Dragon Age II: now more like Mass Effect 2

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by Brother None, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. sea

    sea Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 5, 2009
    Kind of surprising that BioWare would hire a writer that isn't very familiar with games. You'd think they'd be the first proponents of games as a unique form of storytelling, with interactivity at the forefront. With CRPGs largely about choice and consequence, I'd expect BioWare to hire someone more well versed in offering interesting and logical things for players to do. Maybe she's perfectly fine at her job, of course, I don't know what writing she's responsible for. You'd just expect they'd want someone with more background in gaming.
     
  2. Ilosar

    Ilosar Vault Fossil

    Apr 20, 2010
    The Bioware writing staff is very diverse. Some are pretty good (David Gaider is overall decent, but their best is Lukas Kristjanson, he was there since the company began and wrote Aveline and Carver, two of the three best companions if you ask me), while most of the other writers are... not so good, while also being mostly women (I make no correlation at all, to clarify). Case in point; Isabela, a character about as subtle as her outfit, written by a women. That said, Mary Kirby wrote Varric, another excellent character, and the best of Origins too (the Sten, Loghain, the Landsmeet)

    Also, looking at her Wiki page http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Jennifer_Hepler , Helper is pretty good actually (the Grand Cleric and Cullen in DA2 are both well-written characters and their reactions towards you change based on how you treat them, especially Cullen).

    I would really like to know who wrote the Act 2 main quest and the Arishok. These were the best pieces of writing in the game as far as quests went, but I could not find who worked on it.
     
  3. aenemic

    aenemic Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Jun 4, 2008
    so I gave in and tried the game out. I'm kinda hooked to be honest, it definitely keeps me interested so far. there will be some minor spoilers below, so if you don't want to know anything at all of the plot, don't read any further.

    I like how the game flows, the way everything is presented like a side-quest instead of having a few major plot points and then some random "kill this and talk to that" quests you can pick up from chanter's boards and whatnot. sure, in the end most quests end up having you kill something, but at least in act 1 (only just started act 2) it feels like you're seeking out worthwhile work to be able to pay for the expedition and you get deeper and deeper into several plotlines along the way. choices seem to have at least some minor effect on what happens in the game and a lot of side-quests are actually pretty long and will continue with new quests throughout the game. so, to put it simply, questing is fun and doesn't feel nearly as much as mindless grinding as in most other rpg's. so far.

    also, the main story is indeed interesting and manages to keep me playing to see where it all ends up. it's not epic in any way and it doesn't exactly keep you on edge out of suspense, but it makes you interested in the characters and to see their fate and try to affect the outcome best you can. parts of it are kind of stupid on the other hand, for example the whole thing with Aveline. she is a well written character. I like her lines and her personality, and that she's not your average big breasted bimbo. but why the hell would the captain of the guard follow you around and put her life at risk for some clearly illegal and highly suspicious jobs? and why does she let a nobody like Hawke stir up trouble all over town and kill whoever he/she pleases?

    also dialogue in general is all over the place. some of it is great. some characters have among the best voice acting I've heard in a game. while some of it borders on embarassing. mainly female Hawke. how the hell could they let that dialogue through? I've never before actually hated my main character. but no matter how I attempt to roleplay her to my liking, she ends up saying something utterly stupid and acting like a complete moron. not to mention the horrible voice acting. picking the "evil" option, which I tend to do most of the time, ranges from being calm and straightforward but still caring to being a raged lunatic who'd murder anyone from looking at you wrong. and the "jokes"... well, let's just say I'd trust a 3rd grader to write better comedy.

    and then we have combat, which is the absolutely weakest part of the game. I'm playing on hard and it definitely offers a lot of tactics and frequent use of pausing and giving orders. but the times when the game is incredibly hard is when the computer more or less cheats and throws wave after wave of enemies at you that spawn in the middle of the battlefield, preferably on top of your weakst characters and more or less kill them in an instant. too many fights in the game consist of first dying, then figuring out where the next group will spawn and try to move your characters out of reach in time. I'm slowly realizing that having a tank is useless since they don't do any damage but still can't control the battlefield in an effective way. Taunt is useless and it's way too easy to lose threat to a high damage dealer. a group of mid health/high damage warriors or rogues plus a healer seem to get the job done. except for some boss fights. and these are a whole different story. the two hardest fights so far consisted of a boss that managed to kill my damage dealers easily but couldn't touch my tank. but the boss just wouldn't die becaue the tank deals next to no damage at all. these were fun fights, I give them that, but they definitely didn't feel very tactical. too much luck and quick reflexes involved.

    and finally, the overuse of repeated scenery. lazy is the only word that can describe it. extremely lazy.
     
  4. Ilosar

    Ilosar Vault Fossil

    Apr 20, 2010
    Act 2 is actually the best part of the game imo, especially when you start dealing more and more with the Qunari, and the Arishok is an excellent character. The story also feels focused without the 'save teh world naow!!!' feel so many games have, very refreshing if you ask me.

