Dragon Age II: It’s dangerous to go alone

Shall we just pretend that the last DA2 post never happened? Yes, let’s do that.

So, companions! What would a BioWare game be without them? I don’t know and let’s never find out.

Varric — If I ever replay DA2, I’m totally going to bromance Varric. He’s a storyteller! He’ll lie to your face but he always, always has your back. He named his crossbow, but he’s totally cool about it. He finds ways to do things, and I’m all about people who help me find ways to do things. Best of all, when I decided to help a group of rogue mages escape from Kirkwall, and I needed a story to tell the pursuing Templar, I threw to Varric and he nailed it. Everyone walked away and Varric and I drank all the pints.

Carver — And when Varric and I were drinking all the pints, we poured a little out for Carver. The like/dislike mechanic in DA:O is translated to “friendship/rivalry” in DA2, and it was Carver who sold me on the fact that “rivalry” isn’t the same as being an enemy. Everything I did in the early stages seemed to earn a rivalry response from Craver, and as the younger brother in a once and future noble family, it kind of made sense.

The one choice I made to make Carver happy–taking him with me to the Deep Roads instead of insisting that he stay at home–killed him. And you know, that was handled kind of awkwardly. The whole conversation where mother begs me not to take Carver along hints pretty strongly that Bad Things Will Happen, but when I actually lose Carver, it feels kind of random. We fought the big fight, everyone came out okay, and then Carver dies of Infectious Plot Demanded Wasting Away Syndrome (IPDWAS).

It was still the right choice. Carver died my brother, a peer, instead of living as a child left home with mother. In real life, this isn’t a meaningful choice, but in the story, it felt right.

Adeline — My other companion from (almost) the beginning), I’ve kind of left her out of my party most of the time. I’ve included her more in Act 2 than Act 1, partially because I was down a warrior, and partially because I wasn’t so hung up on the rivalry response, but you know, I had a feeling that she wasn’t going to like most of my choices, and who wants to deal with that. She was happier with the Guard, and I was happier without her judging everything from over my shoulder.

But maybe it would have been okay. I do tend to play on the up and up, mostly. Even so, who wants to go on adventures with a cop?

Merrill — Almost single-handedly, Merrill changed my default combat party from DA:O, which was two warriors (one of them usually Dog), a mage (myself), and a rogue. This meant that I didn’t normally include Morrigan or Wynne, and carried all the magic duties myself. Without Dog, I might have switched things around a bit more, but I’ve already talked about my devotion to Dog.

My DA2 default party is a warrior, two mages, and a rogue, mostly because I want Merrill around. She reads as very innocent, but she’s involved with some pretty dark forces—she’s a blood mage, even if I’ve developed her “Primal” magic skill set at greater length—and her reactions to my decisions aren’t always intuitively predictable. (I mean, I’ve learned her tendencies, but they aren’t what I would’ve initially expected.)

Merrill keeps me on my toes. More than any of my other companions, I wanted her to like me. She’s sweet and dark, and it’s irresistible.

Isabela — And for all that, I nearly locked in a romance with Isabela instead. Isabella actually joined my party last, because I was avoiding The Hanged Man so as not to get locked into Varric’s trip to the Deep Roads too early in the first act. Not having completed a romance at all in DA:O (I was involved with Leliana, but for mathematical reasons didn’t quite get past the early dating stages), I was open to Isabela’s advances, and she was the first character it really felt right to flirt with.

I was totally willing to talk about moving in, but that sort of commitment wasn’t really who Isabela was, and when I finally had the chance to consummate my crush on Merrill, I went for it.

And to the game’s credit, it didn’t lead to BioWare’s default confrontational drama. Isabela and I weren’t in the sort of relationship that excluded seeing other people, and even more, Isabela and Merrill are written as friends, and Isabela seemed to treat that as just as important as our trysts. I was upfront about Hawke’s feelings for Merrill, and Isabela was happy for us, in a way that seemed entirely in line with her character.

Anders — But I still don’t have a great read on Anders. He was kind of self-involved in Awakening, and I didn’t use him a lot, and now he’s angsty and I don’t use him a lot. I am, however, a bit disturbed at his tale of leaving the Grey Wardens, because it implicitly means that my Warden Commander took an action I never would have taken. Anders claims that the final straw in his decision to leave the Wardens was that his cat, Ser Pounce-a-lot, was taken from him because it made him “too soft.”

I played the Witch Hunt DA:O DLC after completing Awakening, and doing so meant that Ser Pounce-a-lot was still an item in my inventory. Which means that the Warden Commander, the hero of Fereldan, stole Anders’ cat.

And this is Not Cool. What kind of person steals somebody’s cat?

Sebastian — I don’t love Sebastian, he’s kind of, I dunno, righteous? But he is what he is, and I dig that. (Religion in Dragon Age is a whole different post, maybe not by me, but Sebastian is kind of a rare example of a person of faith acting on his beliefs for the most part in good faith, and that’s worth including, too.)

Fenris — So moody. So, so moody. That’s kind of all I have. He’s kind of my Sten for DA2, the character I’m not terribly interested in. Even I only have so much energy.

NEXT WEEK: What’s the theory of power in DA2? Or, politics as (un)usual.

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


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