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Dragon Age II (full version)

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#181 enTranced


    Chasing Your Starlight!

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 09:03 AM

^ Hmmm....yeah, very similar to Mass Effect and a game I would only play if I had to (DA3 gets great reviews). But I would not say ALL Bioware games are like this, I LOVED the ending of DAO after all, and had no issues with Mass Effect 1 and 2's endings, or there older classic games.

The real proof will be their next game, IMHO. ME3 and DA2 came out pretty close together, their next game will reflect how they deal with the backlash from both games. They *seem* to be listening to their fans now, so I will sit back and wait for the reviews to come in.

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#182 Thia The Muse

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 12:45 PM

To me, the lack of closure isn't an issue because there will, hopefully, be a third game to explain everything.
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#183 Virgil Vox

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 02:51 PM

I went into Dragon Age: Inquisition without any imports from either Dragon Age: Origin or Dragon Age II. For DA:O, it was because the save file was deleted. For DAII it was because I never played the game. While I’m loving DA:I, it doesn’t have the same impact if I had played DAII and imported my games. With that in mind, I re-played DA:O and tried to make it as similar to my first play through as possible. There were some differences. I decided to kill Flemeth this time. I didn’t pick Alistair as king so that he could continue to date my female Warden character and Zevran turned on me and I had to kill him. I take blame for that. I didn’t interact with him as much as I did other characters and it came back to haunt me. I was able to convince Alistair this time to sleep with Morrigan and thus both Wardens were saved.

I then went and bought DAII and have been playing it. I have just come back to Kirkwall after the Deep Roads expedition. Overall I am loving the game but it is not without its fault.
I decided to make my Hawke an apostate since I knew a big part of the game revolved around the mage vs. Templar conflict. It’s definitely affected how some people see me, especially characters like Fenris who don’t have the best opinion about mages. I’ve never actually played as a mage before in the DA games so it’s been a lot of fun. The spells are pretty powerful and I feel like a real badass.
The lack of an overall story does hurt the game somewhat. I have no problem that the game doesn’t have some world ending threat like the other two games in the series. I don’t mind a smaller, more intimate game that is based more or less around one city. I just wish there was more of a focus than Hawke’s rise to power, which isn’t something that Hawke himself seems to be actively involved in. He’s just kind of stumbling around. There is a lot of good stuff here, like the tensions between the mages and templars, the presence of the Qunari, the hatred directed at Fereldans, etc. The game plays more like an episodic TV show with random quests and characters popping up.
Kirkwall itself is pretty cool. It’s a decently sized city (it would have to be considering most of the game takes place there) and the world building around it has been really good. The city has a fascinating history and the various forces at play make for an interesting political climate.

I do wish the other areas were larger or at least not so repetitive. It feels like the same basic map structure is used over and over again for dungeon type areas and for the outdoor areas.

It feels like the choices here are more morally grey. For instance, the mission to help the mages running from the Templars presents an interesting choice. On one hand, they’re probably blood mages. On the other hand, the Kirkwall Circle is totalitarian to the extreme. I decided to hand them over, but felt bad about it. They are clearly suffering in the Circle.

I am loving the characters. They’re a pretty good mix and each has a nice back story. I think the fact that the game spans years instead of just  a few months helps a lot because it allows the characters to grow and for their choices to have an impact. I’m currently romancing Anders, though I’m also liking Fenris. Anders is cool because of the spirit inhabiting him and because he is so adamant about helping mages. He also has tragedy in his life since he had to kill the mage that he loved because he was made Tranquil. Fenris just has a pretty tragic history and I love his design.

I’m quite familiar with Varric thanks to DA:I. I liked him there and I like him here. It sucked when he was betrayed by his brother and I do hope we can catch up to Betrand and give him what’s coming to him.

I’m on the fence about Carver. On the one hand, I understand where he’s coming from. He is the only normal person in a family of mages, his twin sister was murdered, and he’s always lived in his big brother’s shadow. On the other hand, he’s so annoying. It’s also hard to make any headway towards friendship with him. He was infected with the blight in the Deep Roads and joined the Grey Wardens. Hopefully that will allow him to become his own person.

