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Dragon Age II (full version)

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#21 QuiGon John

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 02:42 PM

I don't know if I agree about the early (female) characters being dull.  No question Hawke's sibling is rather bland, but I kind of like Aveline.  I feel like I'm adventuring with Eowyn from LotR. ;)

#22 NeuralClone

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 02:48 PM

View PostJohn Burke, on 09 March 2011 - 02:42 PM, said:

I don't know if I agree about the early (female) characters being dull.  No question Hawke's sibling is rather bland, but I kind of like Aveline.  I feel like I'm adventuring with Eowyn from LotR. ;)
Aveline has gained a lot more personality the further into the game I've gotten, which is nice to see. Early on though I didn't really care for her. She just seemed like a generic tough female warrior. Thankfully, there does seem to be more to her than that. I think that both Bethany and Carver are equally dull. In the demo I thought Bethany was at least a little more interesting than Carver, but I'll take your word for it that she stays bland. ;)

Carver is just a whiny, intolerant, spoiled brat trapped in adult body. I bring him along so Isabela has someone to mock and make fun of. It's a good thing I'm not actually Carver's real life brother. :devil: :lol:
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#23 Mikoto

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:42 PM

Dang why did I have to be born a Brit? The Americans always get everything good first......

Whining out of the way, I'm curious. Is there any kind of imported save file going on from DA:O? Have you guys seen any effects from decisions you made in the first game have an impact in this one?

I'm guessing you're not a Grey Warden in this game. How do people react to you if you're a mage character?
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#24 NeuralClone

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 04:01 PM

View PostMikoto, on 09 March 2011 - 03:42 PM, said:

Dang why did I have to be born a Brit? The Americans always get everything good first......
Well, to be fair, you guys get Doctor Who first. So... ;)

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Whining out of the way, I'm curious. Is there any kind of imported save file going on from DA:O? Have you guys seen any effects from decisions you made in the first game have an impact in this one?
Yeah, you can import your saved game from DA:O after the prologue. Or whenever it lets you customize your appearance. And yes, you can fully customize your look like you could in DA:O. But you do have to be a human with a last name of Hawke. Anyway, when you import your save, it also gives you some preset DA:O outcomes to use if you don't have a save or don't want to use one. It gives you a general overview of the events from the first game.

I ended up just using the default backstory on my first playthrough. In that, Alistair becomes king, the Archdemon was killed, Flemeth was "killed," and several other things happened. So in my case, those are the kinds of things that are referenced and heard in background conversations in taverns, on the streets, in quests, etc. I've already encountered points where conversations would likely play out differently if something else had happened in DA:O. How much of an impact these things have beyond dialogue I'm not sure.

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I'm guessing you're not a Grey Warden in this game. How do people react to you if you're a mage character?
Correct. The Grey Wardens are pretty much all wiped out when the game starts since the battle in Ostagar happened not long before the start of DA2. Flemeth does mention that not all of the Grey Wardens have been wiped out but the ones that do exist are "beyond your reach." Grey Wardens have been mentioned at several other points as well but so far there haven't been any actual Grey Wardens in Kirkwall. The focus is more on your family's survival and your rise to power.

If you play as a mage, you're an apostate. And in general, you aren't well-liked. Apostates are openly hunted and disliked by many. Many people are downright hostile toward you, especially the templars in Kirkwall. Even your own brother Carver has a strong dislike of magic and mages. He has little to no sympathy for you and he makes certain that his hate of mages is well-known on a regular basis. You start with quite a few rivalry points with him if you play as a mage. Whenever you make a decision that benefits a mage in some way, he gains more rivalry points.

However, Anders, who is an ex-Grey Warden and is also an apostate, is far more trusting of you when you first meet him. There are also points in the story where you can flash your magic abilities in front of people during conversations to intimidate, impress, or earn their trust.

Edited by NeuralClone, 09 March 2011 - 04:03 PM.

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#25 Mikoto

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 08:06 PM

Lol I'd trade you. Dr Who only is a poor substitute for getting CSI, Fringe, and just about every game or TV show I like days, weeks or months later than Americans just because of where I was born. But I digress...


