DA:I – Dragon Age 2 was a very good game for the first 90% or so, but it fell apart completely at the end; I am here referring to the last two main quests, “Best Served Cold” and “the Last Straw.”

  • As a chemist I’m irritated that after foreshadowing black powder explosives, the game failed to address it at best and replaced it with magic at worst. I’m referring to Anders’s act of terrorism; we could all see it coming but my expectation was that he’d used black powder in the Gallows, not undefined magic in the Chantry. Sela petrae is pretty clearly potassium nitrate and drakestone might as well be elemental sulfur, why not? Plus non-magical explosives would presumably blindside the templars, and it would tie back into the first part of the game. A number of plot threads get dropped like that (the serial killer’s magistrate father, for instance).
  • The sheer volume of demons in the last couple of quests suggests that mages are indeed always on the verge of becoming abominations and resorting to blood magic; NPC mages who aren’t possessed pretty much disappear a distressingly short ways in.
  • Meredith’s sword wasn’t well foreshadowed at all. Why did she have it? Why did she make it into a sword? Why did it affect her in the way it did?
  • “Best Served Cold” makes a lot of decisions for you, ie, it assumes you are anti-apostate-rebellion, which given some of the choices you can make leading up to it is nonsensical. Grace’s assumption that my wife’s version of Hawke was her enemy was especially laughable.
  • What you are doing in the final fight sequence in the Gallows, as you run from the room where Orsino had been to the courtyard? Who are you fighting? Why?
  • Orsino’s position that the Chantry really ought to just execute mages as infants seems kind of reasonable under the circumstances. Is there such a thing as an effective Circle, a place more Hogwarts and less Orange is the New Black? “Small liberal arts college with a big wall around it” is how I’d envisioned the Circle, in Origins. I’m unsure whether my understanding was wrong, or Kirkwall is that much of an outlier. No one in Origins seems especially shocked to see Wynne walking around freely.

Also it amazes me that at least a vocal minority online blames Merrill for what the Keeper does, and how the Dalish elves react. “The demon would have escaped through the eluvian and killed a lot of people, starting with Merrill,” they say, taking the Keeper’s words at face value. The Keeper is at that point is a pride abomination; should we have believed Uldred in DA:O when he explained he was creating a glorious new age of magic? Merrill claims often that she is able to use blood magic without hurting anybody or becoming an abomination and despite everybody telling her she’s wrong, empirically she’s not. I don’t see where people are coming from when they declare she needs some sense knocked into her or else she kills her whole clan. She has no control over the Keeper deciding to become an abomination. The Keeper’s plan is just terrible, too.

I didn’t romance Merrill; I romanced Isabella (which required me to roll back and do half of Act II twice because there’s a couple of very non-intuitive steps there). My wife romanced Fenris (which likewise involved rolling back inasmuch as Fenris too is easily to mess up) though she’s talked about a second playthrough wherein she romances Anders. Kudos to the writers for Fenris and Anders and Merrill and Isabela, by the way; they’re each a very different kind of romantic fantasy. Anders and Fenris look closer together to me than Merrill and Isabela, but Emily disagrees. All the companions were great, actually. I can see why they’re generally considered the high point of DA2. I kind of want to see a cross-genre game where Garrus and Aveline bring law and order to the decadent streets of Sigil or Ankh-Mopork or Waterdeep or something.

Emily also played a mage, and I think it does the game a real disservice to allow you to play Hawke as a mage; Hawke as mage should affect how people see you and interact with you, especially in the back half of the game when the fact that you’re an apostate is an open secret at best. Instead there’s just a couple of throwaway extra lines. If she’s going to be a mage, make that a bigger deal, in her relations with templars at least. As is, everyone just seems to take it as read that Hawke could never become a blood mage or apostate (which is funny since, of course, you can make her a blood mage easily).

Really I feel like there should have been about four different versions of the endgame. Mage/Mage, Mage/Templar, non-Mage/Mage, non-Mage/Templar. Instead we got one that feels like it’s half non-mage/mage and non-mage/templar. I know the game was rushed out the door, and the bit where you turn a corner at the end and there’s Sandal, especially, made me think that the endgame is where they just ran out of money and time and slapped something together.

(Also it’s great that they put up a statue in the Docks commemorating the defeat of the Qunari, but would it have been so hard to check Hawke’s gender and make it a statue of a woman crushing a Qunari skull, as appropriate?)


Comments

Very spoilery comments on Dragon Age 2 — 2 Comments

  1. “My wife romanced Fenris…”

    For a moment, I thought you meant your PC had a wife and this NPC did the romancing and then you mention retrying the romance and I suddenly had this wondrous vision of a game that would allow for that. “Even if the ending is crap, I want to play that!” Then my brain caught up and wrecked my innocent dreams.

  2. I agree, DA2 does mostly fall apart at the end, which is too bad, because some of what it does is just wonderful. The game has significantly different dialogue/character development for the companions depending on whether you’re going for friendship or rivalry, and how you do their quests — it’s worth playing again, or watching some online videos anyway, to see all the different outcomes. Same with Hawke, actually.

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