Aveline’s cool. She takes her job seriously and is all about law and order but she knows when to bend the rules as well. It’s easy to see that the death of her husband has affected her deeply. She’s micro-managing the city guard to make sure they all stay safe, and she continues to travel with Hawke to keep him safe.

Isabela is a lot of fun. She’s a sexy, flirty, dangerous woman and her conversations with the other companions can be hilarious. She definitely kept Carver on his toes.

I like Merrill even though she is a blood mage. She’s just so naïve about life outside of the Dalish. She was excited to see a mugging and hoped she would get mugged.

Oh, it was awesome to see Flemeth again but wow did she upgrade her look. She went from looking like an unassuming older woman to looking like the Flemeth of legend who can roast you alive just by looking at you.

I am not a fan of the friendship and rivalry system. It seems way too easy to get rivalry points and hard to get friendship points. I took Merrill with me on the quest to enter the Fade to save the young elf I had sent to live with the Dalish and she sided with a Pride demon, netting 20 rivalry points. Sure, afterwards she apologized but I only received 15 friendship points. Sometimes it seems arbitrary as to what makes a character dislike me. I haven’t found any gifts either, so I can’t buy their love like in DA:O.

It was surprising to see that I couldn’t customize the companions that much. They stick with the clothes they have on. No swapping out to better armor. I did discover that I could buy upgrades for their clothes so I’m going to try to find as many of those as I can.

The Deep Roads mission was a little disappointing. The Deep Roads quest in DA:O was long and had a lot of areas to explore. The Deep Roads themselves had this tragic beauty about them. Here, the mission wasn’t that long and there wasn’t a lot of exploration to be had. I was hoping to explore the abandoned dwarven city more than I was able to. The profane seemed interesting, but not much was done about them. Everyone was right about that rock wraith fight. That was tough. Luckily I had Hawke with a healing spell and Anders as well. I also made sure to use a good, devastating spell every time the wraith started to heal.

The game has held my attention and it does have a lot going for it. Sure I wish there was a bigger overall story and more and larger areas to explore but Kirkwall itself is engaging and I’m loving the companions and their various quests.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."

It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#184 Virgil Vox

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 04:42 PM

I’m still in the second act of the game but I haven’t advanced the main plotline concerning the Qunari too much. I’ve been mainly doing side-quests and quests for my companions. I also downloaded the three DLC story packs. I had assumed that Corypheus would have been part of the main story line given his significance to DA:I but of course that was  DLC.

Mark of the Assassin was a fun DLC story that moved the game out of Kirkwall for a while and to a chateau in Orlais owned by a duke. It also introduced a new character in Tallis, an elf who asks for Hawke’s help in retrieving an item from the Duke’s vault that he apparently stole from her.

Tallis is a fun character, voiced by Felicia Day. She has a great introduction cut scene and just steals the show from there out. The twist that she’s actually a Qunari agent and is working to stop a Qunari traitor from selling a list of deep cover Qunari agents in Thedas was a great twist that I did not see coming. It also fits the theme of Act 2 which does seem to revolve a lot around the Qunari.

The game let me pick Carver as a companion and so I did. I was curious to see if the game would even acknowledge the fact that he had left and Hawke hadn’t seen him for a while. To my surprise it did, with Carver saying he was sent by the Grey Wardens to participate in the wyvern hunt.  It was actually nice to see him again because it did feel like he had matured a little. He didn’t seem as hate filled as earlier and as jealous of his older brother. Maybe joining the Grey Wardens was the right thing for him.

It was nice seeing Teagan again, as well as Leliana, even if neither said or did much. The party was just a lot of fun as Tallis tried to find the key by using her feminine wiles. Funnily enough, it turns out that the person with the key, the baron’s son, was gay and only interested in Hawke. Since I’m playing my Hawke as gay he had no problem flirting with the son to get the key.

The stealth segment was okay. It wasn’t too hard nor was it too easy. I wouldn’t want a ton of stealth segments in the DA games but this was fine and it made for a nice change of pace.

The boss battle against the baron and his wyvern was awesome. I so wanted the baron’s crossbow weapon and it sucks that we couldn’t get it. The battle was a lot of fun and pretty hard as well.