Thanks NC, that's answered a lot of questions I had about DA:2.
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#26 NeuralClone

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 11:22 PM

View PostMikoto, on 09 March 2011 - 08:06 PM, said:

Lol I'd trade you. Dr Who only is a poor substitute for getting CSI, Fringe, and just about every game or TV show I like days, weeks or months later than Americans just because of where I was born. But I digress...
Interestingly enough, I seem to watch more British shows these days than American shows. Hmmm, I see deal potential. ;) :hehe: Seriously though, the annoying regional branding stuff that companies pull is incredibly annoying. They do it to control releases and maximize profits by giving regional companies various exclusive rights. Unfortunately, consumers are the ones that end up paying. :(

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Thanks NC, that's answered a lot of questions I had about DA:2.
No problem! :D
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#27 Mikoto

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 08:45 AM

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Interestingly enough, I seem to watch more British shows these days than American shows. Hmmm, I see deal potential.   Seriously though, the annoying regional branding stuff that companies pull is incredibly annoying. They do it to control releases and maximize profits by giving regional companies various exclusive rights. Unfortunately, consumers are the ones that end up paying.

Oh you aren't kidding, I'm sooooo annoyed with Fringe and CSI Miami right now. The second half of Fringe S3 started up in February in the US, here in the UK we have to wait until *April* before its released here. Unless we turn to.... other..... means of seeing it. :angel: With CSI Miami its even worse, its being aired in the US at the moment and the UK doesn't even *have* a release date yet. Probably some vague time in june/july.

So. Not. Fair. I wanna live in the US darnit! ;)

But, so I can't be accused of hijacking the thread.....

Only gotta wait until tomorrow now for DA:2! :D I'm sure I'll like it since I loved the Mass Effect system and DA:O system equally for different reasons. I can't see why a blending of the two will upset me. Though, granted Mass Effect 2's biggest flaw was the lack of a compelling storyline I still enjoyed it. (I'm easily entertained. Stick a half-decent story in front of me and I'll be happy. ;))

Still debating over which job I'll take though. Warrior or Mage. I did two seperate save files in DA:O so I'll end up doing both eventually. Just, which one comes first. ;)
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#28 NeuralClone

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 01:50 PM

Three words: Ancient Rock Wraith.

Warning: This is a BRUTAL fight. I'm not going to say anymore about it other than the fact that you should save often and make sure to have some backup saves. Once you encounter this thing you'll be in a location where you can't change your party or buy additional equipment. I had to put the difficulty down to normal and this boss is still wiping the floor with my party. It actually reminds me a lot of a boss fight in World of Warcraft in some ways.

You may now carry on with your regularly scheduled posting.

View PostMikoto, on 10 March 2011 - 08:45 AM, said:

Oh you aren't kidding, I'm sooooo annoyed with Fringe and CSI Miami right now. The second half of Fringe S3 started up in February in the US, here in the UK we have to wait until *April* before its released here. Unless we turn to.... other..... means of seeing it. :angel: With CSI Miami its even worse, its being aired in the US at the moment and the UK doesn't even *have* a release date yet. Probably some vague time in june/july.

So. Not. Fair. I wanna live in the US darnit! ;)
What's really annoying with a lot of British TV is that it never, ever gets released in the US. We get some new(ish) shows on BBC America and occasionally PBS and SyFy get a few shows or movies. But other than that, we're stuck using less than legal methods to see stuff. And nowadays, that really shouldn't be necessary.

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Only gotta wait until tomorrow now for DA:2! :D I'm sure I'll like it since I loved the Mass Effect system and DA:O system equally for different reasons. I can't see why a blending of the two will upset me. Though, granted Mass Effect 2's biggest flaw was the lack of a compelling storyline I still enjoyed it. (I'm easily entertained. Stick a half-decent story in front of me and I'll be happy. ;))

Still debating over which job I'll take though. Warrior or Mage. I did two seperate save files in DA:O so I'll end up doing both eventually. Just, which one comes first. ;)
My biggest problem with Mass Effect 2 (after the rather lackluster story -- if you can even really call it a story) was with how much they simplified the role-playing elements. They got rid of the inventory, armor and weapon upgrades barely impacted gameplay, and the whole game played more like an action game than an RPG. That isn't a bad thing but I'm getting really frustrated with how BioWare, a company once known for deep, complex, and challenging RPGs, keeps simplifying and dumbing down their games, especially when they're fixing things that don't need fixing. It's possible to make complex RPGs on consoles and on PCs.

