Everyone is already talking about Dragon Age 3 and its possible release this or next year, yet most RPG fans say they “don’t have hope for” it; even though they LOVED the first game, they found the second one truly disappointing, so they think the third will be even worse. I personally liked both games and I can’t wait to see and play Dragon Age 3. And while we’re waiting for it, I’d like to understand why people hated Dragon Age 2 so much.
I talked to many RPG fans and managed to discover several common reasons of their hatred towards the second Dragon Age:
1. Skills are stupid and simplified
2. Most maps are reused
3. No epic feeling, everything happens in one small city
4. Not deep, more like an action console game
5. Companion characters are boring
Let’s have a closer look at these reasons.
Skills are really simplified in Dragon Age 2, and this is so true! You can’t really develop your character the way you want, because when you reach higher levels, you’ll have to choose and upgrade almost all available skills. This means that most mage characters will have almost the same skills/spells at lvl40, and this is really boring, especially if we take into account that interesting character development is one of the most inseparable parts of any good RPG.
On the other hand, the simplified skill system in Dragon Age 2 has its pluses, too. First of all, for those who are new to RPGs, it’ll be much easier to navigate and play the game: they won’t have to think which skill to choose at the next level-up – they’ll know they’ll have almost all of them upgraded soon enough. Besides, this system is also rather handy for those who don’t want to spend much time on building a character and want just to play an action-like game with interesting storyline and good dialogues.
Most maps are reused in Dragon Age 2, and this is really annoying. Perhaps the designers didn’t want to make a brand new map for each location/dungeon, or they just didn’t have enough time for that. Anyway, this is terrible, and there is no excuse for this. But if the storyline is more important for you, maybe you can ignore those maps.
I was really surprised to find out that many, many RGP players said that Dragon Age 2 was bad because everything happened in just one city and its surroundings, so there was “no epic feeling” at all. I have always thought that this exact fact was what made Dragon Age 2 so special.
Actually, by saying “epic”, most people mean saving the world, participating in huge wars and doing other things like that. But the truth is – most games already involve saving the whole world from terrible dangers and fighting huge dragons/armies. Isn’t this boring? I think it’s much more interesting to see how a small person lives in a small city, and how his small acts later affect the whole world.
I guess those who say that Dragon Age 2 is more like a console game mean the simplified skill system I mentioned above, plus the fact that you often can’t avoid combats against different bandits, and those combats just waste your time and don’t add anything interesting to the storyline. Yeah, this is true, and I’d personally prefer to see less combats in RPGs in general and in Dragon Age 2 in particular. But on the other hand, even those combats can’t make the game less interesting and addictive.
The most attractive thing in Dragon Age: Origins were the companions of the hero: Morrigan, Alistair, Zevran, and Wynn were great (I didn’t really like Leliana and Sten though). Each of them was really unique, with his/her own way of thinking and speaking.
The companions from Dragon Age 2 weren’t much worse, I think. Varric, Aveline and Anders were really bright and interesting characters, and speaking to them and doing quests for them was a real pleasure. Fenris, Isabella, Merill and the add-on prince were a bit duller, but still very, very attractive and unique. A whole team was working on these characters, and they definitely succeeded, so I don’t think people can call them boring.
I have already played Dragon Age 2 three times (male rogue, male mage, female warrior). It does have shortcomings, of course, but it’s definitely worth playing. I may be wrong, but I think that it doesn’t deserve all of those negative comments. And I’ll play Dragon Age 3 even if it’s exactly like the second game – with no “epic” feeing, with reused maps and simplified skill system.
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Tim Bowers is the ex-Editor of Zero1Gaming, he also occasionally writes when he's able to string sentences together. He can usually be found waiting for Nintendo to remember about Samus Aran.