I was hoping Tallis would join my gang, but she left to try and find her place in the Qun, something she had been struggling with. I let her leave with the list because I figured there was no way she was going to part with it.

Overall, Mark of the Assassin was a good addition to the game and added a few hours’ worth of content and a fun new character, even if she isn’t sticking around.
The Exiled Prince adds a new character in the form of Sebastian Vael, the last surviving member of the ruling Vael family of Starkhaven.  I like Sebastian a lot, especially because he has some really cool armor. His story is engaging as well. He’s the third son of the ruling family and as such has no true place in the royal family. No one ever believed he would be taking the throne. He was something of a wild child and so he was packed off to the Chantry, where he became devout. Then disaster struck as Starkhaven was attacked, with the Circle getting destroyed and the Vaels killed. Now Sebastian has come to Kirkwall to get support so he can re-take Starkhaven, but he’s not sure if that’s the correct course of action.

While not a lot of story content has been added with this DLC (just two missions from what I could tell) I love having another character around. I also like that the destruction in Starkhaven is brought up again, since it did play a part in an earlier mission with the Starkhaven mages on the run.

The Legacy DLC featuring Corypheus was great. It added several hours’ worth of content and a cool new weapon and outfit. It was also nice to see the set-up for DA:I. We learn about Corypheus and the fact that he was one of the original Magisters that started the Blight and that he can influence darkspawn and Grey Wardens.

The DLC also gives an explanation for why Kirkwall has such a bloody history, and why it seems as if mages always resort to blood magic. Corypheus, even locked away in forced hibernation, has been sending out waves of energy and that’s affected the surrounding area. I like that the game addressed the issue, because it does feel like every mage in Kirkwall and the surrounding areas save Hawke himself is a blood mage and it’s a little ridiculous.

I chose Carver as part of my team because who knows when he’ll return in the actual storyline and this did promise to reveal something about the Hawke lineage so it made since to use him. I also liked the ending, where Carver and Hawke come to somewhat of an understanding, though not completely. It does feel like the ice is melting in their relationship.

The reveal that their father was forced by the Grey Wardens to use blood magic to strengthen the wards around Corypheus’s prison was a good revelation, as was the fact that it took Hawke blood to open the wards.

Overall, all three DLCs were good additions to the game and I am glad I purchased them.

As for the regular portions of the game, I’m still enjoying it and honestly my opinion on the game is definitely headed in the positive direction, though there are still a few things annoying me.

I’ve decided to date Fenris, which didn’t make Anders happy but oh well. I was surprised when Fenris showed up at Hawke’s estate and got straight down to business. Afterwards he didn’t seem happy. Hawke was afraid the experience wasn’t that good, or that Fenris found it too odd sleeping with a man. Instead, Fenris had a moment where he remembered everything about his life and then it left him. He took off after that.

Fenris also came one step closer to stopping his original owner from trying to make him a slave again. He was attacked by a group of slavers led by the second in command to Danrius. She tells Fenris about his sister in exchange for her life, but Fenris kills her anyway. He’s definitely full of anger. Earlier he had a young Tevinter mage in his grasp, pleading for his life and Fenris just snapped his neck.

I helped Anders confront a Templar who was going to enact the Tranquil Solution, forcing all mages to become Tranquil. I discovered that the solution had been vetoed by the higher ups and presented this proof to Anders, who said he would have to re-evaluate his opinion about some of the Templar and Chantry members. I also brought it to Cullen, who actually agreed with the solution.

Merrill requested my help to get an elven artifact from the Keeper that would fix the eluvian she has been working on. It’s that device, and her use of blood magic to make it work, that was the cause of her banishment. We went on a quest to kill the giant cave creature whose name I can’t remember. The Keeper placed the artifact in my care, and I gave it to Merrill. I’m not sure if any good will come of it, especially with blood magic involved, but Merrill truly believes this will help the Dalish recover their lost history.