It really seems like a lot of this stuff is probably EA's doing. It's just...frustrating. BioWare is capable of so much more and at the rate they seem to be going, they'll just be making interactive movies with very little gameplay in a few years. That said, Mass Effect 2 was really entertaining. I just wish they hadn't removed so many features.

Anyway, my suggestion is to play as a mage. But I'm biased. ;) I like how mages can stand back and effectively take control of the battlefield. Sure, warriors are useful for tanking and helping to control the flow of combat, but a lot of that is usually done so you can setup the enemies for massive AoE spells. Dunno. I love playing as a mage and despite my complaints about the simplifications in the game, they do a good job making you not only be powerful, but feel powerful.

Edited by NeuralClone, 10 March 2011 - 02:56 PM.

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#29 Mikoto

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 05:27 PM

Well NC. You sold me on mage. ;) I was, with a bit of careful tactics and application of spells, able to be almost a force of nature in the later levels in DA:O as a mage. If its even better in this game, I'm so sold on mage. :D (And yes, I'm biased too.)

And many thanks about that boss. I generally have two save files on hand in every game. One that is in the latest 'safe' place like a town of village, and the other I use to go into dungeons and advance the story and like so that if I ever hit a boss I can't beat, I have a backup file to retreat to.

..... Yes, I learnt that the hard way several times over my long lifespan of gaming.
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#30 NeuralClone

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 05:53 PM

View PostMikoto, on 10 March 2011 - 05:27 PM, said:

Well NC. You sold me on mage. ;) I was, with a bit of careful tactics and application of spells, able to be almost a force of nature in the later levels in DA:O as a mage. If its even better in this game, I'm so sold on mage. :D (And yes, I'm biased too.)
Mages in DA:O were definitely far more tactical. And like with D&D, they had more of a "be patient for the first 15 levels and then unlock your true power" kind of deal going on. In that sense, getting a high level badass mage in DA:O is more rewarding overall. I really miss that aspect of DA:O.

BUT, in DA2 mages start out kicking a lot of butt and just continue from there. So it's still rewarding. Just different. Sadly, the arcane warrior specialization is gone in DA2, which makes it a lot harder to create a damager/tank out of your mage. Blood magic makes a return though. I've had my character team up with Anders (a demonic healer/support mage) and between the two of us, we're able to keep casting for quite some time all while buffing and healing the party.

Merrill is a great mage to team with as well. Her fighting style is pretty interesting. She can travel underneath the ground to other party members, has elemental/primal magic, and she's a master of some pretty devastating nature-based blood magic. My favorite is Ensnare. You get in close to enemies, cast Ensnare, and they all get sucked toward Merrill like she's the center of some sort of vortex all while taking massive damage. I think the upgrade gives you a chance to immobilize enemies as well. It's risky but it's quite effective if you pull it off right.

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And many thanks about that boss. I generally have two save files on hand in every game. One that is in the latest 'safe' place like a town of village, and the other I use to go into dungeons and advance the story and like so that if I ever hit a boss I can't beat, I have a backup file to retreat to.

..... Yes, I learnt that the hard way several times over my long lifespan of gaming.
I feel like I've failed somehow as a hardcore RPG fan but I may need to drop the difficulty down to easy to beat this boss. :( After numerous attempts last night, I just couldn't take him out. He can only really be hurt at certain points and usually by the time you get to them, you're doing everything you can just to keep your characters standing, let alone dish out massive amounts of damage. He heals at the end of those sequences as well.

