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Default Thoughts on DA2 after completing it

March 12th, 2011, 21:53
First off, the usual stuff: I'll just post my thoughts on various aspects of a game, do a little comparison to other games and so on. I see no reason to turn this into a review and there won't be a score. Feel free to get a discussion going, ask questions and so on.

Note: My opinion is currently based on a full completion of DA2 with a 2H warrior, and act 1 completed as a mage.

Game length
There has been a lot of debate about the size of DA2, especially since most of it plays out in a single city. In short, there's nothing to worry about - there is plenty of content here. Not quite as big as Origins, but far more than Mass Effect 2, Jade Empire and so on.

Music, sound and graphics
The music and sound is top notch, just like Origins. The only downside is the fact that Anders is not voiced by the same actor, which is a real shame.

The graphics are.. well, depends who you ask. To me, they work out just fine, as I generally like the artistic style. I only have one bad thing to say about the graphics: What on earth did they do to the darkspawn? They look horrible. Oh yes, and Flemeth has a bit of a mismatch in terms of appearance/voice; her voice fit her old looks much better.

Gameplay
Oooh the heated topic! So many discussions have degenerated into flame wars around here because of this topic. Simplified? Streamlined? Consolitis?

Well, the tactical combat is still there, no doubt about it. Pausing is still very much required on Hard and Nightmare. If anything, it's more challenging/difficult than Origins ever was. Unfortunately, the difficulty is not exclusively based on the challenges, which brings me to the next point: Lack of tactical view.

I'll be blunt, I hate the fact that the tactical view is gone. It makes Nightmare extremely frustrating, because placing AoE spells is now - quite literally - a nightmare. It's all good'n dandy on Easy/Normal/Hard, because there is no friendly fire, but once you include friendly fire, it's remarkably annoying. I honestly suggest people avoid Nightmare, even if they do find Hard too easy, simply to avoid the frustration of not having tactical view.

Beyond that, combat is pretty much the same as it was in Origins. The speed is a bit higher (which makes placing AoE spells even harder on Nightmare), but as long as you use the pause button a lot it shouldn't be a problem.

Other than that, talents have been reworked. I'm not really sure how I feel about the new system - all in all it works out pretty well I suppose, but it's a bit.. slow? It's hard to describe, but I'll try: I constantly get the feeling that I need 3-4 more levels to get something groovy, which takes loads of hours, mainly because the talent trees are locked on level/amount of points put in a tree. A lot of levels feel completely useless because I just put "filler points" in a tree to get to the great stuff at the end of the tree.

All in all I actually prefer the setup in Origins, but only marginally. This new system is pretty smooth, especially if they tweak it a bit for an add-on or some such thing. Maybe give the main character a few extra points to play around with like in Origins where you got a few points here and there (either from quests or books).

Posted this next section (about classes) in another thread, but figured I could post it here as well to get a more complete thread.

Classes
Mages
I generally like the frost spells a lot. They add a nice frozen effect that others can take advantage of. Beyond that, I actually found mages somewhat disappointing - single target crowd control is virtually useless now (too many enemies), as are single target debuffs. Only a few fights have boss monsters worth putting a lot of debuffs on (dragons etc). Mage area damage is still decent, but several of their talent trees have more debuff than damage spells.

Rogues
Dual wield rogues have immense damage on single targets, but they tend to be hard to keep alive unless you protect them a lot. Ranged rogues work out just fine though, as they have similar damage, but can stay away from enemy cleave/area attacks.

Warriors
Work out well whether they're tanks or damage. Probably the most consistent damage dealers, especially when facing waves of enemies (which you do most of the time). Not as good on big bosses though, as they tend to run out of stamina quickly when they're not constantly killing (they have a talent that restores stamina when dealing killing blows).

As for combos? Usually pointless, as you face waves that require more area damage than single target damage, but on bosses it's quite nice. It's really quite simple though: You have a few types of debuff (stagger etc) applied by different classes that the other classes can take advantage of. In most cases you don't even have to specifically cater to the debuffs as a lot of them are applied through rather basic attacks like shield bash and cone of cold.

Story (main and side quests)
It's better than Origins, but that doesn't say a whole lot (let's be honest, Origins had a rubbish main quest). The companions generally have some interesting quests, and the main quest itself is actually not as obvious as most BioWare plots, which is a good thing. There are a lot of timesink quests though, that you never actually care about, but do just for the experience/money. It's not like Gothic where you put serious effort into pretty much every quest - it's more like an MMO where you gather up 3-4 quests and go do them all at once. This aspect was present in Origins too, however, so it's nothing new.

Overall, the writing seems better than Origins. A bit more focused. BioWare is still a notch below Obsidian, but I wasn't expecting anything else.

Verdict compared to Origins
Simple really: If you liked Origins mainly due to the tactical, oldschool combat, you should probably wait until DA2 hits the bargin bin. If you liked it for any other reason, you should pick up DA2 sooner than that. If you didn't enjoy Origins, you probably won't enjoy DA2 either.

Overall it has better writing than Origins, but lacks exploration and tactical view. The production values are pretty much the same, and I have yet to encounter any serious bugs. The only bug I've noticed was someone claiming my hero from Origins (I imported the savegame) let the Architecht live, when in truth he didn't.

I'll post this for now, and expand a bit later. I need to play a bit more now.

Future notes to expand upon (or topics to discuss):
- Why is every mage now a blood mage, able to summon demons and undead? Most mages also turn into abominations for some reason. In Origins, this was pretty rare.
- Inventory system, simplification taken too far.
- Choices and consequences: There are lots, but are they real? Need a second playthrough to verify some of the choices (I suspect the ending is actually a fake choice, not a real one).
- Kung Fu mage animations: Cool to look at, annoying in combat as they tend to delay spell casting by quite a bit.
- The wave mechanic is used far, far too much.
- Streets of Kirkwall a bit crowded with enemies at night?
- Action. Talking. Action. Talking. There is nothing inbetween: No exploration, no inventory management, no puzzles, nothing.
- The impact of imported savegames: A few mentions here and there, a nice touch to get the feeling that Hawke exists in the same universe as the Hero of Ferelden, but nothing major.
Last edited by Maylander; March 12th, 2011 at 22:26.
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