Dragon Age 2 - All News
Saturday - August 30, 2014
Dragon Age 2 - Retrospective Roundup
I found two new retrospectives for Dragon Age 2 this week. The first a one is from Wastelander75 of Enthusiacs with his second part of his new retrospective.
Final Thoughts: Beyond all the gripes and the grumbles I have with DA II, you may be wondering if this is a horrible game. Well, yes and no. Yes, it has its moments of shine and polish, and there are moments within that keep the tradition of Dragon Age: Origins‘ original plan intact. Revisiting some familiar faces with a much-needed engine remodel is surprisingly welcomed. I just wish there was more of them.
But if you were to ask me if this was a Dragon Age sequel worthy of the name, a sequel worthy of the loft height set forth by its older brother, then I’d have to say without a doubt NO. Dragon Age II is a step down for the genre, for the name itself. When it should have set a new benchmark in the franchise, it simply stumbles and drags. The positive changes they made came with way too many negatives. Negatives that I can only point to one reason for existing at all: It’s extremely tight developmental time set, in my opinion, by EA. There wasn’t any time to add anything substantial to the story. There wasn’t any time to add anything substantial to the characters. There wasn’t any time. Why? Again, the 400 lb. gorilla in the room is wearing an EA approved suit. I will admit to admiring the boldness of trying something new, but ultimately BioWare took those steps in the wrong direction.
Thankfully, from what I’m seeing of Dragon Age Inquisition, many of these negative traits have been forgotten. Do I expect DAI to be this mind-blowing, all-encompassing return to form that harkens back to past BioWare games? No. Sadly, most of the people responsible for those moments are now gone. But do I think that Inquisition will be a step forward after this…. brief stumble back?
Yes. And honestly, that is a positive thing to look forward to.
The second retrospective is a new podcast on ZTGD's Phoenix Down.
Phoenix Down is hosted by Drew Leachman and Matt Quinn. Each segment focuses on an older game the duo decides upon with another member of the ZTGD crew or special guest. They play through and discuss the mechanics and how well it holds up today. It is the ultimate in backlog elimination. This is the year of Dragon Age for Phoenix Down.
Tuesday - August 19, 2014
Dragon Age 2 - The Long Road @ RPS
Cara Ellison of Rock, Paper, Shotgun is back with another S.EXE article, and uses Dragon Age 2 as the next example. I can see the replies already.
I usually discover the best stories about games over a quiet drink with a friend. This week I am residing in the Isle of Wight, working with the artist Howard Hardiman, author of The Lengths. The Lengths is, amongst other things, an exploration of the world of male gay escorts based on real conversations with sex workers; illustrations and dialogue of the feelings and life of someone who lives to please other people. I found myself in The Mess asking Howard which games he liked that expressed something about the relationships between people. This will contain spoilers for Dragon Age II.
Howard explained to me that Aveline’s crush on a coworker in Dragon Age II almost broke his heart. So we went back home to play The Long Road.
Sunday - March 30, 2014
Dragon Age 2 - Retrospective Review
Continue Play's Joe Yang has posted a new retrospective review of Dragon Age: II. The writer found the game enjoyable, and says it was the right direction for the series.
At the end of the day, it’s hard for me to hate Dragon Age 2. Sure, the gameplay is only improved somewhat superfluously, the characters are hit-and-miss, the plotting is a bit off-focus, and the environments are reused; but it’s still a fun game. It has that same enrapturing feel of Thedas, even if it focuses on too many things at once to cleanly hone in on something that’s thought-provoking or profound. In an attempt to tell so many stories at once it sort of forgets their purpose, meandering between the tales of the citizens of Kirkwall, stopping short and somewhat abruptly on the champion they call Hawke. It’s quick and eager to please, but spouts so many ideas in so many directions that it can seem overwhelming and make the pay-off underwhelming.
So, to answer the questions I posed earlier, is Dragon Age 2 a move in the right direction or should familiarity be a hallmark of the Dragon Age series? I think it is a move in the right direction. Dragon Age: Origins is hardly a game that’s perfect, and there’s been no changes in Dragon Age 2 that make it so radical that we can consider it to be Fable levels of different. Likewise, the Dragon Age series should be able to adapt: the change in the narrative in Dragon Age 2 is properly followed by a change in gameplay. Staying conservative does a disservice to Bioware’s ability to write, so experimentation is hugely beneficial. However, what Dragon Age 2 lacks at the moment is polish. As it stands, Dragon Age 2 is a big bag of ideas, thrown like darts onto a dartboard, hoping something hits a bullseye.
Monday - July 15, 2013
Dragon Age 2 - Reprint Review @ STFU
STFU has a remasterd review from 2011 for Dragon Age 2.
For all of the innovations that the Role Playing Game genre has experienced in the last half decade, there are some things that have remained virtually unchanged. Battles are usually slow paced and have to be approached tactically while stories generally involve the protagonist and his/her allies facing insurmountable odds in a quest to save their world. Bioware’s latest RPG, Dragon Age II has taken its own path to RPG-dom and bucks some classic RPG tropes in an attempt to tell a different kind of story and provide a faster and fiercer combat experience
Dragon Age II was an ambitious attempt to reinvent the RPG formula but sadly came up short in many key areas. Although there are things that are great about the game, too many of them feel as though they were not given enough time to completely develop. Despite these shortcomings, DA II is still a great RPG that will provide you with many hours of gameplay. If you are considering purchasing it, make sure to lower your expectations slightly since this game isn’t all that it was striving to be.
Tuesday - November 06, 2012
Dragon Age Series - Retrospective
PopMatters is looking back to the Dragon Age games in a somewhat positive way. Here is a bit on Dragon Age 2:
All the little details that made up the grand world of Origins were replaced with a small, unchanging, and shallow world where a deeply personal—if disjointed—story was told. This game wasn’t about the last hope for the world; it was the story of a small group of people that (accidentally) put a revolution in place. Gone are the plethora of conversation options that put the player into a unique role of his or her own, now the player controlled Hawke, who fit into the role of paragon, renegade, or indecisive smartass when either of the other two extremes didn’t seem to fit. Hawke didn’t shape the world the way that the warden did, in fact, Hawke was just a set piece being swept up in all the other changes that the player had no control over. Unlike the warden, Hawke did not have several possible personalities. Hawke was just a bystander that benefited from the cultural hegemony. No matter what the player’s choice, Hawke would become wealthy, celebrated, and greatly respected, Hawke would be given extraordinary political influence, and everyone would agree that he deserved his laurels and none of that would mean a damn before the credits ended
Sunday - September 02, 2012
Dragon Age 2 - Unbalanced Narrative @ Joystiq
Joystiq's Rowan Kaiser has penned an editorial about the unbalanced narrative in DA2.
In it, he investigates the strength and weaknesses in DA2's narrative. A quote:
If anything, Dragon Age 2's imbalanced focus on its city is mild compared to Baldur's Gate 2's gloriously chaotic mess of side quests. From this narrative imbalance come Dragon Age 2's most commonly cited strengths as well as weaknesses. By placing the characters in a relatively static situation over time, dynamic character development is easier and more effective – it's someone akin to Star Trek developing serialization when it used a sedentary space station instead of a traveling ship in Deep Space 9. So Aveline, Varric, and even Hawke herself all feel stronger than most other companions in RPGs, which especially helps Merrill in the finale of her intense questline.
A quote, then, from the article's conclusion:
It does – or tries to do – so many of the things I've wanted RPGs to do with their narratives for a long time, like telling a smaller story in both geography and scope, developing tragedy, and focusing on party members' stories. Yet the problems with doing those things become apparent as well, especially as the locations become tired and the narrative becomes fractured.
Thursday - May 17, 2012
Dragon Age 2 - Interview, David Gaider @ For the Lore
A new interview with David Gaider can be found at a site called For the Lore. In their 114th episode they talk about companions in games. In the episode they talk to David Gaider about this. He talks about companions in games, writing for AAA titles and writing HK-47, of course. There's also a discussion of great companions in games and what would have happened in the games had these companions not been there.
Tuesday - May 15, 2012
Dragon Age 2 - Looking Back @ Digitally Downloaded
Digitally Downloaded looks back at Dragon Age 2, asking Was it really that bad? The answer seems to be "no", according to them:
The thing that a lot of people seemed to find so disappointing in Dragon Age II was how limited the setting was. By focusing almost the entire game on the city of Kirkwall the game did indeed lack the epic scope of Dragon Age: Origins, but was this a bad thing? I’d argue not. The city-based RPG is a staple of the pen-and-paper RPG world of Dungeons & Dragons, but is rarely attempted in the realm of videogames. When it’s at its best, the city-based RPG provides an intricate world of political intrigue to work through, where facing off armies is replaced by working your way through social circles and unravelling labyrinthine plots.
Sunday - April 29, 2012
Dragon Age 2 - David Gaider Interview @ Geek and Sundry
Bioware senior and lead writer, David Gaider was interviewed by Geek and Sundry. In the very long, but very good interview Gaider taks about the artistic integrety debate as well as the way Bioware actually makes the games. He mentions that the writers are narrative designers e.g. being responsible for making quest and the story in the game. Also discussed are the romances in Bioware's games - and much more.
Monday - March 19, 2012
Dragon Age 2 - Mark Darrah on the Conclusion
Dragon Age II Executive Producer Mark Darrah has posted on the BioWare forums, officially marking the end of work on DA2 and highlighting some "milestones" (Facebook likes?):
With last week marking the one year anniversary of the release of Dragon Age II, I wanted to take the time to share some news and some great milestones we’ve had lately with Dragon Age. And though I can’t say too much, I also want to briefly address what is coming in the future.
First, I was delighted to hear that the Dragon Age brand has passed one million “Likes” on Facebook! This was an incredible reminder for me, and our entire team, that there are a lot of you out there who are invested in the franchise and who want to explore the world more. From all of us, I want to send a massive thank you!
Next, the latest and greatest patch for DAII is out, addressing a number of the issues you have helped us track on our tech support forums. Thank you again to those of you who took the time to submit feedback in order to help us make the game better.
And finally, while we will still be keeping an eye out for any issues that might crop up in DAII and supporting the community should any emergencies should arise, we’re moving the entire team’s focus to the next phase of Dragon Age’s future.
You’ve most certainly heard the rumors floating around, and unfortunately I can’t really comment on them. However, what I can say is that we’ve been thinking a lot about Dragon Age – what it means, and where it could go. This past year, we’ve spent a lot of time both going back to the “BioWare vault” of games and re-examining them, and looking at some new possibilities that today’s industry allows.
With that, the next thing for the Dragon Age team members and I to do is hear from you, and not just on the forums, or Facebook, or Twitter. We’ll be attending a number of conventions and gatherings, including PAX East in April. The most valuable thing we can get out of those meetings is to hear from you on those same topics – what does Dragon Age mean to you, and where would you like to see it go? We’re excited to hear what you have to say!
On behalf of the entire team, we are incredibly eager to reach the moment when we can tell you more and show you where we are taking Dragon Age. But for now, thank you for your continued support, and we will be back here with more as soon as we can.
Friday - March 02, 2012
Dragon Age 2 - Patch 1.04 Released
Good news - Later today (March 1, 2012), we'll be releasing our third major update to Dragon Age II across all platforms. Full details and the download link will be posted on our patch page as Patch 1.04.
This one's smaller than our previous two, clocking in at around 25 fixes. Some of these address critical issues such as crashes or save game corruptions while others simply add to or improve the Dragon Age experience, unlocking a bunch of new follower banters in our Legacy DLC, for instance, or offering better handling of ambient audio when switching between followers.
Wednesday - February 01, 2012
Dragon Age 2 - Interview with David Gaider
A website called Swooping is bad has an interview with David Gaider. They made an interview with him at event called Thedas UK Con. They did the interview with David Gaider over Skype.
The interview deals with revelations about the Calling, the mages, a discussion of various npcs, among them Anders, Sandal, and also some info about Templars and the history of their order and more. Thanks to surfgirlusa_2006 on the BSN forums for finding this.
A sample about how the Magic Circles came to:
TUK: Were the Magisters trying to accomplish anything in particular with what they were doing in Kirkwall, or was it just a convenient location?
DG: It was a convenient location. It wasn't like they created Kirkwall in order to do something sinister, it's that Kirkwall having A) a ready available of sacrifices and B) a very thin Veil, I mean why do they put the Circles of Magi wherever there's a thin Veil? It's really dangerous, but it's sort of a chicken-egg thing. Even if they did build a Circle where there wasn't a thin Veil eventually over time the Veil would thin anyhow. And it happens to be that these are the more magical places, the thinner the Veil is the more magic you have available. It's arguable, you could say 'Well if we want to control mages, maybe we should them in places where there isn't a lot of magic!
TUK: [laughing] That would be too logical.
DG: Yes and no. The thing to remember as well is that the Circles were created to help Thedas as well. We had the Blights, and the first Circles were created shortly after the first Blight. The mages become vitally important when there's a Blight in order to combat the darkspawn. So it wasn't like the Chantry wanted to cripple the mages, they wanted them to have the power they needed to help humanity. But to give on one you lose the other, there's a bit of a conundrum. As to what the Tevinters were up to in Kirkwall, when they realized what they had available, you had some mentions of it in the codex. I don't know whether we'll ever follow up on that story. Ultimately they did not succeed because the slaves eventually rebelled, there was the giant rebellion. What you have left is the remnants of what they were attempting at the time.
A quote from David Gaider on the Dark Ritual:
TUK: Slightly related to that, will we see...some of the big decisions from Origins and Awakenings are do you go through with the Dark Ritual so that Morrigan has a child with an Old God's soul, and the Architect, whether or not you kill him. Will those characters come back later on, or those decisions come back and be relevant in the third game?
DG: When you're talking about decisions that the fans expect to be treated as sacred, the big decisions are the ones that....the small ones, whether a character lives or dies, or smaller side plots and stuff, that seems less important overall, but for the big ones like the Dark Ritual I don't think we can not respect the Dark Ritual. It's going to be tricky, and I think the problem we encounter with some of the big decisions is the level of expectation.
Wednesday - January 11, 2012
Dragon Age - Multiplayer Rumours
Kotaku writes that an "insider" has told them the Dragon Age franchise will be going multiplayer - although the insider doesn't even know enough to say if this is for Dragon Age 3 or a spin-off. Then again, we had exactly this rumour for Mass Effect and that turned out to be true - we'll know when BioWare does the usual GameInformer reveal, presumably:
The insider wasn’t sure if Dragon Age multiplayer was going to be part of a full, stand-alone title (ala Dragon Age 3) or available separately as a downloadable game. It is apparently being developed on DICE’s Frostbite 2 game engine (used for Battlefield 3), and even early-on the game apparently looks stunning.
The multiplayer is supposedly an arena-based affair and features player versus environment (PvE) elements as well as player versus player (PvP), as well as humans fighting dragons. Details on what PvE battles entail are scant.
Tuesday - November 29, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Mark of the Assassin Review @ CVG
CVG has a positive review of the Mark of the Assassin DLC for Dragon Age 2, with a score of 8/10:
The set-up is just another excuse to get you out of the city, but what follows is far more than a fetch and carry mission. Along the way you solve puzzles, use your skills in new and interesting ways, and even take part in a not-as-bad-as-it-sounds stealth section.
More importantly, Mark of the Assassin opens up several side-quests that directly link to other members of your party, giving them more game time. This makes the DLC feel more like part of the main tale, as if it was intended from the start, which makes a huge psychological difference.Playing through is like adding an extra four hours to the main game, not heading off at a slightly forced tangent.
Thursday - November 17, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Bonus DLC Items
I think this is really pitched at selling more DLC but if you're interested in more stuff for Dragon Age 2, BioWare has created some free items for those that have played the three story DLCs:
The Dragon Age II development team created two bonus items to say thank you to everyone who purchased all three DLC expansions!
To claim this reward you must unlock at least one Xbox 360/PC achievement or PS3 Trophy from "Exiled Prince", "Legacy", and "Mark of the Assassin". Please go here to unlock the High Lord's Belt and the Pendant of the Morning Frost.
Your support and feedback really helped shape these DLC expansions! Thank you again for your loyalty.
Tuesday - November 15, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Interview @ Kitty's Pride
Alrik sends in an interview from NY ComicCon with David Gaider and Michael Laidlaw at Kitty's Pryde. It's a faily innocuous article, so here's a snip on the not-yet-officially-announced Dragon Age 3:
KP: The big question is when does Dragon Age 3 come out?
DG: There’s been no official announcement of DA 3. It’s been discussed certainly. I can’t confirm or deny anything about Dragon Age 3, long term the release date is less important to me then our general approach which is a couple of big things we want to add in. Exploration coming back, bigger areas and spaces for people to explore. The wonder of going over a hill and going “whoa, what’s that down there”. That’s got to come back. Probably a bigger scope overall, but still heavy focus on characters. My view is that we have a lot more subtle reactivity to the choices your making so as you’re playing the game you always feel like it’s coming back to bite you in the ass.
Friday - November 04, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Mask of the Assassin Review @ CPU Gamer
There's an enthusiastic review of DA2: Mark of the Assassin at CPU Gamer, where they awarded 9/10 for this DLC:
Overall, I would say that this is precisely the type of downloadable content that publishers need to be supporting their products with. In the end it is ten dollars, for a 4-5 hour chunk of content that features a new party member and some new treasure, quests, and monsters. Tallis leaves your party, which is sad as she would have been a fun rogue to keep in the party.
Source: Blues News
Monday - October 17, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Mark of the Assassin Review @ IGN
IGN has penned a review of Mark of the Assassin, awarding a score of 8.5/10 and enjoying the humour:
It's worth emphasising the studied quirkiness of this expansion again; if you love the Joss Whedon style of flippant humour mingled with bloody combat and maudlin seriousness, you'll love this. This is an expansion where five minutes after your character camps it up, saying "I simply must meet the person responsible for those Azaleas", Tallis is killing a guard and moralising about his family; where Felicia Day prances around covered in blood pretending to be an alluring nug saying "I can't do it while you look" and where your optional romance with Tallis is accompanied by Varric leering "sidekicks get to watch".
Sunday - October 16, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Mark of the Assassin Reviews
Time for a small roundup of Mark of the Assassin reviews.
The newest Dragon Age II downloadable add-on bears more than a passing resemblance to another slice of content from developer BioWare: the Kasumi - Stolen Memory add-on for Mass Effect 2. In both, a stealthy assassin joins your party. In both, you mingle among socialites at a fancy party. Both are also heist missions in which you steal a valuable object from your host's vault. BioWare seems to be drawing its ideas from a progressively shallower well, but the good news for Dragon Age II fans is that Mark of the Assassin is more satisfying than the game's previous premium download. It introduces a new and personable party member named Tallis, whose charming attitude gives the adventure a pleasant, buoyant vibe. A buggy stealth sequence lands with a thud, but the game recovers, presenting you with a tantalizing choice and concluding with an easy but entertaining boss battle.
Ripten also goes for 7/10:
MotA is a more light-hearted romp compared to Legacy, though you will learn considerably more about the Qunari and their beliefs, which adds some weight to the proceedings. The new loot is fairly decent, although I didn’t find any real use for it considering my party was already kitted out in similar and sometimes better gear. There’s also an extended sequence wherein you can sneak around the chateau, distracting and clobbering guards, if you enjoy a little variation in your gameplay. Alternatively, you can just wander around the old fashioned way, killing everyone you come across. Finally, MotA adds a few more puzzles for players to set their wits against, although they’re not particularly difficult.
Over at GamesRadar, the score is 8/10 despite some complaints:
Even with the strong story and varied gameplay, Mark of the Assassin is not without some sigh-worthy weaknesses. There are just two new enemies (only one of which is remarkable enough to provide any sort of challenge), and the rest are the same token baddies fought in wide open (read: boring) spaces. There’s also a bit too much wandering along invisible borders of familiar wilderness sections picking up meaningless, invisible side quest materials. That kind of gameplay is pure filler, and BioWare does little to mask it.
While the stealth sections are a welcome respite from the repetitive combat, BioWare’s not exactly encroaching on Splinter Cell territory. Guards are ridiculously stupid: they can’t see in anything less than direct torchlight, have small cones of awareness, and will attribute your beating them unconscious to simply passing out from the heat of their armor. Still, even if these sections should have been better, we can’t emphasize enough how relieved we were to have something different.
7/10 from fansite Greywardens:
I feel like Mark of the Assassin had some good pieces in place, but they didn’t really just come together in the right way. The new features like Tallis’ fighting style and the stealth mode seemed good on paper but didn’t really work out well in the game. The story has it’s moments but it felt like BioWare was really trying to carry this DLC on Day’s star power as opposed to its own merits.
TheControllerOnline - 8/10
GamingAddiction - 4/5
Tuesday - October 11, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Mark of the Assassin Released
Mark of the Assassin, a DLC for Bioware's DA2, has been released. It can be found at the Xbox Market Place and the PC download page. For good measure, here is a quote from the press release, courtesy of Gamebanshee:
Surrounded by deception and intrigue, Hawke finds himself face-to-face with a cunning Rogue assassin named Tallis as she intervenes during a perilous ambush. In return for her aid in defeating a group of mercenaries, Tallis asks Hawke to help her steal a precious relic from an Orlesian Duke in his well-guarded estate outside of Kirkwall. II campaign.
In other Mark of the Assassin news, Major Nelson's podcast # 414 has an eight minute interview with Mike Laidlaw. Topics include wyverns, the trap-laden dungeons in the DLC, Felicia Day's involvement, the questions the DLCs answers - and much much more. The interview starts at 13.45 in the podcast.
Thursday - October 06, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - New PulseTV Episode
From the Dragon Age 2 website:
Felicia Transforms into Tallis
This week’s episode of BioWare Pulse takes you inside the studio to show you how we transform people into videogame characters. While using mocap technology, the developers were able to track the actor’s movements and re-imagine that into the world of Dragon Age.
Mark of the Assassin is set to release October 11 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Watch the newest episode of BioWare Pulse here.
Thursday - September 29, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - PulseTV with Mike Laidlaw
From the Dragon Age II site:
This week’s episode of BioWare Pulse features Dragon Age II Creative Director Mike Laidlaw!
Dragon Age 2 - Mark of the Assassin Preview with Felicia Day
BioWare has hitched their wagon to Felicia Day, sending the actress over to Joystiq to take them through a preview of the upcoming Mark of the Assassin DLC. There isn't much depth to the information but here's a sample:
Starring in the DLC was "a dream come true." She explained the appeal, saying "there's a lot of lore in this, which is why I love Dragon Age." Day isn't kidding -- she's played through the original Dragon Age all the way through twice, and through every origin. She was obsessed with seeing as many of the different character reactions as possible, and the same applied in Dragon Age II. And that's how she nearly got me killed.
Day picked my party loadout for the DLC based on character interactions she hadn't seen yet. After all, there's over 12 hours of additional dialogue in Mark of the Assassin. But, unfortunately for me, there wasn't a healer or mage in the bunch she did pick, which was a problem when it came time to fight the wyvern.
Friday - September 16, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Mark of the Assassin DLC Announced
Chris Priestly has announced a new DLC for Dragon Age 2, titled Mark of the Assassin and due for release on October 11th. This story-based package appears to be a vehicle for Felicia Day, with her Dragon Age: Redemption character Tallis taking a central role:
We are very pleased to announce the next Dragon Age II story based DLC, Mark of the Assassin!
Hawke meets a mysterious female Elvin assassin named Tallis, voiced by the talented Felicia Day, and joins her to steal an ancient relic from an Orlesian Baron in his well-guarded estate. A cross between Varric and Isabela, Tallis is a rogue who introduces a new fighting style to add more variety in combat. Get up close and personal with her deadly skills or stand back and pick off enemies with her ranged combat abilities.
Mark of the Assassin features new items, new enemies and monsters and new environments as well as giving players the opportunity to experience a new, tactical way to play with the return of Stealth gameplay. Plus, along with the new environments and monsters, you will learn more about the Orlesians and Qunari.
Mark of the Assassin will be available for download on the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on October 11 for $9.99 or 800 Microsoft points.
You can watch the first trailer here at Gametrailers.
Some further comments from Chris in the announcement thread:
Yes party members and otehr DA characters will appear in Mark of The Assassin.
Tallis is the character that Felicia Day plays in Redemption, so there will be lots of character ties.
Like Legacy, you can play Mark of the Assassin at any point in the game once you have reached Kirkwall and your house.
Keep in mind if you have questions, Mike Laidlaw is doing a live chat about Mark of the Assassin and all things Dragon Age tomorrow at 1pm MDT (12 PSt, 3 EDT).
Thursday - September 15, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Live Chat Friday
From BioWare's Dragon Age site:
We'll be having a special edition of BioWare TV this Friday. At 10AM PST BioWare Pulse will take a look at what's going on in the Dragon Age Universe and at 1PM PST Creative Director Mike Laidlaw will be hanging out in a live chat to answer your questions!
Friday - September 09, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Walkthrough Completed
GameBanshee sends word they have finished their comprehensive 100-page walkthrough for Dragon Age 2.
Tuesday - August 30, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - David Gaider Interview @ Newsarama
Lilunebrium on the Bioware DA2 forums has found this interview with David Gaider about Dragon Age 2. It's mostly about how the writing process in DA2 worked, although some info on Legacy can also be found.
Here's a quote about writing the companions in DA2.
Nrama: Your companions affected the overall plot of Dragon Age II much more than in the past – is that something we can expect in the future?
Gaider: Yeah, I think it was more when we started thinking about what companions we wanted. One mistake we sort of felt we made in Dragon Age: Origins was we thought more about characters we would like to write, as opposed to what we did in DA2: we started off thinking well let’s have some characters that play an important role in the plot – because there’s a few, Isabela, for instance has a particular role in the plot that she plays – but also characters that take a stance on some of the central issues...
You may not care about mages versus templars, but if you care about Anders or you care about Fenris or your brother or sister, you might not but if you do that is another way for us to get the player engaged in the plot.
And here's a quote about what makes the Dragon Age game franchise stand out.
Nrama: As the lead writer of the franchise, what makes Dragon Age so unique as a role-playing game? What is distinctly Dragon Age?
Gaider: It’s about difficult choices. I don’t like easy happy endings. I don’t like when things are all tied up in neat bows. I don’t like fantasy only being a morality play. What I like is presenting decisions where the player has to stop and may be isn’t quite sure as to what is the right thing to do. Really what you do says as much about the player and the character they want to play as it does about the decision itself...
In a way, it’s the same as writing a novel, where it’s about engaging the player and getting them to care about the story, while in a game you have a unique aspect with the element of interaction and personal investment that you can’t really get some other passive entertainment. So it’s an opportunity to get the player to tell the story you want to tell and talk about different issues. At the very first breaths of a story, when we are talking about our ideas, it’s like, “What do we want to tell? What do we want to touch on?”
Dragon Age 2 - PAX Info
Sir Occam, a forumite on the Bioware DA2 forums, attended the Bioware PAX panel 2 says ago. He apparently started filming untill Mike Laidliw told them not to film at all. Then he scribbled - a lot. Please go this thread on the DA2 forums if you want to read all his observations. Here are some of the highlights:
The first question was about the chance of Hawke and the Warden ever meeting. David Gaider split that up into two questions: 1) Will each be a PC or NPC, and 2) will they meet. To the first, he implied that the Warden would likely not return as a PC, but Hawke would (I assume this means in further DLC). As to the meeting, Gaider said they are "perhaps so inclined." So what I came away with was that they will meet, with Hawke as the PC, and the Warden as an NPC. Or perhaps it will happen off-screen. Just my speculation...they didn't promise any of that.
The change in Anders' personality, according to DG, could probably have used some kind of intermediary step, but it was something DG liked. Returning characters need to evolve, so if they come back, they too might be different.
Someone asked which kind of combat they're going for: DAO's more MMO-esque combat, or DA2's more hack and slash type? Mike said it could be slowed down a bit, but he is still firmly anti-shuffle. (Yay!) They want to design encounters, not fights. Hawke should be shouting "more coming over the hill" and not "here comes another wave!" Also the environment should play a bigger role.
And for some reason he was excited about Felicia Day being there...
SergeySW on the Bioware forums found this info from nerdappropriate.
I'm highlighting again:
Player Customization – Bioware is fully aware that players want to be able to customize their companion’s armor and appearance, and it looks to be coming back. Briefly shown on the screen was a shot of Meryll in an entirely new suit of armor with head, chest, hand, and foot slots unlocked. I think it would be a real challenge to implement as DLC, so we may have actually seen a quick glimpse of DA3 or perhaps an unannounced expansion pack.
On DA3 Premise – Dragon Age: Origins was about saving Ferelden from the Blight, whereas Dragon Age 2 was all about creating the conflict that fuels DA3. It was mentioned that DA2 was “the big setup” with the goal of the third game being “saving the world from…. itself.
Protagonists: Hawke’s story is not quite done, whereas the story of the Hero of Ferelden.. is over. This does not mean that the Warden Commander isn’t an important character in the universe, just that you won’t be playing him/her as the main protagonist of the story. Gaider also hinted that the future of the franchise may rest with an all new unseen hero.
Monday - August 29, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Games Com Info
Dubya75 from the Bioware DA2 forums has found this info regarding the future of DA2 on Delta Gamer. The info is based on two Q&A sessions with Fernando Melo and David Silvermann at Games Com.
Here are some highlights - from the first Q&A:
ĦPlayers liked the Legacy DLC’s final battle. But BioWare admitted that party members AI is pretty broken on that fight, so they want to keep the fights interesting but fix the AI.
ĦBioWare is going to take their time with future DLC as they did with Legacy and that turned out well.
ĦThey are not done with Hawke’s story and it will be the focus of most incoming DLC.
ĦMelo stated that Morrigan was critical to the world, and so is Warden, therefore we will definitely be hearing about them or seeing more of them in the future.