Aveline asked Hawke for help in asking out Donnic, a guard working for her. This was a fun mission because it was so far outside the norm. The scene where Hawke and Donnic share a few awkward beers in the Hanging Man was funny, as was listening to Aveline’s terrible attempts at flirting during the patrol mission. At least the two ended up together at last.

For Varric, we track down his brother only to discover that the artifact he stole has caused him to go insane and has affected those around him. He sold it off hoping that would end the artifact’s influence on him, but it made it worse. I convinced Varric not to kill his brother, which Varric didn’t like but he complied with it anyways.

The sequence at the start where Varric is single handedly taking down all of the soldiers was great. At first I just thought I had leveled Varric up a lot, and then I found out he was totally exaggerating the story to Cassandra, and I cracked up.

There’s been no movement on Isabela’s story so far. I did however find a model ship to give her as a gift, and she did make a non-risqué joke about Hawke’s relationship with Fenris.

Wow, I so did not see Hawke’s mother dying, especially not in such a horrific manner. She’s basically turned into a Bride of Frankenstein by a crazed mage trying to bring his dead lover back to life. It was a sad mission, and a rather melancholy twist to place in the game. Fenris did try and comfort Hawke, though he was rather bad at it.

Oh, and the Bone Pit missions are fun. I became part owner and it seems I’m running up there to save the miners every other second. First it was dragons and then giant spiders and now the undead. Plus there was the man selling inside information about shipments to mercenaries. That’s a lot of work for a mine that doesn’t give me any actual money in the game.

That’s more or less where I’ve stopped at the moment.

What I like about Act 2, and the game in general, is the in depth look at the Qunari and their society. It’s a fascinating culture and I love that they’re playing a central role right now. Sure, DA:O and DA:I both featured Qunari characters that traveled with you but neither game really examined the Qunari as much as this one is, at least IMO. I also like the updated look of the Qunari, which of course I saw in DA:I.

I like that there are no easy answers to the problems in the game.  Look at the mage/Templar conflict. The mages are right that the Kirkwall Templars are treating them horribly, and that this Circle of Magi is a very abusive one that is turning out way more Tranquil than most do. However, there does seem to be a preponderance of mages using blood magic in and around Kirkwall then we saw in Ferelden.

Anders has every right to want to rage against the Templars and the Chantry. They forced his lover to become a Tranquil simply because he spoke truth to power, and Anders knows about all the abuse going on. Fenris also is right to want to see mages with limits placed on them, because he has seen what happens when mages do what they want with no checks on their power in the Tevinter Imperium. They both have valid viewpoints. Then there’s Merrill, who doesn’t think blood magic is evil by itself. She sees it as another tool for mages to use and that it can be put to good or bad use.

I do wish Meredith had been introduced already. She’s loomed over the game since Act 1, controlling the Templars and making them a darker force than normal but she has yet to make an appearance.

The Qunari are another good example of the moral ambiguity. Their way of life, the Qun, forces them to convert everyone they can. So too does the Chantry and the Chant of Life. You have two religions seeking converts and now they are both shoved into the same small space. True, the Qunari have left well enough alone and it’s been the people of Kirkwall doing things to the Qunari, but I doubt it will stay that way.

I like Petrice, the Chantry mother who is working behind the scenes to remove the Qunari problem. She used Hawke in Act 1 to sneak the Qunari mage out of the city and set it up so that Hawke and his friends would be killed by the Qunari, thus setting the city against the horned visitors. Now she helped her body guard capture several Qunari on a diplomatic meeting to see the viscount and had them murdered. Sure she has plausible deniability but Hawke knows what she’s done.
The city politics are rather fascinating, with the various factions vying for power and no one in absolute control. I like the viscount, but his position seems precarious right now and who knows how long he will remain in power.

The friendship/rivalry system still annoys me. I had Isabela in my party when I accepted a mission from a dwarf to go to the Deep Roads and rescue his three sons. I gained 5 rivalry points from her because I accepted it. I don’t know why. Does she not like dwarves? Does she not want me to accept missions? I feel like I was penalized for simply playing the game. I shouldn’t gain any points simply for accepting a mission. During the mission to get Merrill her artifact, I comforted her when her friend dies after running from her. This got me 10 rivalry points, whereas completing the mission and giving her the artifact only got me 5 friendship points.

