Gripe #1: Lack of variation with locations. Okay, I get it. Hawke is supposed to become the “Champion of Kirkwall”, so it only makes sense that most of your adventure takes place in and around the surrounding areas of the ancient city. But for the love of God—I’m over 20 hours in (note: I’ve spent some of that time finishing side quests) and the only change of scenery I’ve had is in the dark and dreary Deep Roads. And I hate those. But, it’s still early. If a greater variety of locations became accessible, I’ll wipe this gripe clean.
Gripe #2: Repetitive layouts. Not only are your traversable locations the same (seriously, how many times can I visit Lowtown, Sundermount or the Wounded Coast?) the dungeon, hideout, housing, etc layouts are spitting images of each other.
A cavern’s layout in Sundermount will look the same as an apostates’ hideout off of the Wounded Coast. An underground passageway hidden in Lowtown will look exactly like the Blood Mage’s experimenting grounds in Darktown. Bioware, in a failed attempt “mix” things up and make up for the lack of innovation, sealed off certain doors with an impassible cement block. So, in layout A the door may be sealed, but in layout B it’s open. IT’S LIKE A WHOLE NEW DUNGEON! /sarcasm FAIL, Bioware, FAIL. ::grumble::
Gripe #3: Character interaction. I can’t quite figure the character interaction mumbo-jumbo out. I like the idea of each character having their own “home base”, but I haven’t seen any significance to it. Sure, you can visit that character in their home, and some quests require you to do so, but a random visit to a character won’t get you anywhere; a conversation wheel isn’t initiated, and oftentimes you’ll only get a one liner out of them (and that one liner is generally something like “We should move on” or “Let’s go”).
The approval rating system flat out sucks. I’m disappointed and a half by this. Unlike in Dragon Age: Origins where you had to work your way up from “Neutral” to “Love” (or “Friendly” if you didn’t wish to romance that character), Dragon Age II has “Friend” and “Rival” with a bar connecting them and a little pointer that marks your approval. That’s it. There is no indication as to where you stand with a character. Do they consider you a friend? Foe? Are they interested in you? Your guess is as good as mine.
So imagine my surprise when Anders started talking mushy to Hawke. I was like, dude, I’ve only had a few minor conversations with you, and you’re talking like Alistair was before the battle with the Archdemon. Since when are you interested in me? And if you are interested in me, why is the left end of your approval bar still labeled as “Friend”?
Despite my bitching, I will say that I’m enjoying Dragon Age II. My journey in Thedas is still very young, and I’m holding out hope that these things will improve, although I have this inkling that the phrase “What you see is what you get” may apply in this situation.
If this is the case I may have to clutch my Alistair pillow* and cry myself to sleep every night.
*I do not have an Alistair pillow.