It’s hard work for a sequel to strive, especially if its predecessor was a success and critically exclaimed. You have to find a balance between utilising what worked for the first game and then adding elements that define that second chapter and earn it its own precedence. Sometimes it works well, sometimes the sequel is praised more than the first and then other times it just doesn’t hit the same high.
Seemingly, for a majority of people, Dragon Age 2 falls under the latter but for myself I found the sequel to be quite a good game that managed to standalone in its own story progression style and to still feel like it was part of a bigger plot, intertwined with Origins and Inquisition, despite some flaws.
Dragon Age Origins was my first real experience playing and getting immersed into a dragon lore story driven game. I had never played pre-Knights of the Old Republic games by Bioware or been into Dungeons and Dragons or the earlier Elder Scroll games and well you get the picture. The closest I feel like I ever got to that genre, is tangible at best because it was just playing a lengthy demo of Diablo.
I feel for the game and it increased my interest in the general genre and the source material that was inspirational for much of the lore. I also found it to be quite interesting and fun that there was quite an extensive usage of Irish and Old Irish nouns throughout. I did a video that gingerly touch on that
Dragon Age 2 dropped a trailer and got me extremely excited, the style of Hawke and a new fresh story, still part of a saga was exciting.
Every character in DAII is affected by the events that are building up within the walls of Kirkwall and by the choices made by Hawke. The mage-templar war is being fed and fuelled and concentrated in such a small area, despite the issues being far reaching and existing before Hawke was even born, but it is the actions that Hawke is involved in, her, her family and friends, that seal the deal and kickstart what explodes in Inquisition and is followed on after II in the novel Asunder. Whilst I mention this it’s worth checking out some Bioware related novels, I wrote about here, the Dragon Age ones are superior to the Mass Effect series.
Some of the criticism hurled at DAII is that the developers were lazy and this is mainly backed up with the repetitive caves and warehouse maps and that’s a fair point. But the writers could never be accused of being lazy. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this game is all the different character banter dialogue. (I never feel comfortable saying ‘banter’ these days). This gives an incentive to replay and bring different party members to see how the combo works. There’s attention to the story and the players choices too, for example if you’re involved romantically with a certain character, the banter as you roam an area will reflect upon that and the other characters opinions. This transfers into the DLC as well, all greatly interconnected and another testament to Bioware’s devotion to giving us characters that have value and essence.
Game-play was also hated on, with a seemingly vast majority of fans preferring Origins style, but personally I found II to be completely fine. For some reason after playing II a couple of times, I found getting back into the combat style of Awakening (the Origin Expansion) to be very difficult but that’s just me and combat style preferences are just that, preferences.
Dragon Age II really excelled in making the events that were contained to a small area and a small group, resonate in a similar manner to a world travelling game. Inquisition was gigantic in scope and the scope of what came from DAII. A festering, heaving air of turmoil and years of pent up oppression and aggression exploded in the climax of II and spread throughout Thedas, ultimately reshaping the world of Dragon Age forever.
This is why I love Dragon Age II, it really takes another glance at what happened and how the story was told to appreciate just how good a game it was and the repetition of maps shouldn’t be something that hampers it’s entry in the series or damns it as being a rubbish sequel.