ĦMelo noted that potential biggest feedback about Dragon Age II is that decisions don’t appear to matter. They will “absolutely” be working on it in the future.
And some highlights from the second Q&A:
ĦThe book Dragon Age: Asunder will take place towards the end of Dragon Age II, and will set up events that will occur in the future.
ĦThe decision of whether to have a set character in the style of DA2, or multiple origins a la Dragon Age: Origins will be based on fan feedback.
ĦThere is “a lot of depth” to Sandal, and we “might be surprised” by him in the future.
ĦThe team will try to resolve the situation regarding the “Old God Baby”, and will try and show fans what happened regarding the child.
Melo also said this:
He also mentions that he agrees with people who reacted negatively to the impact of choice (or lack, thereof), saying that the main story quest All That Remains comes to mind. Melo reaffirmed that choices and their consequences will be a major focal point of future content.
Dragon Age 2 - Interviews with Ray and Greg, the co-founders of Bioware
During the past two weeks several interviews have been made with both Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk.
PC Gamer also has an interview with Dr. Muzyka in which he says this
What we need to do as developers is take that feedback from both sets of fans to heart and see about marrying that in future games in the Dragon Age franchise. I think that the team has actually got a great plan. I think the team is going to have some things that are going to surprise both sets of fans, both core fans and new fans with a marriage of these… the best from both games, Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2. And we look forward more to talking about that in the future.
Thanks to Travie on the DA2 forums for finding this.
The Escapist has an interview with Greg Zeschuk where he says this
RPGs are and always have been our bread and butter, our heart is there, but at the same time I think - well, we had the RPG panel breakfast at GDC yesterday - and what was interesting about that was that we had the conversation about 'what is an RPG,' and it's a blend," he told VG247. "The genres are blending right now, you're getting lots and lots of progression and RPG elements in shooters - online persistence and so on.
Thanks to mrcrustry in this (now locked) thread and Kothoses Rosenkisal in this (still open thread) on the DA2 forums for finding this.
Dragon Age 2 - Mike Laidlaw comments on DA2 at Bioware DA2 forums
. Area Re-use.
An obvious problem, and one we are keenly aware of. Not an intentional issue, and certainly not "by design" but something that happened and needs to be addressed. Players should not have to accept that Cave A is also Caves B through D. While -some- assets will be reused in the course of any game (and should be, otherwise games would simply be too expensive to create), they should be done so with considerably more discretion. In retrospect, I probably should have just cut content to reduce the re-use, but that's a tough call to make in the moment.
2. "Wave" combats
When everyone talks about how it's raining men in DAII, there's clearly something wrong. Simple problem: waves were introduced as a mechanic and overused without enough time to tune them. Fan reaction prompted us to start making adjustments to the system pretty much immediately, and Legacy demonstrates the start of the result. I am amused when people note that waves are "gone" from Legacy. They're actually there, just done much better. So, yes, the bad waves are gone. Still more work to do, but a good start.
3. Impact of choice
We knew we were taking a risk making a story about a major even in Thedas that was pretty much going to happen, and reaction has been very mixed. While some folks love the "sound of inevitability" that pervades DAII, there are a number of weak spots in the impact they feel they should have on the world. Fair point. If we're going to offer you a decision, it should matter. Easy fix would be to cut decisions, but that's not what DA is about, so we're going to have to get better about clear impact of those decisions within the same game you're currently playing. Addressable, but not within a DLC, as they are pretty self-contained items.
4. Follower customization
A mixed bag. Lots of folks liked unique looks for followers. Many more hated losing the ability to put new platemail on Aveline. Completely understandable, and likely aggrivated by finding platemail that your mage character would likely never be able to equip. Needs to change, but we'll cement how before talking in detail. Also not really addressable in a DLC, as there would be fundamental changes to the core game needed, which goes beyond the scope of what a DLC can deliver.
There's more issues out there, for sure, but those are some that I'm comfortable talking about at this point.
The release of the Legacy DLC certainly fixed some of the above things, it seems.
Wednesday - August 24, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Item Pack 2 Released
If you'd like to pay for some horse armour for Dragon Age 2, Item Pack #2 has been released. There are actually three different packs with one each for warriors, rogues and mages at $2.99 each or $4.99 for the set (or the equivalent in point thingies).
Friday - August 19, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Item Pack 2 DLC
Greywardens.com has news via a GamesCom Livestream that a new item pack DLC for Dragon Age 2 will be released next week. There are also possible hints of additional DLC or expansions, though nothing solid. From the article:
While dodging a question about the possibility of new DLC or an expansion, Melo announced that a second Item Pack will be available Tuesday. Melo said the package will add a couple new weapon and items to spruce up your appearance, but didn’t give any major details about what to expect to see.
Thanks, Archmage Silver!
Thursday - August 11, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Kvetching @ Armchair Empire
Matt Barton "kvetches" about Dragon Age II on his blog at The Armchair Empire:
At some point, you just have to decide what combat should be like in a CRPG. Do you want to feel like the guy swinging the sword? Or do you want to feel like the guy standing over a table full of miniatures, contemplating the terrain, troop movements, area effects, and so on? For me, it will always be the latter. That's why I liked Pool of Radiance so much; the combat looked like a tabletop miniatures game come to life. Oblivion seems to have come closest to putting you in the boots of an actual warrior in the field. Dragon Age 2 seems somewhere in the middle, with some armchair stuff but mostly concerned with making you feel responsible for making your warrior's arm move or your mage's staff shooting fireballs. Coming back to the military metaphors, DA 2 seems to make you a sergeant. You're giving orders, but you're also there on the field playing the game. So if we compare the three game types, Oblivion makes you a foot soldier, DA 2 makes you a sergeant, and the games I prefer make you a commanding officer, guiding the preparation and action but not usually in the fray. If you wanted to go all the way to general, seems like you need to shift into the strategy genre.
Wednesday - August 10, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Ray Muzyka Interview @ IndustryGamers
IndustryGamers has a handful of quotes from Dr. Ray Muzyka explaining how the changes to Dragon Age 2 were the right direction but they are also taking feedback into account for the future. I'd politely suggest the number of these interviews suggests they're getting a lot more feedback than Dr. Ray would like to admit:
"I think there was actually a tremendous number of people that came into the franchise and were delighted. So there were many people who critically thought it was wonderful, and actually a lot of old fans did as well. There’s no doubt that there was a polarization though. Maybe some of that can be attributed to some of the fans of Dragon Age: Origins who were maybe expecting a similar experience. But we actually innovated, we took a lot of risk, we were pushing the envelope on how we told the story, the gameplay, the action moments, the graphics - a lot of things were changed. And, actually, I really believe it was the right direction," Muzyka began.
...and hints of DA3:
"We’re working on future projects in the Dragon Age franchise," he acknowledged. "We have some more DLC plans, that actually address some of the feedback from some of our core fans. I think that’s going to be really satisfying to fans who liked DAO and DA2. We haven’t announced Dragon Age III formally at all, but we can say we’re definitely thinking about future products. There’s some cool stuff in the works there."
Wednesday - August 03, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - PnP Ruleset Released
From BioWare's Dragon Age site:
Who wants to get their old school, pen and paper gaming on? The new Dragon Age Set 2 pen & paper RPG is now available from the fine folks at Green Ronin games.You can order your boxed edition, or download as a .pdf version today. Also, if you are attending GenCon, stop by the Green Ronin booth #965 and buy it there.
Order your copy of Dragon Age Set 2 pen and paper RPG from Green Ronin.
Dragon Age 2 - Legacy Reviews @ GameSpy, Eurogamer
Here's a pair of new Legacy reviews (which haven't exactly been flowing out) and the results aren't what BioWare would be looking for.
GameSpy says "An all-too-brief downloadable adventure without a significant challenge", with a score of 2.5/5:
So how does it play? Legacy does offer a bit of a change-up in regard to the types of enemies you face and the tactics they use while attempting to cut the lives of Hawke and his chatty companions short. It's as if Legacy's Darkspawn went to Dragon Age: Origins boot camp, learning the basic tank/shield, ranged attack, and support class alignment. You'll see it often, specifically when you encounter a new shield-toting Darkspawn who takes his tank role very seriously, allowing his ranged and magic-using cohorts to do their dirty work at a distance while you focus on getting around the veritable snowplow.
It's a fine effort to get back to the tactical origins of Dragon Age: Origins, but it falls short because the veteran players that would most appreciate the "pause, plan, and play" approach are likely already too powerful to be more than slightly slowed by the hordes of Darkspawn inhabiting the ancient Grey Warden prison. You see, Legacy is set before the conclusion of Dragon Age II... and it seems like it's intended for those who aren't even close to becoming the Champion of Kirkwall.
Why release a DLC months after the main game that's aimed at people who aren't close to finishing the main game? Anyway, Eurogamer has a similar score of 5/10:
The actual shape of the gameplay is hardly imaginative, though. It's a linear crawl, with sporadic dead-end diversions that mostly serve to deliver objects and plot points for the three optional side quests. There are mini-boss encounters and some new Darkspawn variants, although these are more like remixed versions of familiar foes than anything dazzlingly fresh.
The highlight for the adolescent-minded will probably be an encounter with an armoured bronto called Wanka. This is almost as good as discovering that Han Solo once had a robot companion called Bollux.
Monday - August 01, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - David Gaider Interview @ Gamasutra
Gamasutra has a late interview with David Gaider on the process of writing for Dragon Age 2:
It was Laidlaw who first proposed the new game concept. His idea was this: instead of telling a linear, he suggested they modify the structure on a high level and jump between the major moments of a character's life. Instead of telling a story over a short span of time in a wide open world, they would set the game within a single city, and jump through an epic ten-year period. This would be accomplished with the help of a framing device, allowing for the time jumps to be implemented as flashbacks.
"[The new approach] definitely allowed us some unique opportunities," Gaider says. "Sometimes the lack of an ability to hand-wave time passing means we end up with a lot of events happening in an unrealistically short span, or repercussions for a player's actions that either need to occur instantly or be relegated to the epilogue. So this offered us the chance to give a sense of greater scope."
However, there were also unknowns. What would it feel like to play a game where you don't see time's gradual passage? Would jumping through time break narrative unity and pull the player out of the story? And how would this work from an implementation standpoint? Would creative resources get bogged down trying to account for the long-term impact of minor decisions that the player made five years ago in game time?
Saturday - July 30, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - GameSpot Review
"Soulless" is how GameSpot describes DA2: Legacy on the way to a 5.5/10 score:
Much of Dragon Age II's appeal had to do with its emotional impact. As protagonist Hawke's circle of friends grew, so did your connection to the ensemble cast--but it was a connection the game earned over the long haul. A two-hour add-on doesn't have the luxury of a long-form structure, so it must make an impact in other ways. Dragon Age II: Legacy makes a valiant attempt to strengthen your bond with Hawke, but ultimately it makes little impression. Not that there's anything wrong with a bit of fun combat and a nice new set of armor. But there are few standout moments in Legacy, unless you count the glitches and other sloppy details you might encounter. This downloadable content is entertaining in its own mindless way, but without a forceful narrative arc to support it, Legacy is soulless. It just goes through the motions and nothing more.
Thursday - July 28, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Legacy Reviews
Searching around for Legacy reviews, it doesn't look like any major sites have articles out yet. Here are two from small sites found via Google.
Redhead Reviews has a short piece with a score of 7/10:
Overall, I was disappointed in this. It wasn’t very long for the price of $10 that it was, and it only slightly touched on Hawke’s background. The dungeons were still the same old same old, and the enemies offered nothing new. Bioware failed me once more. They better not do the same for Mass Effect 3.
...The Controller Online seems to think the environments are new but, despite liking it more, the score is still 7/10:
Bioware always make fantastic games, they just can’t seem to get DLC down, as you may know if you’ve played any Mass Effect DLC. Had Legacy been longer or added anything to the gameplay it could have been great. As it stands grab Legacy if you’re a fan of Dragon Age 2 and have an afternoon to kill. It’s fun and you get some cool gear.
Tuesday - July 26, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Legacy DLC Released
Gamebanshee mentions that the storybased DLC for DA2, Legacy has been released.
Here's an excerpt from the press release, courtesy of Gamebanshee:
In Dragon Age II Legacy, a vicious criminal cartel is out for Hawke’s blood and players must put an end to their malicious attacks. To find the source, players are forced to leave Kirkwall and uncover the mystery behind the Hawke family’s past. Along the way, players will forge a new and fully upgradable class-specific weapon, encountering epic battles with brand-new creatures and coming face-to-face with an ancient horror so evil and powerful that Wardens have kept it secret for millennia. Dragon Age II Legacy is playable from any point in the Dragon Age II campaign accessible within Hawke’s house.
Dragon Age II Legacy is now available. Continue your Dragon Age II adventures with the first story based DLC for Dragon Age II. This DLC is available to be played from any point in the story and continues the story of Hawke as he leaves Kirkwall to put an end to attacks from a dwarven carta and ends up uncovering an ancient evil left behind in an abandoned Grey Warden prison. Download Dragon Age II Legacy, face new darkspawn, forge a powerful new weapon and come to face with an ancient horror. Get Legacy today!
Evil_toby_claws wrote... So when will it be up for PSN?
If we're lucky....an hour. If we're unlucky...another 6 hours. PSN is funny like that. DA2 demo wasnt available until 8pm EST back when it released.
Wednesday - July 20, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Interview with Fernando Melo @ RPS
Rock, Paper, Shotgun interviewed Fernando Melo from Bioware about the upcoming Legacy DLC. A few samples, the first being about what the Legacy DLC can and can't do:
We really had to go back to the storyboard after the launch of Dragon Age II, to take in the feedback and figure out, how do make our content better?” Melo says. He warns that the scope of what the studio can achieve in a single DLC installment is limited, but “hopefully, people see this not as everything we’re doing [to respond to feedback], but rather as a first step toward addressing some of their points.
A quote then about the combat:
One of the main points Legacy is designed to address: “People wanted to feel they had more tactically challenging combat, where they had to draw on their abilities a lot more and use their parties more effectively,” Melo says. To that end, the darkspawn and other creatues that populate Legacy won’t just materialize in front of the party or “pop out of walls”, but are set up to give the player more taxing combat situations, including ambushes.
Finally a bit about what Legacy reveals:
For players who enjoy the lore of Dragon Age, they’re going to have a very rich treat here, not just in terms of the main arc of the quest, but a lot of other side content regarding Malcolm Hawke, as well as being able to tap into some of the other things that we had revealed so far through Origins and some of the other DLCs,” Melo adds. “It reveals a lot more of some of the central pillars of what Dragon Age is all about.”
Saturday - July 16, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Legacy Demo Released
Bioware has recorded the Legacy Demo shown yesterday. You can view it here. It covers the start of the DLC, showing combat and how to use traps during combat Additionally Bioware developers have been answering questions in this thread at the DA2 forums.
A few samples:
Yrkoon asked this question:
I got a question. The answer of which will determine whether I bother with this DLC.
I like dungeon-crawls. Who here doesn't? But what I'm craving right now is a role-playing experience. If you had to define this DLC would you define it as
a) a hack and slash with a dash of story and decision-making sprinkled in??
b) a story/RP experience with a dash of hack and slash sprinkled in?
John Epler from Bioware answered:
How about : A story where the gameplay is directly informed by the narrative. As in, your motivation for completing this DLC is entirely story-driven. There's combat, certainly, and no small amount of it, but I feel that most (if not all) fights makes sense within the context of the narrative as a whole. Creatures aren't just being dropped so we can say 'IT'S TIME FOR A FIGHT!' Of course, everyone's perception of this will be different. But I certainly felt that the story in this DLC was particularly compelling, and woven rather well into the module as a whole.
Dormiglione asked this:
Will the Bonus items of Legacy carry over in new playthrough?
The answer to this was given by John Epler as well:
Then no, any DLC gear you acquire through Legacy has to be acquired -as- part of Legacy. I think the reason it was done in that fashion with Leliana's Song was because it was an adventure that wasn't really integrated with the Warden's adventure in the same way. Since we were already handwaving as to why you had an item related to an adventure you weren't a participant in, it made it easier to handwave that 'okay, now you always have that gear'.
Thursday - July 14, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Legacy Details @ Official Site
From BioWare's Dragon Age 2 site:
The Dragon Age II Legacy page has been updated with new details on Grey Wardens, a vicious criminal cartel and new breeds of darkspawn you will face as you play through Legacy.
Check out the new information and new concept art on the Dragon Age II Legacy page.
Wednesday - July 13, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Legacy Demo and Live Chat Friday
Chris Priestly has posted about a live demo and chat for Dragon Age 2: Legacy on Friday - the actual link is yet to come..
After announcing Dragon Age II's next DLC Legacy last week, we have had lots of requests from fans wanting more detail on what they can expect when they play Legacy. Well, we've heard your requests, so we're going to have a live demonstration of Legacy followed by a develeoper chat with Senior Producer Fernando Melo coming this friday July 15.
The demo and chat will start at 1:30 pm MDT (that is 1:30 BioWare time. If you are on the East Coast it would start at 3:30 pm and if you are on the West Coast it would start at 12:30 pm. If you live in England it would be 8:30 pm. You can use a time converter to get the local time for where you live).
The demo will show an area of Legacy that hasn't been shown before (more new areas, huzzah!) and will be followed with a live Q&A with Fernando where he answers your Legacy questions.
We do not have the channel set up yet, so I do not have a link yet. When we have the channel se tup, I'll add the link here.
Hope to have you tune in, watch the demo and ask Fernando your questions on Dragon Age II Legacy! smilie
Thursday - July 07, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Details for Legacy DLC Revealed
In this thread we told you about the details that'll be coming for this DLC for Dragon Age 2. Now Chris Priestly has updated this thread at the Bioware forums with a link that'll direct you to the DLC page for Legacy. It'll be released on july 26th for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, MAC and it'll cost 10 US dollars.
Here are the details:
Targeted by a vicious criminal cartel that are hunting "the blood of the Hawke," you must put an end to their relentless attacks. Leave Kirkwall, and journey to an ancient Grey Warden prison in order to find the source of the aggression and uncover the harsh truth about the Hawke lineage. Playable from any point in the DAII campaign, face all new darkspawn, forge a powerful new weapon and come face to face with an ancient horror.
•Uncover the harsh truth about the Hawke lineage
•Adventure through several new locations including a prison constructed by the Grey Wardens
•Obtain a powerful class-specific weapon to which you can apply upgrades of your choice
On the same note, the footage from the Legacy DLC now been shown Live at EA's Summer Showcase Event. The Legacy footage starts about 56 minutes in with Fernando Melo introducing it. The DLC, according to Melo, centers around the Hawke family history - and will deal particularly with the father character.
A quote then about the tactical challenge - from Fernando Melo:
You're going to be challenged much more tactically than before where Hawke and the followers are going to use the environment a lot better as well as all their abilities in order to be succesfull.
After Melo's introduction, at around 58:40, you can view actual footage from the Legacy DLC.
Randall Bishop from Bioware is demoing this footage from the DLC - I'll suggest you check it out. I've found it interesting...
Wednesday - July 06, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - "Legacy" DLC Details Coming
I almost thought BioWare had dropped Dragon Age 2 DLC but apparently "Legacy" will be revealed tomorrow:
Tomorrow, July 7, at 1pm PST Gamespot will be covering the EA Stage presentation from the EA 2011 Showcase event. During this live broadcast, you will have your first opportunity to get a look at Dragon Age II's next DLC Legacy.
I do not have a link to the broadcast (and I do not know if they will be recording it so you can watch it later, that is up to Gamespot). It is on the Gamespot Calendar as EA Showcase 2011. It starts at 1pm PST tomorrow. If I get a better link, I will let everyone know.
Make sure you tune in for your first look at Legacy.
Wednesday - June 29, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Video Interview @ Gamereactor
GameReactor did a video interview with Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, the co-founders of Bioware. In the interview they talk about Mass Effect, SW:TOR and Dragon Age. A few quotes from the interview about Dragon Age courtesy of Brockolully in this thread at the Bioware DA2 forums. The talk about Dragon Age starts about the 7 minute mark.
Zeschuk: "We did some things that, maybe people didn't like as much. But it was actually all purposeful in that we wanted to make it more immediate with a larger sense of action..."
Muzyka: "The game has been very critically and commercially successful. Commercially successful in that it drew a lot of people into the universe. Critically successful with a lot of new fans and we want to take the feedback of the fans who loved Dragon Age Origins to heart as well."
Muzyka: "We're taking that feedback and actually trying to enact that in the downloadable content for Dragon Age 2. And for future products in the franchise, you know we're going to actually see the best of both worlds. Thats where we're aspiring to.
As the interview covers more than just Dragon Age, it is rather interesting to watch.
Source: RPG Codex
Sunday - June 19, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Ray Muzyka Interview @ Eurogamer
Eurogamer talked with Ray Muzyka, one of the founders of Bioware. Here's two bits from the interview, first one about the DLC:
"We have some new DLC that's upcoming that's going to try and address some of the comments and try and provide the fans with the things they're looking for, both the core fans and the new fans...
And then something about how innovative it was:
"We think it was innovative. We're proud of the risks the team took. We think it's the right direction for the franchise. We also think there's an opportunity to listen to the core fans who loved Dragon Age: Origins to make sure they're with us on the journey going forward.
As you might remember Frank Gibeau, President of EA Games, had something similar to say earlier this week.
Thanks to Brockololly in this thread at Bioware DA2 forums for help in finding this.
Tuesday - June 14, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Interview @ Eurogamer
Eurogamer talked with Frank Gibeau, President of EA Games. In this talk, he admitted that
we lost some fans as well. They were not pleased with some of the innovations and things we'd done. We understand that and we're listening.
Before that he had this to say
We're very proud of the game. We tried to innovate and do some different things with the combat system and some of the way we told story. For some fans it worked well. In fact, we brought a lot of new fans into the Dragon Age franchise.
Thanks to Merllle on the Bioware DA2 forums for help in finding this.
Source: RPG Codex
Friday - June 03, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - v1.03 Patch Released
- In many fights, enemies now move less quickly at the start of combat. This slower initial pace makes tactical positioning more useful and important.
- If the force of an enemy attack interrupts a party member's current action, the party member now resumes the action once he or she has recovered. This means, for example, that party members who have been instructed to consume a health potion will now do so as soon as they are able, and do not need to be told to consume a health potion again if they are interrupted.
- Enemies are now much less likely to explode into body parts upon death.
- Attacks that hit a stealthed assassin are now more likely to disrupt stealth.
- Abilities that apply a silence effect now also cancel the target's current action in addition to preventing the target from using further abilities.
- When an enemy wakes from a sleep effect due to suffering damage, other status effects that were applied by the same ability that caused the sleep effect are no longer removed at the same time.
- Items that bear the property "100% of basic attack damage vs. enemies that attack in melee" no longer harm the user when equipped in conjunction with abilities like Blood Magic or Sacrificial Frenzy that reduce the user's health.
Tuesday - May 31, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Interview with David Gaider @ Fantasy Magazine
Fantasy Magazine's Matt London talked with David Gaider. Lead Writer and Heather Rabitech, Associate Producer. They talk about how they got into the game indsutry, how they start writing their games, what their duties are, cinematic design in games, and much much more.
First a rather telling quote from Gaider about how the framed story in DA2 came to be:
Much has been made of the framed story in Dragon Age II. What was the inspiration for this addition, and how does it affect the experience of the game?
David Gaider: The framed narrative was Mike’s idea, and the origin of it came from a desire to tell a story over a larger scope of time. In the past, all our stories began at point x and you played in a linear fashion through to the end. Having a larger time period to play with allowed us to introduce long-term consequences to the player’s actions in mid-game rather than at the end, and also have the concept of the “unreliable narrator”—such as in The Usual Suspects where you’re not certain by the end of the tale whether the narrator was telling the truth.
Heather then explained her duties as Associate Producer in relation to DA2
Heather, as Associate Producer, tell us about your specific duties on the game.
Heather Rabitach: As an associate producer, I play a key role in setting up the initial game plan. We have to ask a lot of questions like: How much time do we have? How many people do we have? How long does it take to do certain game-wide passes? Who is affected if we move these dates? It’s a lot of communication and collaboration with the project leads at the beginning because we are all so interdependent on other teams. You need to be able to maintain order within chaos and think on your feet as the schedule ebbs and flows. Being slightly OCD doesn’t hurt either.
And, finally, a quote about Gaider's hard day
Tell us about something you wrote for a game that you absolutely loved, but for whatever reasons were unable to implement in the final game.
David Gaider: When I wrote Knights of the Old Republic, there was an ending written for the female Jedi player who got to the end both romancing Carth Onasi and having fallen to the Dark Side. I thought it was fantastic—the possibility of redemption combined with a bittersweet sacrifice. But we couldn’t include it, for technical reasons. It’s always hard when you have to cut something you love. That was a hard day.
Dragon Age 2 - Patch 1.03 in Certification - Adds Combat Changes - Close to Release
Luke Barret updated the Bioware tech forums with this thread, saying that patch 1.03 is indeed in certification and will be released some time soon.
That said, PC, X360, and possibly PS3 Europe are all trending well for sometime next week. PS3 North America remains uncertain at this point and we've confirmed with TransGaming that, due to some work they still need to complete on the launcher, the Mac version remains highly unlikely for next week.
He also said, in an update, that the patch will fix more than 200 issues with the games and that people playing on the pc no longer will experience that they can't launch the game
Failure to Launch - Some PC users were still encountering some strange edge cases that were fundamentally preventing them from being able to launch the game. Some Windows administrator accounts were receiving errors about insufficient priveleges - it turns out that was due to a corrupted file in the Windows OS so we changed our code to fail more gracefully when it encounters that problem, allowing the game to continue.
There is a whole lot more to the patch 1.03 update, so be sure to check this out yourself.
Luke also talks about, in another update, the changes made to the combat, here about the
General Improvements - We've slowed the initial pace of enemies at the start of combat, allowing tactical positioning to play a more useful and important role. They also generally gain more health as the game progresses, they're less likely to explode into puddles of blood and gore all the time and their basic attacks are less likely to cause interruptions. Likewise, party members now resume their previous actions once interrupted so you don't have to micromanage them as much and ask them to swig that potion more than once. That said, silence effects and disruptions to stealth have been beefed up a little, making those rarer sorts of interruptions play a more critical role. Enemy commanders are also a little smarter, throwing stun grenades while encouraging their troops to concentrate on a single target. And elemental resistances actually cap out at 95% now, meaning no one can be fully immune to a given damage type.
Combat changes will also be added to Mages, Rogues and Warriors.
And finally a word on when the patch should be released:
Finally, some updates of what to expect next week. Thanks to the Sony Europe team pushing really hard on the patch, it looks like they'll actually be the first across the finish line. They expect the patch to launch sometime on Monday, May 30th. Microsoft has also been hard at work, and they are expecting the X360 Title Update to launch on Tuesday, May 31.
PC, Mac, and Sony North America remain unconfirmed at this time but we'll keep you posted as we learn more.
Hey, that's today, isn't it - at least for the Xbox 360. Stay tuned - as they say.
Friday - May 27, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Laidlaw: "Aware of the concerns"
Mike Laidlaw has addressed the Bioforums, saying "I'm not only aware of the concerns, but I agree that there are aspects of DA II that not only can but must be improved in future installments". Here's an excerpt:
Following the launch of DA II, I did some interviews and some of you interpreted my statements to mean I was blind to the concerns that have been voiced repeatedly on these forums. That was never my intent, nor the message I wanted to convey.
I am absolutely aware of the concerns voiced here. Issues like level re-use, the implementation of wave combat, concerns about the narrative and significance of choice and so on have all been not only noted, but examined,
inspected and even aided me (and many, many others on the team) in formulating future plans. Further, I'm not only aware of the concerns, but I agree that there are aspects of DA II that not only can but must be improved in future installments. And that is precisely our intent.
Finally, let me conclude by saying that while we are all aware of your concerns, I am very proud of what the team accomplished with Dragon Age II. I know many are advocating a "it wasn't broke, why did you try to fix it?" stance, and I absolutely understand why. From my perspective, as someone looking to the future and the DA franchise, I think that DA II moved us into a space that has more potential.
A larger potential audience? Sure, who wouldn’t want more players diving into the experience of playing an RPG? More importantly, though, I believe that there's also more potential for rich stories, for deeper RPG mechanics, for more choice, and for something even more epic to come. The story events of DA II have fundamentally altered the political and power landscape of Thedas, in a way that's open to intrigue, drama and sweeping conflict in the future, and evolves a world that, while still very much involving the Grey Wardens and Darkspawn, is about more than just that one struggle.
Thanks to Zohaib for a similar link.
Dragon Age 2 - Are those Griffins?
The DA Facebook page offers three concept arts with only this information: "We managed to land some high rez images that Mike Laidlaw claims he "found lying around." Are those griffins?"
Could be either a DLC for DA2 or already concept arts for DA3...?
Friday - May 20, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - DA2 - Decline of the Old School RPG?
Nathaniel Crouch from IGN AU has penned a rather interesting editorial at IGN. In it, he talks about the differences between DA2, and DA: Origins, mentioning other games, not just rpgs, as well. He talks about how other games, like Call of Duty, for instance, did put rpg elements in the games:
The infamous addition of the perk system to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's competitive multiplayer came as a great surprise and, ultimately, a welcome addition. The ability to level up and unlock better, stronger gear was a critically-praised decision that won the admiration of gamers and critics alike.
He also talks about Bioware, in improving the game, took the soul out of it:
This is what makes Dragon Age II such a mystifying game. By conventional wisdom, it is a vastly improved sequel – gameplay is far more fluid and dynamic, conversations are much more in-depth and the plotline is intriguing and engaging. But somehow by fixing the "problems" of the first title, Bioware removed the soul and the heritage of the Dragon Age namesake, making it nothing more than another middling RPG. Without the features that made Dragon Age: Origins so unique, the title felt featureless in a cluttered, yet dying genre.