I probably have more money and items in DA:2 than I ever did in DA:O and I have nothing to do with it. Since I can’t swap out the armor on my companions most of the armor goes to waste. I end up selling most of it. Things like belts, rings, and amulets can be equipped on my companions, which is fine, but I get so many during my travels. Not only that, but when I loot a chest or a corpse all it tells me is that something is a ring, or an amulet, or a belt. I can’t get more detailed information until I put it in my inventory, and a lot of the time the item isn’t as good as what I currently have equipped. I’m constantly running out of inventory space because of that, even though I’m bought every backpack I can find.

The armor for Hawke isn’t that great either. The companions have some great clothes/armor that they wear and it’s pretty distinctive. Most of the robes and other such items for Hawke look terrible in comparison.  Where is the armor on the cover of the box and that Hawke was wearing at the very beginning during Varric’s exaggerated story telling? I will say that the robes of the Silent One that Hawke picked up during the Legacy DLC does look pretty cool, and I’ll probably stay with that unless I can find some really awesome armor.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."

It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#185 Virgil Vox

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 12:41 AM

I beat the game today. Overall I loved it. I’ll do a final thoughts type review at the end. Most of this will just be comments on how my story played out.

So Petrice ended up being killed by the Qunari since she set up the death of the viscount’s son since he converted to the Qun. She tried to frame Hawke, but luckily it didn’t take. I was kind of sad to see her go, because she was a fun enemy.

I figured there had to be some war against the Qunari so it didn’t come as a shock when they started to take over Kirkwall. Isabela’s role in the whole affair was a big surprise, however.

I never would have guessed that the artifact Isabela was looking for was also the reason the Qunari were in Kirkwall and the reason they couldn’t leave. I told Isabela she could take the book to save her life, but I figured I would have had a chance to talk her out of it. Instead, she runs off with the book and leaves a note saying she couldn’t risk Hawke talking her out of it. She’s gone the rest of the game, which is disappointing. I read that she either had to be romanced by Hawke or have a friendship score of 50 or better to return. Apparently I didn’t have that friendship score. It’s not surprising, considering simply accepting a game mission to help find the three sons in the Deep Roads netted me rivalry points with her.

The Qunari were not happy that the book escaped their grasp. The Arishok was rightly upset at that, as well as being angry about the abuses the Qunari have suffered in Kirkwall. The loss of the book and Aveline’s attempt to recover two escaped elves accused of murder who had become Qunari made the Arishok decide to take over Kirkwall and have its people embrace the Qun.

Battling through the streets of Kirkwall while it was on fire was a lot of fun. Not only that, but Alistair and Carver show up with the Grey Wardens. They fought beside Hawke and company for a bit, but apparently had other business in Kirkwall. I hope we learn what it is.

Meredith finally made her appearance, and it was a grand entrance indeed. Not only that, but First Enchanter Orsino also shows up, and the friction between the two leaders was palpable. Hawke ended up making the decisions and had Orsino create a distraction so everyone else could sneak into the main building.
I had Hawke fight the Arishok one on one. I basically froze the Arishok with my two main ice spells and just hit him with every magic spell I had. It took a little bit, but I was finally victorious. The rest of the Qunari left, and Hawke became Champion of Kirkwall.

The game did address the fact that Hawke is an apostate, something that Meredith doesn’t tolerate normally. Hawke was more or less a nobody at first so he didn’t even register on her radar. Now, with Hawke being a champion and the city loving him, she is afraid to make any overt move against him. I bet it’s going to happen, because after the 3 year time jump, I sided with Orsino in the public debate and said that Meredith needs to allow a new viscount to be elected.

Fenris finally killed Danarius, though it didn’t make him happy. He discovered from his sister (who set him up) that Fenris agreed to become Danarius’s special slave in exchange for freedom for his mother and sister. Hawke comforted him, and the two finally got together. It seemed as if Fenris would move in with Hawke, but he’s still staying in his mansion. I found a Blade of Mercy and gave it to him as a gift and he was appreciative of that. Even though he’s not a fan of mages, he sided with me during the final battle against the Templars. I talked to him before the battle and he more or less declared his love for Hawke and the two shared a passionate kiss. During Varric’s final narration it’s said that Hawke and Fenris are still together out there.

