I’ve made it known that I haven’t been the biggest Dragon Age II fan. From recycled locations, lackluster character relationships and a “Where is this story even going?” plot, I felt as though Dragon Age II was a meek shadow of Dragon Age: Origins and would have been best marketed as an expansion. A, uh, long expansion. Y’know, “Dragon Age: Adventures in Kirkwall!” or something. Basically anything to temper the expectation that we were going to receive a true-blue Origins sequel.
To prepare for Inquisition I dusted off my copy of Dragon Age II, which hadn’t been touched since 2011. The credits began to roll around the 45 hour mark, and as I watched (what seemed like) thousands of names scroll by I found myself feeling sad that it was over. That’s right, folks. I really, REALLY fucking liked Dragon Age II the second time around. Like, super-duper liked. Liiiike, “Aw man, I wanted to do more!” like.
Because I have publicly voiced my unfavorable opinion on Dragon Age II here, there, and everywhere else on the internet, I figure it’s finally time we make peace. I know many of you wanted to enjoy Dragon Age II as well, so perhaps sharing my experience will also help you see Dragon Age II in a different light:
I had reasonable expectations: Before I jumped into Dragon Age II, I had a long, hard talk with myself. Okay, maybe it was a five second mental conversation, but nonetheless I reminded myself what I didn’t like about Dragon Age II. Therefore after jumping into the game I knew not to expect lush, lively and diverse locations. I knew character relationship building was flawed. I knew where the story was taking me so I didn’t have to guess and feel blindsided when it reached its climax.
Instead of going into Dragon Age II with the “OMG A SEQUEL TO DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS!” mindset I had before my first playthrough, I had the mindset of “This game contains Dragon Age lore, interesting characters as well as showcases a historic moment in Thedas’ history and I should take another look and enjoy the bright spots.”
I played a humorous Hawke: I’m ALWAYS the peacekeeper in RPGs. I like being kind, diplomatic and courteous not only to my party members but to every character I come across. It’s just my THING. That said, diplomatic Marian Hawke – who I assumed 99% of the time in my first playthrough – was b-o-r-i-n-g. I never felt connected to her, but I continued to choose diplomatic choices to ensure I wouldn’t piss anyone off.
I can’t remember who, but months back someone on Twitter told me the key was to play a witty, humorous Hawke. It stuck with me, and as it turns out, ditching the diplomatic tone for the humorous made the biggest difference of EVER. This time around Marian had me laughing, she had me rooting for her and had me agreeing with how she addressed issues. I looked forward to hearing her talk. I finally felt like I was controlling a piece of myself instead of a lifeless, oh-so-proper hero.
I switched the party up: On my first playthrough I pretty much kept the same gaggle of characters in my adventuring group – Anders, Isabella and Varric. That’s great and all, but I really, REALLY missed out on some of the other amazing characters that were in Dragon Age II. Like Merril and her innocent, naive ways. Fenris and his sexy, rebel badassery. (I totally romanced him. He is MUCH better boyfriend material than that stupid Anders.) Aveline. Sebastian. This playthrough I made a conscious effort to spend an equal amount of time with everyone and to mix ’em up. Placing different characters together and listening to their banter was a HUGE highlight for me, and one I missed during my first playthrough. It really opened up Dragon Age II in a whole ‘nother way and did a tremendous job at keeping things fresh.
So, friends, if you disliked Dragon Age II in the same ways I did I’m here to bestow a piece of advice upon ye: Look past the issues, accept and forgive ‘em, and enjoy the content. Enjoy the characters, the story, the lore. After all, those are the best parts of any Dragon Age title.
Now I must play more Dragon Age: Inquisition. Peace. /runs off