His conclusions are these:
The RPG is not self sufficient anymore. It serves as a complementary offering in tandem with another genre – the sauce upon a dish, as opposed to the meal itself. And so, with a heavy heart, it appears we should say goodbye to the RPG genre of old. It's sad to see it go, but its impact is something that will permeate throughout gaming for the rest of eternity, and we can celebrate its rebirth as the ultimate add-on.
Do you agree with the freelance writer's comments?
Thanks to TGFKAMAdmaX in this thread over at the Bioware DA2 forums for finding this.
Monday - May 09, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Desslock's View on DA2 @ PC Gamer
In an editorial colum, Alternate Lives, Desslock looks at Dragon Age 2. And he does not seem to like it much, particularly the combat:
What annoys me most, though, are the changes to Dragon Age’s combat. The tactical, isometric perspective has been pointlessly removed, characters hop around the battlefield like spastic Spider-Men, and combat is so frenetically paced that it’s needlessly difficult to manage an entire party of characters. To compensate for the design (which seems primarily intended to allow gamers who don’t like messing with details to control a single character) the game has been made incredibly unchallenging. Friendly fire has essentially been removed, since it’s now relegated to an impractical option only available on the highest difficulty level—and it doesn’t even work there, since the game clearly wasn’t designed to accommodate it.
He also talks about disliking the art design changes and comparing DA2 to Ultima VIII: Pagan.
At least Dragon Age 2, unlike Pagan, does have some significant strengths, particularly in its storytelling. Additionally, the UI is effectively streamlined, and the new skill trees are an interesting way to shape character development. The look and combat aren’t inherently poor, and would’ve been perfectly worthwhile in a sequel to BioWare’s other experimental action RPG, Jade Empire. As part of the Dragon Age saga, however, this is more like a spin-off than a sequel.
Source: RPG Codex
Tuesday - April 26, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - DLC - Item Pack - Available
Chris Priestly made this thread on Bioware about the new DLC for DA2 - item packs. Here's the quote:
New item packs for Warriors, Rogies or mages are now available as DLC. You can purchase one class pack for 240 points/$3 or buy all three for 400 points/$5. Each packs contain powerful new weapons and armor for Hawke (per class), and new items for followers.
These packs are now available for Xbox 360 and PC. Available for Playstation 3 as soon as possible.
Saturday - April 23, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Database @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee has kicked up their subsite for Dragon Age 2:
Our Dragon Age II subsite is now officially online, and those of you willing to mine its depths will find a fully annotated walkthrough that currently covers the first of the game's three Acts, an equipment database with both categorized and advanced search functionality, a set item database that features screenshots of all armor sets in action, a talent database covering all 340 of the game's talents, a companion section filled with friendship and rivalry opportunities, a full list of achievements, and much more.
A majority of this content is still a work-in-progress, so check back often as we continue to flesh it out with additional information. Enjoy!
Friday - April 22, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Sex, Potions and DA2
IGN's Contrarian Corner takes a look at Dragon Age 2. The author confesses clumsily to not liking fantasy fare to start with but the real criticism is the old-school combat mechanics. Despite being so wrong, the article shows some insight in knowing the action side and the tactics side of the combat are in conflict:
As finely charted as its dialogue and story decisions are, Dragon Age 2 has a dull underbelly in its combat. BioWare is stingily holding onto a vision of combat taken from the dark days of PC game design, when a phrase like "damage per second" could be taken seriously. In the days of Baldur's Gate you watched your characters from above, delighting as they drained numbers from enemies in minutely varied ways. The crucial metric was time, and so combat proficiency became a kind of SAT test for wizards. You'd have to balance the hit points you could extract from enemies each second against the amount of stamina or mana you had, how much damage your characters could take, and how long you could postpone total depletion with healing items.
The great innovation in Dragon Age 2 is that you're no longer looking down on your characters but are now tethered to them with an over-the-shoulder camera angle. Which is to say BioWare has made a superficial change to presentation as a way of covering for the fact that the system is still the same basic design as it was all those years ago. As a number balancing game it's satisfying in the same way that Sudoku is, but it really shouldn't have a place in a story game about moral equivalencies. It's got an opaque but machine-like efficiency that contradicts the theme of moral grayness.
Saturday - April 16, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Jeff Vogel Review
Spiderweb's Jeff Vogel has reviewed Dragon Age 2 on his blog. He notes some signficant flaws and disappointments but feels it would be a "solid B- game" if taken on its own merits and not a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins.
In fact, suppose it didn't have Dragon Age in the title at all. Suppose it was called, say, "Bioware Presents: A Dude Named Hawke Buys a Big House and Has Wacky Adventures." Suppose further that EA had given Bioware the bit of extra time and budget necessary to fix the game's most notable flaws. (Dungeon layouts reused to an egregious extent. A bizarre combat system where reinforcements pop in from out of nowhere. Extreme bugginess, especially in the late game.) If this was the case, I honestly believe the result would be considered a lesser but worthy member of the Bioware canon, something pleasing to pass the time while waiting for Dragon Age II.
But that's not what happened. Dragon Age II is ... well, it has "Dragon Age" in the name. It's the sequel to one of the best-written, epic, envelope-pushing RPGs pretty much ever. I game I truly loved. (If you haven't played it, why are you wasting your time reading this junk? Go get it! Go!) And there's no suger-coating the basic fact of the thing. If you got Dragon Age II expecting something more like Dragon Age: Origins, you are going to face a period of harsh disappointment.
Thursday - April 14, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Interview with Mike Laidlaw
Brockololly at the Bioware DA2 forums and CthulhuDagon at Gamespot's forums points to an interview with Mike Laidlaw occuring in the new Game Informer (not online as of yet). Here are some of the interesting highlights:
Do you see Dragon Age ever revisiting the traditional tactical gameplay found in Origins?
It really depends on the definition of tactical. For some, it simply means "slower." For others it means more complicated combat scenarios and more engaging/challenging foes. To the former, I would say no. I personally find the responsiveness and personality of the new combat system to be much better for Dragon Age as a whole. My experience with the game feels more like I'm in control, rather than issuing orders, and that direct correlation to my actions is something I really enjoy. This is speaking as a habitual PC pause-and-player.
And then there's this:
Meredith plays a significant role late in the story, but is largely absent for the rest of the game. Why keep a prominent antagonist in the background for so long?
The "prominent antagonist" is a staple of fantasy, be it the brooding eye of Sauron or the endless hordes of the archdemon. For Dragon Age II, we wanted to attempt something different and break the mold and try to vilify circumstance, rather than a specific evil. It's a story of how heroes are made, not born, and I think that by the same token, it's a story of how the antagonist need not always be the villain. To me, that's a very human tale. I believe the early game likely could have used some additional appearances by Meredith, but we were likely being over-cautious of her being perceived as a source of confusion or frustration for players: "I think she's important, but she feels disconnected from my current goals!"
Tuesday - April 12, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - 1.02 Patch for PC and Mac Now Live
Rob Bartel updated the DA 2 tech forums with a post saying that patch 1.02 has been released. You can download the patch here. For Mac users, the game will update automatically through the launcher. In this thread at the Bioware DA2 forums, Roger K says Steam has updated the game, DA2, automatically.
Here's the fixes for quests in 1.02 (spoilers)
QUESTS (SPOILER WARNING)
- "Duty" will now appear on the Chanter's Board even if the player accepted
all of the board's quests before installing the Exiled Prince premium content.
- The journal for "Duty" will now update if the player left the Docks (Night)
area immediately after killing the Flint Company mercenaries.
- In "Finders Keepers," the door to Woodrow's Warehouse will now open if the
player steals the location to the warehouse from the harbormaster's office.
- In "Finders Keepers," if the player leaves Woodrow's Warehouse before finding
the crate, it is now possible to return to the warehouse to complete the quest.
- In "Herbalist's Tasks," the varterral's heart is now available even if
the player killed the varterral before receiving the quest.
- Merrill no longer refers to the aftermath of "A New Path" before the plot
has been completed.
- Varric is no longer confused about which character Hawke has been romancing.
- Various minor story-scripting issues no longer occur.
Also, please note this:
AMD and NVIDIA have recently released new graphics-card drivers. Using old
drivers may cause Dragon Age II to crash, run poorly, or display graphics
incorrectly. Please visit your hardware vendor's website for further
information on obtaining new drivers:
NOTE: Some plot fixes are retroactive, but not all. Players with plot-breaking
bugs may need to revert to an earlier save, particularly a save prior to
visiting the affected area during the current year in the game.
Monday - April 11, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Anders Short Story
BioWare has released a short story about Anders, written by Jennifer Hepler, as a .pdf file. Seems an odd thing to release now but head over if you love Dragon Age lore.
Thursday - April 07, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Review @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee has posted a lengthy review of Dragon Age 2. There's no score as usual but author Steven Carter criticises the direction BioWare has taken the franchise:
Dragon Age II is the sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, which was released by BioWare (developer) and Electronic Arts (publisher) less than 18 months ago. If you're like me, and you paid attention to the previews and trailers and hints dropped by BioWare -- including the now infamous "when you press a button, something awesome happens" comment -- then you knew that Dragon Age II wasn't going to be a whole lot like Origins, and the question only remained: how far would BioWare go? Well, they went pretty far, and as a result, while Dragon Age II isn't necessarily a bad game, it's nothing like what I was hoping for (or probably what anybody who fondly remembers the Infinity engine games was hoping for), and it continues BioWare's downward development trend from interesting role-playing games to simplified action games.
Wednesday - April 06, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Free Mass Effect 2 PC for All Owners
Interesting marketing fairly soon after the release of Dragon Age 2... BioWare has announced "Sequel Celebration" - everyone who purchased Dragon Age 2 new can redeem a free download code for Mass Effect 2 PC. If you don't have DA2 yet, you have to April 30th to get in on the deal. The blurb also specifies Dragon Age 2 sales of 1M in the first two weeks, which is hard to compare because most of the sales figures we've seen for previous BioWare titles at this stage were sell-in numbers:
Thanks to gamers like you, Dragon Age II is off to a great start – breaking the 1 million mark in less than two weeks and faster than Dragon Age: Origins. We appreciate your support. As a special thank you for helping with the game's early success, BioWare would like to present you with a download code for 2010's Game of the Year, Mass Effect 2 on PC. As always, we sincerely appreciate your support and passion as we remain focused on delivering quality interactive experiences now and in the future. Look for more exciting things coming from Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Star Wars: The Old Republic in the future, including our recent launch of Mass Effect 2 Arrival DLC.
Thanks to Kalniel for a similar submission.
In semi-related news, Alrik writes of a scavenger hunt at the German DA2 site to win an in-game item and Eurogamer has news of a 4th Mass Effect novel planned.
Saturday - April 02, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Patch Update - Bioware Working on a Patch
Chris Priestly updated the DA2 tech forum with this thread saying that a patch is indeed in the works
BioWare has prepared a patch for PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. We are currently testing the patch and are submitting it for certification with EA, Microsoft and Sony. Certification is where testing teams outside of BioWare confirm the fixes we make and ensure that no new issues are introduced. We continue to test the patch during the certification process to ensure quality. Once the patch has passed certification, it is then released to the public. We do not have a more exact ETA of when it will be available to you, but when we do know when it is available, we will let everyone know.
We cannot reveal to you the exact contents of the patch until it passes certification. We can say that there are more than 100 fixes including gameplay, quest and platform specific issues. We can also say that the implementation of auto-attack on both Xbox 360 and PS3 is included. When we can reveal the patch notes, we will let everyone know.
Thursday - March 31, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - What Went Wrong @ RPS
John Walker has written a lengthy piece titled Thoughts: What Went Wrong in Dragon Age II in lieu of a standard review. John goes to pains to point out DA2 isn't a bad game and some of the hysterical reactions are over the top - but nevertheless, he was disappointed with the game:
The trouble is, each time the game jumps forward three years, any sense of having connected to anything that’s going on is torn from you. Suddenly you’re not who you were before, with the seemingly interesting bits happening while we were off watching an animated cutscene. Oh, I’ve got my own place now? I’m rich now? Then how come I have the same amount of gold as before, the same equipment, and so on? Oh, I’m the Champion now? That little fight was enough? Really?
(The most hilariously daft aspect of these three year comas must be the man queuing up to see the Viscount, who moans every time you walk past him that he’s been waiting all day. “For six years!” I would helpfully tell him as he repeated his only line deep into the game.)
And the city doesn’t change in any interesting way. Sure, the Qunari (the oversees race who seem to be in town to cause some sort of trouble) eventually are gone, so that bit’s closed off, or whatever. But the same people mill in the same places, the same merchants stand at the same stalls, the same buildings stand in the same places. It’s a conceit that the game seems entirely unwilling to deliver on in any imaginative way.
In other news, IGN has a very short bit with with DA2 developers selecting a couple of their favourite humorous dialogue quotes from the game.
Wednesday - March 30, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Zero Punctuation Review
Dragon Age 2 has received the Zero Punctuation treatment. I'm still not a fan but I found this one funny, which hopefully means it's worth a look. Of course, as with almost everything, the game gets eviscerated.
Tuesday - March 29, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup # 11
This newsroundup for DA2 will be reviews of the game. I'll mention two reviews and list the others. The first comes from Honest Gamers 6/10 and here's a snip:
We know, via a framing story in which a dwarf named Varric recounts Hawke’s escapades, that he will gradually rise through the ranks and eventually become the Champion of Kirkwall, but then what? Then the sequel happens, apparently. I guess people liked the origin stories in the first game so much that BioWare went ahead and made the sequel one giant origin story that cuts short just before it actually goes anywhere. It’s as if someone made a Batman movie that ended with Bruce Wayne putting on his costume for the first time.
A more positive review 8.5/10 can be found at GameSplash and here's a snip:
The many improvements in comparison to Dragon Age: Origins far outweigh the small flaws that lurk. The one thing that really stands out overall is the gameplay mechanics as a whole. Vast improvements to gameplay and menus, and high replay value, atone for the game's weak story. BioWare has done a fantastic job turning this RPG experience as a whole into an emotional investment.
Friday - March 25, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Review at PCWorld
PC World has a review up. No score, but the tone is rather positive. An example:
Indeed, in doing something so dramatically different, Bioware has inadvertently given other developers and publishers all the reason in the world to keep their top franchises safe and stale — if you take risks, you'll piss off some very vocal fanboys.
The backlash would be understandable if the game was in some way inferior to the original, but, although it is a very different experience, Dragon Age 2 is a very high quality game indeed. Whereas Dragon Age was an expansive epic, Dragon Age 2 is a contained character-driven story. Hawke is a greater focus than any individual character in the original, and, thanks to some excellent writing, it has a far more dynamic and personable cast this time around.
Dragon Age 2 - Interview with Mike Laidlaw at Gamespot - Final Thoughts
Gamespot has a very long (and good) interview with Mike Laidlaw, the game's Lead Designer.
The interview covers the usual info such as DA:O in contrast to DA2, the story in DA2, the followers, the combat, the skills and much much more.
A few snips from the 5page! interview:
On the comparision between DA: Origins and DA2.
I do think Dragon Age II is running up against some elements of Origins, and it's not something we went into completely blind. We certainly knew there would be some friction between what Origins players have come to expect and what Dragon Age II delivers. But I don't see the two in opposition to each other. I've talked to Origins players who said, "As soon as I moved it to hard, I totally see where Origins is again." That's fair, and I think that's something over time we'll continue to tune and capitalize on that fusion between the Origins experience and Dragon Age II.
ML: The thing I find most intriguing is the concern that combat has been dumbed down because the earlier fights are less punishing and because they are faster. Somehow this translates immediately into stupid, which I strongly disagree with. There's some balance tweaking that we will continue to do through patches, but really, the things I see in combat are being able to rely on characters to execute orders quickly and being able to rely on cross-class combos, which are a significant step up in terms of their overall usefulness
You have to take a read of what the fans are saying, what reviews are saying, and what the non-fans are saying. Are there people out there who are saying, "I could not play Origins, but love Dragon Age II" or "I couldn't play Origins and this is more of the same." You have to keep your ear to the ground. Look at forums. Take a look at what comments are coming up. What are the common concerns? What are the common perceptions? I think the big key is to not adjust 180 degrees again, because we've done this.
And Mike's final words:
We wanted to make RPGs, especially fantasy RPGs, accessible, cool, and interesting to people who have been playing RPGs for the last seven years and not realizing that every time they ate food or went for a long run in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, they were essentially grinding constitution.
To me, that represents a huge audience that may have disregarded RPGs, especially fantasy, as being too hardcore or too confusing. And making certain changes to make the game palatable without ripping out the mechanics that make RPGs so fascinating to a stats guy or what have you. It keeps this genre evolving into something that's fresh and not stagnating.
Do you agree with Mike Laidlaw?
Thursday - March 24, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Review at RPGCodex
He likes the setting and the story:
I’d say it’s one of the more interesting settings for an RPG and it does manage to raise interesting questions, questions without an easy answer. The potential is there, but it’s wasted on an action RPG where you kill bad guys and monsters instead of exploring the ethics of the society Bioware created.
He's not too happy about the gameplay:
Unfortunately, despite a refreshing move away from epic clichés the story lacks cohesion and a direction, feeling more like a chain of random events than a overarching narrative. Things just happen around you, often without a clear reason or a warning. Maybe it is the execution that’s lacking or the focus on combat and lack of free exploration of the world and its characters that get in the way, but the end result is often jarring. The prized "immersion" is rarely present.
He finds the game challening on hard:
The game is challenging on Hard (though it would have been nice if friendly fire had been enabled there too), but the challenge comes not from the ruleset as it does in Dungeon & Dragons games and not from well-designed monsters with a variety of abilities as it does in Diablo-like games, no, it comes from the sheer numbers of enemies zerging your party and from that second wave of enemies spawning in all around you, literally out of thin air in most cases, which is the laziest design possible.
And the conclusion:
Even though the setting and the events are interesting, and the various options show potential, the overwhelming focus on killing things keeps you from digging into the world and its characters in a satisfying manner, and cripple replayability. Unfortunately, the combat is too repetitive to carry the game on its own. It's bad enough that even the mainstream reporters have noticed, though they are generally quick to make excuses.
Source: RPG Codex
Wednesday - March 23, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Reviews at GameCritics and Kotaku
Gamecritic's Brad Gallaway has reviewed DA2. The score 2.5/10 - and here's why.
Defying all expectations, BioWare managed to take one of the most memorable Western RPGs in recent history and completely destroyed everything that made it so good. I have absolutely no idea how such a respected development house could have made so many colossal mistakes and turned out such an unpleasantly rushed, shallow, utter waste of time... but they did, and it is.
On Kotaku, there is another sort of review. It is written by Thomas Muller in Kotaku's Let's Rant-section. Here's a snip:
Core storytelling that reeks of professional polish, with genuine characters and not a word out of place. And city that is devoid of life and character,that changes far too little to hold attention, surrounded by lore and history that only presents itself in written slabs of texts and in the offhand dialogue of NCPs. Still glued to our screens.
Do you think Brad Gallaway's review accurately reflects DA2?
Source: RPG Codex
Dragon Age 2 - Interview at vgames.co.il
A Bioware forumite, called OPini, discovered an interview with the Lead Level Designer, Yaron Jacobs on an Israeli game site called vgame.co.il - the interview is entirely in Hebrew, so OPini translated the important parts for us. Here are some rather interesting tidbits:
Q: What were the main designing objectives for DA2?
A: Everyone were very enthusiastic about creating a game which will be more accessible for a wider audience, without giving up the core components of the original game, while trying to add to the player pool for this game those people who felt intimidated by elements of DAO - such as the UI.
This is especially true for the console version of DA2 - we wanted to make the game more responsive and fun when you use a controller.
And another one:
Q: Why are the city's streets not as crowded as one can expect from a city as congested as Kirkwall? Is it due to technical limitations?
A: Yes, this is completely due to technical limitation. We had more people crowding the streets in early stages of development but we had to cut the number to be able to cope with the limitations of game consoles and low-end computers.
You should really go read the rest of the translation; this is a very interesting interview to read.
Tuesday - March 22, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Review @ Destructoid
Destructoid's Joseph Leray has reviewed this game, giving it a 7-Good, and here's why.
As a general rule, Dragon Age II gets better the more you play it – the story comes together, the combat becomes more intricate, and the quests become more interesting. A few bugs – two glitched minor quests, a bug in Merrill’s dialogue, and couple missing textures – notwithstanding, Dragon Age II is a remarkable game for the way it juxtaposes its flashes of brilliance with some baffling decisions. It’s a deeply flawed game, to be sure, wasting a wellspring of potential for no discernible reason, but one that should be played for being unafraid to show people at their weakest and most vicious. If the metric of a good game is that I keep coming back to it despite it's faults, Dragon Age II certainly qualifies.
Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
Monday - March 21, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup #10
Another small handful of Dragon Age 2 odds and sods.
IGN has an article on 10 Essential Mods. None of them look essential to me but the ability to turn on Friendly Fire without Nightmare difficulty looks interesting.
Alrik writes about a competition at German site Adventure Corner to win a Dragon Age 2 -themed external hard drive. I can't see any country restrictions but it's obviously aimed at German readers.
...and some line-listed reviews.
Sunday - March 20, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - EA permanently terminated user's account
If you remember about a week ago, we did a story about a gamer who got his account banned. Apparently, it has happened again, this time a member of the Bioware forum did get his entire EA account terminated. The original thread has now been moved away from the public eye, this thread is (still) open.
Last time, this happened, EA responded, via Blues News, with this statement:
Re: the account issue from one player at Social.BioWare.com:
EA strictly enforces the code of conduct at Social.BioWare.com. If a player violates the rules by using profanity, they will be temporarily banned. Unfortunately, there was an error in the system that accidentally suspended a user's entire account. Immediately upon learning of the glitch, EA took steps to restore the user's macro account and apologized for the inconvenience.
Dragon Age 2 - Afterthoughts Interview @ 1Up
1Up has an "Afterthoughts" interview with Mike Laidlaw, where they ask some surprisingly good questions of the Dragon Age 2 lead. Laidlaw sticks to the company line but its a reasonably good read overall:
1UP: Since Bioware is known for taking consumer and critic feedback, and figuring out how to apply the most useful data gathered for the next title, it makes me wonder: If DA2 started work before DAO went out there, how did you arrive at the decisions that were made for developing DA2?
ML: That's a hard question to answer, because that implies that decisions were made and never revisited, which is absolutely not the case. We are constantly looking at it. I would say some directional decisions were made, like looking at the combat speed and responsiveness -- that was something that while we were working on the consoles, we understood as, "wow, this really feels awkward on the consoles." However, we wouldn't want to torpedo the overall control scheme and the way it feels on PC, so is there a way to -- now that console and PC are in harmony as top-of-mind -- see what steps we can take to increase the overall speed and the way that characters execute the orders that I give, as opposed to awkwardly waiting to get there. So some early decisions were made, and certainly some visual decisions for overall style were made, in part because we had a better understanding of the engine and how stylistic changes could result in greater performance, archer combat, and so on. So they were made early, and then evaluated again as we proceeded into Origins feedback and so on.
Thursday - March 17, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - v1.01 Patch
BioWare has released a minor patch for Dragon Age 2 (9Mb):
- Fixed save game issues on single core machines
- Fixed game asking for non-existent drives
- Fixed release control issues where some players were unable to unlock correctly
- Fixed a Steam-specific issue related to VO not playing after switching languages
Thanks, Archmage Silver.
Wednesday - March 16, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - (Legends) News Roundup #9
Another handful of miscellaneous DA2 or related items.
The main news would be the full release of Dragon Age: Legends, the Facebook game. From the Bio site:
Dragon Age Legends, the new Dragon Age themed Facebook game, is now open to the public. If you didn't get access to the closed beta test, you can now head over to the Dragon Age Legends Facebook Page and start playing now.
Don't forget you can earn 5 Legends items that unlock in Dragon Age II. Head over to Facebook and become Legendary today!
IGN has details of the in-game DA2 items you can unlock with Legends.
Rock, Paper. Shotgun has a Legends impressions article and they aren't impressed. I don't follow Facebook games but I hadn't realised how heavily monetised this is:
Again – the option to pay doesn’t trouble me. Games finding new revenue streams in an increasingly digital age only makes sense. It’s that the game conspires against you in such a way that it’s essentially unavoidable which is the problem – all sense of skill and challenge is completely removed, because the game knows full well that you’re going to need a crapload of potions and mates to survive battles against stuff like wolves that can attack three times per turn. If levelling up wasn’t so glacially slow maybe I’d be bothered less too, but the trouble is there’s so little meaningful sense of progression. Excitements seem few and far between. It’s a straight grind, a horribly futile timesink with tedious, repetitive combat, and it expects you to pay for the privilege. ‘Microtransactions’, we’re told. Does this look like micro to you?
For reference, summoning a colleague back to the fight before his 2 hour recharge time is up costs 19 crowns (and will result in the next wait becoming 5 hours). So, for three times as much as buying a copy of Dragon Age II, I can buy enough crowns to respawn party members 315 times. That sounds like a big number. It isn’t. Factoring in the Energy required to play (29 crowns for 5 units of it, which is enough for one more battle, or very occasional two) as well, I suspect that wouldn’t get me much more than a week or two of not particularly intensive Facebook gaming. That is a guess, but I’m pretty convinced the sum total is nowhere near what you’d get for buying three traditional games (and especially RPGs).
The alternative to buying respawns, by the way, is to invite your friends to play. Each one who accepts becomes a usable party member, subject to the same one-shot and recharge/pay system as the standard characters. Invite enough people and perhaps you’d have enough fighters slowly recharging in the background to avoid having to pay for respawns. It is a social game, after all, although there’s no real element of playing together. It was fun to watch a little cartoon dude called Dan Griliopoulos get killed by a werewolf thing, but he had nothing to do with it. Do I want to spam all my friends into joining and then start suckling on the money-teat themselves in the name of my grinding onwards? I really don’t.
Back to DA2. Eurogamer has one of their console Face-Off articles if you're worried about which console version looks slightly better than the other.
Quarter to Three has the first of a 9-part game diary, with the author obsessed with dual-wielding:
I was wary when I first played the Dragon Age 2 demo, as the only dual wield option in the game is the rogue. I can grudgingly accept that this makes sense given the three class system, but I don’t have to like looking like a malnourished acrobat. This isn’t your high school D&D rogue though. This rogue dual wields massive imitation Klingon Bat’leths, warps behind enemies for the perfunctory backstab, and every so often runs up to a foe, pirouettes, and stabs both blades into his chest in a massive explosion of blood and guts. You can probably see why I got over my misgivings and decided this new rogue was fine by me. I also chose to stick with the PC version, as clicking the ‘A’ button as fast as humanly possible just to auto-attack on the console sounded like a terrible way to relax.
Monday - March 14, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup #8
Another day, another handful of Dragon Age 2 items.
PC Format has an AMD vs nVidia comparison - apparently nVidia manages higher framerates but "it's like the game is dropping animation frames here and there", so AMD wins.
Re: the account issue from one player at Social.BioWare.com:
EA strictly enforces the code of conduct at Social.BioWare.com. If a player violates the rules by using profanity, they will be temporarily banned. Unfortunately, there was an error in the system that accidentally suspended a user's entire account. Immediately upon learning of the glitch, EA took steps to restore the user's macro account and apologized for the inconvenience.
...and a handful of reviews. I haven't had time to search, so these three just fell in front of me.
Techland had something in their coffee, awarding a massive 9.7/10:
Like many BioWare games, you're creating a skein of memories in Dragon Age 2. The Edmonton dev studio knows how to craft dramatic plots, strong characters and compelling conflicts. It made me, with my lifelong aversion to fantasy trappings, care about dwarves and mages and templar knights. Dragon Age 2, through improved gameplay, offers a grand adventure that lets players learn a little bit about themselves, too. Huzzah to that.
No score from Kotaku as usual but they seem to like it enough despite some clear flaws:
Dragon Age II lacks the scope, freedom, and polish of the original game, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. The game's narrow focus results in a much tighter narrative, a dark and gritty tale of political and social intrigue that plays much better on a smaller stage. It's an economical production, and while the shortcuts taken to crank out a sequel sixteen months after Dragon Age: Origins are sometimes jarringly evident, the play and its players do a fine job of stealing your attention away from the low-budget scenery.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun's John Walker has kicked off a multi-part piece but he isn't happy at all so far:
It’s safe to say that for the first chunk of the game, a good eight hours or more, I’ve not enjoyed it at all. Which astonishes me, after Dragon Age: Origins gripped me from the opening moment and became an all-time favourite straight away. It has felt more like playing the beginnings of a tiresome MMO – just walking between quest markers because it will increase XP, barely interested in the story behind why. (If indeed it’s divulged at all.)
It’s beginning to improve, which is why I’m writing this now. I’m so delighted Anders is back (even if he’s minus Ser Pouncealot), and Merrill is beyond adorable. It’s about time there was a decent Welsh character in a game! I hope in a few days time to be raving about the story once it kicks in, and the adventures I’m having. Those ahead of me in the game tell me great things are on their way – emotional moments, epic situations, gripping tales. I really can’t wait. But this is a terrible opening – a disjointed, ambiguous, emotionless start.
Sunday - March 13, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Beta Patch 1.01 released
Chris Priestly made a thread about the released 1.01 beta patch for DA2 on the Bioware tech forums. Link to the patch by following the link to the Bioware forums as this beta patch is a manual download.
Full qoute from Priestly:
What platforms is this for?
• PC only. This patch does not address issues impacting Mac, Xbox360 or PS3.
Where’s the actual patch file?
• The beta patch can be manually downloaded HERE
What are the patch notes?
