Dragon Age Origins 2 Demo

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.

The game looks great

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:

Stat Screen

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:

Skill Screen

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:

Tactics Screen

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:

Character Creation Screen

This means you will still be able to make your character look like this, or like this.

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:

Dialog wheel... Ugh...

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?

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9 Responses to Dragon Age Origins 2 Demo

  1. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    Yeah I did try it out. Got in the mood for that after watching Skyrim trailer for gazillion times, so had to kill some time before getting a new rpg :)
    Haven’t tried out warrior yet, but mage and rogue looks awesome. Can’t decide which character to play first rogue like I did in origins, or blood mage because I feel it would be better for roleplay purposes :)

    P.S. For the first time in any rpg I liked the default appearance of the character. That alone deserves respect.
    P.P.S. I lost my saves and now cant decide whether it’s worth replaying origins just so I can get a little more personalized story.

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Liudvikas:

    Will the saves from Origins have any impact on this game though? I figured that since you are not the Gray Warden and Morrigan is not making an appearance they probably won’t count for much…

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  3. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    Well it still takes place at the same time, so decisions made by warden will affect the world for hawke.

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  4. Mike UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Bioware has admitted that small details like whether or not Allistair is king and some other small tidbits will come back in the sequel, but it won’t be some sort of choice-fest playback like Mass Effect 2 was.

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  5. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Wait, wasn’t Dragon Age turned from a difficult strategic party-based RPG close to Baldur’s Gate to a fast-paced, single character with AI help action-RPG in the sequel ?

    Can you still enter the strategic view ? Can you still give orders to your whole party and set up advanced tactics without having to rely on the AI, however parametrized it can be ? I don’t really care about having numerous numbers on the character’s sheet if my effectiveness is more linked to my skill at pressing buttons at the right moment than to my character’s stats.

    With a single imposed character, the story doesn’t look all that interesting as far as branching goes, which is what I’m mostly interested in. Good plot twists and hard choices with consequences have seldom been a part of Bioware’s game, and I doubt it’ll change.

    The dialog wheel is a sad evolution, and rather unwarranted considering most people I know play with subtitles and skip all spoken lines halfway through anyway. I really didn’t like this in Mass Effect, especially because it makes subtle dialogues lines impossible to tell apart (i.e. using sarcasm or being honest about something).

    Overall, as you may have guessed, I’m not too hyped by this game. It just doesn’t look all that interesting to play, and if the story’s good I could just as well watch a LP.

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Zel wrote:

    Wait, wasn’t Dragon Age turned from a difficult strategic party-based RPG close to Baldur’s Gate to a fast-paced, single character with AI help action-RPG in the sequel ?

    That’s what I thought at first too, but then I played the demo and I realized that this was not the case. During the first fight in the demo it is just you, and your single companion is controlled by AI. Even then, it is not a twitch based – it works just like in the first game. You pick targets, click skill icons on the toolbar, etc… If you play past the first combat scene, and get to the first “real” segment you get a full party and it’s just like old times:

    – you still can pause the game at any moment and give orders
    – you still can take control of any character in your party at will
    – you are still able to assign tactics to your inactive party members (see 4th picture – my tactics are empty because I didn’t set anything up)

    It appears that they left the core combat mechanics the same complexity wise. The combat seems faster, but I think this is mostly a cosmetic change. Darkspawn seem to run faster, and you can’t zoom out as far as in the previous game (though you still can get a decent vantage) meaning the tactical area of the battle is smaller leading to faster resolution. I think this was done mostly due to people complaining about the glacial pace of the Deep Roads slog midway though the first game.

    Zel wrote:

    With a single imposed character, the story doesn’t look all that interesting as far as branching goes, which is what I’m mostly interested in.

    Yeah, it’s unfortunate. I really liked the multiple origin idea. That said, I only played the game through once with my Dwarf noble warrior, and then re-rolled as human mage but got bored soon after I was out of the origin segment. So I’m not really sure how much the game as a whole was affected by your back story and early choices. I imagine that if I went back to the Dwarf area as a different character most of the missions would play out about the same, minus some conversation options here and there.

    But yeah, I am not particularly keen on Hawke. I wish you could still play as Gray Warden from the first game. :(

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  7. Jakob DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    I liked the demo. The combat is faster, which I personally like, yet it still felt like I was playing Dragon Age: Origins. It is still plenty hard.

    Now, I myself have no problem with the dialogue wheel but I quickly noticed one pretty subtle but important evolution. You can actually tell the mood of your response. In the center of the wheel, pictures appears when you highlight response options. A purple smiley mask when you are being witty, a olive branch when diplomatic, a red fist when being aggressive. They are still placed the same way they where in Mass Effect, but it is easier to tell what you are going to say now.

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  8. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Liudvikas:
    Gaaahhhh. I had missed the Skyrim video… OK, I know what I will ask for my birthday!

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  9. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    By the way, I very much doubt that I will ever buy Dragon Age 2. I have been stuck for days trying to pass the boss of Dragon Age Origins in the Ostagar level. I never managed to kill it and he always killed all my four guys at only half his life bar. I also can’t manage to make the over complex tactics work. I personaly think that the game is too complex and way to linear to be fun. Too bad.

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