Aveline married Donnic, which made me happy. He has apparently been a good influence on her, making her loosen her tight grip on the guards and not try to micro-manage everything. She is making sure the guards have a presence in Kirkwall so that the people know that they have someone other than the Templars to turn to.

Later, she is accused of being too soft and not fit to be a Guard-Captain. She and Hawke investigate and discover that the old Guard-Captain is behind the rumors, and that he’s building up an army of mercenaries and disgruntled people to oust Aveline. He’s defeated, and Aveline remains as Guard-Captain.
Anders has become more militarized, it seems. That makes me sad, because I thought I had him convinced that not everyone was against mages. His story was really tragic. I helped him smuggle in the potion that eventually took down the Chantry. I took forever to decide what to do with him. He did become a mass murderer and terrorist and he killed tons of innocent people. He started a war that might have been avoided. Sebastian and Fenris both wanted to see him dead. In the end, I killed him. It was tough but I couldn’t see myself bringing him into the group again (I was afraid I’d lose Sebastian or Fenris) and just letting him go after what he did didn’t seem right. It was a brutal decision.

Varric has placed Bartrand in a sanitarium and fully assumed the duties of his family, though he does so with great reluctance. I pretty much always use him in my group because he always has the funniest things to say. He helps Hawke stop Fenris from killing his sister.  We went back to Bertrand’s mansion because supposedly it was haunted, and turns out it was. In the end I let Varric keep a piece of the artifact. It never came up again, save for Varric saying that the artifact wasn’t influencing him.

Merrill’s story might have been the most heart breaking. She can’t get the eluvian to work, so she wants to go back into the mountains to get help from the demon again. Despite his better judgment, Hawke agrees. The Keeper beat us to it though and put the demon inside her. We defeated the demon but Merrill ended up having to kill the Keeper. The rest of the Dalish appear and demand to know what happened. Hawke said he would keep Merrill in check, and the elves let us leave. Later, Hawke convinces Merrill to help the elves in the alienage. It was so sad to see Merrill break down over her actions. I truly felt for her. I also learned that, depending on what Hawke said, they might have had to kill the entire Dalish camp to get away. Glad that didn’t happen.

Sebastian is still struggling with whether he should re-take Starkhaven or stay with the Chantry. He goes with me to meet the Divine’s representative, who is none other than Leliana. I loved seeing her again, even if it was only for a few minutes. She basically says that the Divine is going to march on Kirkwall to end the troubles between Templars and mages. Grand Cleric Elthina is advised to leave, but she refuses to do so. She is the only voice of reason left in Kirkwall it seems.
I’m guessing Sebastian decides not to go back to Starkhaven, or at least no mention of it is made. He does get horribly upset at what Anders has done, which is understandable. He also blames Hawke a little for helping Anders. Once Anders is dead, he agrees to fight for Hawke because he thinks that Meredith is wrong to kill every mage simply because of what Anders did.

Carver returns two more times. The first is as a kidnap victim of Thrask and Grace. It’s short but kind of sweet as Hawke says he won’t let anything else bad happen to Carver. He then returns at the end, saying that the Hawke brothers need to fight together. I like that the two eventually make up. Carver has found his true calling as a Grey Warden and realizes that he behaved rather badly all those years ago. I was hoping for a happy reunion between the two brothers and I got it.

I went to the Bone Pit and found that it had been wiped out by a high dragon. I went to kill it and that was an extremely difficult fight. I had Varric, Fenris, and Sebastian with me. Fenris lasted the longest but even he fell to the dragon. It became a war of attrition, with Hawke dodging blasts by the dragon and then using a spell to hurt it. It probably took me twenty or thirty minutes all told to kill it. The battle was worth it though, because I received the Champion armor that Hawke wears on the cover and it looks awesome.

Meredith had Hawke hunt down three mages who fled the Circle. Of course two of the three became blood mages and more or less turned into abominations. Can there be one mage who isn’t a blood mage in this game? (Apparently not).