Fixed save game issues on single core machines
Fixed game asking for non-existent drives
Fixed release control issues where some players were unable to unlock correctly
Fixed a Steam-specific issue related to VO not playing after switching languages**
What does BETA mean?
Users apply this patch at their own risk. In general, we recommend you only download and apply it if you are affected by the specific issues listed in the patch notes.
**Steam does not support BETA patches. Steam users will have to wait for the final non-BETA patch before they can take advantage of these fixes. We're working on it but, unfortunately, this will not occur in time for the weekend.
Friday - March 11, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup #7 [Updated]
Yep, another Dragon Age 2 roundup. This one might get people riled up one way or another so if your blood pressure is high, head past and read about Drakensang or Reckoning.
Jedi_Learner sends in this one from VividGamer that claims Dragon Age 2 contains SecuROM, which hasn't been disclosed. I haven't had time to dig into our archive and check what EA had to say about DRM, so I'm taking this at face value for the moment.
Update: Derek French has responded to this on the Bluesnews forums and these reports of SecuROM are incorrect. The game uses Sony Release Control as explained in this post:
Sorry, but there is some confusion on this. We use Sony Release Control which shares some functionality with other Sony products (SecuROM), but we do not use SecuROM for the DRM. Once the Sony Release Control check is passed, Release Control self-destructs, removing the Release Control wrapper and it is never used again. Game updates will not use Release Control because obviously the release date is passed. Additionally, installing the game and then any future game patch will also remove the Sony Release Control check and it will never run on your computer.
Jason notes the IGN music interview with Inon Zur has an interesting comment I'd missed. Gamersmint noticed Inon Zur says he was pushed and it was "kind of a rush job". Interesting comments:
Zur: Sure thing. I’m actually really anxious for the game right now, so I can pop it in and start playing. I’m really looking forward to see it. I know there are a few bugs that still need to be fixed. Unlike other titles from Bioware, this [score] was kind of a rush job. EA really wanted to capitalize on the success of Origins, so the game was really being pushed hard to be released now. So I’d like to know if there are bugs, or if there’s anything we could patch or fix.
Eurogamer: I've seen scores as low as a 6/10 - what do you think when you read those?
Mike Laidlaw: Well it's hard to know exactly what's going on with scores that are really, really negative. One possible culprit could just be a change backlash, i.e. this isn't Origins and I wanted Origins 2. There may be some degree of what I would honestly say is emotional investment in the Origins story, or in the way Origins was presented which is leading to a stronger than average reaction of disappointment. That's understandable, and if anything that really is a compliment to the work on Origins. I'm not sure it's an entirely fair assessment to say all games must be like the previous game. I think we would have seen just as much negativity if we just, as I used to joke, stapled two Archdemons together and called it a super blight. It boils down to a game that challenges a fair amount of convention: it doesn't tell the usual fantasy story or present the usual fantasy combat, and in doing so it does run the risk of someone going, "Wow, this is just too different and I cannot handle it."
Should You Buy the DLC? at IGN:
If you pre-ordered Dragon Age II before January 11, 2011, you were automatically upgraded to the "Signature Edition" and will receive both the Black Emporium and Exiled Prince for free. For those who didn't, you may be wondering if it's worth your cash. In short, not really, but let's explore what you'll get for $7.
It seems EA forum bans might limit your access to your games. It's worth pointing out the original poster is being a bit disingenuous (check out his original account - I'd say the homophobic comments are the real problem) about the cause but it does seem EA can block your game access. Here's the thread and part of Stanley Woo's response:
2. EA Community bans come down from a different department and are the result of someone hitting the REPORT POST button. These bans can affect access to your game and/or DLC.
Thursday - March 10, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup #6
There's a good chance you've got some Dragon Age 2 fatigue, so skip over this collection if you've had enough. We've got a handful of miscellaneous items and then I'll list some additional reviews.
Archmage Silver writes my newsbit the other day about 19 in-game items was short a few - he has a list of 26 in a post at the Dragon Age 2 forums.
BioWare has released a launch trailer, which you can find at Blue's.
IGN has a bunch of stuff that I haven't checked out because of the (lack of) quality in their articles lately. They have a Dragon Age 2 Girlfight Podcast that apparently has five girls discussing the game, a video on easy Achievements, an Inon Zur music video interview, and an article on Familiar Faces.
BioWare says you can now buy the soundtrack.
G4TV with another Felicia Day thing.
Gamasutra has a blog post on Dragon Age: Origins (yes, different game but I don't want a new post) about the lack of life in the gameworld:
With enemies, it was the same. My standard tactic of dungeon-crawling (most people’s, I suppose) is to put the rest of the party on hold, then have a rogue – my main character – sneak ahead to disarm any traps and scout for opposition. Enemies can be found standing alone or in groups, but they do not move or chat or do anything to suggest they are “real” people (or spiders, werewolves, whatever). They only react when the party comes close enough to trigger a reaction; a rogue may often sneak up behind a motionless enemy and kill him. But sometimes a strange thing happens: when the rogue crosses an invisible trigger, a nearby door will open and a group of enemies will pour forth; but they do not see my sneaky rogue, so they will just stand in a huddle in the middle of the corridor. They do not look around, they do not search for the source of the sound that presumably alerted them, nothing. Until I throw a bomb at them.
On to reviews. I'll start with a positive and more negative comparison.
The "original" 94% PC Gamer magazine review is online. The "best RPGcombat ever", apparently:
Dragon Age 2 does it right. It’s still an RPG epic, it still takes upwards of 50 hours to finish. It’s still got a deep, complex combat system, and it’s still got a well-defined supporting cast. But it’s also an RPG that wears its mythology proudly, confident in its goal of charting the rise of a complete and utter badass. You.
From a site called Idealo:
All this isn’t to say that DA2 doesn’t have it’s moments. Some of the characters, quests and enemies are just as epic as ever. Just that in comparison to Origins, Dragon Age 2 feels like a real step back. It’s still a good RPG, but those who were expecting Origins part 2, might be disappointed. Perhaps BioWare will deliver some DLC to improve things. However, we can’t help but feel that the production time for DA2 simply wasn’t long enough to make a truly worth sequel.
Tuesday - March 08, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Bonus Items List
BioWare has posted a list of the 19 (no, I'm not joking this time) in-game items on offer one way or another and how to get them.
Dragon Age 2 - Review Avalanche
Well, the tsunami of Dragon Age 2 reviews have arrived and no doubt NA players are already well into the game. All the reviews so far are positive - some very much so - although I'd say the trend at this (very) early stage is a litte lower than Origins. I'm going to highlight a bunch of major sites and then line-list a handful.
Let's start at the top end, with PC Format awarding 95%:
To say Dragon Age 2 is BioWare at its best would be a high accolade indeed. It’s the proud parent of some of PC gaming’s greatest moments, vivid roleplaying worlds that we gamers exchange anecdotes from like the old folks trade war stories. It has set the benchmark high, and fans have set their expectations even higher for this, the sequel to 2009’s best RPG.
On the other hand, GameSpot has a very positive review but notes several disappointments on the way to 8/10. They point out the combat is "much less tactical" and aren't as impressed with the story as others:
Dragon Age II is an enjoyable and complex role-playing game, featuring expansive questing in a fantasy world tinged with political intrigue. During this lengthy adventure, you face gigantic dragons, villainous mages, and greedy slavers, all while exercising the power of choice to steer various story elements as you see fit. It's often terrific, even if it doesn't meet the standard set by Dragon Age: Origins. Several areas, such as inventory management and skill progression, have been stripped down in one way or another--a case of developer BioWare inexplicably fixing that which wasn't broken. The story, too, has seen a downward turn, failing to connect its various (albeit excellent) quests to a clear central goal. It's easy to see these and other blemishes because the game that spawned this sequel was so exceptional, and ultimately the superior game. And yet on its own terms, Dragon Age II is still a great experience, depicting a kingdom threatened not by invading monsters, but by the demons of fear and distrust.
Eurogamer says 8/10 and, surprisingly, found the new full-voiced Hawke "inert". Still, they obviously enjoyed it and here's some closing remarks:
For those who stick around, able to forgive the moments when the game spins its wheels, there's a substantial and muscular experience to be had. This game builds steadily to one of the more interesting climaxes in recent memory.
It's never quite as great as it could be. Nor is it as successful as Mass Effect 2 at pitching itself across genres. Nevertheless, Dragon Age II presents an absorbing, sprawling story encased in blood-stained action RPG armour.
IGN's score is 8.5/10 and they say "every modification to the gameplay and structure of Dragon Age II is a clear improvement over the previous game", although I didn't feel their own main text supported that. On linearity:
I thought the narrative style was to allow for branching storylines, but aside from a few impactful choices, it's actually fairly linear, which is disappointing. Another problem is that the ending is a cliffhanger, which makes it feel more like a prologue rather than a standalone title. The plot is very entertaining though and chockfull of crazy moments that will make you go "OMG" and "WTF." Occasional slow spots can make what you're doing feel pointless, but the ending makes it clear that Hawke's time in Kirkwall is incredibly important to the Dragon Age canon.
VideoGamer has the lowest score we've seen so far at 7/10. Like Eurogamer, the companions didn't really grab them:
But Origins also had its cast to fill the personality quota: Alistair's straight British wit, Morrigan's femme fatale sass. Unfortunately it's when the best original characters from Origins start making cameos that DA2's league of characters begin to feel like the B-team. The sequel's gang are well-developed - each of them has a darker side that becomes clearer in their companion quest - but they're still functional more often than memorable. Varric is the closest you'll find to a likeable comedy figure, as a sort of dwarf hedonist, but he never quite pulls the same punches as an Alistair; he manages to be amusing only in the sense that none of the others really are. Elven mage Merill is brilliantly voice-acted with a neurotic Welsh accent, but again she seems to disappear into the background - partly because of the timid personality, but largely because faint neurosis still isn't enough to make her stand out as an individual character.
GameInformer is very interesting with two separate verdicts for PC and console. The console version gets a score of 8.25/10 but the PC version drops to 7.75/10 and the heading is "a port caught in the middle". A snip on that:
Dragon Age: Origins was one of my favorite games of 2009 – as long as we’re talking about the PC version. On consoles, the game was a diminished port of the original, offering only a shadow of the tactical combat that made the PC release so satisfying. With Dragon Age II, BioWare has turned the tables. The sequel’s action-oriented battle system is clearly tailored to accommodate Xbox 360 and PS3 gamers, and the hardcore PC faithful (at whom the original title was explicitly targeted) get snubbed with an inferior adaptation.
Dragon Age 2 - First Web Review, Console Auto-Attack Info
Well, the first web review of Dragon Age 2 we've seen is out at The Escapist. It's a glowing piece with a 5-star score with the author being impressed with virtually everything - although the story is apparently the star. Here are two clips, one negative, one positive:
A slight drawback is that the spells and abilities with these combos are only available in a few of the many talent trees of each class and, because the damage that these combos generate is so above and beyond normal combat, it forces the savvy player into only investing in those trees, especially on the higher difficulties. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome when you smash a dude for tons of damage, but the combo abilities should have been peppered throughout all of the trees. Nobody likes forced choices producing a cookie-cutter party. [...]
The advancements in RPG mechanics would be enough to set it apart, but the real achievement of Dragon Age II is in the story-telling. I could point out the improved combat and graphics till there's blood covering my face, but BioWare is one of the few companies that uses the advanced computing power available to modern game designers to let you actually play a role. As Hawke, you care about your mother and family, you care about your city and the conflicts that threaten to tear it apart. In a game as dense as this, and it will occupy at least fifty hours if you follow every hook, it's a triumph to just complete the story. But if I was proud to become the Champion of Kirkwall, I was more happy to have the tools to tell the story the way I envisioned it.
Interestingly, the article (based on the X360 version) specifically mentions Auto-attack, which apparently doesn't exist at the moment for consoles. Ploppy sent in this post from Chris Priestly that explains the auto-attack option (for consoles) didn't make the disk:
OK: Here is the story.
Auto-attack option for consoles was added in to the games late in the development cycle after the initial certification build was sent. The auto-attack functionality was sent to be added to the game for testing and approval. This was why staff said it was in game.
Due to an error during mastering, the auto-attack file was omitted during manufacture.
We apologize for this. It was meant to be in game, but it is not currently in the console versions. We are working on how best to distribute this to console users. When we have information, we will let everyone know.
Monday - March 07, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Hi-Res Texture Pack
I tried to avoid a Dragon Age 2 newsbit but this is too important. BioWare has released the Hi-Res Texture Pack for the PC that apparently missed the retail disk (and presumably current digital versions) because it wasn't ready in time. The details on the 1.08Gb pack:
High Resolution Texture Pack for the PC version of Dragon Age II
This will add the option to enable higher detail replacements for most textures in game. A big difference will be noticed on level art especially.
Using high-resolution textures requires a graphics card with at least 1024MB video memory.
Most of the benefits from the Hi-resolution textures will only be seen if you are able to run the game in DirectX 11.
To manually download your new content on the PC:
- Download the installer from the link below and run it.
- Run Dragon Age II.
- Open the Options menu.
- Select Video options.
- Check the "Hi-resolution textures" checkbox.
Note: In order to enable the "Very High" setting you will need a video card that supports DX11 and the latest drivers.
Sunday - March 06, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - The decline of the Classic RPG at Hooked Gamers
Ibortolis from the Bioware forums made this thread about a 3 page editorial at Hooked Gamers entitled The decline of the Classic RPG. Here are some highlights in the editorial:
Being more sensible than to simply outright dismiss Dragon Age 2 all together, we waited until we actually had a chance to play it for ourselves before making any rash decisions. That time has now come with the release of the playable demo. But were our instincts correct? Unfortunately, the majority of our team say yes, Dragon Age 2 is too clear a departure from the formula we have been in love with since playing Baldur’s Gate back in 1998.
When you get into the game you will notice that player conversations have become much less significant as well. As far as the dialogue scenes are concerned, this is not role playing; this is interactive playing. The dialogue is so simple that it could be replaced by a choice that you make at the beginning of the game: "Do you want to be a compassionate, humorous, or obnoxious character?" After that choice, you would only have to watch the dialogue scenes play through with no player-input at all.
And yet another one:
What we see in Dragon Age 2 is a distinct loss of the necessity to plan attacks, you really can play it as an action-RPG. The demo made this immediately evident when we tried to adopt the pause-play style – it was just not practical. The reason for this is because combat is paced much faster and the only really viable way to play the game is to button mash.
And the final point:
More and more we see games being transformed to cater for only one type of player and quite frankly, many of them are starting to become unidentifiable from each other. Publishers want you to play the game as quickly as possible so you can move on and buy their next title. Ultimately though, this way of doing business will hurt the industry as a whole. A storm is brewing and it’s one that publishers are calling on themselves.
Do you agree with this?
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup # 5
With the upcoming release of DA2, there have been newsabounding, so some we've missed some while others are new. I'll collect what I found here:
GameInformer provided a preview of the first five hours of the game. Spoilers abound, though, so read at your own risk. (source is the rpgcodex)
Here's a quote that's not that too spoilery:
The early hours of the game primarily take place within the city of Kirkwall, a population center that covers more virtual ground than Origins’ Denerim. That already increased size is made even bigger by the new ability to go to the map and visit any area of the city at night as well. Certain story events and quests will only be available by exploring Kirkwall at night.
And 1UP held a live 'game night' with DA2 - which is not that surprising. However, according to this thread on the Bioware forums, people have noticed that Blood Armour from DA: Origins can be imported via a save from DA: Origins.
Chris Priestly made a thread about the DA2 Final DRM. Here's the DRM for PC.
Dragon Age 2 Physical & Digital PC/Mac DRM are as follows:
No disc check, you do not need the disc in drive to play.
No limit on the total number of PCs you can install the game on.
There is a limit to the number of unique/different PCs that can play the game within a time window (if online) [5 PCs in 24hrs].
After each new install there is a 1-time online check needed the next time you play, requiring a log in to your EA account to verify game ownership. If you are a member of these forums, you already have an EA account – just use the same email/password.
You can play offline thereafter - the game will NOT require any subsequent login checks. If online, a game ownership check happens each time you play.
As you can see, playing offline is an option.
Chris Priestly also updated the DA2 page with information about the Quanri, followers of the Qun. Here's a quote:
The people of the Qun are, perhaps, the least-understood group in Thedas. Nature has given them fierce horns and strange eyes, and the ignorant look on these formidable warriors and see monsters. The qunari most outsiders meet however, belong to their army. Only In Seheron and Par Vollen may one truly see the qunari in their entirety. There, the idea of their society as a single entity with each individual only a small part of the greater whole is most evident. Everyone and everything has its place, decided by their philosophy and not to be questioned. It is a life of certainty and equality, if not individuality, and unique among all cultures of Thedas.
And finally, the guys from Penny Arcade has made a comic - again - about DA2.
Saturday - March 05, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - 10 Things You Should Know
Gameinformer has an article titled 10 Things You Should Know About Dragon Age 2 - although it's better than it sounds. Actually, I'd missed this somehow:
5. Kirkwall Is The Main Setting
Don’t expect to travel to the four corners of the Free Marches like you did in Ferelden. Dragon Age II tells the story of Hawke’s rise to power in Kirkwall, and as such, almost all of the action takes place within the city. You’ll take a few trips to surrounding locations, but don’t be surprised when your adventures have you hopping between different parts of Kirkwall instead of different parts of the continent.
Friday - March 04, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Preload and Unlock Times
Chris Priestly has posted the Dragon Age 2 preload (for digital versions) and unlock (for all versions) times. I have no idea why preloading needs to be region-controlled but I'm not a gaming exec. Anyway, here is the full post:
Hi Dragon Age 2 PC gamers.
Many of you have been asking when you can pre-load Dragon Age 2 onto your machines. Pre-loading happens with digital versions of DA2 and is installing the game so it is ready to play once the unlock time arrives. Pre-loading is not available from all retailers. Check with your retailer to see if they offer pre-loading. You have also been asking when the game will unlock so you can start playing, which applies to digital and retail PC copies. These pertain to PC versions and not to console versions of Dragon Age 2.
Pre-Loading is based on the region you live in. Pre-loading of digital versions begins at the following times:
Asia/Pacific region – 18:00 GMT on March 4th
Canada & United States – 18:00 GMT on March 4th
Russian Federation - 18:00 GMT on March 4th
Western Europe – 10:00 GMT March 7th
Australia & New Zealand – 09:00 GMT on March 8th
Central and South America - 10:00 GMT on March 8th
Eastern Europe – 10:00 GMT March 8th
Great Britain & Ireland – 10:00 GMT on March 8th
Unlocking is based on the official game release date for the region you live in. The PC versions, both digital and retail, will unlock beginning at the following times:
Asia/Pacific region – 0000h on March 8th
Canada & United States – 0000h on March 8th
Russian Federation - 0200h on March 8th
Western Europe – 0000h on March 10th
Australia & New Zealand – 0000h March 9th
Central and South America - 1700h March 10th
Eastern Europe – 0000h March 11th
Great Britain & Ireland – 0000h March 11th
Get ready, Dragon Age 2 is almost here.
Thursday - March 03, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup #4
Here's today's collection of Dragon Age 2 newsbits.
There's another Mike Laidlaw live chat coming up on Saturday:
On Saturday March 5 at 1pm PST, Dragon Age 2 Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw will be holding a live demo of the game followed by a question and answer chat with Dragon Age fans. Mike will be playing the Exiled Prince downloadable content as well as showing off the character creator and DA2 promo items. After the demo he will be answering your questions.
Don't miss out on watching Mike's live demo and asking your questions about Dragon Age 2. You can take part here: Live Demo and Chat
The Bioblog has Part 2 of The Technology of Dragon Age 2:
One of the major goals of the team was to make the game look great on all platforms. Having accomplished that, we started researching what additional features we can offer to our users that have invested on higher end PC hardware. The latest PC GPUs that have been recently released on the market are very powerful. DirectX 11 technology is a great way for us to target this advanced GPU hardware, as DirectX 11 is fully backwards compatible with DirectX 10. So if you have a video card that supports DirectX 10, DirectX 10.1 or DirectX 11, and Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7, you’ll be able to benefit from additional technology features as described in this post.
DN: It seems like more and more open-ended RPGs are cropping up these days. You guys keep things more focused. Is there a risk in the open-ended RPG?
Gaider: It is hard. One part of an RPG is letting the player tell their own story. That's something like "Fable." If you're letting the player wander where they will and do what they will, you le the player create the story in their head.
In my experience, you can go too far down that side. You run the risk of sort of depersonalizing it for the player. They can do lots of things, but do they care?"
DN: But with "Dragon Age II," you guys wanted a balance to it, right? How hard was that?
Gaider: Finding the balance between the two is difficult. They're kind of diametrically opposed. In order to offer the player to make their own story, you have to surrender some control. But in order to keep it under control, you have to take some control from the player.
...and Gamasutra has a blog post titled A Critcism of BioWare, which makes some good points that are lost in the poor writing:
In The Witcher, you can improve Geralt's fighting abilities and magical signs to improve your odds in combat. Integrated with the consequences of your decisions there are some upgrades that are only accessible if you make certain decisions in game. By the end of the game you have more abilities and utility then at the beginning and chaining attacks at the hardest difficulty required good timing to master.
What I love about the SMT series (and most of Atlus's rpg lineup) is that they challenge the player. Just pressing the attack button will not win fights in their games. The SMT series is known for unique boss fights with twists to mix up the regular fights. Their games reward players for learning and mastering the mechanics with better items and challenging fights. There is that sense of mastery when playing their games, when you reach the point that you fully understand the mechanics and get into a groove with winning fights.
That sense of challenge and reward is nowhere to be seen in the Bioware games I've played. Side quests require me to do the same thing I've done before and exploring with the only reward being experience points or morality points don't interest me. Battles don't offer variety and the only challenge is dealing with a stat difference. There is no sense of learning the game mechanics after the prerequisite tutorial and no growth of the established game mechanics. Which leads me to this: If a game doesn't have a compelling story or good game-play, what is left to keep me interested in playing?
Wednesday - March 02, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Meet the Exiled Prince
BioWare has updated the Dragon Age 2 site with more on Sebastian Vael, the Exiled Prince and $7 release-day DLC -- unless you signed on for the Signature Edition back in January. There's a new video, which we actually linked yesterday (and sent in again by Alrik), screens and a story by David Gaider:
Sworn to the priesthood as a boy, the noble archer Sebastian Vael is thrust back into the viper's nest of princely politics when his family is brutally murdered, leaving him as the sole surviving heir. Choose to either avenge Sebastian's murdered family and reclaim his title or direct his holy vengeance on your enemies in Kirkwall.
The Exiled Prince DLC is available for all 4 platforms on launch day. Watch the new video, check out screenshots and read a short story written by David Gaider on Sebastian Vael, The Exiled Prince.
Tuesday - March 01, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Rogue Update
Dragon Age 2 - Shorter but More Cinematic
Thanks to GameBanshee for sending this one in. The newsbit title comes straight from the original article with MMGN reporting some information about the localisation of Dragon Age 2 from a GDC presentation:
Dragon Age: Origins
• 1,000,000 Words
• 1,000 Cinematics
• 1,000 Characters
• 56,000 Spoken Lines
• 60 Hours of Gameplay
Dragon Age II
• 400,000 Words
• 2,500 Cinematics
• 500 Characters
• 38,000 Spoken Lines
• 40 Hours of Gameplay
Monday - February 28, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup
Here's a small roundup of Dragon Age 2 and related news.
First, Kotaku says Dragon Age: Legends is worth playing. They have a screenshot gallery of Stephen Totilo's time with the Facebook game, along with explanations for each panel.
Lastly, the Call to Arms to get 1 million demo downloads worked (what, you're suprised?) and BioWare has unlocked the two promised items. Of course, BioWare has another plan and another in-game item on offer. From Chris Priestly:
Congratulations, You DID IT!
We challenged our fans to reach 1 million downloads of the DragonA ge 2 demo, and we have all helped to reach and beat this goal! As such, the 2 items we promised are now unlocked and will appear in your entitlements page.
Now, a new challenge has appeared. The third and most powerful tome is waiting to be unlocked. To unlock the tome “Of Things Not Lost” visit the Dragon Age Facebook page and share that days post. If each post from now to March 4, 2011 is shared and reaches 1,000,000 Impressions the day it is posted the tome will unlock.
You unlocked the first 2 tomes, now you can unlock the third and final one. Watch the Dragon Age Facebook Page like what is posted and unlock the final tome.
Friday - February 25, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Mike Laidlaw Interview
Dragon Age 2 Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw has been interviewed at Gamasutra, with partiular emphasis on "how the team arrived at the decision to change core elements of the game" and building the world:
You talked about the three main points that you wanted to address with Dragon Age II. You said "combat is a big one." People were scared to hear that you were mucking about with combat.
ML: Yup. I think so. It's not specifically just that we're changing combat. It's that the combat has become responsive and faster. I think that from a certain point of view that means ‑‑ to use internet parlance ‑‑ "OMG you are dumbs down like action game!"
And of course, RPGs, people are pretty protective of them. They liked elements of Origins that were very tactical, that were very methodical. So when they hear that now I can jump and attack guys, well, that must be! That is an action trope, therefore it must now be an action game.
That's not true, but I understand how you can make that jump there, because what it represents to me is people saying, "I really like that thing you did. Could you not take it away?" Which I love. I love that.
So for us, it became very careful to be, I guess, protective of the elements of Origins that did work really well, that resonated with the people that like the tactical gameplay, because controlling a party is increasingly rare.
To keep DA2 stuff in one place, there's also a Mage update a the BioWare site.
Thursday - February 24, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Building a better RPG @ Destructoid
Building a better RPG at Destructoid discusses how BioWare designed the opening sequences of Dragon Age 2 in response to player metrics. We've heard these metrics before but apparently the whole framed narrative "no, that's not how it went" is part of their response:
"We saw a lot of people disengaging at hour one, hour two. Not pursuing it, right?" explains Laidlaw. The Dragon Age team might have chalked some of those lost players up to rentals, but the statistics didn't back it up: a significant number of people simply stopped playing Dragon Age: Origins after a few hours.
"I think what it really spoke to is something RPGs have been wrestling with for a long time: that first impression," says Laidlaw.
So they fixed it.
"You get to an RPG and fire it up, and ... it hits you in the face with a thousand stats. Those stats are very cool, but you may not be mentally or emotionally prepared to deal with them as your first thing to do in the game," he says.
To keep people from checking out early, Laidlaw's team totally reinvigorated Dragon Age II's intro. The result is so seamless and subtle that players might not even realize they're being taught to play the game. Sure, there are some button prompts here or there, but the way Dragon Age II introduces its combat and narrative are remarkably elegant.
For an alternative view, Rampant Coyote points out these comments at I Whine About Games:
I've talked to a lot of people who quit playing Dragon Age within a few hours.
Every single one of them quit because OSTAGAR WAS BORING.
In other Dragon Age 2 news, BioWare is promoting the soundtrack source:
BioWare has teamed up with the Grammy Awards’ Best New Artist nominee Florence + The Machine for an exclusive re-imagining of “I’m not calling you a liar” that you can only hear in-game in Dragon Age II.The song appears in-game as “I’m Not Calling You A Liar (Dragon Age II: Varric's Theme)”. Keep your ears open as you play Dragon Age 2.
Wednesday - February 23, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Demo Tidbits
If you've been following the Dragon Age 2 demo in the forums, you'll know BioWare has commented or acknowledged a number of issues. For those that haven't...
There are confirmed DX11 issues (though not everyone has problems):
The PC demo has known performance and stability issues with DirectX 11. These have been fixed in the final game.
We recommend that all users disable DirectX 11 while playing the demo, including those with high-end machines.
Unfortunately we will not be able to correct this issue for the demo but it is fixed for the main game release.
Mike Laidlaw says the loading mid-cutscene shouldn't be present in the final game:
We had some problems with loading before conversations in some PC configurations that are likely what you've been experiencing. My wife's PC had similar issues, and I can happily confirm that hers no longer has this issue between the time we were working on the demo and the final builds of the game. Likely an issue that's already resolved in the shipping build.
Lastly, if you haven't had enough DA2 today, GameSpot has a 30 minute odd gameplay demo with Mike Laidlaw. I've had my fill, so I didn't watch it all, but it looks to show new areas and not just the demo section.
Tuesday - February 22, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Demo Released
As promised, the Dragon Age 2 demo has been released. Head to the demo page at BioWare for the 1.88Gb file in English (with Spanish, Italian, Polish or Russian subtitles), German or French.
You'll need to login to your EA account while playing to claim the two in-game items.
If you want to use a different mirror, here's a list from Blue's:
X360 and PS3 users should be able to get thedemo from their respective services.
And a reminder of what's on offer:
In the demo, players will venture through the game's prologue, choosing from three different character classes. They'll also learn more about Hawke and hone their skills and abilities that will make them the ultimate hero. After finishing the prologue, players will enter a key new location in the world of Dragon Age, Kirkwall, befriending Isabela, a romantic interest in the game who is also a deadly smuggler. Upon completion of the demo, players will unlock a special weapon, Hayder's Razor, an ancient dwarven blade which increases health, mana, and combat abilities, in the full release of Dragon Age 2.
Sunday - February 20, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Round Up # 2
Some news about DA2 has popped up from varying sources on the net, so I'll collect them here. First up is two reviews from German Magazines, then we have a story about a DA2 event in London and at last we have something about a DA2 demo FAQ.
On the Bioware forums, there's a thread about reviews from two German magazines started by Estel1978. Maria Caliban made a post on Obsidian's forums citing the German source. Here's what Estel1978 has to say, first the review from PC Games.
I don't have the print magazines myself, got those infos from a german board. I'm trying my best with the translations.
