To The Hype?

Dragon Age 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to Bioware’s critically acclaimed epic dark fantasy of 2009, Dragon Age: Origins. Prior to its release, dragon city hack DA2 received no small amount of attention and hype, largely in part due to Origins’ sustained popularity and success.

Dragon Age 2 is presented as a recollective narrative, told from the perspective of Varric Tethras while under interrogation by Chantry Seeker, Cassandra Pentaghast.

Story

Set alongside the events of Origins/Awakening and further spanning the course of the next ten years, DA2 follows the rise to power, wealth and prestige of one Garrett Hawke, a Ferelden who flees to Kirkwall following the darkspawn destruction of Lothering during the Fifth Blight.

As a newly arrived refugee with nothing to his name, Hawke is forced to carve out a pittance of a living in an unforgiving new environment, undertaking various quests at the behest of numerous individuals and entities within Kirkwall. With each passing year, Hawke’s adventures and accomplishments bring him no small amount of fame and wealth, garnering him the adoration of the people and the attention of the upper echelon of Kirkwall.

As our hero climbs up the social ladder of the City of Chains, the nature of the challenges he faces grows significantly dire, pitting him against the likes of blood Mages, rogue Templars, demons of the Fade and most notably, the Qunari threat, By the end of the decade, the newly risen Champion’s troubles are far from over as tensions between Kirkwall’s Circle of Magi and the Templars grow highly volatile, eventually escalating into a city wide war that foreseeably threatens the stability of all of Thedas.

For my first playthrough, I experienced DA2’s storyline from the perspective of a male Mage, adhering to what I believe serves as the game’s true canon. Throughout the course of its early and mid game content, DA2’s storyline seemed especially slow, uninteresting and lacking in direction. Additionally, due to the manner of which Varric’s narrative unfolds, the game often takes liberties with ‘skipping’ through plot points over the course of the decade, resulting in a storyline experience that I found to be erratic and somewhat detached.

As DA2 approaches the final act however, many of its early subplots begin to come full circle, often culminating in hard hitting revelations or outcomes that strike close to Hawke and his companions. The game reveals as well that many early and mid game plot devices are in fact related and contribute towards the nature of its climax and conclusion.

Dialogue Mechanics

Dragon Age 2 is built on what has been billed as a technological upgrade of the very engine that supported Origins. It comes as no surprised then that while DA2 has been toted by many as an experience vastly different from Origins, it actually does retain many of its predecessor’s gameplay features and routines, with a number of significant improvements to boot.

For starters, one of the biggest changes that everyone should be acquainted with by now is the new dialogue system, featuring fully voices male and female protagonists and a Mass Effect inspired dialogue wheel.

It goes without saying that having a fully voiced lead protagonist lends towards a more immersive experience, effectively creating for the game character focus that is engaging, relatable and most importantly, human.

As for the dialogue wheel (and its accompanying tone symbols), it is but one of DA2’s many new features aimed at streamlining the Dragon Age gaming experience. Although DA2’s dialogue system might strike many as shallow or excessively simplified, it doesn’t exactly steal from the game’s conversational depth. In fact, the dialogue wheel and its tone symbols provide a more accessible and straightforward mode of gameplay without any additional hassle.