- Quantum Break Teaser
- Need for Speed Rivals Teaser & Screens
- Mornin '13
- Resigned EA CEO Says "Gamers Will Learn to Love" Always-Online
- Final Fantasy XIV Marches to August 27th Re-Release
- Nintendo Schedules Next Direct Presentation on First Day of E3
- New Saints Row Hail to the Chief Video Series
- Grand Theft Auto 5 CE & SE Detailed
- EA Supporting Current-Gen Consoles Until 2017
Dragon Age 2 Preview
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Mar 08, 11 (released)
|» All About Dragon Age 2 on ActionTrip|
When BioWare called and wanted to know if I could make time to come see Dragon Age 2 as it readies for release in March next year, I have to admit I was torn at first. I really enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins but from what little I had seen so far from the press releases, Dragon Age 2 had me worried. It's no secret that I am a dyed in the wool, RPG fan. I played Origins on the PC and really enjoyed the depth and adventure the game provided. The console version did not fare as well. The general buzz surrounding Dragon Age 2 was "change." I was worried that translated into making the next Dragon Age a dumbed-down ride on the PC in order to improve the experience on consoles. I decided I needed to see for myself how the game was shaping up. I was hoping for the best but prepared for the worst as I got my passport and headed up to snowy Edmonton, Canada.
These spideys are about to get roasted!
Man, I hope this place has a fire escape.
When I arrived at BioWare's offices I was introduced to Dragon Age 2 Executive Producer Mark Darrah and Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw. After our initial greetings were exchanged, we settled into a conference room where the team began to explain their approach to this next chapter in the Dragon Age saga. Dragon Age Origins released to public and critical acclaim, however the group thought there were a few things they could improve upon. So, they sat down and dissected over 80 print and online reviews and combed through forums trying to identify the most common complaints. All of this effort was with the intent of improving the next product. Frankly, this surprised me. I mean, in the back of my mind I knew that when we posted reviews, developers read them, but I had never heard one openly admit that the criticism we provided on a title was taken seriously.
Following all of their research, the team decided on the list of tweaks for the next Dragon Age game. The top of that list was the overall look of Origins. Mike gave a presentation detailing how the work of great artists, like Kurosawa, have specific qualities that have a striking and lasting impact on the viewer, even if you do not consciously recognize the effect. Or in a nutshell, these great works have a specific, instantly recognizable style. The team felt that Origins was lacking in that department and that the overall effect was too generic. From the screenshots you can see that the game still retains the original Dragon Age look, but certain qualities have been amplified. It's hard to define or understand just from the screenshots. Once you see the game in motion, you realize that none of the original richness or detail from the first game has been lost, just polished and improved. The game looks good on both the PC and consoles (which is good because the console version of the first game was not so hot). But Mike did emphasis that it's not just a graphical update for eye candy sake. The team was very careful to make sure "the style helps support the story". And with that one of my worries was put to rest; they were able to make the game look better, but not at the sacrifice of gameplay on both the PC and consoles and I think will be able to keep fans of both systems happy.
Speaking of gameplay, Mike then concluded his presentation by firing up Dragon Age 2 and taking us through the game's opening and into the first combat encounter. He was in control of two characters, a mage and fighter. The party had stumbled into a scouting party of Darkspawn and quickly had their hands full. Mike took control of his fighter and sent him in close with a clang of steel on steel. Then he switched over to the mage and began tossing fireballs at the other group. It was plain to see that combat was faster this time around, but it retained the same control and execution as the system in Origins. As he was executing commands for his party, Mike commented that he was not fully satisfied with the combat mechanics of the first game. He jokingly likened the combat in Origins to a process of issuing an order and then watching as the character lumbered off to the designated location, rearranged his position and then took a swing at his target over several seconds. That was not the case this time around. Characters moved to their positions quickly, attacks were fluid and felt like they had real weight behind them. Combat was still bloody, like in the original game, but if an extremely strong attack was made, we were rewarded with a spectacular finishing move that in one case, resulted with one of the Darkspawn being cleaved in half at the waist. These were epic heroes and their combat reflected that fact.
Speaking of heroes, in Dragon Age: Origins your character was predestined to save the land as one of the Grey Wardens. This time around in Dragon Age 2, the Grey Wardens are not the primary focus. You instead take control of a hero named Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall. Hawke is a normal Joe (or Jane) who you will guide from the humble start as a refugee (who has fled from a homeland that was overrun by the Darkspawn and Blight) through the rise to power ultimately to become a legend in your own time. You get to determine if Hawke is male or female. You also get to customize what your version of Hawke looks like and also what class you will play; mage, fighter or rogue. Once your choices have been made, the story then plays out and you determine what kind of character Hawke is. You will interact with NPC's and party members much like you did in Origins. Choices you make, quests you complete and factions you align yourself with can have a positive or negative impact on the other party member's view of you but the overall effects have been dialed back a bit. You can still end up having an adversarial relationship with a party member, but they will not be so quick to give you the cold shoulder. In a sense, just like in real life you can still work with someone even if you are not the best of friends. I look forward to seeing just how far I can push some of the other characters when the game finally ships.
From what we've gathered after several hours of play time, BioWare seems determined to please both newcomers and fans of DA: Origns;
Well, we really can't think of anything at this point. Let's just wait and see shal we.
BACK TO TOP