PC Games gave it 88, pros and cons:
+ very well told hero story
+ varied followers, each with their own stories
+ great dialogs with moral decisions
+ exciting boss battles
+ martial-arts-fans should have great fun with possibly the fastest (or fast paced) battles in a fantasy game
- ...but old-school RPG players might have their problems with the flurry of activities in battles
- limited class progression with fixed skilltrees
- poor level design with one-to-one copy-pasting of whole quest areas (do they mean, some areas are a carbon copy of each other???)*
- unsatisfying ending
Then she talks about the review from Gamestar.
Gamestar gave it 87, pros and cons:
+ thrilling storyline
+ great dialogs and quests
+ coherent / consistent game world
- some fiddly battles
- less epic as DAO
Their conclusion: great RPG, slightly weaker than DAO
Yesterday, on the 19th of February, there was a small DA2 presentation in London, open to the public. A Bioware, forumite, Maria13, made this thread about it. Here's a snip about what she had to say:
Well, a podcast was taken so no doubt it will be posted somewhere on BSN soon. There weren't many of us, I'd say about 50. Mike Laidlaw was questioned by The Guardian games critic. Most of the discussion was about the difficulty of writing such complex games. Mike was a very calm, informative and humorous interviewee.
Christ Priestly made a FAQ thread about the demo released this Tuesday, the 22nd of February 2011. Here's some selected snips from it:
What time will the demo be available?
For PC – February 22 at 9am PST
For Xbox 360 – February 22 between midnight and 2am PST
For Playstation 3 users in North America – February 22 between 4pm and 8pm PST
For Playstation 3 users outside North America - February 23 between 4pm and 8pm GMT
I have a Silver Xbox Live account. Does that make a difference?
Slightly. The demo is available for free through both Silver and Gold Xbox Live accounts. The Xbox Live Gold account will have teh demo on February 22. The Xbox Live Silver account will have it one week late.
Where do I get the PC version of the demo?
We will have a link to the demo download on the Dragon Age 2 demo page.
How do I get my Hayder’s Razor” item for finishing the demo?
After you finish the demo if you have logged in with or created an EA account you will get an entitlement called Hayder’s Razor which is a Dwarfen Sword which they can use in the main game.
Is Hayder’s Razor available for all platforms?
And so, this counts as one of the more than 600 items* you can get if you pre-order, buy the game at certain places, play Dead Space 2 and much more*
* May not entirely be accurate...
Dragon Age 2 - Descriptions for all Talents
Someone with their hands on the Dragon Age 2 demo has posted screens and descriptions for all the Talents on the Bio forums. If you'd like to dig into character building before the demo arrives next week, head over for a look.
Thanks, Archmage Silver!
Friday - February 18, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Not As Dumbed Down As Mass Effect
Note the headline comes directly from Kotaku's latest look at Dragon Age 2, rather than my own opinion. Stephen Totilo has an article titled Definitely Not As Dumbed Down As Mass Effect where he describes the depth of the Tactics system. It essentially sounds identical to DA:O, although I didn't know about multi-character combos:
The Dragon Age II tactics can set up combos. One character, for example, might dole out 4x damage to enemies who are made "brittle." Another character might be able to make characters brittle with a certain attack. You can figure this one out: set one character to emphasize the brittle move; set the other to spot that and swoop in.
In other news, the Bioblog has a lengthy post of DA: Journeys, the Facebook game, with producer Ethan Levy answering questions.
Thursday - February 17, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - News Roundup
Here's a small collection of Dragon Age 2 odds and ends.
You can watch the NBC Jimmy Fallon segment showing Felicia Day and Dragon Age: Redemption here.
More in-game lewt! If we reach out (come on Twitter and Facebook fans!) and get 1 million people to download the Dragon Age 2 demo, BioWare will reward us all with two new in-game items. According to my spreadsheet with Signature Edition, preorder, GameStop, Staff of Parlathan, demo completion, Facebook game and these bonuses, I should have 642* in-game items before I start the game. Woo!
Dragon Age players, this is your call to arms! We need one million players of the Dragon Age 2 demo and we want you to rally the troops to reach this monumental goal. Tell your friends, tell your family, talk about it on Facebook, Twitter, talk about it at school and at work. We want One Million downloads of the Dragon Age 2 demo and we need you to rally the troops to reach this goal.
If we reach One Million downloads, we will reward players with 2 new in-game items the Lothering’s Lament and Far Cliffs of Kirkwall tomes. And don’t forget, anyone who completes the demo will get the in-game item Hayden’s Razor. All 3 items will be available on all platforms for Dragon Age 2.
We need you to rally your troops and heed this call to arms!
Read more details on the Call To Arms
Lastly, someone has posted videos of the Dragon Age 2 demo to be released next week. I'm not sure how they go their hands on it but if you can't wait, check out how it runs (i5 750, 4Gb, nVidia 460GTX @ 1920x1024) here and here (thanks, Qt3 forums).
*May not be completely accurate.
Wednesday - February 16, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Familiar Characters, Technology
IGN has an article on characters that will be returning from Dragon Age and DLC...spoilers apply if you count this sort of thing.
Meanwhile, the Bioblog explores the technology improvements in Dragon Age 2. A sample:
Lighting is a crucial element for the visual appearance of any game. Regardless of how detailed and unique the base art is, a poor lighting system that fails to bring out that detail will make the game look worse overall. With this in mind we spent most of our research effort into new lighting techniques and tried to identify the one that best fits the levels we needed to create for Dragon Age II.
The lighting system we ended up with is based on an offline global illumination renderer that creates higher quality lightmaps than before. Global illumination means that light bounces in the scene are considered for the overall lighting. This simulates how lighting works in the real world.
Tuesday - February 15, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Felicia Day Page @ BioWare
Not that it offers much more information but BioWare has kicked up a Felicia Day page (their title) to promote the Dragon Age: Redemption web series. You'll be able to see a taste soon if you have access to these channels:
Look for the world premiere of Dragon Age: Redemption this Wednesday, February 16, presented by Felicia Day on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on NBC (check your local listings), and get your first on-set look at Dragon Age: Redemption on "Gametrailers TV with Geoff Keighley" on Spike TV, Thursday, February 24 (check your local listings).
Dragon Age 2 - Romance Options
BioWare has celebrated Valentine's Day by confirming the romance options for Dragon Age 2. In addition, the DA2 development team has written a short story for each of the romanceable characters. I'd quote but some readers will consider this spoiler territory. Fan site Grey Wardens also writes about the options.
Thanks, Archmage Silver!
Friday - February 11, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Gone Gold!
I haven't had a chance to go through today's Dragon Age 2 live dev chat/gameplay demo (you forgot, didn't you?) but GameBanshee has already done it for me. Head over for a summary, including the revelation that the game has gone Gold:
This is a report of today's Dragon Age 2 Live Developer Chat with lead designer Mike Laidlaw. According to Mike, just 50 minutes before the event began, he was told that Dragon Age II has officially gone gold on all platforms.
The gameplay demo was played with a female Hawke in Hightown, a brighter area, and confirming the rather obvious fact that the female Hawke is also fully voiced. The quest shown ("Fools Rush In") involved a returning character, Captain Isabella, inviting you to support her as she is to fight a duel but suspects deceit. The quest takes place at night and Laidlaw notes the streets are more empty (and indeed there were no NPCs walking around) and dangerous at this hour, and, as expected, the group is attacked in the course of the quest, showing off the combat, pause functions, and special attacks. Laidlaw explains how mages have a supportive roles in applying buffs, like stone armor and elemental weapons. The buff effects are no longer shown outside of combat. Weapons and items are graded by a star system which allows you to compare at a quick glance. When he was showing skills during the game I noticed full descriptions were shown on screen, allaying a personal fear of consolized font sizes.
Combat was frequently paused by Laidlaw, particularly in a later, tougher fighter. Other than the camera staying closer, it did not immediately look wildly different from Dragon Age: Origins. Direct control allowed for a bit more immediacy from the looks of it. The characters were still covered in silly amounts of blood after the fight, much like Origins. The quest is revealed to involve slavery, and then allows you to - of course - recruit and sleep with Isabella, regardless of gender.
Dragon Age 2 - Achievements, First Print Review
Another day, another couple of Dragon Age 2 tidbits. Vistaer sends word that the Achievements have been revealed at Xbox360Achievements.org - potential spoilers apply, obviously and CVG says PC Gamer UK has awarded an Editor's Choice in their print review. Apparently this means a score of 90%+, although they aren't saying exactly. A couple of small quotes:
"Satisfying, lightning-fast combat and spectacular spacial moves helped Dragon Age 2 to take the PC Gamer Editor's Choice award, but the game excelled in other areas, too," the mag says.
"A conversation system that doesn't restrict you with an arbitrary morality meter and the huge, evolving city of Kirkwall help to fill Dragon Age 2 with "more character and vitality than any title in recent memory".
Thursday - February 10, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Merrill the Mage, GameStop Demo Cancelled and More
Here's a small handful of Dragon Age 2 tidbits. BioWare has kicked up a preview of Merrill the Dalish mage:
Merrill is a Dalish mage. She will join your party and aid you in your journey in Dragon Age 2, helping with her powerful nature based magics. However, Merrill's clan is in danger and she must find help for her people. Whatever the cost.
You can see her concept art and learn more about Merrill here.
Next, BioWare has cancelled the GameStop demo for "security reasons" - actually they says its "delayed" until the public release, which seems the same as "cancelled" to me from a GameStop employee perspective.
Lastly, Alrik sends in a German interview with PC Games Hardware.de on the improved lighting, tessellation and DX11 in DA2. Grab a Google translation here.
Wednesday - February 09, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Mac Version Announced
Apparently the Mac version will be on the PC disk:
We are pleased to announce that Dragon Age 2 will be coming for the Mac on the same day that it is available for the PC and consoles. The Mac version will be on the same disc as the PC version.
You can readthe Mac preview of Dragon Age 2 here: Macworld Dragon Age 2 Preview.
Dragon Age 2 - Preview Roundup # 2
A few new things about Dragon Age 2 has popped up, so I'll collect them here.
GameRevolution has a preview although no new info seem to be given except maybe about the combat:
A bit of a fuss has been made over Bioware’s slogan about the combat: “Think like a general, fight like a Spartan.” But it’s more like Origins than anything else, really – you’ll be commanding your party members to take aim at the enemies of your choice, and what we’ve seen of the AI is smart enough to dispatch those enemies effectively. But you will also get your hands dirty in the fast-paced combat with some crazy, 300-esque moves; warriors can make leaping overhead smashes that clear spaces in a hurry, while rogues teleport behind victims in a puff of smoke and backstab them with both hands.
"[Baldur's Gate 2] had characters that were incredibly memorable," Laidlaw tells News10's Game Guys. "Characters like Edwin or Minsc with his crazed crusade against all things evil. And I think that what we deliver with Dragon Age 2 a deeper tactical experience."
And Xbox 360 achievements has written a nice detailed hands-on preview article. They start out in High Town, then they go down into Deep Roads and beyond. They played both as female and as a mage. Here's a snip about the combat when playing as a mage:
As a mage in Dragon Age: Origins, the standard attack was something that you’d only use when you’d run out of mana, but in Dragon Age II, it actually feels like a much more integral part of the combat. A series of button clicks lets Hawke kick out a combo of standard attacks, deftly twirling her staff in the process, making you feel like she’s had some personal training from Bruce Lee himself. Instead of just using it as a last resort, it actually becomes a great tool to link up spells and manage your mana supplies much more effectively. In truth, it does make combat that much easier on the whole, but it seems BioWare has gone to great lengths to balance it up by throwing greater numbers of tougher enemies at you.
Edit: Added a couple more...
If you enjoyed playing Dragon Age in a more tactical and methodical fashion, have no fear; BioWare has not done away with any of the strategic elements of combat. I was still able to pause and assign orders or queue up abilities as I saw fit. In fact, this will still be required for some of the more difficult fights, especially on the higher difficulty settings. BioWare has not converted DA2 into a full-blown action-RPG; they've simply made it considerably more fun to pick up and play. I still enjoyed the PC version the most, as the controls and combat felt like a well executed hybrid of modern MMO and old-school RPG.
Dragon Age II is a huge improvement over Dragon Age: Origins in almost every way. As a fan of the first game, I definitely had my fair share of gripes and complaints. I feel like BioWare has really done a fantastic job of listening to the fans and addressing many of the issues that players might have had with the first game. I think it is safe to say that we can expect another hit out of BioWare this March with Dragon Age II.
Dragon Age 2 - Call of Duty's Audience Welcome Bioware says
We have data that shows there are a lot of people that enjoy playing RPGs although they won’t necessarily call them RPGs. They’ll play Fallout, Assassin’s Creed and even Call Of Duty, which have these progression elements – you’re putting points into things – but they don’t necessarily associate that as an RPG. So we think that if we expand that out we’ll attract a much bigger audience.”
Do you think Bioware will succeed? And is an RPG defined by putting points into things?
Source: RPG Codex
Tuesday - February 08, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Trailer, Preview Roundup
There are a few new Dragon Age 2 things around at the moment, so I'll collect them here.
First, a "Champions" trailer has been released, which you can view from the BioWare gallery. It shows the three classes and demonstrates you can be slashy Hawke, blasty Hawke or stabby Hawke.
IGN has a Console or PC? article, written by Charles Onyett who is an experienced PC writer. Still, it clearly explains the advantages for consoles but doesn't really address the PC in detail. BioWare gameplay producer Dan Lazin also adds some explanations, although some of them don't make a lick of sense to me. On not being able to queue orders:
Pausing and zooming around the battlefield still plays a big role in Dragon Age II. Against multi-stage bosses and grunts alike I found freezing the action and issuing heal and special attack commands made a big different in effectiveness. Like Origins, you're still limited to queuing one command at a time. That means you can't order a heal, a fireball, and a frost arc blast all during the same pause. You have to wait for the first action to be executed before ordering a new one. The only reason I bring this up is because in BioWare's past role-playing games, you could, in fact, queue multiple combat commands to multiple party members at once and then watch the automated fireworks. It was a cool feature because it let you plan ahead, anticipating enemy attack patterns and layering multiple buffs and debuffs.
Again, Lazin explains why that's the case. "The number of enemies in [Knights of the Old Republic] is much lower than what we've got in [Dragon Age II]. Here you get very large parties of enemies who go down fairly easily individually. So consequently queuing up orders, a whole lot at once, isn't particularly useful because that individual guy is going to be dead pretty soon and you're going to need to reassess in two seconds and pick a different target."
Accordingly, we found the crypt--a flinty cavern with glowing red veins--and faced off with its guardian: another huge rock wraith, this one with a powerful rock fist and the ability to summon profanes. This boss-like fight and the absence of a healer character had us micromanaging the party members, not least to keep them out of the way of the rock wraith's periodic rolling knockdown attack. Here, the rhythm of combat started to feel familiar, as we flipped between characters to keep everyone healthy and in the right spot, a la Dragon Age: Origins. It remains to be seen, then, how radically overhauled the combat feels in the long run--but certainly in its visuals, presentation, and dialogue system, Dragon Age II is looking to be a more confident, polished adventure than its predecessor.
Joystiq also has a preview, though they don't say much:
Dragon Age 2 looks brighter and its environments seem far more alive -- it's a quasi cel-shaded look that really makes the game pop and will offer better consistency across all platforms. "Consoles on Dragon Age: Origins were left behind a little bit," Lazin admits. "You could tell the art had been created primarily for PCs and that we'd done what we could to make it work for consoles, but now it looks great across all three platforms." Lazin promises that the game be up to snuff on consoles, and even look better than on most mid-ranged PCs. You'll still have access to the graphical bells and whistles on a more powerful PC, of course, and still have the ability to zoom out the camera.
On consoles, you'll still be able to pause the action and cue up attacks and strategies for team-mates before letting rip. On PC the tactical view may have been very slightly reigned in, but the trade-off allows for more complex geometry, with hills and steps and split-levels, all of which can be used tactically.
Beyond the visuals and the combat, BioWare's preparing a refined experience for things like DLC. Having learned from the first game, the developer is promising optional updates will provide longer adventures and will be easier to locate in the world once you've bought them.
Lastly, Joystiq filmed the first two minutes of the game - essentially the intro cinematic.
Dragon Age 2 - Anders Revealed as a Companion
A forumite, Shepard N7, on the Bioware forums made this thread about one of the characters in Dragon Age - it is: Anders, the Mage. In the thread there is a link to GameInformer's website on which there is a gameplay video featuring this reveal. Here's a snip from the text:
New protagonist Hawke first encounters the mage in the slums of the city of Kirkwall, where Anders has taken up a life of healing refugees from the Blight. Hawke needs the former Grey Warden's help, and Anders is willing to oblige in return for a favor.
On this first quest with the new companion, Hawke uncovers some surprising twists about Anders and his new life. What secrets is the apostate hiding? Why are his eyes glowing eerily in the screenshot above? What other surprises await in Dragon Age II?
Dragon Age 2 - Quick Look at Giant Bomb
In this thread at the Bioware forums, Shepard N7, a forumite, links to Giant Bomb's quick look for this game. The coverage is from the Xbox 360 version of the game and features 11 minutes of gameplay. It starts with an interview with Mike Laidlaw, the Lead Designer, and he also comments on the game. The quick look starts in sort of an undergound structure and shows some of the monsters you'll meet. Since this is the first version of any gameplay we've seen, it might be worth to take a look.
Monday - February 07, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - ESRB Rating Annnounced
In this thread at the Bioware Social Forums, the ESRB ratings along with some comments on the game are revealed. The thread are now closed, but there is an open here. The game has gotten an unsurprisingly M-rating, but the interesting parts lies in how the ESRB has commented on the game:
"This is an action-adventure role-playing game in which players assume the role of a warrior who completes quests in a mythical land. Players use swords, bows and arrows, and magical spells (e.g., fireballs, energy beams) to defeat human-like enemies and fantasy creatures (e.g., giant spiders, demons, ogres, golems). Attacks are often accompanied by slashing sounds, large explosions, and cries of pain. Blood splatter effects occur when enemies are hit, and damage sometimes results in dismemberment or decapitation—blood stains and body parts occasionally appear in the environment. In one cutscene, a man's severed head is held up then tossed to the ground. During the course of the game, characters sometimes engage in sexual dialogue (e.g., "Why is it always about sex with you?" and "Sailing is like sex. Do it wrong, and it'll make you sick."). Players can also initiate brief cutscene sequences in which couples (male-female or same-sex) are shown kissing and embracing one another in a bedroom as the screen fades to black. In one cutscene, a woman kneels in front of a male character and appears to perform fellatio—there is no depiction of the sex act; the camera pans out to the rest of the room. The words "a*s," "bastard," and "sh*t" appear in dialogue."
For some reason, people like to discuss certain oral activites in the game:
Why it is so, I really don't know...
Dragon Age 2 - Upcoming Developer Chat
If you're following Dragon Age 2, Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw will be chatting and demoing live on February 11th:
On Friday, February 11th at 11am PST, we'll have the Lead Designer of Dragon Age 2, Mike Laidlaw, showing live gameplay and taking questions. Now is your chance to be heard before the game releases March 8th on Xbox 360, Playstation 2, and PC. And you may even win some prizes.
Thursday - February 03, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Demo Confirmed for February 22nd
In this post on the Bioware Social Network, one of the forumites, f1r3storm, posted that EA Germany just confirmed a demo for DA2 on February 22nd for PC, Xbox 360 and the PS3. Greywardens, the fansite, has this to say about the demo. Chris Priestly also made this post on the BSN. There's a demo page up, too. Some info about the free demo.
In the demo, players will venture through the game's prologue, choosing from three different character classes. They'll also learn more about Hawke and hone their skills and abilities that will make them the ultimate hero. After finishing the prologue, players will enter a key new location in the world of Dragon Age, Kirkwall, befriending Isabela, a romantic interest in the game who is also a deadly smuggler. Upon completion of the demo, players will unlock a special weapon, Hayder's Razor, an ancient dwarven blade which increases health, mana, and combat abilities, in the full release of Dragon Age 2.*
Wednesday - February 02, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Interview @ Games On Net
Aussie site Games On Net has an interview with Mike Laidlaw on Dragon Age II, although he dodges a number of questions towards the end. On mages and balance:
games.on.net: At least in our experiences, mages in Origins were monstrously powerful compared to the other classes. How are they stacking up for Dragon Age II?
Mike: Oh, they're still very powerful, but we've taken steps to bring warriors and rogues more into line with the mage experience. The key, for us, was to give each class its own role on the battlefield.
Warriors are very good at taking damage and dishing it out; even their basic melee attacks hit arcs in front of them, letting them keep the attention of multiple foes. Rogues use either daggers or bows to obliterate single targets, and have numerous abilities that control the battlefield, stunning groups of foes and controlling aggro. Mages, of course, own the ranged area-of-effect space with fireballs, tempests and so on. They are also the premier class for buffing others through spell trees like creation and arcane.
In short, to be most effective in Dragon Age II, you'll need to think like you're running a team.
Dragon Age 2 - Demo on Feb 23rd?
Looks like the Dragon Age 2 demo that EA in Europe accidentally revealed yesterday will be released February 23rd. You can head here to this Dragon Age 2 subsite to see an offer to Gamestop employees for early access and the fine print includes...
This early demo access is being granted to Gamestop employees only. Any form of distribution, recording, posting of any elements of the Dragon Age 2 demo and any of its files is strictly prohibited until February 23, 2011 when the demo is made available to all consumers.
Monday - January 31, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - DRM Explained - EA account needed
Chris Priestly just made a post regarding the DRM used in Dragon Age 2. No disc check, you'll need an EA (same as the Bioware) account. And most interestingly is this bit:
- You can play offline but the game will require a login check after a select period of days.
Release Control (does not use securom)
. It does not install anything to the PC.
. Sole purpose is to check with a server to validate whether the game release date has passed or not.
. It completely removes itself after the game release date has passed.
. You will not be able to play until that date has passed.
. Dates & times are set to the retail street date per country.
Apparently EA and Bioware decided to do something about retailers sellng the game early by this 'release control'. What do you think? Is this a good idea? or maybe not? And it is a good idea to have the game demand that you log into your account, when you play offline after a select period of days? No words just yet on how many specific days will have to pass, though.
Dragon Age 2 - Demo Questions? [Updated]
A banner in a European EA newsletter might have revealed an upcoming Dragon Age 2 demo before it was planned. See the links below for the original banner, the apparently updated one and the resulting huge Bio forums thread.
[Original newsbit] A hacked banner seems to have tricked people into believing a demo for Dragon Age 2 would be available early February. There's an enormous thread at the BioWare forums but, as best I can tell without reading it all, posters toward the end have figured out the scam.
Edit: It appears many people (presumably from the BioWare forums) feel this newsbit is some sort of insult for reasons I can't understand. I've edited the heading for more clarity but nowhere am I claiming inside information or any sort of affirmation. As the newsbit clearly says, after reading through 69 pages (at the time), I thought the indications from posters were that the banner might have been hacked. So, please, read the whole thing yourself and make your own mind up.
Friday - January 28, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - On Templars, Raiders, City Guards and The Coterie
Another Dragon Age 2 lore post has hit the Bioblog with Chris Priestly writing about Templars, Raiders, City Guards and The Coterie. Here's a snip on the Raiders of the Waking Sea:
The Raiders of the Waking Sea, or more simply “the Raiders”, is the more commonly known name given to an association of pirates called the Felicisima Armada. Once upon a time these pirates were little more than opportunists, individual ships based out of the coastal city of Llomerryn that preyed on sea traffic and which were frequently the target of concerted efforts by the Orlesians and Free Marches cities to destroy them once and for all. After each such effort, new pirates would appear to fill the vacuum and thus the cycle continued.
Wednesday - January 26, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - On Dwarves, Elves and Qunari
The Bioblog has a lore article on Dwarves, Elves and Quanari:
The people of the Qun are, perhaps, the least-understood group in Thedas. The Qunari Wars were brutal, but so was the Chantry Schism. So was the fall of the Imperium. Some of this misunderstanding is an accident of nature: The race we call “qunari” are formidable. Nature has given them fierce horns and strange eyes, and the ignorant look on them and see monsters.
Some is an accident of language: Few among the Qun’s people speak the common tongue, and fewer speak it well. In a culture that strives for mastery, to have only a passable degree of skill is humiliating indeed, and so they often keep quiet among foreigners, out of shame.
But much of it is a result of the culture itself. The qunari view their whole society as a single creature: A living entity whose health and well-being is the responsibility of all. Each individual is only a tiny part of the whole, a drop of blood in its veins. Important not for itself, but for what it is to the whole creature. Because of this, the qunari most outsiders meet belong to the army, which the Qun regards as if it were the physical body: Arms, legs, eyes and ears, the things a creature needs in order to interact with the world. One cannot get to know a person solely by studying his hand or his foot, and so one cannot truly “meet” the qunari until one has visited their cities. That is where their mind and soul dwell.
Tuesday - January 25, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - 103m of Cut Scenes
Eurogamer has noticed the British ratings board - the BBFC - included the total length of cut scenes when they classified Dragon Age 2 the other day. Hopefully, not all 103 minutes are included in a single play through:
BioWare fantasy role-playing game Dragon Age 2 has a whopping 103 minutes of cutscenes.
The impressive figure was revealed by the BBFC, which has given the game its expected 18-rating certificate for "strong bloody violence".
Dragon Age 2's 103 minutes of cutscenes eclipses Killzone 3's 70 minutes worth, revealed by the BBFC earlier this month.
Dragon Age 2 was cleared for release with no cuts made.
Monday - January 24, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Interview #2 @ GameZone
GameZone has a second Dragon Age 2 interview, this time with Lead Writer David Gaider. Much of the article is wasted discussing a hypothetical TV series adaptation so here's a snip outside of that:
GZ: How about you shoot me your favorite character from Dragon Age II that you can speak of and why any of the side-stories that particularly should be revealed.
David Gaider: Aveline was a bit of a surprise, really. When we first started off, she filled this fighter slot and initially we didn’t know what to do with her. She very quickly grew. It’s one of those situations where if you have a group of writers and they’re all talking and throwing around ideas, eventually you can stumble upon something that gets everybody very excited. Luke Kristjanson wrote her. He’s been working here for a while. He wrote Minsc. He’s been with us since the very beginning. He’s a great writer. He took her and gave her this strong, sisterly vibe and it was really cleverly done and I’m really, really happy with how it’s turned out. A lot of times, it’s very easy for characters to fall into a mode. Sometimes you don’t even intend that. You start writing them in a certain way and then very quickly you find yourself following this familiar path with them. If you see it soon enough you can pull yourself out of it, or sometimes if you don’t go far enough people say, “Well, that’s an archetype.” Sometimes that happens. I think with Aveline, we actually got a nice, solid, strong female character that is neither bitchy nor overtly sexual. I really like where Luke took her. I don’t think people have seen anything like her.
Saturday - January 22, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Earn Loot From DA: Legends
Yet another way to earn in-game Dragon Age 2 items with Dragon Age: Legends - the Facebook promo game - explaining the five items you can earn. From the Legends blog:
For Dragon Age fans, one of the most exciting parts of Dragon Age Legends is the ability to earn unique unlock items for your hero in Dragon Age 2. We have collaborated with BioWare to develop a set of five items you can unlock in Dragon Age 2 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. We’ll let you know how you can earn each of these items in the future, but for now we wanted to explain a little bit about how these items were designed.
For the back story of Dragon Age Legends, we needed to create a hero who was a renowned demon hunter. We wanted this mythical hero, Evra, to be truly badass. So we made the request “Could you give us a ring that one would use to punch demons in the face?” BioWare did not disappoint.
Thanks, Archmage Silver!
Dragon Age 2 - Interview @ GameZone
Dakota Grabowski: How much free roaming do you have? From the experience of playing through, you talk about how one person opens up three branches, but there are some interesting characters. I think was walking down in the Lower End, and there were guys that I can tell that later on in the game will be a character that will open up to have interaction with, but right now he’s just sitting there waiting for me to open up the quest. Is most of the dynamic of talking to that person to open it up, or is it free roaming so that I can just go do my own quest?
Mike Laidlaw: There’s a mix of directed and discovery; that’s really how I look at it. That’s largely to a BioWare style, when you get in to the beginning of Hawke’s story. “We need to make this money, we need to go on this expedition because the Templars are coming for us.” There’s that urgency. The approach you take is largely up to you. At the beginning, you have a few leads, but over time that expands and based on the experiences that people have playing that don’t know the story at all, what they find is that it’s like it’s constantly unfolding. They always find new stuff to do. Until eventually, you decide, “I’m ready, let’s go on that expedition.”
Friday - January 21, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Deadspace 2 Cross Promotion
Welcome to the new world! If you buy EA's upcoming action title Dead Space 2, they'll throw in an extra bonus armour set for Dragon Age 2. Here's the post from the official site:
Gamers who purchase the upcoming title Dead Space™ 2, can 'bring the terror' to Dragon Age II with an exclusive 'Ser Isaac of Clarke' armor set. Modeled after Isaac Clarke’s signature rig, the 'Ser Isaac of Clarke' armor set includes body armor, boots, gauntlets and a helm, all of which carry extra benefits. Head over to our add-ons page for more information.
Ser Isaac of Clarke...*sigh* Thanks to Archmage Silver and Strategy Informer for writing in.
Thursday - January 20, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - German Version 100% Uncut
BioWare's Dragon Age 2 site announces the German release will be 100% uncut, which is good news for fans.
Spotted by Omega at Media-Review.de.
Wednesday - January 19, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Building Your Import
Dragon Age fansite Grey Wardens has an article on building the "perfect" save game from DA:O to import into Dragon Age 2. The piece steps through a number of decisions in the first game so that, should you replay, you'll achieve the final save-game conditions you want.
I'll collect a couple of other DA2 items here. Gaming Update steps through the preorder bonus offers and notes that DA:O DLC is on on sale from Microsoft (presumably only for the X360) until January 24th.
