Three gripes about Dragon Age II

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.



  1. I disagree with your 3rd one. I had to work to get the approval meter in Dragon age 2 to go up..and some would just go down depending on which ‘path” you took, trying not to spoil. You can tell they really are mushy with you if you choose the heart on the wheel.

    Anders will love you no matter what if you favor mages..

    Dragon Age Origins was easy with the feast of gift DLC, you can get everyone liking you with their class specific trait mods in under 15 min.


    • Really? I haven’t had much difficulty. So far Varric, Anders, Aveline and Isabela are almost maxed out. The feastday gifts/pranks were HILARIOUS in DA:O.

  2. I agree with the repetitiveness on the dungeon layouts. It was BRUTAL. As soon as I entered each area, I pretty much knew how to get through it blindfolded.

    I thoroughly enjoyed playing it, but it had the feeling of not being complete. The graphics are beautiful, but the game play issues left me feeling like it was rushed to completion to capture the excitement of Origins.


  3. I don’t see the big difference between grip 1 and 2, so I’ll say the three things I’ve been saying when people say stuff like that about DA2. 1. I didn’t mind the repetitiveness of the dungeons at all, and if people hadn’t made such a big deal of it before I played, I wouldn’t have noticed it til much later. 2. Bioware has addressed the issue, they sacrificed variety in locations to pack in more side missions. I have zero complaints for them doing that, I never got sick of them, just couldn’t put the game down. 3. I thought the repetitive locations were MUCH worse in DA:O…most side missions were random encounters between 2 locations that you were traveling to and they were always on an identical battlefield…accept when you were in that main city, where there was a second battlefield. But I will admit that I only played DA:O once, and wasn’t a big fan of it, and I know you love the game.

    As far your third gripe…I had no problem with that either, I couldn’t get a good handle on the friend/foe system in Origins and found DA2’s system much better.

    I loved the game, gave it a 10. It’s my favorite game of this gen after ME1 and 2. It’s hard to imagine another game coming out the will beat it out as GOTY for me, since ME3 has been moved to next year. Hope none of this constitutes a spoiler for you :P

  4. I think you accidentally left the word “yet” off the end of that final sentence, haha.

    I finally played the demo for this, and while it was enjoyable, it made me laugh. In the short snippet of the game, it makes you play the same section TWICE! If that’s a sign of the repetition to come, I’m a bit weary of getting into this game. I haven’t played the first, either, so I have no bond with the franchise like you do. Is it even worth it?

    BioWare certainly dropped the ball on this one.

    • Y’know, this isn’t something I’ve touched on yet, but I can’t help but wonder if I’d be enjoying DA2 like I am had it not been for my obsession with Origins. I can’t see how the DA2 would even make sense to someone who knows nothing of DA lore.

  5. Well… let’s just say “embrace it”. THE reason for the repetitive locations and smaller “world” is due to its release on console. If they had left it as a PC only title, we’d have another world-spanning adventure.

    Yes, you go to the same places, but once you put that aside, there’s a lot of stuff happening in those places. In a way, it’s more realistic than yet another hero-across-the-world adventure. And the payoff is entertaining and will fit into DA3 in great ways.

    The home base thing? It’s just a way to substitute your camp in a way that’s more realistic. The one advantage to the homes? You can use ’em to map jump and for swapping teams in and out.

    So, without spoiling too much… yeah… you’re not going to wipe gripe one and two.

    Still, as with Dragon Age 1- the more times I play through it, the more I enjoy it. Which I didn’t think I would with DA2- but knowing the system better each time makes each replay more entertaining!

    Did you get to the part where you flay Alistair alive? Oooops! Spoiler!
    (Oh, I kid.)

    Ultimately I overcame those complaints with my embracing of the combat system.

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