When I did these notes for Dragon Age: Origins, I started off very note-ish, but soon devolved into informal short essays around a single event or element of the game. I’m not sure what format exactly these Dragon Age II notes will take, or how consistent I feel I need to be, but this note, anyway, is going to be very note-ish. I’m not anywhere deep enough into the game to draw meaningful conclusions, so for the moment, I’ll be conveying impressions.
The escape from Lothering: GEEZ that ogre put Bethany down hard.
Given that the name of the series is “Dragon Age,” nice that this game gives you a dragon early. And it’s an old friend!
Who has been heavily redesigned. Which maybe I could dig more it it were more of a “different aspects in different appearances” thing, but it feels a bit more like a “let’s see what we can do with this new shiny game engine” thing. (Maybe that’s not entirely a fair assessment at this point.)
“I want to be a Dragon.” I wrote this down in quotes, so I’m pretty sure it’s a line I got to deliver. Which I hope it was because I totally want to be a dragon. Let’s make this happen, DA2.
Interstitial art: Very stylized! Almost Samurai-Jack-esque, if that makes sense. I like it. If nothing else, it makes for much more visually interesting loading screens. (If you’re going to make me wait in an elevator, at least give me something to look at.)
Arriving in Kirkwall is very dramatic. DA2 seems to be going for a much more cinematic vibe than DA:O, which has it’s ups and downs. Although if I’m honest, I usually don’t mind cutscenes as long as the game makes good use of them.
The lost year: Given that the beginning of DA2 jumps back chronologically almost to the beginning of DA:O, it almost feels like a bit of a cheat that the story indentures your character for a year — you know, basically the in-story time during which DA:O takes place, and then just jumps forward.
It’s potentially rather interesting the way DA2 kind of plays with what exactly is the present at the beginning of the game. There’s a dwarf being held by Templars who are interrogating him about the player character’s past. So the “now” being shown is ostensibly after the end of the game I haven’t played yet, but the gameplay “now” is at the very beginning of the game I just spent dozens of hours already playing, and the “now” once I’ve finished the prologue and get free rein of Kirkwall is the past. According to the prologue.
Which, you know, is maybe why the game abandons that conceit pretty quickly.
BUT — all this time weirdness (and maybe the missed potential of even more time weirdness? I dunno. I like weird games) brings me to the one thing about the Awakening expansion to Dragon Age: Origins that’s probably worth talking about.
Which is that even though my Grey Warden died at the end of Dragon Age: Origins — turning down the deal to cheat death offered by Morrigan, and striking the final blow to kill the archdemon herself rather than letting Alistair take the easy way out of the throne I worked so hard to win for him whether he wanted it or not, dammit — importing my DA:O save to Awakening meant that my Warden was running around again as if nothing had happened.
Even though Alistair buried her with honor next to the other Wardens. It was very moving, except that now apparently it didn’t happen? Alistair came to visit me in Awakening, and he didn’t seem freaked out to see me alive. You know, like he ostensibly would be if he’d given a eulogy over my corpse.
There is a moment in the “Witch Hunt” DLC where Morrigan at least addresses the fact that I shouldn’t be walking around, but I haven’t bumped into anything like that in DA2. As near as I can figure from an NPC who gives Hawk a quest to kill several rogue Amaranthine nobles, my Warden is still in Vigil’s Keep.
I mean, am I a zombie? Is there a side quest to go kill me?
Now I totally want a side quest to go kill me.
NEXT WEEK: The main quest begins, and maybe some more thoughts on present and past tense in narrative and games.
A slightly different version of this note was originally shared through my TinyLetter, The Playthrough, where I am currently playing and writing about Dragon Age: Inquisition. You can subscribe to The Playthrough at http://tinyletter.com/theplaythrough