Once you reach the point where you can't change your party for a while (BioWare really drives home that point before sending you off on the quest), absolutely bring a dedicated healer if you can. My suggestion is Anders with his special demonic stances/healing skills. You gain access to a really nifty full party revive spell at a much lower level than you would with a spirit healer. Or, make sure you're carrying a lot of potions if you don't have room for a healer in your team build. You're locked into bringing a thief for that part of the game, which makes party selection even trickier.

Edited by NeuralClone, 10 March 2011 - 07:06 PM.

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#31 Mikoto

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 07:57 PM

I always have a dedicated healer in my parties, even when I'm a mage myself and could probably handle it. I could never get away from Wynne in DA:O. :lol:

Hmm. Is there any way you can think of to warn me when this particular boss is incoming in the next quest without being too spoilery? I don't mind a tiny little spoiler but having some idea when this bad boy is coming would be very helpful.
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#32 NeuralClone

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 08:46 PM

Well, I have to say that I'm pretty disappointed in the complete lack of variety in the in-game areas. The entire game, aside from a few exceptions, takes place in Kirkwall. I'm having a bit of trouble seeing how I'm going to manage to get through the next two acts in the exact same locations, especially with such an unfocused main story.

I've also noticed that like in the first Mass Effect, a lot of the side quest maps are pretty much identical. It's pretty repetitive. Combat is still fun but I have doubts that I'll be playing through the game too many times. I suspect this game had a severely reduced budget compared to the first game.

View PostMikoto, on 10 March 2011 - 07:57 PM, said:

I always have a dedicated healer in my parties, even when I'm a mage myself and could probably handle it. I could never get away from Wynne in DA:O. :lol:
Good! :D

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Hmm. Is there any way you can think of to warn me when this particular boss is incoming in the next quest without being too spoilery? I don't mind a tiny little spoiler but having some idea when this bad boy is coming would be very helpful.
Sure thing. :)

Spoiler

Edited by NeuralClone, 10 March 2011 - 08:54 PM.

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#33 NeuralClone

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 10:43 PM

Whew! Beat that dang boss on normal. He actually isn't too difficult once you figure out his attack patterns. But the wrong party members will definitely make it really nasty. The good news is you get about 10,500 experience for defeating him.
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#34 Josh

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 12:16 AM

I like the game but it would be so much better if there was actually... you know... a story. :p The first game wasn't exactly a riveting tale either but it at least tried to be epic. So far, Dragon Age II is just a bunch of fetch quests. Granted, I'm relatively early in the game but from what I've read, it never really becomes much more than that.
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#35 NeuralClone

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 02:18 AM

After playing all the way through the first act, only to find out that the second act is pretty much exactly the same (just the cookie cutter enemies change and a few merchants are moved), I really don't know if I'm going to bother continuing. Every single quest can be summed up as the following: go to location X and fight large mobs of enemies that continue to spawn in for an unknown period of time or bring object Y to person Z. Rinse, wash, and repeat. *yawn*

This wouldn't be quite so bad if there were a large variety of areas to go to and if the combat actually had an ounce of depth to it. After playing this game for about 20 hours, I'm sick to death of seeing the same 7-8 areas in Kirkwall. Or the same 3-4 maps on side quests. The game world is insanely small compared to Origins.

I'm tired of spamming skills to kill the same generic enemies over and over again. You can't even use different strategies to fight your way through mobs due to the way they just randomly pop up all around you. I thought it made a difference at first but it really doesn't seem to matter how I approach combat. Spamming skills is the only realistic strategy at the end of the day. I found I'm actually MORE effective if I just charge in and randomly attack targets than if I carefully plan out my moves.

Increasing the difficulty just increases enemy health and damage output. You fight huge boss battles only to discover that they have 17 silver pieces on them. Or they don't drop anything at all. So I don't even have cool loot drops to look forward to.

DA2 may have 40-60 hours of gameplay, but there isn't really a main story. There just isn't. I really don't know why they bother to list quests under "main plot" in your journal. It really feels like they just arbitrarily stuck quests under that heading to make it feel like you're advancing the plot in some way. What that plot actually is I have no idea. What you're actually moving toward is the next cutscene with Varric.

