Dragon Age 2 hit the shelves (or digital shelves) on March 8th and I have been excited to give it ago. The demo was promising and I adored the first game. Almost as much as Mass Effect.
I’ve been able to invest a bit of time already and have an initial reaction to a lot of the game play elements. As most people saw in the demo, combat was crisp, attacks were dramatic, and you sliced through people zooming across the battlefield. It felt good.
Bioware identified a lot of annoyances from the first one but also fixed a few things that I didn’t think were broken. The sequel doesn’t allow you to give your party members armor. You can give them rings, trinkets, or belts but their armor is always predetermined for them. They thought removing the need to comb over everyone’s gear would make the experience more enjoyable and that might be true for some people. However I am willing to bet that many people looking for an RPG was will be saddened by this element being removed.
Crafting is much simpler in Dragon Age 2. Most crafting (at least for me) in the original was buying tons and tons of raw materials and frantically clicking the craft button repeatedly. This time around you won’t find your bags packed to the brim with Elfroot, but rather meet merchants that you can order products from. These are your potions/poisons/grenade variety obviously.
My original interpretation of the story from the demo and reading was that Dragon Age 2 took place concurrently with Dragon Age, as you played out the events of another person. That is not the case as a year magically passed and you hear accolades about how the Grey Warden’s slew the Archdemon. I’ve enjoyed the dialog thus far, and I am still getting into other people’s personal stories, but it’s been great having a voice for my character, just like Shepard in Mass Effect.
I am playing through the game as a Two-handed Warrior on Insanity. I’ve already ran into a few encounters that have given me pause and re-evaluate my tactics as rogue-like characters have a bad habit of one-shotting my Mages. In the first game you could chug potions as the damage came in. It seems like my Warrior in the first game should have only had one sword as a vial was always in his other hand. But that didn’t bother me.
I have access to two different types of healing potions with much longer cooldowns than what you might have been used to in the first game. And the healing spell my Mages have has an abnormally long cooldown that has resulted me in me kiting at least a few mobs while waiting for abilities to become ready.
I also have not found any way to determine what negative effects are on my character. There have been more than a couple times that my hero seems frozen in place and even using my dispel magic ability from someone else has no effect. I need to double-check the game options but it seems like an oversight. This is information people want or need to know.
At this point in the game, the encounters feel less unique than the ones you found in the original. I mow through a group of bandits as I walk through town at night only to have two more waves spawn halfway through the fight. And slaughtering bad guys is an exercise in caution on Insanity as I have killed my entire party inadvertently. They were running away from enemies, being smart and trying to open a gap, only to run right past me as I cast Whirlwind or Scythe and watched them fall over and make me promptly reload.
Despite these flaws, I can’t wait to get home and play it some more.