Where did Dragon Age II fall short?

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With the recent release of Dragon Age Inquisition, I believed I ought to give Dragon Age II another play through, as I hated it the first time. I got to thinking what about the sequel made me loath to play it, where as in Dragon Age Origins I completed 10 playthroughs and continue to replay it without hesitation. What was the drastic change between them, well… now I finally have an answer.

The RPG sequel, Dragon Age II, was polarized in its effect on the gaming community; some people felt the decisions in design were more confining than liberating, and not all ideas hit the running. However, the benefits to having a widespread spectrum of voiced opinions, especially in an industry such as gaming; this allows developers, in this case BioWare, to filter out the extremes and tackle the important aspects: what can be kept, taken out, or revised. Nevertheless, the binary that stipulates whether a game is good or bad, only perpetuates the motif that things are never as good as their predecessor, or in this case as good as all the hype made Dragon Age II out to be.

I tried to figure out where Dragon Age II had fallen short in my opinion, and the character development satisfied me, menu interface, and dialogue choices had me content. As an RPG it did its job, but after it was all over and the last credit rolled, I wasn’t dying to have another play through. What had me throwing my hands up and wondering what had just happened was that all the nuanced themes that were in Origins were overlooked as if they did not exist. BioWare pretends to touch on slavery, acculturation, and even caste systems, but they are nothing more than petty excuses for fights. The most controversial elements of Origins are thrown to the Mabari in DAII, leaving the game and players alike grasping at themes they want to explore after they are long gone. Everything I had worked for in Origins was presented in a single cut scene in the sequel. It felt as if the developers were cutting me out effectively and making all my choices in Origins nearly obsolete. What is the point of having NPCs that heavily changed the world with a single action? If that was the case, why not just sit down and watch a movie, there my choices don’t matter either and frankly I would get more enjoyment out of them.

Finally, what was up with the ending? I personally believe this to be the biggest downfall of Dragon Age II, not only to myself but also to a slew of people in the gaming community. Cliffhangers are supposed to provide a sense of anticipation for the next installment… here, I was moderately annoyed because of the lack buildup leading to the end, but when I began to ask the game, “What happened to my companions?” I realized, I did not care and they were not going to tell me. At that point, I wanted to turn the game off and never look at it again.

If I had to call Dragon Age II a bad game, I couldn’t. Although, I also would not call it a sequel, it was more of a kin pack to Awakenings. Moreover, at the price I paid for, I would have expected a better plot buil, and more security in the fact that my choices in the game actually mattered.

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