Lastly, Green Ronin is preparing the next set in their Dragon Age PnP rules and hopes to release it "shortly after" the release of DA2. Head over for details on both Set 2 and Set 3.
Thanks to Omega for this and several other links.
Monday - January 17, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ PC Gamer
There's a short preview of Dragon Age 2 at PC Gamer, although it isn't clear if they saw the PC or console version. The author says the combat is "closer to an action game", mentions the Mass Effect-inspired dialogue and talks about the new, improved rogue compared to the "toothless" version in DA:O (not my experience - my rogue put out some serious damage):
I ended up being happy with StabbyHawke. Dragon Age II’s backstab move is ludicrously satisfying: starting with Hawke hurling a smoke bomb, he darts forward at warp speed and somehow gets behind his foe, whereupon he injects a few inches of cold steel into their kidneys. The first time he did it, I made an involuntary grab for my own innards. The second time, I started grinning. I began playing this Hawke as he was meant to be played. Hawke and friends are a lot more mobile this time around – indeed, combat as a whole is fresher, faster, and closer to an action game than in Origins.
Interestingly, when questioned in the comments about the opening criticism of DA:O's "utilitarian and ugly" menus, the article author says this came from BioWare:
To interject here, guys, I’m basing a lot of the dissatisfaction with the art style on what DA:O’s art director told me. You might love the muted browns and greys; he and his art team were quite adamant it didn’t come out as well as they’d hoped.
Wednesday - January 12, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Bonus Content Announced
Chris Priestly, in this thread on the Bioware Social Forums, announced bonus content for Dragon Age 2. Without sounding to much like an ad for Bioware, the bonus content will be:
The Lion of Orlais, (a shield) and the Fadeshear (a sword) and The Black Emporium.
By visiting the Black Emporium, players will be able to use the Mirror of Transformation and change their appearance. They'll be able to find exclusive magic and and crafting stores. And they'll find a whistle allowing them to summon a powerful Mabari Hound in battle.
You can read more it about the bonus content here.
All who buy the game get The Black Emporium, while the sword and shield are only available to those who pre-order -as well as the people who bought the Signature Edition. I bet, though, that the sword and shield will be released as DLC later...
Dragon Age 2 - Everything You Need To Know @ IGN
...Except how the PC version plays. IGN has a preview article titled Dragon Age II: Everything You Need to Know. The piece is based on playing the X360 version, of course, and is divided into sections such as "What's the Story?", "Importing Your Save", "The Art of War" and so on:
We haven't seen much of the PC version, but I was told that you will still be able to pause with the space bar and issue commands via the action bar. The biggest change is that the attack animations are sped up and much flashier than before, making battle scenes more visually interesting and visceral. So if you like instant gratification don't want to bother with babysitting your squad, that's an option. On the other hand, if you want to take a little more control over the situation you can do that as well.
Tuesday - January 11, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - German Version Bilingual
EA Germany sends word that Bioware's upcoming Dragon Age 2 for PC, XBox360 and PS3 will have both German and English versions on the disk.
Dragon Age 2 - Dev Diary: The Story
There's a new Dragon Age 2 video dev diary at GameSpot with Mike Laidlaw, Mark Darrah, David Gaider and Jennifer Hepler describing the story and why they chose the "framed narrative". There are plenty of in-game snippets in the background, although you won't get much of a sense for the game beyond sarcastic one-liners.
Saturday - January 08, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Rock Wraith Creature
The Rock Wraith critter has been revealed at the Dragon Age 2 website:
Dwarven legends tell of dwarves so corrupt that even the Stone rejects them. Doomed to wander the deep roads in an undying half-life, these creatures are known as Rock Wraiths, and they are creatures of hunger, wrath and little more. While it's commonly held that Rock Wraiths are myths, every so often a survivor, often half mad, staggers from the deep roads whispering of living rock assembling itself into a twisted shape shifting parody of a humanoid creature, and of baleful eyes glowing in the dark.
Friday - January 07, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - The Exiled Prince Revealed
So, with three dayes to go, BioWare has anounced the bonus character for Dragon Age 2 in the Signature Edition is The Exiled Prince, Sebastian Veil. If you miss out on the free upgrade, The Exiled Prince will be available as paid DLC after January 11th (the free upgrade deadline). From the Dragon Age 2 page:
Adventure alongside Sebastian Vael, an archer of noble birth, as he seeks revenge for the brutal murder of his family. Aid him in his quest, and direct his righteous wrath on your enemies. This character is included in the Dragon Age II Signature Edition at no additional cost, or as paid DLC after January 11.
Thursday - January 06, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - David Gaider Interview @ SC
Why did you take the decision to have just one main character for DA2 as opposed to the multitude of main character options in Origins?
Part of that is budgetary. If you look at Origins each of those origin stories was a huge undertaking. That kind of expense is great, as long as there is some impact to it and I think we got that in Origins. I think it was really important as Origins had to introduce the world and introduce every slice of life to the player. For the DA2 story, we actually started off with multiple starting points but we found that prevented us from telling the tale we wanted to tell and not to mention led to an extra expense. Splitting the story at the start diluted the story we wanted to tell further down the line. For example, if the player was a Dwarf you could not have a Mage in the family. For every variation you have to provide a whole new path. One day we just sat down and said, budget aside, what is more important to us?
When I first found out we were concentrating on one main character, as a writer I wasn’t exactly thrilled. From a writing perspective it narrows down the character. It does give you the opportunities to hook a story onto a character when they are a little bit more defined and now I do find after playing DA2, I have a really hard time going back and playing Origins.
Thanks to Omega for this and several other items.
Wednesday - January 05, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - Signature Edition Deadline Coming
I don't want to sound like an ad for BioWare but I figure some readers will have forgotten about the January 11 deadline for the Dragon Age 2 Signature Edition. Here's Chris Priestly's reminder on their forums:
Reminding all our fans that if you pre-order your copy of Dragon Age II before January 11 you will be upgraded for free to the Dragon Age II Signature Edition.
The Signature Edition contains an awesome copy of Dragon Age II, but also includes $20 of additional content including an in game digital armory, a downlodable soundtrack and a bonus playable character and missions.
Pre-order from your favorite local retailer or online before time runs out and this offer ends.
Sunday - January 02, 2011
Dragon Age 2 - PC System Requirements
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz Processor or equivalent
CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 Triple core 2.8 GHz or equivalent
RAM: 2GB (4 GB Vista and Windows 7)
Video: ATI 3850 512 MB or greater
Video: NVIDIA 8800GTS 512 MB or greater
DirectX 11: ATI 5850 or greater
DirectX 11: NVIDIA 460 or greater
OS: Windows XP with SP3
OS: Windows Vista with SP2
OS: Windows 7
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo (or equivalent) running at 1.8 GHz or greater
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 (or equivalent) running at 1.8 GHz or greater
RAM: 1 GB (1.5 GB Vista and Windows 7)
Video: Radeon HD 2600 Pro 256 MB
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS 256 MB cards
Disc Drive: DVD ROM drive required
Hard Drive: 7 GB
Sound: Direct X 9.0c Compatible Sound Card Windows Experience Index: 4.5
Dragon Age 2 will support DX 11, Priestly states.
Wednesday - December 29, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ Ten Ton Hammer
Ten Ton Hammer has a preview of Dragon Age 2, with input from BioWare's Mark Darrah:
"We've introduced more specific tactical leader creatures to fight in Dragon Age II," Darrah told me. "For example, you may enter combat with several troopers and a commander who will buff the troopers. It's very visceral, as you can engage with the troopers and it's very quick and reactive, but ultimately the commander is the buffing character, so you have to decide on a more macroscopic level if you want to take him out first. That level of tactics on the battle as a whole is what keeps the difficulty there."
Source: Blues News
Tuesday - December 28, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Deep Roads Update
BioWare has added the Deep Roads to their Dragon Age 2 pages, although you only get one small paragraph and two concept arts.
Wednesday - December 22, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview Roundup #2
Here's another batch of Dragon Age 2 previews from the Edmonton press bash. ActionTrip goes to pains to point out he is a PC gamer but was still impressed with the changes:
This upgrade to the combat system did feel faster and more engaging, but thankfully, the deep strategy elements I enjoyed from Origins are still present. You can still pause combat to issue orders to the group. You can still control individual characters with a press of the button. The interface has been streamlined so that it takes up less space and yet, is more helpful and easier to navigate. The icons for your skills and attacks make more sense with a single glance at the simplified, yet improved button bar. And the overall process when upgrading your characters is better as well. Characters are still stat driven but they have added more detail to the process, demystifying what bonuses you receive with the increase. Even crafting, inventory management and loot drops have been tuned up, all in the hopes of taking the drudgery out of the process of managing the game and allowing you to instead, well, play the game.
Zam is proud of never having to pause when playing Nightmare mode in DA:O.
Well, now that I have all those fears out in the open, I can also say that, as guy who's played games competitively all his life and has busted through Dragon Age: Origins twice on Nightmare mode without pausing (and without abusing Arcane Prison / Cone of Cold / Stonefist): there's nothing to be afraid of. Dragon Age 2 is, honestly speaking, an incredible addition to the Dragon Age franchise; both in terms of being a modern RPG on its own, and as a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins. [...]
I really can't stress just how happy I am with BioWare's new combat system. I absolutely adore tactical combat games, but I've always felt that stopping the combat to make a decision defeats the purpose of tactical combat. Maybe this is the competitive player in me, but part of playing tactically is making decisions on the fly and sticking with plans you formulate. The problem with playing Dragon Age: Origins without pausing was that combat was slightly clunky if you didn't pause. Fighting the mechanics of the game while also fighting hordes of Darkspawn was not exactly something I want to do again.
GameZone on linearity and importing states from DA:O.
In comparison to the original, the story arc was much more linear for the first 4-5 hours that was played through. The world is much darker than it was in the first, but BioWare promises that it’ll be a much more reactive story that changes with choices. Starting out the game, players are tasked to select from three builds to carry over from the first game if they don’t have a save to upload. The three builds are as follows verbatim:
“Hero of Ferelden” (Default )
Ended Fifth Blight by killing Archdemon and survived. Placed Alistair on the throne.
Young Dalish Elf who died to kill the Archdemon. She left the kingdom ruled by Alisair and Anora.
Dwarven noble took command of Grey Wardens. Exalted Alistair, sent Loghain to his death against Archdemon, and left Anora as Ferelden’s ruler.
A French preview at RPG France.
With Dragon Age Origins, there were severe differences between the PC and console versions. Can we expect the same sort of differences with Dragon Age 2?
ML: Nigh identical. Interface? The way you play it, control scheme, all completely different. Do I click, drag, and drop my armor or click X to wear it, those are all fundamentally based on your platform, but in terms of encounters and the way the overall design is laid out, what we've done is build our assets so that they work well on the console and work well on the PC and then basically played to the strengths of our engine. The problem with the engine we had in Origins was that on the PC it was fabulous, it handled thing well, but a really good example would be you have a group against ten archer dudes — each of those guys would be built like you: they'd have gloves and boots and armor and a helmet and a bow and a quiver, so there'd be all these parts that the systems were trying to handle, but they'd all look identical. So instead, from the ground up, we focused on building assets that would work well on both systems. They don't look any different — in fact I think they look better, even on the PC, than they did in Origins — but since they're built in a different way, the tech can handle them a lot better, the engine can handle them a lot better, and so everything is smoother, meaning we don't have to make those kinds of compromises depending on platform.
Tuesday - December 21, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Staff of Parlathan Fixed
If you didn't get your Dragon Age 2 Staff of Parlathan in-game item code, Archmage Silver writes BioWare has fixed the issue and if you register again as described, you shoulf get it:
We have a Staff of Parlathan update for our Dragon Age II fans.
The Staff of Parlathan is a free in game epic weapon that we gave away this past summer during the convention season. Anyone who signed up for the Dragon Age newsletter was emailed a code to redeem for the ingame weapon. This worked for most of our fans, but there was a small glitch that prevented a few people from getting their free item. The web team figured out what was wrong, but due to how busy they are, we were not going to be able to fix the issue till next year,
We do not like leaving our fans hanging. Webmonkey Jeff worked his tail off and has now fixed the issue! So everyone who should have been granted a code previously, but did not get one, can now get a code. Not only that, since it is the holiday season and we are in a giving mood, anyone who signs up for the Dragon Age newsletter over the holidays will also get the Staff of Parlathan.
Please go to this page
If you previously did not get your code or if you are signing up for the first time, please click the CLICK HERE link and register for the Dragon Age newsletter (yes, even if you have before). You will see the code appear in your profile (this is what we call an entitlement) and will be able to redeem it to your profile. You will NOT be sent a code through email nor will you get a confirmation email. The code will appear on your entitlements page. Once you have redeemed your code, when Dragon Age II is released, you will get the Staff of Parlathan in game (yes, on PC, PS3 or Xbox 360). If you already have a code but have not yet redeemed it, it is safe for you to do so.
Sorry, but you can't get extra codes for signing up again if you already have the code associated with your profile. It only registers once and codes cannot be traded. This is only a fix for people who had problems previously or are signing up for the first time.
Thanks to Webmonkey Jeff for getting this done. Happy Holidays everyone.
Monday - December 20, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview Roundup
The first wave of Dragon Age 2 previews from that Edmonton junket are finally here. First, The Escapist, and Mike Laidlaw who won't win any points here:
The tactical side of combat returns, allowing you to pause the game and form a cohesive plan based on your current party, but the quick pace of fights has been ramped up for those favoring a more action-oriented combat style. Combat in Origins often got bogged down by fighting animations - rather than actually throwing a spell or shooting an arrow, a character would go through a big windup and then, eventually, get around to actually doing whatever it was you they were commanded to do. According to Laidlaw, BioWare wanted the fighting in DA2 to feel more immediate and less like "some invisible person rolling D20s behind the scenes." [...]
The conversation in DA2 plays out much like that in Mass Effect, with players selecting a paraphrase of a dialog option from various points on a wheel. Hoping to avoid those situations where you think you're being flirty but end up sounding like a jerk, the wheel in DA2 adds an icon in the center to give you a better idea of the vibe you're about to convey. A heart is flirty, angel's wings indicate your goody-goody nature, and so on. There's still a bit of wiggle room, but you should always end up saying pretty much exactly what you meant to say. (During my playthrough, I wanted to just tell someone I thought they were cute and ended up inviting them to bed, but flirting is open to all manner of interpretation, I suppose.)
Second only to story in the hierarchy of fan concerns, gameplay has undergone a somewhat less significant change, but one that I found refreshing. Battles are quicker, requiring consistent button pressing to fight. Characters move more fluidly, more quickly, and more realistically, with mages fighting more like staff-weilding Shaolin monks at close range, and archers getting away from enemies instead of shooting arrows point-blank. Even the rogues act more like rogues, employing tactics such as disappearing, poisoning, and hopping around like rabid ninjas.
You'll notice, perhaps, that the fundamentals of combat in Dragon Age 2 haven't changed much vis-a-vis their Origins counterparts. Mark Darrah's go-to comment on the combat has been that, "When you push a button, something awesome happens." But Darrah needs clarification: the presentation layer has changed, but the mechanics haven't. Dragon Age 2 is still a stat-driven, Dungeons and Dragons-based game -- replete with inventory screens, if-then tactical Rube Goldberg machines, and little numbers coming out of heads.
Standard melee attacks trigger a little bit faster -- thanks in large part to smoother animations -- and while it looks like a kind of combo, there's nothing mathematically different than four straight melee attacks from Origins. However, the combat has changed somewhat: BioWare has added a layer of spatial awareness to each character's skillset, which the team call "closing attacks.
Friday - December 17, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - New Character - Fenris
There's an update at the Dragon Age 2 site that introduces Fenris, who almost looks a little jRPG-inspired to me. The blurb:
Once slave to a Tevinter magister, Fenris was altered: lyrium was burned into his flesh, its magic both stripping his memory as well as changing him forever. He became a living weapon, and eventually used his power to escape his chains. Now he finds himself in a strange land with no friends—and a former master that refuses to let him be.
Dragon Age 2 - PC Combat Walkthrough Video
BioWare has released a video showing the two sides of combat in the PC version of Dragon Age 2. Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw explains DA2 can be played as a realtime action/RPG, or more tactically with pausing. The second half of the 3 minute video shows combat not dissimilar to the original Dragon Age, though the camera doesn't pull out as far and the UI (and chosen location) looks rather ugly to me. Download the file directly from BioWare's gallery or watch it on Youtube.
Sunday - December 12, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ Play.tm
This is presumably the first of the preview avalanche we'll see...Play.tm has a look at Dragon Age 2 that doesn't reveal too much, other than the marketing seems to be leaving an impression:
Targeting Hayder himself, we put BioWare's "press a button and something awesome happens" mantra to the test, pressing X, Y or B to mix up the special attacks. These abilities gradually recharge over time, so unleashing them at the right moment is key to a good strategy. While you're waiting for these moves to recharge, you're able to hammer the A button for a volley of sword swipes, which you can intersperse with a lethal special.
You can also tap A with a direction for an evasive roll, which is handy when you're surrounded by enemies. And with Hayder's obedient minions quickly surrounding our party, managing Hawke's attacks while your AI buddies pitch in is integral in finishing off the battle with aplomb. Isabela and Varric deal with the lackeys and start chaining together attacks upon the ringleader, as we dig in with as many special moves as possible.
Thursday - December 09, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - "Lots of news later this month"
Apparently BioWare has just completed a major press junket, with 20 journalists from all over the world going to Edmonton to play Dragon Age 2. That means we'll get a big new round of previews soon. From Chris Priestly on the forums:
Here's a heads up.
I thought I'd mention that we just had 20 or so journaists from around the world (Germany, US, UK, Australia, etc) here at the BioWare studios for a big session of hands on gameplay and interviews with theDragon Age II Dev team. They're done now and on their way back home to write their articles and previews of Dragon Ager II, but later this month you should be seeing a heap of new information.
They were given the game. Not the demo some of you played this past summer, but the game it's self and allowed to play from the start of the game onwards.While the game isn't finished yet, it is definitely coming together (the press know we're still polishing it up), so they were given access to whatever they wanted like which class they wanted to try, character creation, etc and allowed to play in between their interviews.
I don't know what they are going to write about, whether they liked the game or not, whether they liked coming to Edmonton in -20 degree weather (the poor Australian woman looked to be in shock) or whathaveyou, but I can say that it looked to me like they were enjoying it. Many times I saw them react by laughing, in shock, anger, etc at what they were experiencing (in the good way). So we'll see what they say in their previews.
Wednesday - December 08, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - The Making Of Video, Part 1
There's a Dragon Age 2 video at GameSpot with Mark Darrah, art director Matthew Goldman and Mike Laidlaw describing some of their early concept conversations. The video is illustrated with concept art and animations. Among the comments they describe this as "their most reactive game ever".
Monday - December 06, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Forum Tidbits
Archmage Siler sends in a couple of tidbits from the Dragon Age 2 forums. First, Mike Laidlaw suggests we'll get a helmet toggle:
First off, I promise nothing. Anything can happen between here and March....
...but it looks very likely that you will be able to hide your helmet while still enjoying the statistical protection it offers in DA II.
I know this particular feature was something a few people held near and dear to their hearts, so there you go. Breaking news straight to the forum. Not something I do often, but hey, it's late, I'm tired, have a cookie.
And you know the best part? I'm willing to bet there's a sizeable number of people who will see the new helmets (for all classes) and not bother turning them off at all, because they are wicked.
Happy Monday, folks.
...and one user asks an excellent question about the lack of proper gameplay footage - especially for the PC - and Laidlaw responds in a series of posts that suggest footage isn't far away, including the PC version, and almost certainly before the Signature Edition preorder deadline in January.
I think I'll throw in the latest Facebook Friday dev profile here: Principal Lead Technical Artist, Jeff Vanelle.
Sunday - December 05, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Hightown Update, Video Interview
The Dragon Age 2 site has been updated with Hightown, the upmarket area of Kirkwall:
Everyone who is anyone in Kirkwall lives in Hightown, and they give little thought to what goes on in Lowtown other than to complain when the wind drags up the stench from its foundries or ancient mines. People in Hightown feel safe, not because the city's walls are impregnable, but because an invader would need to scale the stairs from Lowtown in order to reach them. Many bloody battles have been fought on those narrow stairs, and in several wars Hightown has held out for months after Lowtown was taken. The wealthy often forget, however, that those stairs are also their only escape.
...and GameSpot UK has a video interview with Associate Producer Heather Rabatich. The conversation covers the standard ground of the changes they've made to combat and dialogue but her responses are refreshingly off the cuff.
Wednesday - December 01, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ PC Gamer
PC Gamer has a new preview of Dragon Age 2 that focuses on some of the story and character elements. There's nothing about the differences between the platforms, although the author acknowledges a shift towards Mass Effect and embraces it:
They’re also ditching the approval system. You won’t be trying to lobby your companions by saving kittens in front of them; now they’ll agree with you completely, or just stick around as a ‘rival’. A rival respects your power and the role you play in the world, but thinks you’re kind of a dick. As a side effect of that, you can’t have an outright evil champion. You’ll have to settle for being ruthless in the pursuit of your ideals.
Dragon Age 2 is looking over Mass Effect’s shoulder and taking some serious notes. That’s definitely a good thing.
Monday - November 29, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Developer Video Diary
BioWare has released a Dragon Age 2 developer diary featuring Development Manager Robyn Théberge discussing the game. Unfortunately, she only repeats the "press a button and something awesome happens" and "think like a general, but fight like a Spartan" mantras to background footage from previous trailers. Check it out at GameBanshee.
Thursday - November 25, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Update Aveline and Gallows
"Protect what matters with everything you have. Or you’ll have nothing. And deserve it."
Aveline Vallen is a soldier, a master of sword and shield, and a tireless guardian... to a point. The daughter of an exiled chevalier, Aveline is not the knight her father wished her to be. Although fully trained in chivalrous combat, she was raised in the shadow of a lost life and will not lose another for the sake of honor. Protecting her adopted home of Kirkwall becomes a chosen duty, not a privileged calling. The people she stands for will not be wasted on lost causes or protecting the foolish from themselves. Pride can be bandaged like any other wound—when threats are dead and everyone is safely home.
Statues of tortured slaves fill the Gallows courtyard, a ghastly memento of Kirkwall's history. The statues are not monuments to the suffering of slaves. Every inch and angle of the courtyard was designed by magisters bent on breaking the spirit of newcomers. Executions here took place daily, sometimes hourly, and corpses were hung from gibbets throughout the yard. New slaves trudging in from the docks saw what awaited them.
Wednesday - November 24, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Interview @ Strategy Informer
Strategy Informer had a quick Q&A session with Robyn Theberge, Development Manager, about Dragon Age II. They discussed the art style, setting, the console version and more:
Strategy Informer: Why did you choose to have such a focused experience this time around? Not only have you broken away from the main DA story line, but you've also restricted things so that you can only be either a human male or female.
Robyn Theberge: Well we wanted to tell a specific story, we wanted to broaden the Dragon Age world, and we wanted to introduce you to another part of that. So the Champion of Kirkwall, we wanted to frame that story and help you define that - so you get to define who that champion is - are they a good guy, are hey diplomatic - given the confines of that experience yeah we did narrow the scope of what you could play as. You can't be an elf or a dwarf, but you do have that iconic story and that 'rise to power', and that's why that decision was made.
Strategy Informer: Obviously not everyone was as impressed with the console version of DAO as the PC version - have you done anything to improve things there this time?
Robyn Theberge: The combat system is much faster, the PC is still quick, but on the console the changes to the combat are much more evident. The art style too is pretty consistent between the two, I don't know if you were at GamesCom but it's pretty close. And honestly I've heard some of our artists say that they prefer it on the PC, some prefer it on the console. Everybody has their own opinion.
Strategy Informer: I assume Bioware will want to return to the story started in Dragon Age: Origins, and obviously you have this separate thread here now. Are you setting these up to be two different franchise? How is it going to work from here?
Robyn Theberge: It's all within the same franchise, it's all within the same world - we're just telling a different element of the story. These are Feraldens that you didn't encounter, but they're escaping the blight much like everyone you encounter in DAO is. It's been said that you can import over some of the decisions you made in DAO so it will have an effect for those that have played it but it's also a new entry point for those who haven't played DAO.
Tuesday - November 23, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Staff of Parthalan Fix
If you have happened to register to the Dragon Age 2 newsletter and did not receive your Dragon Age 2 Staff of Parthalan in-game item code yet you can rest assured that you will next year, as they are applying a fix.
The good news is we do have a technical fix to get everyone the staff who correctly signed up during the summer conventions or during the other appropriate time but has not yet received it yet.
The bad news is that you'll have to wait for the update a while longer for us to prove this.
Due to the amount of webwork we are doing currently (what with DAII coming, ME2 PS3, other stuff I can't talk about, the Christmas break, etc) we won't have the fix implemented until next year.
I know this will leave some of you uncertain until you see the actual code appear on your profile, and I understand this, but I wanted to provide an update rather than leaving you all hanging. So there will be an update next year once the fix is in and working and when you should all see the code appear.
I'm sure you're as happy as I am that this matter has been resolved....
Thanks Archmage Silver for the info.
Friday - November 19, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ Kotaku
Kotaku has a look at Dragon Age 2 and this is the second article I've seen recently that tries to convince the PC version isn't "dumbed down" - but doesn't actually do anything substantial to address the claim:
BioWare is clearly making a play for a wider audience with Dragon Age II, hence the faster combat, the lower camera angles, the more action-packed presentation of content so far. On the console versions you will be tapping buttons for attacks, using six mapped special moves with a combo pulls of the the right trigger and presses of the other three face buttons. That's actually not new, though the motto the BioWare rep shared for this new game did sound like a shift. The creators of the game want to ensure that each button press makes "something awesome happen."
You can still pause combat. On the console or PC version you can stop the action, transfer from character to character, assigning their one next move (you can't stack commands). Strategic fighting has not been eliminated, just not shown much to the press. BioWare, the rep explained, prefers to show off a more exciting, fast-moving play style for the sequel, even though they support the old-school turn-taking approach. That faster style is what they want to hook Fable fans with, what they think even a Borderlands fan might dig.
Dragon Age 2 - Hurlock, Emissary Updates
Monday - November 15, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Hands-On Preview @ NowGamer
Here's another hands-On preview of the console version of this game. This time it's a short preview from NowGamer. Enjoy:
Have any games had a Mass(ive) Effect on this one?
From now on we’re going to look at the first Dragon Age as an experiment. One to see if old-style RPGs are still viable on console, and one that showed the world that, well – they are. At the same time, it was a game the felt older than it really should have. We expected an old feel, we were presented with both that and some decidedly aged technology backing the whole thing up. This time around it looks like BioWare are set to continue the feel while bringing the actual game experience up to the standards we expect.
Though one change to the chatting options is that the game shows you how you are going to address your conversationee, so no risk of accidentally screaming “I HATE YOU!” in the face of a beautiful lady/man/elf. Dragon Age 2 looks like it will turn out well, though we had little doubt of that. BioWare are making the console versions more for the actual consoles, thus meaning we’ll have a far better tailored RPG to sink dozens of hours into.
Things are looking good for Dragon Age II. We can't see BioWare dropping the ball with this from now until March.
Dragon Age 2 - Hands-On Preview @ Videogamer
Videogamer's Neon Kelly takes Dragon Age 2 for a 10 minute test spin on the Xbox360. I've got nothing good to say about this preview of Dragon Age 2 at all. I know you are all used to Dhruin's cool and calm demeanor, but after reading this preview I could neither be cool nor calm:
Come March next year, Dragon Age II may set a scaly, fire-breathing cat among the pigeons. The original game ruffled a few feathers back in 2009, thanks to the stark contrast between the PC version and its awkward console sibling, but I suspect that will be nothing compared to the kerfuffle this sequel could cause.
From which camp will the kerfuffle come from, Pc gamers or consolers? I'm guessing PC gamers.
In essence, BioWare has attempted to repeat what it pulled off with Mass Effect 2.
So it'll be Dragon Age FPS? I'm so giddy with excitement that I could just throw up.
Commander Shepherd's first outing was a sci-fi RPG with lots of shooting; his second was more or less a third-person shooter with lots of RPG mechanics bolted on; and now BioWare is aiming for a similar transition with Dragon Age II. Though Dragon Age: Origins was very much a hardcore Western RPG, this sequel feels like it's taken a step closer towards the door marked "Hack and Slash".
No words can fully express my feelings about this.
The pace of combat appears a lot quicker, for starters, and while Origins seemed to place a lot of emphasis on carefully queuing up a chain of attacks - zooming the view out to get an overview of the battle on the PC version - here the natural tendency is to get up in the enemy's face. The third-person camera loiters just behind your avatar's back, willing you to run up and give the nearest enemy a kicking. And so you do - hammering on one face button to dish out basic melee swipes, and then using the other three to use class abilities. The latter operate on a cooldown basis, and their colour-coded indicators are one of the few intrusions on an otherwise clutter-free HUD.
Button mashing is the new RPG experience.
It's hard to know what the hardcore fans are going to make of all this - the super-traditional approach was popular with a lot of people....
We will hate it because it guts everything that was even halfway decent about the game.
I have to correct this reviewer. Dragon Age was about as "super-traditional" as Bioshock was to System Shock 2. Dragon Age was better in keeping with some of Bioware's earlier work, but "super-traditional"? I don't think so.
After that I couldn't read anymore. So I skipped to the end:
After the last foe has been cut to the ground, there's a chance to catch up with Isabella for a quick chat. I'm happy to report that Dragon Age 2 retains the first game's habit of soaking its cast in buckets of gore, allowing for some amusingly odd-looking post-fight chats. Isabella's face and heaving cleavage are covered in blood, but she doesn't seem to mind: her purring words of thanks suggest that she's more than happy with the day's outcome, and before long she's dropping not-so-subtle hints about letting Hawke delve into her furry dungeon. For all Dragon Age 2's revisions, it seems that some things never change.
