The Dragon Age series has had two wildly different entries to date. They both have their strengths and weaknesses (I’m looking at you, Dragon Age II), but they’re still both enjoyable RPGs. Whether or not you hate being Hawke or you’re still pining after Alistair, there’s something in these games for everyone. With the third entry, Dragon Age III: Inquisition, on the horizon, it’s time to take a take a look at some of the things that BioWare should carry over, as well as those that should probably be left in the past.
What should stay:
The Characters (Dragon Age: Origins and II): One thing BioWare tends to get right, even on “misfires,” is the characters. Alistair, Morrigan, Zevran, Fenris, Sebastian, Anders, etc… The list goes on and on. The characters in both Dragon Age games are amazing, multi-layered, and meaningful. Listening to the members of your party banter with one another is not only humorous, but provides insight into how the characters think and act as clever, bite-sized, moments of character development. For the most part, players will genuinely care about the fates of the people who join them on their journey throughout the course of both titles.
The Scope (Dragon Age: Origins): One of the problems that presented itself in Dragon Age II was that it never really felt like you were going anywhere, whereas Dragon Age: Origins had players traveling all over the world to cities, the countryside, caves, and more. In Dragon Age II, the whole game basically takes place in one main city, or directly outside of it. It was only in the DLC that players were really able to go somewhere else.
The Epilogue (Dragon Age: Origins): Whenever a game of Dragon Age: Origins is completed, players are presented with a number of screens with ample text detailing the further adventures of the characters based on decisions made throughout the game. All of the storylines are wrapped up, even though some end on a cliffhanger, and there’s literally 10-15 minutes of reading before you actually hit the credits, which is an awesome way to end such a personal adventure. On the other hand, Dragon Age II gave Varric a quick narration that can be summarized as, “Then Hawke went off to do things! And that person he romanced went with him!” Roll credits! Clearly one of these is better than the other.
The Combat (Dragon Age II): I know, I know. The combat in Dragon Age II gets a bad rap, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! I genuinely liked pressing buttons and getting immediate reactions as opposed to telling a character to attack and not pressing anything else until the bad guys were dead. Button commands always win over toggled animations in my book.
The Hero (Dragon Age: Origins): Dragon Age: Origins let you be this nameless, badass Grey Warden that could fall under any number of races and have a wide variety of back-stories. Not only that, but all of your pre-play story decisions show through in the actual game. City Elf? People will mistreat you. Human Noble? People are nice, but regard you somewhat warily. This kind of attention to detail goes miles for creating a believable role-playing world.
What should go:
Recycled Areas (Dragon Age II): “Hey! This cave looks familiar!” Multiply that by all the caves in Dragon Age II. Also, add that to many of the outdoor locations. Please don’t do this again, BioWare.
The “Gifting” System (Dragon Age II): Throughout Dragon Age II, it’s possible to find items that are meant for a specific character as a gift. Give them these items, and they’re either happy, sad, or angry depending on your relationship with them. They also trigger weird emotional events if you give it to a person that hates you. For example, I when I gave Merill some Halla Carving, she hated me because I wouldn’t help her resurrect her mirror thing with blood magic. She uses the gift to talk down to me, then begs me to help her again, and then finally demands that I leave. Even if the mechanic works on occasion, dealing with the uncertain reactions from a gift specifically meant for certain characters is troublesome.
Endless Quests for Minor Impact (Dragon Age: Origins): Orzammar is chock full of missions in Dragon Age: Origins, which means players will be there for a long, long time. About 20% of what happens there is meaningful in the long run (this may change in Inquisition), but that still leaves 80% of political, tedious retrieval quests to go on. Once you think you’re finally out, they call you in again for more quests. Also, the Fade seems to go on forever! Dragon Age II started to go down this windy road in parts, but generally managed to skirt away in the nick of time.
Dragon Age III hasn’t received a release date yet, but we’ll likely see it early into the lives of the new consoles coming out this holiday season. BioWare is the Pixar of RPGs, and they need to recover from their Cars 2. Fingers crossed that Dragon Age III delivers when it finally hits.