Dragon Age 2 was released ten years ago today, and even now you can’t even mention the name of the game without someone saying it was “BioWare’s death” or the sequel “sucked.” Due to a rushed development timeline and lack of resources, Dragon Age 2 was a mishmash of issues, short narrative, and repetitive environments. But even with those factors going against it, Dragon Age 2 managed to tell an amazing story in a short period of time, and that’s largely because this game has some of the best characters and character development in history. of the game. Still with me? Let me explain.
RPG fans have fallen in love with everything BioWare has to offer with Dragon Age Origins. The world, the intriguing characters, the plot twists? It was an incredible experience that is still very much celebrated to this day. When its sequel, Dragon Age 2, came out, it was almost like a completely different game, and that jarring comparison initially made it difficult to weigh in on the experience.
When I first played Dragon Age 2, I was in so much conflict. I beat him, and like many others, I was shocked at the end. Not just because of that “Dammit, Anders” moment that we all love to talk about so much, but also because of how quickly it ended and the different pace of Chapter Three. The progression looked like a landslide: In the first chapter, everything went wonderfully; everything seemed to be going well. The second chapter is where, as a player, I started to feel the foundation slip. The third chapter is where the house slipped entirely into a “what the hell?” and where I really started to notice the influence of the launch deadline. For reference, Dragon Age 2 was released on March 8, 2011 – only about 16 months after the November 3, 2009 release of Dragon Age: Origins (which BioWare spent more than five years developing).
While the expansions helped lengthen the experience, there’s no denying that Dragon Age 2 was incredibly short, especially compared to Origins and Inquisition. But that’s also what plays a part in why it’s so impressive: Even with the reduced resources and rushed schedule, BioWare still managed to not only give us characters that we really care about, but gave each of them their own arcs that allowed us to do this. grow with them.
Depending on the dialogue options in the game you choose, you can see Isabella discovering her ability to love beyond her physical expression. You watch Merrill learn heart-wrenching lessons after lessons, only to become her own despite many of Hawke’s little group disapproving of every step she takes. You see Aveline’s backing as a leader in a city that needed a clear head.
You also witness a critical moment with two key characters: Fenris and Anders. Two sides of the same coin, Anders is an escaped mage who tries to live in a world that wants his death. Fenris is an escaped slave from Tevinter trying to learn what freedom even means. At the critical moment of Act 3, the couple find themselves at the same fork in the path of their life: do we let our trauma destroy us or do we accept its role and grow from it? In an argument between the two (which is not uncommon throughout the game), there is a definitive moment where Anders takes on a more aggressive tone. Fenris matches this tone not with his own anger, but with certainty when he tells Anders that he misunderstood where he was coming from and that he recognized the morally dangerous position Anders finds himself in because Fenris faced a similar crossroads. It is here that we see Fenris making his ascent to freedom, and Anders descending to lose himself further in his anger, his perceived role in society, and the influence of justice (a spirit of justice that inhabits the body of Anders after Dragon Age: Awakening).
BioWare has also done an amazing job of offering characters that balance each other out. The evolving feuds between Aveline and Isabella and Sebastian and Anders were some of my favorite jokes in the game. Whether Hawke was there or not, these characters had their own lives, their own loves, and their own journeys of self-discovery while the city who surrounded them slowly sank into chaos. These relationships paint a vivid picture of life and love, and this interconnection is strongly felt when joked on missions or critical loyalty quests. Seeing the Pirate Queen’s Hidden Heart of Gold and Varric’s battle against the standards of what it means to be a dwarf are experiences I treasure, and that’s what made Dragon Age 2 a hidden gem for many. others.
As with any RPG it allows me to have sex with different people or choose different paths, I dove into a second part of Dragon Age 2 to see what I may have missed and to see. if a different romance option would make me feel differently. After romanticizing Merrill as the thug Hawke who chose the diplomatic options (blue), playing as female mage Hawke who romanticized Isabella with the choice of the most comical purple options made this game an entirely different adventure. From dialogue options to how the companions have treated me through each chapter, the magic of Dragon Age 2 is in its characters, and that magic makes each part very different from the others.
Now, after 19 games as various Hawkes, I can honestly say that there is some magic in Dragon Age 2 that is unfairly buried due to the circumstances. This is also why when the topic of “What do you want to see get a remaster next,” Dragon Age 2 is often my favorite answer; he deserves a second chance. This story was incredible. The loss that Hawke has felt, on several occasions, is in a league of its own. Hawke was never meant to be a hero, and that’s the real tragedy of it all. But that nuance and attention to detail with the narrative as a whole is bogged down by the most glaring issues and the absurd amount of spiders.
If you’ve been following my work at all, you know it’s a hill I’m probably going to die on, but as we celebrate 10 years of the game that gave me Fenris, I’ll never stop defending the remarkable course of this game was despite its flaws.
And as with all repeating cave environments, I have a head cannon theory that helped make these similar digs more bearable. Dragon Age 2 is a story told via a narration by Varric Tethras: rogue storyteller and the occasional unwanted tagalong. I don’t know about you, but when I tell stories I tend to forget the little details or take out some aspect of the story to focus on the topic of the story first. Something that helps me put the pace of the game into perspective a little bit more from a fantastic point of view, not from a development point of view, it’s easier when you think that the repetitive areas are due to a simple fact: Varric hated caves. He’s the least dwarf dwarf to ever dwarf, and he says so repeatedly throughout the franchise. He hated something where he can’t see the sky, so in my head? All of these areas bleed together because he prefers that they weren’t there in the first place. Is this the real reason? No, but it’s fun to think so.
what you think of dragon age 2? Do you agree that, despite its flaws, the sequel offers something truly unique, or do you think it’s one fan’s wild delusions that are supposed to justify loving a controversial game? Give your opinion in the comments section below; Flemeth wants you to do it.