Hurray! They're keeping the blood. The blood was the best part of Dragon Age.
I should clarify that I don't hate this previewer. I hate the game he is previewing. Dragon Age was a step in the right direction. Not a gigantic step, but a small one that gave me some hope that maybe AAA games could appeal to both RPG fans and casual gamers. This game by all accounts sounds like a HUGE step backwards.
Friday - November 12, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Characters Varric and Isabela
Hold onto your hats boys and girls because here come the characters for Dragon Age 2. First up we have Varric:
"I know everyone in this city. Well, everyone worth knowing."
Words are his trade, exaggeration his specialty—Varric can make or break a legend without lifting a finger. Born into a merchant guild, Varric never knew a dwarven homeland, and has never worked the Stone. He prefers a warm tavern fire, a mug that never empties, a willing audience, and an unwilling subject. He can spin a grand story of Ancestors and Paragons—or anything you like—but it’s not out of reverence. Truth is just another commodity. History is written by the victors, but it can also be written by Varric, who then decides the victors. If you want profit, look to his brother, Bartrand, a scoundrel with a true head for business. But if you want to be remembered, Varric is your man.
Next we have Isabela:
"I win because I cheat, Kitten. I thought that was obvious."
Isabela is the pirate scourge of two coastlines, four nations, and countless tavern floors. She's equally skilled with dagger and insult, and it's hard to know which cuts deeper. It's rare to see her in one place for long, but with her ship reduced to timbers, Isabela's had to content herself with whatever bounty Kirkwall has to offer. And that means no end of headaches for the rich and foolish, and no end of amusement for her. She's as desired as she is feared, which is to say, a lot and often. Fall on her blade, or at her feet—a win is a win, in her book. Shipwrecked, hounded, Isabela hasn't decided if she's cornered yet. She's having too much fun.
Click the links for screenshots of the characters.
Thursday - November 11, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Interview @ VG Daily
Video Games Daily has an interview with BioWare "Development Manager" Robyn Theberge to discuss the PC version of Dragon Age 2. I'm not familiar with Robyn but the article still left me unclear as to exactly how much the PC version has changed. A lengthy snip:
Hi Robyn. This might not be the best way to start the interview, but what do you think of Fable 3?
You know what, I haven’t played it!
I just ask because BioWare seems to be heading in a very Lionhead-ish direction with its RPGs – the key features haven’t so much been changed as “digested”, arranged in a more intuitive way. How far do you think you can follow that approach before the underlying complexity of your game suffers?
We’ve kept a lot of those core values, especially on PC. On consoles, we’ve definitely moved into more of an action-based RPG just so, you know, we’re going to quarry that line, between the core group and the [casual] people. We want to sell videogames. We want to appeal to as many people as possible. And that was one thing with our feedback – we have forums, we have a ton of great fans and we definitely listen to them, and respond to their desires and what they’d like to see, what direction they’d like to go in. And that’s where a lot of the key changes that we’ve made to Dragon Age 2 have come from.
How severe are the differences between console and PC versions?
You still have the full tactical menu on the console and the ability to switch between party members – put them on the enemy over here, and then you’re going to attack this person. They’ll follow all your commands – you can think like a general but you can fight like a SPARTAN now too on the console.
I think there’s just more variation now between PC and console on Dragon Age 2. I didn’t work on Origins so I can’t speak to their decision-making on that. But on Dragon Age 2 they just wanted to appeal to more people, add more combat in for those who wanted it, keep the tactics for people who loved the game and loved that about our games, but take it to another level as well.
Sunday - November 07, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Interview @ NowGamer and Gameplay Video from Igromir
NowGamer talked with Bioware's Mike Laidlaw and then this interview went up on their website. A question about DA: Origins being a niche is answered this way:
We understand that Origins is actually BioWare’s best selling game to date. Does it annoy you then that many still refer to it as a ‘niche’ game?
Not really, since I think that Origins was a bit niche in its overall presentation. You were hit pretty early on with a lot of statistics, and I think there were number of people who were a little turned off by that element of the game. Trying to figure out if you need a high dexterity or not is a little daunting when you’ve seen nothing of the game so far.
We have done a lot of work to make the entry into DA II be smoother and friendlier. You can literally start fighting within 15 seconds of pressing the start button, and then the complexity slowly unfolds, easing you into the experience over the first bits of the game. Will that make it less niche? Hard to say, but I think it’s a better experience overall.
In other DA 2 news, a gameplay video from Igromir Game Expo has been posted on Youtube. Apparently, the start the combat in 15 seconds seems true - at least from the way the video portrays the combat.
Thursday - November 04, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ Joystiq
Joystig has penned a rather detailed preview of this game, based on a hands-on demonstration given by the game's executive producer, Mark Darrah. His comments are included into the preview as well. A couple of examples, first on how the story is organized.
This change isn't just for the sake of the story, but also serves an organizational purpose. Darrah explained that "if you weren't careful in Origins, you could kind of end up in this branching situation where you have 1,000 quests open and it'd be very easy to lose your way." This new act system will give players the freedom to do things within each act, but when an act concludes, it could jump forward a year, sometimes more. This way, it's "easier for the game to stay cohesive," Darrah said.
Here's the second example, telling us how the Rogue will be changed from DA:Origins and why:
The big thing, the problem with the Rogue in Origins was they didn't know what role they were trying to fill," Darrah suggested. "Rogue was sort of half-warrior, half-nothing -- it had some of the same talents as the warrior: You had dual-wielding; you had archery; many of the same things the warrior did. So what we're trying to do here is make sure each of the classes has a distinct personality and purpose." I couldn't directly compare the Rogue to any of the other classes since the Rogue was the only one playable, but its strengths and weaknesses were very clear.
Friday - October 29, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Penny Arcade In-Game Item
BioWare has another Dragon Age 2 in-game item on offer to reward you for accepting their spam. This one is titled Hindsight - a belt created by Penny Arcade:
BioWare’s Dragon Age team and Penny Arcade have teamed up once again, this time to create an awesome in-game item for Dragon Age II, the belt called Hindsight. Penny Arcade’s Gabe & Tycho (artist Mike Krahulick and writer Jerry Holkins) designed a belt that would appear in Dragon Age II and had complete creative license for both the story behind the belt and a motion comic illustrating the belt’s history. They crafted a tale of Hindsight, a belt with both great power and a dark past.
Once Gabe & Tycho finished the comic and presented it to the Dragon Age II team, it has been turned into a full motion comic complete with full narration and sound effects. The full motion comic can be watched on the Dragon Age II Hindsight page. Furthermore fans will be able to get Hindsight in game while playing Dragon Age II by subscribing to the Dragon Age II newsletter.
Thanks, Archmage Silver!
Wednesday - October 27, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Project $10, Better DLC
BioWare's Mark Darrah has told Joystiq that Dragon Age 2 will have some version of EA's Project Ten Dollar (surprise!) with a free DLC redemption code of some sort in the box. He's also promised better quality DLC for this next game:
Unsurprisingly, Dragon Age 2 will feature some manifestation of "Project Ten Dollar" (an incentive to buy EA's games new) akin to Mass Effect 2's bonus content delivery system, the Cerberus Network. "We will be doing that," executive producer Mark Darrah confirmed to Joystiq during a recent press preview of the game. "We haven't announced what's in it, but it'll definitely be something kind of in that Cerberus vein where there will be additional content."
Speaking of Dragon Age 2 DLC in general (and not necessarily just the freebie content), Darrah said we could expect to see a boost in quality over the Dragon Age: Origins DLC, which prompted complaints about a limited scope and areas being recycled from the main game. He assured us that the sequel's add-ons would be more unique: "What we're doing with the DLC in Dragon Age 2 is making it larger; so it'll be bigger teams, more unique environments, more unique creatures -- so that it gets the attention it deserves to get."
Tuesday - October 26, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Rise to Power Trailer, Rogue Details
BioWare has kicked up a new Dragon Age 2 trailer titled Rise to Power, which offers a variety of short scenes focused on Hawke and his ass-kicking.
Meanwhile, IGN has a puff-piece piece titled Going Rogue:
Not designed for a tank role like the warrior or damage and support class like the mage, the rogue is more of a one-on-one fighter. Great for tackling bosses, the rogue is armed with the speed and nimbleness of a jumping spider. Aggressive, but stealthy, a rogue aptly navigates crowded battle zones with stun bombs and can backflip away from danger or can teleport directly behind an enemy, depending on their skill set.
Rogues are also blessed with the talent of archery, and they can equip either a bow and arrow or dual daggers. Not too shabby.
Wednesday - October 20, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ Critical Gamer
Another Eurogamer Expo article, this time a preview of Dragon Age 2 at Crtical Gamer. The author doesn't sound impressed but he's also a console game who didn't play the original. Still, the press demo doesn't sound exciting:
At least standing in the queue gave me an opportunity to see the differences between each character’s storyline, and I can’t say there was much of a difference to any of them in this demo. It’s completely linear, funnelling you along a path, popping up Hurlocks along the way, giving you a big, meaty Ogre to have a go at, adding new members to your team as you go and letting you jump from each one at will. Magic or sword, speed or strength, you had all the options at your finger tips for every fight.
Dragon Age 2 - Information Round Up @ RPGamer
RPGamer has made a summary of all the information that has been released about Dragon Age II. It's actually quite extensive. They've hit upon just about every topic ranging from the plot and setting to retail information. They've tried to avoid too many spoilers. Here is a snippet:
#Classes and Combat System:
# The combat system will be quite a bit like that in Origins, with changes to areas that needed improvement. One major improvement often cited by the developers is that all party members will leap directly into combat when given orders, rather than shuffling into position before executing attacks.
# The PC and console versions will have the same basic combat engine, but the interface and UI will be changed to be most appropriate to the respective platform.
# On the tactics system: The team is working on improving the default tactics for characters, in order to assist players who don't want to use the system. For players who do, they will be adding additional tactics slots and conditions.
# In the PC version, there will be a tactical camera during battles that can be detached from the main character and used to examine the battlefield while issuing orders. Players will not be able to zoom out as far on the battlefield as they could in Origins, however.
# There will now be cross-class combos. Mages could create spell combos in Origins, and now all classes have attacks and abilities that work together in combat. An example given is that a warrior can sunder armor, and a rogue can use that weakness to sink a blade into the opponent for extra damage.
# (PC Version) Rumors that the player must click on enemies for every attack are untrue. Characters will auto-attack if the player right-clicks on the enemy.
# The developers aim to make the classes more distinct from each other in Dragon Age II, with a special emphasis on warriors and rogues. For example, warriors now focus on melee AoE damage, and thus two-handed swords will deal damage to an arc of enemies. Dual-wielding weapons, on the other hand, is now exclusive to rogues.
# Talent trees will now be branching paths instead of linear progressions like they were in Origins. Players can choose to spend talent points to improve previously learned talents as well as to progress further down in the tree.
# On talent trees: "Currently each class will have around 6 talent trees (including weapon styles) as well as specialization trees. Each tree can have around 10 talent points spent in it, including both abilities and their upgrades. Each ability can have level, attribute and investment requirements to attain. Investment is stuff like 'you must have spent 3 points elsewhere in this tree before you can get this'. You must also have the prerequisite abilities before you get something, so you can't just cherrypick the last ability in the tree. You must have the requirements leading up to it." - Peter Thomas, Systems Designe.
Tuesday - October 19, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Signature Edition International Update
Evil Chris Priestly has updated the Bio forums with a list of international retailers that will be carrying the Dragon Age 2 Signature Edition.
Sunday - October 17, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Lowtown Profiled and a preview @ GameDynamo
Bioware has updated their official website for DA2 with some info on Lowtown in Kirkwall. From Lowtown we will probably be let into the the city sewer's tunnels, Darktown.
A newcomer to the city of Kirkwall will find Lowtown a vast maze of shantytowns and labyrinthine corridors, all clustered around the busy man-made harbor. Lowtown is literally a pit where the slaves were once quartered, but residents comfort themselves with the thought that as poor off as they are, they are still not the worst in Kirkwall. That honor belongs to those who have descended into "Darktown", the nickname given to the truly desperate who have taken refuge in the city's sewer tunnels.
A brief preview can be found at GameDynamo based on info we already know. Here's a snip, though:
On the plus side, the new character can be either male or female and can be a mage, warrior, or rogue. However, the first name will be based on whether the character is male or female, with the last name taking Hawke either way. Hawke will be fully voiced this time around, and depending on who is speaking to the player character, will be addressed differently. It is possible to hear Hawke’s own name but that will be rare. Apparently, the developers at BioWare felt that the enigmatic hero from the original game actually turned many people away. As such, they decided to take the same approach the Mass Effect games did to draw the player in and immerse them in the story.
BioWare will again include romantic encounters as part of the gameplay, but this time it will not only be with NPCs in the party (as before) but also with others met throughout the game world. There will also be encounters with groups and characters from Origins, including Flemeth (yes, she is still alive).
Friday - October 15, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Signature Edition FAQ
Archmage Silver points out the Dragon Age 2 Signature Edition FAQ (the link didn't work for me yesterday), so here it is in full:
Contains the full version of Dragon Age II plus $20 of additional content including:
- A download code for a bonus playable character and missions
- Downloadable game soundtrack
- Exclusive in-game digital armory featuring multiple weapons
- Additional downloadable items
[AMS: Quoted it below*]
YES! Anyone who has previously pre-ordered with the retailers listed below should be included in this offer, but ultimately this is up to the retailers, so please check with them directly.
2. What retailers will be offering the BioWare Signature Edition?
The Dragon Age II BioWare Signature will be available at Gamestop, Amazon, Electronics Boutique, and the EA store on October 14th. Other retailers will be following suit and we will offer an updated list at a later time.
3. Will the BioWare Signature Edition be available in Europe and other regions?
Yes! In Europe, the BioWare Signature Edition will be available in the following territories
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
- New Zealand
The BioWare Signature Edition will be available until January 11th, 2011. After that date, you can no longer order the BioWare Signature Edition of Dragon Age II.
5. How do I ensure I get the BioWare Signature Edition?
Pre-order Dragon Age II at one of the participating retailers listed above before January 11th, 2011 and you will be automatically upgraded to the BioWare Signature Edition.
6. Will I be able to get the BioWare Signature Edition after January 12th, 2011?
No. The only way you can get the BioWare Signature Edition is by pre-ordering Dragon Age II on or before January 11, 2011. After that, the BioWare Signature Edition will no longer be available.
7. What content is included in the BioWare Signature Edition of Dragon Age II?
The Dragon Age II BioWare Signature Edition includes the full version of Dragon Age II plus an additional $20 worth of bonus content that includes:
- A downloadable bonus playable character and missions
- Downloadable game soundtrack
- Downloadable in-game items including the digital armory that will feature a special weapon for each of your character classes
No catch, we just want to reward our most loyal fans and present them with this special version as a "thank you" for being an early adopter.
Thursday - October 14, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - "Signature Edition" Preorder Upgrades
BioWare has announced an upgrade to the "Signature Edition" of Dragon Age 2 for those that preorder before January 11 2011. Their preorder link shows a handful of popular NA retailers so I'm not clear on the international situation. Here are the goodies:
Contains the full version of Dragon Age II plus $20 of additional content including:
- A download code for a bonus playable character and missions
- Downloadable game soundtrack
- Exclusive in-game digital armory featuring multiple weapons
- Additional downloadable items
Friday - October 08, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Podcast #4
This month, we speak with Senior Writer David Gaider about the story development process, details about the world and our protagonist and community media and fan fiction. Enjoy!
Wednesday - October 06, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Interview @ NowGamer
Dragon Age 2 lead designer Mike Laidlaw has been interviewed at NowGamer in a decent article. Most of it covers existing ground but here's a snippet on Rivalries, following on from a question on morality:
Can you give us any examples of how this system may be reflected in Dragon Age II?
The Dragon Age games have never been about global decisions, but good decisions. Morality has always been kept deliberately on a grey level, and it’s all about how other people react to the choices you make. So for Dragon Age II, we looked at the other characters in your party and we said to ourselves, ‘you know, it always seems kind of odd that there was a win condition.’
You can be friends with them or they would get pissed off and leave. Now we’ve got a system called ‘rivalry’ in which, in addition to being friends, its now an open choice for you to build up a consistent rivalry with someone and to tell them that no, it’s their moral compass that is not correct and that you can actually have a real interaction around that rather than just them getting angry and storming off. They will still do that, but it’s not like a lose condition like it was in Origins.
Monday - October 04, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Staff of Parthalan In-Game Item
I received an email from EA last week with a code for an in-game Dragon Age 2 item called the Staff of Parthalan. Apparently I signed up somewhere or other. I meant to post about it but, not being a fan of these in-game bonuses, promptly forgot. The Grey Wardens site has posted a quick explanation of how to sign up, so I'll link them instead.
Saturday - September 18, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ PC Gamer
PC Gamer has a lengthy hands-on of Dragon Age 2 that feels like it was written a while back for the magazine. Despite feeling a little dated (like the author being shocked at a voiced protagonist), it's a decent read:
Origins’ magic was a pleasure; weighty and powerful there, it’s been buffed further here, maelstroms of psychic energy tearing Darkspawn in half. Bethany fires off an attack at an onrushing ogre, and a seven-foot fist materialises in the mountain air. Opening quickly, it clutches the stricken creature, cradling him for a moment before clenching, squashing the lifeforce from his tubby form. There’s a sickening crack as his massive bones break, before his flesh flickers in the air and he disappears, removed from existence by mystical energies. Combat has got a crunch you didn’t feel in Dragon Age: Origins.
As it should: Bethany’s spells have been levelled up. “You pick fireball as a spell and to start with maybe all it does is damage”, explains Mike Darreth. “Then, rather than spending a point to get a new spell, you might spend some of your points so it sets light to enemies, so there’s damage over time. You’re able to take your favourite spells and deepen them.”
This tech-tree-like system also applies to non-magic abilities, and is intended to buff Origins’ weakest class, the rogue. Darreth describes the issue: “The problem we had in Origins was that the rogue is just a warrior that wears crappy armour. In Dragon Age 2, he feels more mobile, so he’s more about getting in close, doing damage quickly, and getting away.”
Friday - September 10, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Video Interview @ GameReactor
During GamesCom last month, GameReactor talked with Bioware's Mike Laidlaw about Dragon Age 2. This resulted in a 5½ minute video interview. Subjects of the talk are what story elements there will be in the game, if the game still has Baldur's Gate feel and the decision to give Hawke a voice and more.
Thursday - September 09, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - PAX Hands-on @ VG247, Filefront
Some PAX impressions of Dragon Age 2 from a couple of sites - as seems to be usual, it's the console versions on display. From VG247:
So, when this “framed narrative” popped up, my fight with the demon monsters zoomed out a bit, and you could see an older looking couple chatting to one another in the cutscene.
The man was telling the story about me fighting the demon I saw before the scene pulled me out. The lady told the guy his version of the story was “bullshit,” as he was telling it completely wrong. Thus ensued a light argument over my origins, who I was, where I was going, and so on, before zooming back into my character’s story.
...and from Filefront:
What’s different? Well, it basically just feels like you’re kicking way more ass when you fight. Dragon Age 2 has been given a dose of God of War, so to speak. You can manually attack with “A,” which is much more visceral.
Tuesday - September 07, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Screens - Female Hawke Revealed
Two PAX screens for Dragon Age 2 have been revealed. One of them unveils the female Hawke model and you can check them out at VoodooExtreme.
Friday - September 03, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Female Hawke at PAX
VG247 picked up a BioWare tweet that says...
Did I mention you can play as female Hawke? PAX world premiere at the Dragon Age 2 booth.
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ VideoGamer
If you should be in the mood for any more news about Bioware's sequel, Dragon Age 2, there's a preview over at Videogamer. As usual, a snip about the overhauled combat:
DA2 now opts for a more inclusive approach to cater to the gamer not bothered with tactics-based gameplay. You're still offered the standard tactics menu that you saw in the original game, giving you the ability to pause mid-combat and plot out your next move. But now it's served alongside a helping of quick buttons. If you're not interested in queuing up actions on a pause screen and watching as those moves trickle out of your character's arms then you get the option to fight in the moment with a few basic combat actions without breaking away from the game. Enemies will begin streaming toward you and you can dive straight into them without pause.
Thursday - September 02, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Podcast #3
There's a new podcast available from BioWare on Dragon Age 2:
In the latest edition of BioWare’s Dragon Age 2 podcast, Victor Wachter speaks with Dragon Age Executive Producer Mark Darrah about the process of creating the Dragon Age games and with Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw about his recent trip to gamescom and what you can expect to see at Penny Arcade Expo this weekend. Other topics include ponytail, Varric’s chest hair and Hawke’s beard.
Wednesday - September 01, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - DLC Witch Hunt Trailer
Game Trailers has an exclusive video showing footage from this new DLC for Dragon Age: Origins. Thanks to vilnii from the Bioware forums in this thread. And according to Chris Priestly, Bioware has been doing this:
Some might think we have been dropping new DA2 monsters into recent DA:O DLC (Golems & Witch Hunt for example).
Small spoilers in the trailer - so be warned.
Also, thanks to Lord Glenwing in this thread at the Bioware forums.
Dragon Age 2 - Video Interview @ Game Trailers
Game Trailers has a video interview with this games lead designer, Bioware's Mike Laidlaw. Topics covered are how the framed narrative will work, how you'll be able to import your saves from Origins and Awaknings, how the controls will work and much much more.
Sunday - August 29, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ Nightmaremode
There's a bullet-point-preview for this game over at Nightmaremode. Here's a snip from the bullet-point about the combat:
On the more tactical side of things, this new “responsive” system makes for faster orders. “”What I never felt was that my orders were being followed in that they weren’t orders so much as suggestions. Alistair would kind of move up, get in position, then attack, and I was like, ‘Dude, get up their with your sword and hit the guy,” Laidlaw says. And, sure enough, previews cite the ability to cast instant orders…which come at the expense of longer recharge times.
Saturday - August 28, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Interview, Part Three, David Gaider
Bitmob posted their third and final part of the interview with David Gaider. In this final interview, he talks about his favourite characters and if he thinks videogames are art - or not.
First, a quote about characters when asked by Lucia Garcia, about his favorite charaters.
Here's one of them:
I remember Alistair actually is one in Origins who I really enjoyed writing just because -- most people don’t know this -- we had an entire version of Alistair where he was this grim, veteran warrior. An older and just a very serious type who was distrustful of you, and he wasn’t much fun.
Nobody liked him because he was so untrustworthy. We really wanted to set this up as a romance interest as well as a good buddy for a male player, and it wasn’t working.
Dragon Age 2 - Three Concerns @ BitMob
Bitmob's editors have made an editorial about three concerns they have regarding Dragon Age. Here's one of the three concerns:
Friday - August 27, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Video Interview and Extended Director's Cut Destiny Trailer
A correspondent from EA France talked to Mike Laidlaw and David Silverman from Bioware The nine-minute video interview can be found at Youtube.
In other DA2 news, an extended Director's Cut "Destiny" trailer has been released. Here's a link to Gamebanshee's Youtube channel where you can view the extended version of the trailer.
Thursday - August 26, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview Roundup
Here's a small collection of Dragon Age 2 previews and an interview with David Gaider for good measure.
Newbreview has a general overview. Their comments on the original Dragon Age presumably relate to the console version, because this just wasn't my experience:
The first thing that surprised me is that Dragon Age 2 isn’t exactly what you’d call a strict sequel. The events of the first game resonate through the narrative of DA2 as you take control of Hawk and lead him through some of the same plot points, this time told from a different perspective.
A common complaint of the first game was that attacks and spells were lined up using the pause menu before combat, and then the gamer sat back and watched the action unfold without actively having to do anything else. David Silverman, Brand Manager of both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2, even joked that one Bioware forum member used this time for toilet breaks. The new game has gone some ways to address this issue.
GamePro has a hands-on although it reads more like an offline article. The same amount of content but half the playing time, according to them:
Dragon Age: Origins could take a long damn time to get through. While Drgon Age II will have an equivalent amount of things to do and experience for completists, the average experience is expected to be shorter, more like the playthrough time of Mass Effect 2.
Dealspwn says the PC interface deals with those "confusing" toolbars:
The PC interface looks largely the same too, but with the addition of a couple of fully customisable hotkeys in the bottom right. Instead of having a confusing row of varying health potions and stat replenishment, quick health and quick stamina buttons will map the most readily available potion for the job to the corresponding button. Don’t like how it works? You’ll be able to tailor the buttons to work in the way you want.
...and Bitmob has a two part interview with David Gaider. Part 1 covers his background and working for BioWare and Part 2 discusses creativity and his Dragon Age novels:
LG: What do you think about the video-game medium and its story telling ability?
DG: Well, it has a lot of limitations that you don’t necessarily deal with in other mediums. Like in a book.
I’ve written a couple of novels now [Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne and Dragon Age: The Calling]. When it comes to a book, I can put down on paper anything that’s in my imagination; however, in a video game, you have physical limitations in technology and of what you can actually show.
Where games are excellent is in the interactive part. You don’t get that in passive entertainment.
In those, you watch a character, but I don‘t think you would identify as strongly as in a game where you’re the one who directs the action. You have agency in a video game, whereas you don't in a movie or a novel. I think that changes the nature of the entertainment substantially, and that’s where the opportunities come in.
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ Eurogamer
Eurogamer got to see and play Dragon Age 2 at last week's Gamescom. They've written a rather informative two-page preview of the game. Most of us seem concerned about the camera, so here's a snip from the preview:
On the PC, there's Tactical Camera 2.0, which allows you to roam your viewpoint freely around the battlefield issuing orders without the game's camera being tied to your characters or a confined space. Other PC interface improvements include stamina and mana potions on the far right of the quickbar so they don't use up number-key slots.
And here's a snip about how the dialogue wheel works:
After a familiar face pitches up to help the survivors of the Hurlock attack, Hawke is put in a position where he has to decide the fate of Aveline's husband, Wesley, who has become corrupted. When Aveline seeks Hawke's help, he can respond three ways: "It's up to you." "I'll do it." "Put him out of his misery." This is one of those choices that you'll definitely see come back to haunt you one way or the other, says the producer.
Tuesday - August 24, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Interviews @ Dragon Age Wiki
Ausir managed to catch up with Mike Laidlaw and Fernando Melo for two separate interviews on Dragon Age 2. Laidlaw explains they are moving away from linear skill chains, which is good news:
Can you tell us more about the changes to the character development system?
Sure. The one that we showcased today was that we moved away from the idea of ability chains. You had to pick ability 1 to get ability 2, and so on, and so forth. We changed it into a tree, so there are multiple paths. You can build your character without feeling that you have to pick abilities you don’t really want. Beyond that, you can also do upgrades. If you are particularly fond of, say, fireball, you can actually enhance it, to make it more powerful, more effective. You can make a character that is very specialized or one that is a more broad-ranged generalist. Each of these is a valid style of playing.
The conversation with Fernando Melo focuses on his area of DLC, with news of more DA:O stuff to come but here's a snip on the dialogue:
Can you tell us more about the changes in Dragon Age 2 that were influenced by the Mass Effect series?
Well, probably the closest one will be the conversation wheel. I think it was something that we saw was very successful in Mass Effect, it was a great mechanic to use, we wanted to use that. One of the things that we saw is that it’s not always obvious, not only in Mass Effect, but in other games that use similar conversation systems, even in Dragon Age: Origins at times, what the tone, intent of the line is based on just the text of the option. So we introduced the icons that tell you what tone you should expect from the line. The player will also play an integral part in shaping Hawke, the hero of Dragon Age 2. If you’re constantly picking a sarcastic response, diplomatic response, aggressive response, over the course of the game, when you meet a character and make an introduction even before you actually have any choices in dialogue or if you’re in the middle of combat and he’s doing his combat call-outs, all of this will start to reflect the character you’re making Hawke to be. It’s a very clever system and I think people will feel, along with the player voice, that these are going to add a lot of character to Hawke.
I think the way we make games hasn’t changed. We’re trying to evolve Dragon Age a little bit, not radically change it. There’s a lot of misconceptions in terms of the changes we’re introducing. You’ve had a chance to see the game now, and you realized that the changes are quite subtle. The players who played Origins are going to feel at home. The BioWare style of gameplay is very much present.
Dragon Age 2 - Chat Transcript
There was a GamesCom chat with BioWare's Fernando Melo and Mike Laidlaw on Dragon Age 2 that we missed last week but an edited transcript is available. There are comments on the new tactical camera, the female version of Hawke will be revealed soon, combat on the PC version and more. A bit on cross-class synergies:
Will there be new spell combos?
Better: there will be cross-class combos. You'll be able to make your rogues, warriors and mages team up to dish out some serious hurt. I loved spell combos and think it's only fair. So, for example, you could sunder someone's armor as a warrior, and then a rogue could take advantage of that to sink a blade into the target, doing massive damage.
Monday - August 23, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Previews @ Strategy Gamers, IncGamers
A standard Gamescom preview of Dragon Age 2 at Strategy Informer:
Most of the other improvements we noticed were related in some way to these core three concepts. The dialogue wheel has been tweaked so that it now carries emotional sub-text with the choices. Silverman quoted the popular saying that Email is a poor form of communication due to the fact that you can't read emotions, and he has a point. You don't really know the effect of some of the options (unless they're really obvious) until after the fact. Now, this 'emotional' wheel gives hints in the form of icons that are supposed to represent emotions, or stances, or something that really helps you see what the choice is meant to achieve. A small touch, but one that we think will make the cinematic experience that much more engaging.
