Dragon Age II

released on Mar 08, 2011

Dragon Age II is the sequel to Dragon Age: Origins and the second major game in the series. Like its predecessor, players can explore and engage in combat from a third-person perspective and will also encounter various companions who play major roles in the plot and gameplay. Depending on players' decisions and dialogue, a companion will either recognize the main character Hawke as a friend or a rival. The game adopts the wheel-based dialogue system, meaning short responses that reflect different tones and attitudes the player wishes to choose for Hawke. The combat system is quite similar to the one used in the previous Dragon Age game, though it has been noticeably sped up.

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Coming from the excellent prequel, I was very excited to see where this sequel would go.
Unfortunately it’s a shame that it pales in comparison. What made the first entry unique was abandoned for basically Mass Effect but with elves and dwarves
Lack of unique origin story, only human available to play as and the non impressive location have soured my experience
But it’s not all bad, at least I think the game is slightly improved as well as the management of the loot system (something that was very annoying to handle in origin)

I hate EA for what they did to this game

i love holding down the 'R' button

I tried giving this my all but I could not bring myself to complete this even when I was around the middle point of the game after beating a few Act II missions. You’d think that a sequel would up the ante by taking what worked in the first place and building upon that but this was the complete opposite. As someone who quite liked Dragon Age: Origins and enjoyed enough from the Awakening expansion, this was a massive let down, and that's putting it a bit nicely. This has only a fraction of the budget of Origins and it shows depressingly. It plays like a PSP game at best and at worst a shoddy Switch port of an older handheld and mobile game. It’s such a confusing followup to Origins because it changes things for no reason to the point it doesn’t look like it even belongs in the same setting or series anymore.
The Mass Effectification is incredibly shameless and spotty here. They got rid of having different racial backgrounds in favor of a predefined Commander Shepard hybrid protagonist who is just dull to even be immersed in. They overhauled dialogue to just be the dialogue wheel from Mass Effect and it doesn’t work knowing what worked perfectly fine before. Even the tactical nature of Origins’ party based combat is barely kept in what’s just one step away from being boring action hack and slash combat. The party especially feels poorly balanced and lacking in variety because 2/3rds of them are just mages and only one of them you can really have as your default healer because of plot reasons one of them is forced to be benched. The party members are also just a sad bygone from how charming and well-defined most of the companions of Origins were with the only two decent ones were Isabella and Merril. And one of them is basically the Dragon Age equivalent of Tali. Origins definitely struggled with trying to balance and define itself visually on an artistic level, it didn’t want to be too Heroic Fantasy like its spiritual predecessor Baldur’s Gate but not completely Dark Fantasy, but I don’t even know what the fuck this is.
There’s not really much of a real story even. There’s a premise for sure, but it didn’t feel like it was actually building up to anything interesting beyond constantly hinting that stuff will eventually. So most of the game is just you trying to make ends meet in working your way up to what has to be one of the most boring video game worlds you’re forced to walk around in. Fereldan isn’t perfect but at least it lets me move beyond Denerim and feel like I actually am exploring different environments and towns with different things going on. At least I felt like I was going on some adventure, regardless of how high or low the stakes are at hand. Kirkwall is devoid of anything interesting to even interact with other than just running slowly from Point A to Point B to meet up with quest giving NPCs who point you to some copy and pasted dungeon to kill some asshole or whatever. It’s just Sidequests: The Game, but unlike Mass Effect 2, none of these feel rewarding to even clear out. The combat just doubles down on everything that made Origins’ combat fairly boring and repetitive but just mindless so they feel more clear than before. I can’t speak for the third act since I didn’t go that far but the first two feel disjointedly put together with the only thing that’s trying to tie them together are these weird “You’re probably wondering how I got into this situation” cutscenes that only confused me more than intrigued me.
I don’t even get why this was framed and marketed as a direct sequel to Origins when it feels like an awkward spin-off that wants little to do with the first game beyond some cute references to choices you’ve done thanks to a save file and how it diverges from the BioWare Formula that game followed by. You’re not really saving the world by gathering people to unite against some big bad or whatever (I think that's the case here) but just trying to navigate through a troubled city dealing with political turmoil which should feel like an interesting change of pace narratively and gameplay wise, especially for BioWare because from the games I’ve played they really only can tell just one story, except it doesn’t feel like an intentional creative choice but something they forced into because of deeply troubled development and a lack of real budget needed to make a worthy sequel. There’s the discussion to be had with how BioWare has stagnated as the developer that used to make actual RPGs but this definitely helped embody where this all snowballed hard from.

The best Dragon Age game to date, possibly my favorite RPG ever. It's an extremely flawed game, due to, ostensibly, its short development time, which led to a plethora of annoyances and questionable decisions, most glaringly:
- Extreme reuse of assets and levels (every cave is the same, every underground hideout is the same, etc.)
- Enemy waves combat system (instead of properly tuned combats with finite enemies, you get waves of invisible enemies appearing on-screen.)
However, none of these flaws can overshadow its many achievements:
- A personal story of family, belonging, personal growth, friendship, and more; all tied up with the larger themes of the series and ongoing story threads.
- An engaging combat system that hits the soft spot between DA:O's tactical combat and DA:I's fluidity.
- A very well written cast of characters.
- A main character defined enough to have a personality and not look out of place in the middle of a cast of well-rounded characters, but malleable enough that you can make them feel and act like you want them to.
- A good length--not too short, not too long.
- An unmatched handling of the passage of time thanks to its 3 act structure. You can see how your choices shape the city and its inhabitants.
All in all, Dragon Age II is Bioware's best, and one can only dream of what could have been if they had been given enough time to polish its obvious flaws.

A disappointing sequel to an iconic masterpiece. Seriously, the only good thing about this game is Varrick.