Going around completing generic fetch or kill X quests isn't a story. It's a collection of quests pretending to be fulfilling content. It may be fulfilling to some people, and that's perfectly fine (whatever floats your boat), but when I play a game that claims to be the sequel to a game that was the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate, I expect a LOT more from my RPG experience.

Like DA:O, the lore in DA2 is fantastic. And there are definitely some great characters. But none of them approach the colorful and highly entertaining cast of characters found in DA:O. Merrill is the only one that might, and a lot of that is largely due to Eve Myles' fantastic delivery. The game looks and sounds great. The inter-party dialogue can often be quite entertaining too if you mix the right characters. For example, Isabela's obsession with sex and Merrill's naivety make for some hilarious exchanges. Carver's blandness clashes perfectly with Isabela's more exuberant personality.

I could go on, but I think this conclusion from Game Informer sums up my thoughts on the PC version of the game perfectly:

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On all platforms, Dragon Age II caters to an audience that didn’t connect with Origins, while alienating those who did. This may result in a better console experience, but considering that Dragon Age: Origins was a love letter to old-school PC RPGs, BioWare’s neglect of the sequel’s PC release is tragic.

http://www.gameinfor...the-middle.aspx

I think their final score of 7.75 is quite generous. I would probably give this a 6.5, to be honest. But I won't do that until I (hopefully) beat the game. Making this even more tragic, I read the DA:O lead designer's blog entry where he discusses his departure from BioWare after working there for a decade:

http://blog.brentkno...08-summer-2009/

If the inevitable DA3 follows the same formula found in DA2, I'm going to be giving it a pass. I don't mind hack and slash RPGs but I think I'll stick with Torchlight and Diablo to get my fix. Both series have that style of gameplay down to a science. It looks like I'll have to look to The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, and Fallout 4 to get my RPG fix. Or replay Origins. It really feels like the BioWare I knew and loved is dead and has been replaced with a company that only resembles them in name. :(

Edited by NeuralClone, 11 March 2011 - 12:56 PM.

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#36 Josh

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 02:33 AM

Disappointing about covers it. Five hours in and I'm not feeling the need to continue playing. It's just so clumsily written, so blandly presented. It's missing a soul. Makes me want to play Planescape: Torment again, just so I can remember how a good story used to be important in this genre.
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#37 Hawkeye

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 07:22 AM

I realise that this is a kinda small thing to take issue with, but I got really annoyed with the customisation screen. I wanted my character to have black hair, but when I selected it, because the background is black, it meant I couldn't see the hair. I found the whole customisation kinda disappointing actually. I gave her white hair in the end, just to spite it ;)
Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air; And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind.

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#38 Niko

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 08:45 AM

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   ...  fight large mobs of enemies that continue to spawn in for an unknown period of time
This is the most off-putting for me.  I'm still early in, but it's so irritating that ever fight is "run ahead and kill some things, then turn around and fight some things that magically appeared behind you, and then turn *back* around and fight more things that appeared in the other direction."   One of the things I came to like about Mass Effect was how, even though I suck at "real-time" combat, I could use the environment (taking cover behind barriers, etc.) and choose companions whose skills gave me some control over the pace of things.   This style of just getting randomly mobbed doesn't seem to reward anything except wading in and flailing around.

(Josh, if you decide to replay Planescape, do a thread about it.  I've been looking for a reason to replay that one, myself.  I don't think I ever actually finished it the first time around.)
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#39 Hawkeye

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 10:29 AM

Does anyone know what you're supposed to do with 'junk' you pick up? Just sell it? Or does it have any use at all?

ETA: Never mind, I read the manual and no, it doesn't have any use ^^

Edited by Hawkeye, 11 March 2011 - 10:39 AM.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air; And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind.

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#40 Mikoto

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 10:48 AM

Its almost 4pm and I'm still waiting for my copy of DA:2 to be delivered. Looks like I won't get it today. And tomorrow I got work all afternoon/evening so even if it comes tomorrow I won't be able to play until gone midnight. (UK time.)

That's IF it comes tomorrow. Proably be monday before I get it by now.
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