Rampant Dragon Age Skepticism

Someone could call me a Dragon Age 2 skeptic. I was a pretty big fan of the first Dragon Age (though nothing compared to either of my fellow DA:O fanatics, Patricia and Graham), but I’m not a massive Bioware devotee. I like good games, not Bioware specifically. I’m worried about Dragon Age 2 because trusted folk on the internet have said, “We’ve played it, and this game is a bad console action-rpg with morality attached.” Bioware has released almost no official gameplay footage. All word out of Camp Bioware has been worrisome.

Well, here’s this dev diary, to assuage our fears. And by assuage our fears, I mean confirm all of them. Basically, if you liked Dragon Age for the deep, tactical combat and for the ability to have shades of gray discussions with people, you were playing it wrong. The deep, tactical “chess” like combat is apparently a negative. Well, no, not a negative, they say, but something “people didn’t like”, which is most definitely a negative. They’ve made a new experience, which people who wear armor to conventions like. Why shouldn’t you?

Deep down, my concern for DA2 was never the story. Even with a voiced protagonist, I’m pretty sure Bioware know what they’re doing on that front. I mean, even Jade Empire, forgotten Bioware game of myth and legend, did some neat story based stuff. No, where I was skeptical was the gameplay. Both Mass Effects succeeded in spite of their gunplay. Knights of the Old Republic, even, ran pretty shit. Origins represented the first time they got combat right, a mix of tactical ideas and visceralness. But then they ran into the problem. The problem that everything has to be more physical and more real, because if not, then console players won’t be happy.

Basically, I watch this video and I hear, “PC gamers? You’ll buy this anyway, because you are good, loyal consumers. What we want is the person who plays Gears of War exclusively!” which, while I good business strategy, makes me question your desire to make good games and not just make scads of money.

My mild skepticism is turning into rampant disgust at Bioware tearing the heart and soul out of a great game, and I don’t know if anything they say can fix that. Because I think that’s what they’re doing.

2 Comments

  1. David

    Despite its flaws, DA:O is probably my GOTY, because nothing else sucked me in quite so much. My problem with the combat is that it wasn’t tactical enough–mainly that you couldn’t queue up orders for your party like in KotOR.

    They left you with a few options: fuss with the tactics menu, which never really works that great no matter how much time you put into it. Let the NPCs do their own shit, which is fine in everything but the harder battles at the default difficulty. Micro-manage everything. In the Golems DLC, I paused most of those battles about every 5 seconds–literally–and much of that would have been fixed by allowing something as simple as the multiple order queue for one of BioWare’s previous gamaes.

    IF–and this is a big if–they improve party AI, I’m O.K. with a more action/RPG bent to the game. It’s not ideal, but I love the world of Thedas, and I’m comfortable with good hack n’ slash. That said, when DA2 was first announced, they mentioned that the PC version would retain a more tactical feel, so I might just pick that one up rather than for my 360. I haven’t seen any confirmation of that lately, which is worrisome, but that might be worth keeping an eye on.

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