    About Aveline following Hawke, yeah, suspension of disbelief on that one. She kinda hand-waves it by saying she is keeping an eye on you, but she lets highly obvious crimes let go with a meager +5 rivalry. I guess it's the same as playing a mage; you go around in robe and staff, blasting your way through the city (in the Gallows, even, at the very start of the game) for hours, and the Templars never notice. Again, I think a random conversation with Varric reveals he bribes people to keep it secret, but there's only so much coin he must have considering how many fights you pick. A quests like in BG2 where you get an important person on your side (say, Cullen? you do save his butt) so that they leave your magic alone would go a long way towards fixing the issue.

    And you just listed the two biggest issues pretty much anybody have with the game; magic adds and level re-use. But I doubt the later is laziness, remember, they had 1 year ans a third (November 2009-February 2011) to produce a 50-hours long CRPG. Considering the ridiculous deadline, I say they did a good job (not an excuse, but there's only so much they can do).

    And true, the sarcastic option is very hit-and-miss. It does have some good lines once in a while, but companions have most of the game's comedy (I urge you to do Varric's Act 2 quest as soon as possible, pure gold)
     
  5. LinkPain

    LinkPain Mildly Dipped

    Jan 18, 2011
    No doubt they did as much as they could, but they're putting a lot of pressure on DLC sales to get as much money as they can.
    Was it not possible for them to wait a little longer and work on gameplay more?
    They always had great stories and writers. I mean it's Bioware, when they say they're going to do something they usually do it. What happened now?
     
  6. sea

    sea Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 5, 2009
    I think the way BioWare phrased it is, they had a bunch of ideas for new quests and content which weren't initially proposed in development, but not enough time to built new unique areas around them. They decided that new content was worth reusing some of the environments for. Pretty much, a management issue coupled with a lack of time to overhaul certain aspects of the game. They at least said they could have easily avoided the mistake and would strive to in the future.

    I'm still watching a let's play, infrequently, and I'm being more and more annoyed by some of the smaller and sillier design choices. While some quests seem legitimately interesting, the vast majority of side-quests take the form of "kill 10 rats" or "bring me a kobold's paw". Could we please get something more than a "kill the monsters" or "bring me an item" quest, BioWare? Remember when side-quests used to be open-ended, ambiguous and took highly unexpected turns? I see none of that here. Worse, many of the quests lack any sort of believability. Why does Hawke come across hidden financial documents in ancient ruins, or a family's priceless heirloom out in the woods? Sure, maybe someone hid it there... I guess... instead of somewhere that makes sense, but in that case, how did they get past the waves upon waves of killer spiders? If the quest giver is tough enough to kill them, why are they even asking Hawke for help? It's just poorly thought-out. Message for BioWare: I know that "50 hours of gameplay" is a lot to strive for, but you don't do it by giving the player 50 fetch quests that take 1 hour to complete because the player has to run back and forth aimlessly all over the world for every one.

    Additionally, it seems like half the time, upon completing a quest, you don't even need to return to the original owner - the game just magics some money into your inventory and the game goes all QUEST COMPLETE on you. You do have to return to the quest giver sometimes, but even then they never give you any options. Why can't I extort him/her for more money? Why can't I report his/her illegal actions to the city guard? Why can't I bring their kobold paws to the highest bidder instead? Even some simple semblance of choice and consequence here would go a really long way, but no, most of the time you don't even get a proper dialogue, just a "thanks" popup text over the character's head, and away you go. I know that most resources should be devoted to providing a great story campaign, but I'd much rather take 10 excellent side-quests with multiple solutions/rewards/outcomes than I would take 50 unrelated FedEx quests, all of which sound like they were conceptualised, designed, written and implemented on the same weekend.
     
  7. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    And you buy that? They had a minimum amount of game time to fill, and since they did not have the budget to do so, they had to shove in hasty shitty copies of the same dungeon over and over. It's got suit decision written all over it. "We didn't want to sacrifice our great ideas" is one heck of a thin excuse.
     
  8. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    I think Dragon Age 2 would have been a lot better as some kind of "Ad-don" maybe named Dragon Age Hawke or something like that instead of making some sequel. Somewhat like what they did with Throne of Bhaal for Baldurs Gate 2 and simply make a "good" Sequel some time later. I mean it seems like "good" Ad-dons died out with the age of DLCs anyway.

    Something different though. It seems BioWare's member Mike Laidlaw saw some need to defend Dragon Age 2 from the criticsm it received so far. Here the interview

    BioWare's Mike Laidlaw: A defence of Dragon Age II
     
  9. LinkPain

    LinkPain Mildly Dipped

    Jan 18, 2011
    ^
    Completely agree with addon.

    But there they go in the interview again bitching about something their eye saw, like they can please every fucking human(baby) on this planet:

    "I couldn't play Origins, I thought it was too slow, the story was too plodding, too typical, and Dragon Age II is awesome by comparison!"

    Please point me to this guy, i wanna make him tell something else about the game. He might live after our talk actually.
    Perhaps they will listen to simple (not to say TARD) looking requests more than eloquently described ones.
    I think they should have gone to 4chan and asked about DA:O, they are excellent at helping people in that "shitty game make more haxor hacsz sex kill all MAGIC SHINING!" kind of way.
     
