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February 9th, 2011, 00:19
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."
GameSpot UK has a hands-on with the X360 version:
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.
A preview at Eurogamer:
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.
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February 9th, 2011, 00:19
Really not impressed.

Seems that Bioware new direction is awkward stylization. Same as in their MMO

I wonder if this will be final Bioware fall from grace. But perhaps not. They cater to the new crowd now…
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February 9th, 2011, 00:37
Lady Hawke! I'm surprised…they tend to not show her in preview (just like FemShep).
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February 9th, 2011, 01:42
Totally underwhelming.

This, while I used to be one of Bioware's most rabid fanboys : BG, BG2, NWN, SOU, HOTU, KOTOR, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, you name it…
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February 9th, 2011, 02:35
the "explanation" as to why there's no queuing orders seem pretty weak. even if that particular target is going to be dead in 2 sec (hopefully not true for all mobs or bosses!), you can still queue heals, buffs and debuffs. besides, if the target dies, you're going to have to reasses anyway, queued orders or not.
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February 9th, 2011, 03:18
You know, the crowd that doesn't know what a Gate spell is and isn't instantly apprehensive when someone mentions a Beholder.
Who's he talking about? The over 60 crowd? Those are the only people I know like that.

SonOfCapiz - sure you can queue up heals, buffs, and whatnot… but you probably won't want them firing off. Queues only really work when combat is somewhat predictable. If you are up against one big enemy, you know your target is going to be that one big enemy for several minutes to come. If you are up against little buggars, then you attack one of them once or twice, then attack a different one. You have to reasses the battle field a lot more often (which, IMHO, makes games a lot more fun). If they went to the trouble to give you a command queue - you would probably only be putting in a couple of commands and even then would be wiping out the second command fairly often.
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February 9th, 2011, 03:23
Why don't they just allow you to split your queue over more then one enemy like most games that have realtime w/ pause. That would take care of the problem Lazin mentioned.
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February 9th, 2011, 08:56
The combat system from Origins and Awakening was never very deep anyway, so it looks like the sequel won't be an exception. The fact that NWN 2 allowed you to queue actions made its combat feel more dynamic with greater strategic planning possible.

This whole notion of targets going down faster doesn't negate in any way shape or form, what should be a general desire for more strategic depth. (If you're making a combat heavy, party based RPG!). So a very weak argument to justify the decision, I think.

I'm unimpresed overall as well thus far. But I guess we'll wait and see….
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February 9th, 2011, 19:01
Well, frankly I don't get what people want. Bioware has never (at least since BG) made a bad RPG. Ratings prove this, and I think the vast majority of people that play their games would agree with this.

As for the slightly different direction of things? Well, everyone was worried about DA:O when those preview trailers started showing up as well.

As for me? I welcome more colour. Gritty dark grey brownness does not make me excited. The stylized look - whatever. I'm currently loving Drakensang 2 (LOVING) and it's about as stylized as you can get. As for whether or not it's faster, I think that's a welcome improvement too. I don't think the fundamentals of the game is really going to change that much - if you want to play it slow and tactically, feel free to do so. People who buy it on a console can play it like they play other RPGs. The fact that Bioware is trying to cater to all platforms is a good thing, imo. If they just port a PC game to the consoles, then people will complain of a shoddy port. If they do the opposite and ignore the PC, the same thing will happen. They're just trying to make it excellent on all platforms, and I say kudos.

I'm a Bioware fanboy, because I truly can't think of another developer making games that are as completely well-rounded as theirs - in gameplay, visuals and story - that's working today. Pity Radon Labs went under - D2 is, in many ways, better than DA:O. Except they hadn't got the flow of combat quite up to Bioware's par, and the loot is sorely lacking as well, something that I had an issue with in DA:O, but is much worse in D2.
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February 9th, 2011, 21:19
Originally Posted by oliverh72 View Post
Well, frankly I don't get what people want.
I want Bioware to support and fix their games, like they did before. Right now, there is literally no hope to ever see an official patch for all the bugs that still plague the games (DAO, ME2 and some of their DLC) that I legally purchased two years ago, effectively negating any replay value for me.

I want Bioware to stop giving in to the CoD/Facebook crowd, and cater for the lowest common denominators among all players : "awesome buttonz", "visceral", "dark and gritty", “They'll play Call Of Duty but they don't necessarily associate that as an RPG”.

I want Bioware to provide their games with an added value, improving what works throughout time, instead of systematically downgrading :
  • graphical environments that match the power a 2011 computer instead of a 6 years old console
  • a good toolset instead of none (or as an hypothetical afterthought)
  • memorable dialogues instead of "click n' paragon/renegade" wheels
  • various backgrounds, races and classes instead of the revenge of the coming back of Commander Shephard III.
Should I really continue, or do you still prefer to keep your blinders on ?
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February 9th, 2011, 23:22
First off, I didn't think that their games are especially buggy. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I have never found many, nor have I heard much from others that there are.