...and another at IncGamers:
Conversations, too, are improved over the first game, but as with everything else there's going to be a bit of an uproar from the old-school. The conversation system has shifted from complete sentences to Mass Effect 2's dial system, although here, different coloured symbols dictate whether a response is friendly, neutral, or aggressive. They're even organised the same way, with the upper options being the most good-natured, while the bottom options are the harshest. As we're now dealing with a single possible main character we also get all the other benefits of a world that contains Mass Effect 2, like full voice acting and animation in conversations that ranges from lip-synching through to smaller details like snarling, shrugging, and raised eyebrows. It's a hell of a lot more immersive than the mute puppet that was Origins' Warden.
Thursday - August 19, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - GamesCom Roundup
Understandably, there's quite a bit of interest in Dragon Age 2 at GamesCom. Let's start with a bullet-point preview at GamePro:
The jump in graphical fidelity between Dragon Age: Origins and its sequel is pretty stunning. Whereas the first game was overshadowed by the visuals in Mass Effect 2 – Bioware's other major RPG that released a few months later –- Dragon Age 2 stands amongst the company's best work. Along with the more detailed characters, Bioware has infused the game with what Silverman calls “an ownable style.” The menus and characters are a bit less 'generic middle ages' than Origins, exuding a grittier look.
IGN has an enthusiastic article and manage to mention the PC version briefly:
In terms of the PC version, BioWare's leaving a lot of the user-interface the same, though they have added a quick command for stamina and health potions on the right side of the action bar. You can still pause the action with the space bar and issue commands to your team, but you should expect to see some changes to how you view fights. Although what we saw wasn't final, it looks like Bioware is developing a new camera for the PC version that's focused less on getting a bird's eye view and more on zooming in around the battlefield and enemy locations. It looks great so far, but expect to hear more about closer to the game's launch.
An "Interrogation Room" back-and-forth between two editors can be found at GameSpy:
Will Tuttle: See, while I think it's pretty obvious that the PC version was the real version of Origins, I don't feel like that's the case here. It's pretty clear that the development team wanted to emphasize the differences between the two versions a lot more this time out, so the console version feels like a completely different animal altogether. It really feels a lot more like a hack-and-slash action-RPG this time out, a fundamental shift that I'm all for -- especially since it means I'll be much more likely to play the game to completion. Dragon Age 2 looks like the game I wanted Dragon Age: Origins to be, and I have a feeling that it'll help to bring a lot of new fans to the table. I'm definitely looking forward to see what hardcore Dragon Age fans think about the changes, though, as I'm sure this game will have a few outspoken opponents.
An updated hands-on from GameSpot explains the narrative concept:
In short, what we saw at Comic-Con was an example of Varick exaggerating your heroic adventures. That combat-focused demo showed a fast-paced battle with Hawke going up against waves of Darkspawn and essentially making mincemeat of them. Playing as the human warrior class, we had numerous spells and abilities at our disposal and managed to tear through those enemies very quickly. We could practically hear the Darkspawn saying “Thank you sir, may I have another?” after a sword slash.
But fast-forward to the end of the demo, and you see Cassandra confront Varick, asking him if that’s how things really went. Varick flashes a coy smile and then offers to tell her the version of the story that--one would hope--more closely resembles the truth. You’re then sent back in time and forced to do that same battle over again, and the result is something that feels more akin to the combat in Dragon Age: Origins--albeit with a few noticeable differences.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a two-paragraph mention in the middle of a roundup of all the games they saw. It's interesting because it's the only article I've seen to take a different view of the new combat:
I was disappointed. Turns out it plays more like Fable, with that anime-style animation where your weapons is raised high above your shoulder in one frame, and then in the next it’s at the end of the blow, with a glowing light indicating where it passed through. More than that, 3rd person melee combat with no block or dodge button feels deeply wrong to me. As a warrior, you run up to enemies and hammer the attack button, popping off special abilities as and when they’re ready. I guess you could play an archer, or a mage. But still. Air through teeth.
Wednesday - August 18, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Video Interview, Screens
GameSpot has a video interview with Dragon Age 2 Lead Designer, Mike Laidlaw. The first half of the 4-minute conversation describes the narrative design and then Mike talks about the changes to the combat and gameplay.
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ 1UP, Extended Demo Shown
There's a preview for Dragon Age 2 at 1UP. It is based on an extended demo for Dragon Age 2 shown to 1UP during GamesCom in Germany. For the PC version, Laidlaw explains what the idea behind the new camera is:
The idea is to afford a good view of the battlefield while resolving technical problems that lowered the graphical fidelity across all three platforms, Laidlaw says. My impression is that it makes for a solid middle ground between a pure third-person view and the overhead camera of old; at the very least, it doesn't impact the ability to issue orders and direct characters about the battlefield.
And here's something about the narrative:
It's a two-way street though. Decisions made over the course of the game will affect how the narrative unfolds, and ultimately defines how Hawke becomes the Champion of Kirkwall, "We kind of play to what I see as the key strength of videogames. Where instead of it being the locked down history of the character, certain elements are locked, like you always become the Champion of Kirkwall. But how you get there, and how these storytellers reacts, is based on your decisions."
Tuesday - August 17, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Preview @ IGN, DA2 for March 2011,Trailer, New DA2 Website
There's a fresh preview for Dragon Age 2 at IGN - courtesy of this thread at Obsidian's forums. I know most people have been worried about the combat, so here's a quote from IGN's preview (about the combat).
In Origins, group members needed to be manually programmed to take potions when they had low health or told to perform spells at certain times, but your squad is now smart enough to figure those things out on their own. You can still specifically program the, but gamers won't be forced to worry about what their AI allies are doing all the time. If anything, the AI might be too intelligent, as I often ran toward enemies only to have them burned to a crisp by my mage Bethany before I got there. Still, it's nice to have battle partners that are an asset instead of a burden.
In other news, Dragon Age 2 has been announced for March 2011, and this trailer has been released, courtesey of Shack News. The trailer are being discussed in this thread at the Bioware forums. And Bioware has also made a website for Dragon Age 2 - where you can learn more about Kirkwall and see a new monster called 'The Strider'.
Source: Obsidian Entertainment
Tuesday - August 10, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Playable @ GamesCom says Cynamite.de
Cynamite.de, a German website, mentions that Dragon Age 2 [in German] will be playable at next week's GamesCom in Cologne, Germany. For those os us who don't speak German, the (rough) google translation is here.
First a quote in German:
Dragon Age 2 wird auf der diesjährigen gamescom als spielbare Version am Stand von EA verfügbar sein. Außerdem gibt's auf der Messe in Köln den ersten Trailer zu Dragon Age 2 zu sehen.
Then a quote in English:
At EA's gamescom booth there will be also on Thursday and Friday at 18:10 clock stage presentations.
In similar news, the debut trailer for DA2 will be shown for the first time during GamesCom.
Monday - August 09, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Previews @ NowGamer and Cheat Code Central
Two new previews for this game can be found on the net; the first is from NowGamer, and the second is from Cheat Code Central. Now Gamer has this to say - at least this information seems to news we haven't heard before:
Squads can still be given a series of predetermined spells and attacks to use, they can be given orders and they can even be sent to deal with things on their own. Sending party members off to fight solo battles has its risks and rewards and should they die then you’ve lost them for good. That could be a problem if they are a class that you desperately need.
And now Cheat Code Central - here's something about how you can shape Hawke,
the Champion of Kirkwall:
The true nature of the Champion of Kirkwall remains a mystery. All that is known is that he is one who holds a lot of sway in Kirkwall and will soon become one of the most important people in history. It will be up to players to fill in the blanks.
Note that you can play as a female Hawke as well...
Sunday - August 08, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Changes to the Tactical View
A massive thread has erupted on the Dragon Age 2 official forums after a poster questioned an answer from designer Mike Laidlaw in a French magazine interview. It's important to note translation issues might be at play but the snip sees Mike acknowledging the tactical/overhead view has been dropped from the PC version because of budgetary constraints. Here's the (translated!) part from the September issue of Joystick:
[Joystick] Why did you leave/forsake the "a la Baldur's gate" view on PC of the first Dragon Age?
[Mike Laidlaw]For budgetary reasons, we focused our work on a 3rd person view, that asks for very detailed and nice textures so that the player can admire the game with a close-up view. With an aerial view [isometric] we should cover much more ground and so create other textures. Now, the game mainly sold on console, so we're going the way of the audience"
Eventually Mike responds and while it seems the Joystick quote is not entirely accurate and there will be some sort of tactical view, it has been changed:
Victor managed to hunt me down, and I wanted to clear up a few things with regards to what I'm seeing as the two major concerns on this thread.
First off, let's talk about the toolset issue. Obviously in this community there's going to be some concern that we wouldn't release a toolset, so let me clear the air a little: The tools we're using to make Dragon Age 2 are very, very close to the tools you guys have used to make your mods for DA:O. They're not identical, as we've made a few in-house improvements, but they're almost identical. As such, there isn't a new toolset to release, per se.
While we won't be releasing a toolset update in tandem with Dragon Age 2, we ARE investigating what it would take to update the community toolset to match ours, along with providing DA2 content in the future.
As to the subject of tactical view, I can confirm that we will not be doing a tactical view on consoles, though we are looking into some expanded party control that I think will make console players quite happy.
On the PC, however, we are still working with the camera to keep the key elements of the tactical experience there. I was actually playtesting some new camera code when Victor found me, in fact, so I can give you the latest news on that front.
While we likely won't pull as far up as we did in DA:O, I have always felt that the key to tactical play was actually freeing your camera from the character you're controlling to issue precise orders, which is what we're tuning now. So, this means you can still maneuver the camera around the battlefield and issue orders from a remote location, just as you could in Origins.
As you can probably tell from my phrasing, all of this is a bit in-flux right now, so things may change between now and ship, but I wanted to update you guys on the current direction of things.
Thursday - August 05, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - BioWare Podcast
A new BioWare Podcast is up with Dragon Age 2 Art Director Matt Goldman discussing art styles and "the different archetypes of beauty among the races of Thedas". This article to the BioBlog has a link to the podcast, as well as some influences on their approach and a Dragon Age 2 concept art to illustrate the discussion.
Wednesday - August 04, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - God Baby Dilemna @ Greywardens
Greywardens discusses the "god baby dilemna" and whether BioWare can pursue this as a major story line in Dragon Age 2 or the future. Spoiler, obviously, if you haven't completed DA:
As fans are chatting up the forums about Dragon Age 2 and new DLCs, you can hardly avoid mentions and wishes of “god baby.” BioWare didn’t help stem the speculation either, by mentioning that “We are certainly not done with Morrigan’s story.” But the whole idea of expanding on the god baby storyline in the future presents with one major problem – what if you rejected Morrigan? The thought made me realize that past choices logically can’t shape future major storylines and remain fair to all players.
Dragon Age 2 - Mike Laidlaw and Mike Darrah Interview @ Game Informer
On the Bioware forums there is this thread pointing to this Game Informer video interview with Creative Director Mike Darrah and Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw - I think someone mentioned this in our forums also, but I haven't been able to find the source (yet). The author of the thread at the Bioware Social Network did make a quick summary of what's said in the interview. Much of this we already know, however two things seem to be quite interesting:
The Free Marches is more of a political place; many Ferelden refugees from the Blight reside there. Because the setting is a place without a unified govenment, it's a place where Hawke can rise to power.
And then there's this about the combat:
Still have only the three classes--this time, they want each class to feel different. A warrior is like an unstoppable tank/killing machine on the field, a rogue is quick, ninja-like, and a mage is like "field artillery" and blows away everyone from a range. They're trying to avoid overlapping with roles and abilities.
And apparently, the storytelling will be similar to the way the story is told in The Usual Suspects.
Thursday - July 29, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - A Look At The Qunari, Evolved @ GameInformer
You'll get a surprise when you see the new Qunari design, which GameInformer has unveiled today. They have two large concept arts and a bit of background:
BioWare’s been forthcoming about the new art style for Dragon Age 2, but even that didn’t prepare us for the surprise of seeing the redesigned qunari. Unlike the strange but decidedly humanoid qunari Sten from Origins, the images of the Dragon Age 2 qunari that we saw were muscular, nearly demonic-looking creatures. The most striking difference was the addition of horns. As it turns out, Dragon Age lore has an answer for why we haven’t seen them on qunari before.
Tuesday - July 27, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - An Epic In Progress Video
GameInformer continues their coverage of Dragon Age 2 with a movie titled An Epic In Progress. The 4 minute video shows a handful of developers at their desks, discussing various aspects such as sound, 2D art and animation. At a couple of points, we see some shakycam WIP footage of the game itself. The sound is poor and the footage is clearly deep in development but it's worth a quick look.
Monday - July 26, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Hands-On @ Greywardens
Greywardens got some hands-on time with Dragon Age 2 at San Diego Comic-Con. Here's a snip from their preview - a spoiler does follow but this has already been foreshadowed elsewhere in other previews:
The story is told by two different narrators who tend to embellish how powerful you really are, and the intro filled out the story of Ostagar (in the same stained glass fashion of DA:O). The game definitely played a bit more like Mass Effect 2, what with the voice acting, as well as in the general gameplay. At one point, I was offered the chance to utterly destroy mobs of darkspawn that were coming at me, or have the mage that was with me (Bethany, I think her name was) blast them. Mage spells in the demo were crushing prison and mind blast — which worked to marvelous effect, of course. The spellbook worked well, but, at least in the demo, there were no tooltips. When I reached the end of the preview, just as it was obvious everyone was going to die, a dragon came out of nowhere and, graciously, killed all of the darkspawn. The dragon then morphed into a familiar old lady with long grey hair — guess who, anyone?
Sunday - July 25, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Previews @ 1UP, Joystiq
1UP's the latest to bring us news about Dragon Age 2. There's been much talk about the combat, and why it has been changed, so here's maybe why this has been done:
Most of the demo was spent explaining the evolution process of Dragon Age: Origins to that of Dragon Age 2, in that the team paid attention to reviews, and listened to focus groups to get feedback on what worked and what didn't. Apparently a lot of the complaints revolved around the combat, and BioWare took notes to evolve Dragon Age 2 into what it is currently shaping up to be... a much more combat driven action game.
The bit about the narrative structure:
The narrative shift to a single character has allowed the team to craft a long and single narrative around a defined person like Hawke (who can be female as well). This also allowed them to record voiceover for this character; resulting in an experience closer to that of the Mass Effect games.
As you know if you've been paying attention to the game, the sequel's story revolves around a character named Hawke, not the customized, silent Gray Warden protagonist of the first game. While you're still able to customize your appearance and your class, Dragon Age 2 consists of Hawke's story, not just one you're making up.
And here's the catch: Someone else is actually making it up. The main characters of Dragon Age 2 are actually Cassandra and Verik, two people ten years down the line from the first game, that have to save a world on the brink of war not by fighting their own battles, but by finding out just what Hawke's been up to since Dragon Age: Origins. In other words, the game is told in flashback, by a not-always reliable third party. Which means that if Hawke's story is flashier, grittier, or more fanciful than the first game, that's okay -- anything that might be a lie probably is. "We wanted to see what happened if a legend is exaggerated," said Laidlaw during the demonstration.
Dragon Age 2 - New Art Style and Interactive Map @ Game Informer
Senior Artist Matt Goldman comments on the new art style in Game Informer and how spell effects won't carry over to cutscenes. He also talks about cinematic inspiration, what the new narrative means to artists and more.
On the updated look for Dragon Age II:
Before, I think Origins was kind of like Death Dealer meets The Hobbit. It was half really “raah, scary” and half really whimsical. We wanted to take it into more of a desolate feel and kind of strip it down to a hot-rod Samurai look. Not only visually, but in terms of the actual storytelling motifs that appear in those movies. The cautionary tale was really appropriate for DA2.
On spell effects carrying over to cutscenes:
I personally argued against that a lot. There are various game reasons why [we did that]. It would be cumbersome to cast all of those spells again. But I think it really takes you out of the moment when you’re standing there, talking to a guy and he’s wrapped in glowing red plastic and there are flames shooting out of him and rocks falling on top of him. I absolutely agree that that needs to not happen.
The interactive map for Thedas,which has 10 must see locations on it, can be found here.
Dragon Age 2 - Day 1 and Day 2 at Comic Con
The demo is a combination of demonstration by us, where usually Mike Laidlaw the Lead Designer, or David Silvrman, the DA Brand Manager, explain a bit about how we have improved Dragon Age 2 and actual hands on time playing the game. While we think the game is better in many ways, we want fans to experience the combat for themselves.
Day 2 has come and gone and we are still standing (or in my case, sitting with sore feet) ready for more. Fans are having an awesome time playing Dragon Age 2, asking questions to Mike Laidlaw or the other developers and getting free swag which this year includes free t-shirts, free blood tattoos and free inflatable swords.
The rest of the blog describes what EA is doing at Comic Con, talking about Medal of Honour and Dead Space.
Friday - July 23, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Combat Preview @ IGN
IGN has a Comic-Con preview of Dragon Age 2's console combat (PC is meant to be different) but it was the bit on dialogue that really caught my eye:
We also got to see the new conversation system. Dialogue has been simplified so that you only have up to three choices. Each choice is represented by an icon that indicates whether or it's a "good," "nasty," or "badass" choice. Good choices are represented by an olive branch, nasty by a Greek comedy mask, and badass by a red fist. This is an easy way to gauge what response your dialogue choices will produce.
Edit: BioWare disputes this. A couple of posts from the Bioforums:
I'm not really sure where the "there are only three options for dialog" impression they got came from. Perhaps it was when I showed one half of the dialog wheel with three options...which, you know, leaves another half open for...you know...other....options. *Shrug*
Also probably worth noting that we're not locked into specific icons per place in the wheel. Oh no. We have -much- more flexibility than that. We're like gymnasts.
We put up to 5 choice options and 5 investigate options per dialog node. There is also a difference between choices (where you are actually deciding something) and giving you the opportunity to express yourself in different ways (which I think is quite cool, but not something I believe we have released any details on yet).
Dragon Age 2 - Free In-Game Item
...if you allow EA to spam you:
This summer we are giving fans a chance at a limited number of codes for an Epic In-Game Weapon for Dragon Age 2. You can only enter here (http://dragonage.bioware.com/da2/) by hitting the “Like” button on the page and then sign-up for the Dragon Age 2 newsletter. If you have already done this then consider yourself entered! Codes will be delivered via email in September.
These codes are only available with newsletter signup. If you are at Comic Con, sign up for the newsletter and you'll get a code. Not in San Diego? never fear! ANYONE who signs up for the newsletter from now until 7PM PST Sunday July 25 will get a code too.
"But I already signed up for the nesletter!" Never fear! We love our fans and will send the codes to anyone who already has the newsletter signed up.
Why, cuz we want everone to get the code for the in-game weapon.
Thursday - July 22, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - at Comic-Con
Chris Priestly reveals Dragon Age 2 will be at San Diego Comic-Con:
We have finally finished our sneaky plans and can now announce that Dragon Age 2 will be at the San Diego Comic Con!
Both BioWare and Visceral Studios will again be in the Hilton Gaslamp hotel showiing off Dead Space 2 and a Special Sneak Peak of Dragon Age 2. Our room will be open Thursday through Saturday from 12 noon until 9 pm and open on Sunday from 12 until 7 pm. The Hilton Gaslamp is directly across the train tracks from the convention center, so make sure you come visit us for a Special Sneak Peak of Dragon Age 2 and the coolness of Dead Space 2. We also have some on sight surprises, so make sure you check us out.
If you are attending the con, also make sure you check out the following:
The EA Booth in the main hall where they have Rockband and Medal of Honor
The Lucasarts booth where you can learn more about BioWare's MMO Star Wars the Old Republic
The Dark Horse and IDW comics booths for info on the Mass Effect and Dragon Age comics
And I, Evil Chris, will be part of the "Are video game comics the next big thing" panel along with Fallout's Chris Avallone and more Thursday afternoon from 1-2 pm in Room 5AB. Come check it out and chat me yup in the hall after the panel is over.
We hope to see you next week at the San Diego Comic Con!
Dragon Age 2 - Magazine Summary @ Greywardens
Greywardens has a summary of the GameInformer magazine preview for Dragon Age 2. Of course, most of this is now known but fans may find some additional insight:
Page 3: Juba delivers some background on BioWare and explains the “considerable risk” that Origins was for the company as the “spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate.” Although the public embraced Origins, Juba asserts that “nostalgia can only carry a series so far” and that “(BioWare’s) Edmonton studio is aware that future games in the franchise can’t endlessly go back to the well of fond memories.” Dragon Age II will serve to “establish a new identity” for the world of Thedas and he reports that the game will add a “contemporary twis while retaining the essence of what fans loved about the original.”
Executive director Mark Darrah is quoted: “At the core, what we’re doing is trying to give Dragon Age a shot of adrenaline. It means amping everything up that maybe was a little lacking, but keeping what already works.”
Wednesday - July 21, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Concept Art
BioWare has kicked up one additional piece of Dragon Age 2 concept art.
Dragon Age 2 - BioWare Podcast
News from the BioBlog of a Dragon Age 2 podcast:
Join Lead Designer Mike Laidlaw and Community Manager Victor Wachter for BioWare’s first official Dragon Age II podcast! In this edition, Mike and Victor chat about game’s background and narrative style, learn more about Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall, and dig deeper into combat systems!
Thursday - July 15, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Special Game Preview and New Screenshots @ Gamestar.de
More news for this game can be found in an article at the German magazine, Gamestar.de
It's in German, so here's the google translation in English, courtesy of Ecael from the Bioware Social Forums, mentioned in this thread at the Bioware Social Forums.
The most interesting info seems to be about the characters; you'll notice that Hawke now has a sister - a mage - named Imo, eh, Bettany. Could be interesting, perhaps..
Already have already revealed some characters from Dragon Age 2 was. We put the figure briefly.
Hawke: The choice of male or female hero is the main character of Dragon Age 2, and leads the player through the 10-year history.
Bethany: Hawkes sister is a magician and supports her brother in the battle with fire spells.
Cassandra: The Inquisitor has a burning interest in the hero did Hawkes.
Varric: The dwarf Hawke has accompanied on his travels and is the storyteller in Dragon Age 2nd
Flemeth: The mighty shapeshifts and mother of Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins is also in Dragon Age 2 again with the party.
[Update] Archmage Silver writes the Google translation can seem misleading and offers these notes:
- Hawke: The male or female hero is the main character of Dragon Age II, and leads the player through the character's 10-year story.
- Note: The male Hawke is most recently shown in the first screenshot in the article.
- Bethany: Hawke's sister is a mage, and supports her brother in the battle with fire spells.
- Note: She's shown in the second screenshot in the article.
- Cassandra: The Inquisitor has a burning interest in the heroic deeds of Hawke.
- Note: She's shown in the concept art @
- Varric: The dwarf has accompanied Hawke on his travels, and is one of the narrators in Dragon Age II.
- Note: The google translation suggests that Varric is the only narrator in the game, which is wrong. He's shown in the concept art @
- Flemeth: The mighty shapeshifter and Morrigan's mother from Dragon Age: Origins is also back in Dragon Age II.
- Note: The google translation is flawed, as it made it seem like Flemeth might be joinable, even though the article doesn't suggest it.
Source: RPG Codex
Wednesday - July 14, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Facts @ Greywardens
Greywardens has a summary of Dragon Age 2 facts and information, with snippets gleaned from Gameinformer and a variety of other sources. Much of it we've already covered over the last week or so but if you want to catch up on the details, head over. Kotaku, in turn, took some of this information and writes about the Mass Effect influence on DA2.
Tuesday - July 13, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - First Screens
GameInformer has the first couple of screens from Dragon Age 2. You may have seen these in previous articles but these are high resolution, so you can get a decent look. Two screens isn't much to go on but there's a definite shift to a stylised look, as previously indicated by the initial announcement.
Thanks Omega and Alrik.
Sunday - July 11, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - The End of BioWare as a Traditional RPG Creator?
Greywardens sent in their editorial titled Is Dragon Age 2 the End of BioWare as a Traditional RPG Creator?
So I must admit to some irritation with the future of the Dragon Age games series. Don’t get me wrong, I am fairly open minded as a gamer, and the story of Dragon Age 2 seems epic in scale — but the fact that the true role playing element of choice has been removed is a bit of a slap in the face to those of us who played and enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins as an RPG. As a sequel to a game that is considered by the creators as the spiritual successor to one of the most popular roleplaying games of all time, I am left wondering this: what crushed that spirit?
Saturday - July 10, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Five Facts About Hawke
GameInformer magazine has the exclusive on the Dragon Age 2 reveal but they've kicked up a few tidbits for the website. Five Facts About Hawke:
1. Hawke will be a voiced character.
Unlike Dragon Age: Origins, the player's character in Dragon Age II will be fully voiced. This opens the door for a more cinematic approach to dialogue and creates an identity for the character outside of the text you see on-screen. It also eliminates those awkward scenarios where you feel like your character should be reacting, but instead just stares blankly without so much as a grunt.
2. Hawke is human.
Yes, that means that you won't be able to select Hawke's race. However, just because that one aspect of Hawke's backstory is set doesn't mean BioWare is eliminating character creation. You can still choose your class and customize your appearance. When we visited BioWare's studio, we only saw (and heard) the male Hawke in action, but the team promises that players can select either gender for the character.
Thursday - July 08, 2010
Dragon Age 2 - Limited Character Creation and More
A fan storm is brewing with Dragon Age 2 over character development but we need to go back a step, first. Here's the official announcement - the key part is we'll be playing a specific human-only character named Hawke:
ACTION AND FANTASY COLLIDE IN BIOWARE’S DRAGON AGE 2Rise to Power and Change the World Forever in the Sequel to 2009’s RPG of the Year
Guildford, UK (July 8, 2010) – Leading video game developer BioWareTM, a studio of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), confirmed today that Dragon AgeTM 2 is in development at BioWare’s Edmonton-based studio. Dragon Age 2 is the sequel to the triple-platinum-selling Dragon Age: Origins which was named “RPG of the Year” in 2009 by Game Informer, G4, IGN, and SpikeTV. With Dragon Age 2, the world’s preeminent RPG developer is revolutionizing the genre again, infusing the universe with more action, a new, more responsive combat system and a dynamic story that is already among the most multifaceted in gaming. Dragon Age 2 traces the rise to power of Hawke, a survivor of the Blight and a hero who will transform the face of the Dragon Age universe forever. The new game is scheduled for release in March of 2011 on the Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system, PlayStation 3 computer and entertainment system, and PC.
“Last year’s launch of Dragon Age: Origins was one of the most successful in BioWare’s 15-year history and one of the most successful new IP launches in the 28 year history of EA,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Senior Vice President of Electronic Arts and co-founder and Group General Manager of BioWare. “Dragon Age 2 will simultaneously deliver an epic story and set a new bar for intense action in the genre. We're very excited to deliver this next bold evolution in the Dragon Age franchise to our fans."
“With Dragon Age 2 we are creating an exciting new entry point into the Dragon Age universe while ensuring that fans of the original game retain a sense of satisfaction and familiarity in the world,” said Dragon Age 2 Executive Producer Mark Darrah. “We are amplifying the things that made Dragon Age: Origins such a huge success while introducing a more dynamic combat system, improving the graphics, and telling the most important story in our world.”
Dragon Age 2 thrusts players into the role of Hawke, a penniless refugee who rises to power to become the single most important character in the world of Dragon Age. Known to be a survivor of the Blight and the Champion of Kirkwall, the legend around Hawke’s rise to power is shrouded in myth and rumor. Featuring an all-new story spanning 10 years, players will help tell that tale by making tough moral choices, gathering the deadliest of allies, amassing fame and fortune, and sealing their place in history. The way you play will write the story of how the world is changed forever.
The Hawke revelation has lead to a long thread on the BioForums, with short responses from a couple of devs.
From Chris Priestly:
While there are multiple races in the game, like elves, dwarves, etc, in Dragon Age 2 you play a human character.
From Victor Wachter:
DA:O is far from pointless, as you'll learn when you play DA2.
I've talked with Design quite a bit about Hawke, the DA2 lead character. There were a lot of directions that they could have gone, but ultimately, I think they made the right choice to tell the best story in this installment. Between now and launch, you'll learn more about Hawke and the story, which will shed a little more light on why Hawke was the hero that the world (i.e. this story) needed.
Note that having a specific character also means no Origin stories. 1Up's RPG blog discusses this Mass Effect-isation of Dragon Age:
Putting everyone in Hawke's shoes -- whether male or female -- will indeed streamline the storytelling a bit, but it will also lose some of that personalization. In a way, it feels like a reboot, despite the fact that it will continue the story. For a developer that has lately put a great deal of emphasis on character continuity, it's a bit of an odd turn to throw out all of the groundwork they laid with the original and take the Mass Effect route.
But then, if promises of "dynamic new combat mechanics that put you right in the heart of battle" are anything to go by, BioWare (and EA) are keen to duplicate the massive success of Mass Effect II, and that means creating a medieval Shepard and dropping him (or her) into an action RPG.
Ironically, Rob Bartel told MCV that Dragon Age is their best-selling title, which obviously means it must have sold better than ME:
Rob Bartel, the principal designer at BioWare, has told MCV that last year’s PC and console release Dragon Age was the most successful game the studio has ever produced – trumping high-profile sci-fi release Mass Effect in the process.
The boast also places Dragon Age above the likes of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire and Baldur’s gate.
“Dragon Age was an extremely successful title for us – last November it was the single most globally successful title we’ve put out to date,” he confirmed at EA’s recent European showcase.
Dragon Age 2 - Announcement
As the official site states; Dragon Age 2 is coming. Not much info yet, but the graphics are improved, the story is new, the combat is revamped and we get to play a new hero. The release date is set for March 2011.
Information aboutDragon Age 2
Combat: Pausable Real-time
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2011-03-08
· Publisher: EA
· Platform: PS3
· Released at 2011-03-08
· Publisher: EA
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2011-03-08
· Publisher: EA