  10. sea

    sea Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 5, 2009
    I don't buy it, I'm just saying that's the official excuse given. :P It's pretty obvious that they were under a lot of pressure to deliver a game of a certain size within a strict timeframe. While I doubt that the excuse given is total crap, if you read between the lines I think it's pretty clear that they simply had bigger ideas for the game than they had time to implement, and didn't manage the project in a way where they were able to handle them in a satisfactory manner. It certainly isn't the "we had too many ideas" situation they're trying to sell it as.
     
  11. Ravager69

    Ravager69 Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Dec 21, 2007
    I see some mindless trolling around here. Despite it's flaws, DAII is a good game. Not living up to the hype, but a good game nonetheless and certainly not of an add-on quality. The whole story of Hawke's rising is pretty plausibile, as far as fantasy games go. Never had I the feeling that what was I doing was pointless, the game is coherent, the content interesting and there is awful lot to do. Dialogues are a rip-off of Mass Effect 2 "OMG Shephard you are so awesome". Mages vs Templars plot was done properly, though templars were shown as those more unjust.

    Reused levels? So the fuck what? Oh, and Origin WAS too slow and cliche.
     
  12. Ilosar

    Ilosar Vault Fossil

    Apr 20, 2010
    Although positivism about DA2 is very refreshing, Ravager, and I mostly agree, gonna have to discuss about some little things. Re-using assets is something every game does, but having the whole game not change in scenery after 10 (ok, 20 if you count the Deep Roads) hours at all is not acceptable for a AAA title. At least make main plot missions take place in unique areas.

    As for Mages vs Templars, I have two criticisms; it was already done in Origins (albeit it was more one-sided, the Templar option was clearly evil there), so focusing on the Qunari would have much better imo. Also, the plight of the mages sound very much dry after all the wacky shit that happens in Act 3 because of rogue/insane mages, and also because the mages in the story that aren't either blood mages or stupid can be counter on the fingers of both hands.

    I do agree Hawke's personal story was good, better than Origins's save the world thing. Just wish the family took a bigger role.

    That, and at least the game is challenging this time around. I am on Nightmare and am getting consistently mauled by the more difficult fights, something that happened only twice in Origins (Ser Cauthrien and the Harvester from the Golems DLC). There's a bloody good reason Friendly Fire is only on in that difficulty too.
     
  13. LinkPain

    LinkPain Mildly Dipped

    Jan 18, 2011
  14. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    The question for me isn't so much if DA2 is a "good" or "entertaining" game. But if it is a good RPG. And sadly nothing that I have seen or heard so far really tells me that it stands out in that part. But that is just my humble opinion.

    But to be fair the last time we got a really good RPG in the direction of the "known" games (be it Fallout or Arcanum) is quite long ago. But I think even for todays standart DA2 is ... just mediocre.
     
  15. sea

    sea Vault Senior Citizen

    Oct 5, 2009
    Well yeah, that's the real kicker. Dragon Age II isn't terrible. It's not horrid and unplayable. It's not a complete buggy mess of a game. It's just... generally okay in every way. It checks all the boxes, but doesn't really excel over any other game and when it fails, it fails hard. Is it fun? I haven't played it, but it looks like it'd be enjoyable enough to go through. Does it do anything better than any other game? Not really. Does it move RPGs forward one iota? Hell no. Has it really convinced me that it's worth playing over better games? Absolutely not. The outrage over Dragon Age II isn't because it's a dreadful game (it isn't), it's that BioWare's standards should be higher than to settle for "decent," and because many of its problems could have been easily avoided with a little more thought, foresight and development time.
     
  16. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010
    Well, from what I gather, Dragon Age II is a decent game, but not a decent RPG.
    But in my view, Dragon Age Origins is a decent game, and more or less, a decent RPG by today's standards - pure mediocre. I enjoyed some parts of it, and I'm generally satisfied.
    But if Dragon Age II is a worse game, than how should I see it? Certainly not as an AAA game.
     
  17. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Man you're way behind, LinkPain, that happened ages ago. Since then they've permanently banned another play from the forums and his account and I've yet to hear the resolution of that one.

    That is always true of any game project. BioWare is too experienced to fall into that trap.
     
  18. Ilosar

    Ilosar Vault Fossil

    Apr 20, 2010
    I have actually started writing a review, and came to the conclusion that it was a decent game that had lots of potential and several good ideas but was or rushed and suffered from bad design decisions. If I had to give it a score, a 7 or 7.5 would fit (for reference, origins is about 8.5-9 in my books). It's nowhere near bad, but for anybody but the most fanatical Bioware fan it's not worth the 70$ price tag. It still has enjoyable moments, and a couple of priceless scenes, so I do not regret my purchase, but I am disappointed and will be more wary of future Bioware titles.

    I still cannot fathom what EA expects to win by releasing such a rushed product. Hell, the sales so far are looking to be much lower than Origins's 4-5 millions. Even if it cost less in development, I doubt they will make more money because of the execrable marketing and word of mouth.
     
  19. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Hazel Hegemon oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010
    What I still cannot fathom is how EA doesn't get that rushed products are bad...or that they can be better. A lot better.
    Is it so hard to learn from mistakes you've already made?