As for them giving in to the CoD (huh? Facebook?? I really don't think people who play Farmville is the same market) crowd, what do you expect them to do?? Seriously, this isn't blinders in the least - I completely expect them to want to make as much cold, hard cash as they possibly can. Their employees want them to. The owners (EA) want them to. So why the heck wouldn't they want to? The only people that want them to go back to making niche games are people like you and I, and frankly, if they made games just for our little market, they'd go the way of Radon Labs.

Here's the breakdown for you, from only casual investigation on VGChartz:

DA: O - including X360, PS3 and PC, which I've generously assumed to have at least 3 Million sales: 6.13 Million sales, total
ME2 - Including all 3 platforms, with the assumption again that PC outsold the X360 - 5.65 Million sales (of course, the PS3 version only just came out)
ME - Both platforms - 5 Million (a big maybe on this one)

Okay, so even being generous, that's 17 million games sold. Pretty decent. Considering Mass Effect was announced in 2005 and DA in mid-2004, these games have been pretty much BioWare's only income for about 6 years.

Call of Duty: MW2 - Including PS3 and X360 ALONE - 21.3 Million copies. Add perhaps another 5-7 Million on PC. This was churned out in under 1 year, following….
Call of Duty: World at War - 12.7 Million copies, including 1.7 MILLION on the freaking WII…
which were followed up one year later by…
Call of Duty: BlOps - 21 Million copies in less than 5 months, on 4 platforms

So, 2.5 years from when WaW launched (and I'm not even going into the rest of the series here), the CoD series has sold approximately 60 million copies of games sold. Now who's got blinders on?? Of course BioWare wants a piece of that pie, and just because WE don't like that direction, it isn't going to change anything.

As for your other requests? The best way to help steer a company's direction is to get on their forums and get people excited about your ideas. I'm not saying that BioWare is perfect - far from it. I just understand why they're doing what they're doing. I also don't really mind their direction. They make thoughtful, interesting games.

There were many, many moments in Dragon Age that I was impressed by the ramifications and sheer difficulty of the decisions I was made. There were consequences. This made for a great, great game. Did I finish it? No, not yet. I hated the tacked-on Shade crap about 3/4 of the way through. I still expect I will finish it though, because it's worth it. I'm currently playing through F:NV (arguably the other "BIG" RPG series out there right now - which I'm lumping together with Oblivion since they play identically) and frankly, there's no memorable characters. No choice that I'm making that's both subtle and thoughtful. It's decent, but somehow really not at the same level.

So I say kudos to Bioware. I hope they continue to make the same great games. I may not always agree with the art direction - I get your point on that, but I would prefer a stylized look over one where the characters are so fugly you've gotta mod the game to make them look normal - or other minor things, but I'm still happy that they're successful and growing. And still making RPGs, which I love.
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February 10th, 2011, 01:05

I used to think just about the same as you, about the same company, not so long ago. I used to defend them quite vehemently, despite their obvious shortcomings sometimes. So I can understand where you are standing at the moment.

However, this was at a time where the company was still worth being credited.

When one of their games had a known bug, they acknowledged it. Maybe they didn't fix it in the same day, maybe not in the same month, but they made it a point to fix it. None of their games, Baldurs' Gate, Baldurs' Gate II, NWN, SOU, HOTU, Jade Empire or KOTOR, have ever been known as buggy ones. Since DAO/ME2, this is simply no longer true. You say you haven't even finished DAO. I finished it and subsequently bought their DLC, Awakening. Now, I can no longer finish it without horrendous bugs (EDIT : and I can barely play ME2 without some very frustrating bugs).

About them making money, I am all for companies to make money. Companies that show enough respect to their customers to fix their products when they are dysfunctional. Now, why should I have to go over waste my time at their spam-bloated forums to receive what I consider the single most basic service for a purchasor from a purchasee ?

That is where you start to lose all credit, because you give in to practices that one day could very well come back to bite you in your rear. And I am not only talking about support for buggy games that one day in the future you might want to enjoy playing again, but couldn't, like me.

You refuse to see that everything that has been painfully acquired by gamers through the years for the better of the cRPG genre is being questionned again, if not simply abandoned. If you spend some time at the DA2 forums, you will quickly notice that the main focus are :

1/ a hairy pseudo-dwarf
2/ love interests, and their respect support groups
3/ convincing themselves that DA2 is the greatest game ever

not talking about a roleplaying game, customization options, the lore, the game mechanics, or Heaven forbid, a toolset to extend the game beyond what the Devs could imagine, and give players some of the freedom they could expect from like you know… a roleplaying game.

If you fail to understand the reason behind that ambient and general discomfort about the game, to quote yourself "not getting what people want", it is precisely because you have been keeping those blinders on. You think that the people who criticize Bioware and how they intend to go about producing their next games are harming the cRPG genre. It is quite the contrary in fact.
Last edited by Karmapowered; February 10th, 2011 at 01:18.
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