I did find some codex entries that explain why it’s easier for mages to access blood magic in Kirkwall. Apparently thousands of people have been sacrificed in Kirkwall over the years and the power of all that blood has built up and mages can easily tap into it.

I think Meredith is the greater of the two evils because she has been harsher on mages than she needed to be and because she has become a dictator more or less and refuses to let a viscount be appointed. Orsino so far doesn’t seem to be that bad. He has valid points about Meredith and her three years of rule. Heck, he might have been able to better control the mages if Meredith wasn’t such a tyrant. As is, he seems to have little power to stop mages from resorting to blood magic.

What I really love about the game is that it’s a tragedy that can’t be stopped. There is always going to be a mage/Templar war and neither side is completely good or evil. Both have valid points, and both leaders make terrible choices. I couldn’t believe when Orsino resorted to blood magic and attacked Hawke and his companions. I’m guessing Orsino was also the one who was aiding the mage serial killer. He was just pushed too far, like many mages in the game.
Meredith made for a great villain in that while she did turn out to be legitimately insane, she had a reason to fear mages. There are a lot of blood mages in and around Kirkwall, and they all can’t blame the Circle or Meredith herself for turning.

Even though I should have seen it coming, the fact that Meredith was the one who bought the red lyrium artifact from Bertrand and turned it into a giant sword surprised me. It was a great way to connect Act 1 with the end of the game. Sure, Meredith had been harsh before Act 2, but it was only after the Deep Roads exploration that things really started to go downhill with the Templars.

The final fight against Meredith was hard. She was strong and those statues she brought to life were plentiful and extremely insane and creepy looking. What sucked is that my game glitched so it looked like Meredith was wearing silver armor in the final battle instead of her normal attire, apart from her hood which was its normal color. What I liked about the battle was that even though I had picked my three companions, the rest of the group was there fighting too. It was a nice touch because there was no good reason for them not to be fighting by my side.

Some other random tidbits:

I guess having Grace go to the Circle was the wrong move. She joins Thrask in his attempts to form a mage/Templar coalition to defeat Meredith. However, she really wants revenge on Hawke. She helps kidnap Carver, and then is going to kill him no matter what. Hawke does not take kindly to that, and kills her. Heck, every member of the coalition dies. I liked that a choice made in the beginning of the game has such a profound impact later on. It does suck that the Thrask died, though. He was one of the good ones.

Forgot to mention how fun it was to see the humans who used to be werewolves getting confronted by elves still mad at them. Hawke defused the situation and the humans were left alone.

I loved seeing Bodahn and Sandal again. It turns out that Sandal is more powerful than we thought, killing quite a few darkspawn in the Deep Roads. Was I the only one who wanted some kind of follow up to Sandal saying that an old woman watches him sleep and has a scary laugh?

The mission to check out the haunted mansion was so much fun. I loved the reaction of my companions as doors slammed open and shut, objects went flying around, and ghostly sounds could be heard.

Final Thoughts:

Let me start by saying what I didn’t like about the game which is a short list in the end.

The few actual locations in the game. I have no problem with Kirkwall being the main hub. I loved the city and I never got annoyed traversing it. The companion banter probably helped with that. What does suck is that there are very few areas outside Kirkwall to travel to. A lot of the maps repeat as well, so most of the caves, alleys, factories, and mansions all look more or less alike. I felt like the developers could have put more effort into creating more unique locations.
The friendship/rivalry meter. Nothing new here, really. A lot of times it felt arbitrary as to what would win or lose points and obviously in the case of Isabela that hurt me quite a bit since I lost her character after Act 2.

The armor options. Once I found the Champion armor I stuck with it because it looks awesome, but I didn’t find that until the beginning of Act 3. I wish there had been better options earlier. Also, a lot of the robes and such all more or less looked the same. I would rather have less options that are unique than a ton of options that just quickly clutter my inventory. Since I can’t give armor to my companions its just way more stuff than I need.

