Ever since I have found out that BioWare decided to abandon the multiple origin concept and instead use predefined character named
Sheppard Hawke for the Dragon Age Origins sequel I was concerned. I thought they might actually try to “streamline” the game and do to it, what they did to Mass Effect 2. You see, Mass Effect actually used to be an RPG, but for the sequel they turned it into a cover based shooter with a minimal RP element. I still played it, because BioWare games are always about the story, the setting and the dialog anyway. I just hated the idea that they could do the same kind of thing to Dragon Age.
After all when they marketed the first game, they used to specifically hype up the fact that they did not dumb down the stat management, the skill trees and all that stuff. That was one of the big selling points of the game. Dragon Age was an old school RPG with modern day graphics and voice work. Having it’s sequel turned into a linear hack and slash would suck big time. Granted, I would still probably play it (because of the story and setting) but I would not be happy about it.
So I downloaded a demo to see what damage was. I’m glad to report that they did not pull a Mass Effect 2 move on it. Dragon Age still seems to be a number crunchy RPG. You know, just the way we loved it. When you level up, you need to assign points to stats:
The skill trees are still fairly deep, and offer a variety of choices. Here is the skill screen for the Warrior class. As you can see, you can specialize in double handed weapons, or sword/shield combo, and have some auxiliary skills as well:
Oh, and the tactics are back as well. That’s the place where you configure the combat AI for the party members you are not controlling directly. It seems just as complex and flexible as before:
This makes me very happy. But there is more good news. Your
Sheppard Hawke is going to be fully configurable. Unfortunately the character design was locked in the demo, but you could still see how it is going to work:
Now there is some bad news. It seems that the silly dialog wheel from Mass Effect made it’s way into the Dragon Age series:
I never liked this thing in Mass Effect games, because half the time there was just no way to tell what your character was going to say based on the 3 word wheel option. So I’m not very happy about this change. On the other hand, seeing how Hawke now has spoken lines I guess this move made sense. This way players don’t have to sit through a line they already read. Plus, Dragon Age does not have a dualistic karma system like ME. The reputation system seems to be intact, so perhaps the dialog wheel options in this game won’t be so canned. It seems like there was always an effort in Mass Effect games to always have exactly one paragon and one renegade dialog option. Without this artificial choice driving the dialogs, maybe the wheel will be bearable.
In any case, I’m sold. The demo assuaged all my fears, and now I am convinced that Dragon Age 2 will be a good game – at least game play wise. I was only able to glimpse the story and characters, but from what I’ve seen the plot seems interesting, and the characters are pretty decent.
Anyone else played the demo? What did you think?