The randomness of things. Take gifts, for instance. I found a gift for Fenris in a sack in the alienage. No mention was made of this book by Fenris before this. That’s a far cry from gifts in DA:O, which were talked about by the companions and worked into the overall story. Not here. The gifts are just stumbled upon. Same with companion armor upgrades. I didn’t even know they existed until I found one in a shop and sometimes they just appear with defeated enemies.

The lack of a base camp for companions. I don’t mind the companions having their own spaces where they will talk. In a game set in a single city spanning a decade it makes sense. However, not having one place where they all congregate did create some frustrations. In the camp in DA:O, I could easily talk to all the companions just to see if they had something new to say. Not only that, but I could upgrade their weapons and equipment there as well. If I wanted to do that in DA:2, then I needed to have them join my party. This was annoying because I couldn’t get rid of the mountains of weapons, amulets, rings, and belts I accumulated until I made sure that all companions had the most up to date stuff.

The open ended ending. I get that the game was setting up DA:I and so it didn’t have an easy way to wrap things up like DA:O or DA:I. However, it sucks that we never learn what happens to all the companions. Sure, Varric and Hawke show up in DA:I but they mention basically none of the DA:2 companions.

Okay, those are my only main complaints. Here’s everything I loved.

The story. Sure, it’s not as epic as DA:O or DA:I but I still found it fascinating. Like I wrote above, it’s a tragic story about how events can quickly spiral out of control when you have mistrust and hatred allowed to fester for a number of years. At first I didn’t like the disjointed nature of the story. Act 1 is all about doing odd jobs to earn the money to go to the Deep Roads. Act 2 is about dealing with the Qunari problem. Act 3 is about the mage vs. templar fight. However, it’s all connected. The artifact found in the Deep Roads is what twists Meredith into the psychotic woman she becomes. The Qunari invasion rises Hawke up to be Champion of Kirkwall and lets him get really involved in the mage/Templar conflict. It also sees the death of the viscount and the reign of Meredith and her Templars as rulers of the city. Plus, the tensions between the mages and Templar build up throughout the game until it explodes in all out war at the end. Then there are all the little things like Grace and her wanting revenge or Fynriel and him joining the Dalish and eventually moving to Tevinter.

The companions. I felt that this was a strong group of companions. What makes them work is that they’re not all united in a single goal. They aren’t saving the world here. They’re friends with Hawke (and sometimes each other) but they have their own wants and desires and their own reasons for staying (or leaving) Kirkwall. I also feel that they have great personal stories. Fenris is an escaped slave with a tortured past. Merrill has made herself an outcast in the hopes of reclaiming the past of the Dalish. Aveline is a tough woman suffering the loss of her husband and trying to find purpose in the city Guard. Sebastian is torn between his duty to the Chantry and his duty to his family and city. Anders, joined with the spirit of Justice, wrestles with how far to go in the quest to see mages treated fairly. Isabela hides a darks secret that leads to war with the Qunari. Varric is just a fun character that tells a lot of tall tales and is just fun to be around. Carver starts out as a jealous, annoying younger brother but grows into a mature young man who stands with his brother in the end.

The combat. It’s a lot of fun, and the spells are pretty powerful. They’d have to be, considering the waves of enemies constantly thrown at you. It’s fast paced and I think better than the combat in DA:O. I know many will disagree with me because the combat here is less tactical but to me it feels more immediate.

The politics. There are so many forces in Kirkwall that demand Hawke’s attention. Obviously there are the two big ones in the mages and Templar. There’s the Chantry, which is trying to remain neutral. The viscount has a role to play. The Qunari have their own agenda. Then you have people like Petrice who have an agenda of their own. Heck, even the companions have their own political ideologies that don’t always mix. Fenris does not like any of the mages. Sebastian really doesn’t like Anders. Aveline’s not a great fan of Isabela.

I can see why a lot of people were disappointed in DA:2. It doesn’t have the same depth as DA:O. It does feel like a slimmed down (or dumbed down if you prefer) version of the original. It also doesn’t have the same epic quality to it, since no true enemy reveals itself until the end. Even then, you might decide that Meredith has the right idea. There were times I found myself agreeing with her. Still, I think its atypical story and lessened RPG elements work in its favor. I can see myself playing this game multiple times and constantly enjoying it.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."

It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

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