Features & News

Eurogamer Expo 2010 Hands On: Dragon Age 2

October 12, 2010, Author: Ray Willmott

I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at this year’s Eurogamer Expo representing This Is My Joystick, and during my time there I managed to get hands-on with a lot of games we’re going to be playing rolling into Christmas and the new year. This article looks at Dragon Age 2, the sequel to 2009’s Dragon Age: Origins from Bioware. How did it play? Let’s find out…

Even as a fan of the series, Dragon Age 2 both concerns and entices me. On the one hand, it’s a sequel to a Bioware RPG I really enjoyed with a similar kind of action and adventure. On the other hand it is set to introduce a whole new character in a whole new story. I thought the point of having a game called Origins would be to develop an on-going character you can transmit between any forthcoming games, such as Bioware have already done and are continuing to do with the Mass Effect series. Clearly, I was wrong.

Nevertheless, as I was a big fan of the original I couldn’t resist getting some hands-on time with Dragon Age 2 at this year’s Eurogamer Expo. The game isn’t scheduled to be released until March 2011 but I could tell that the build was quite solid and the game is progressing nicely.

I’ll say this now; DA 2 plays pretty much the same as DA 1. Over the shoulder view of your hero, a party ensemble which you can alternate between, even the combat handles pretty much the same, although the talent tree seems to have been tweaked and will be more familiar to anyone who’s played World of Warcraft. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any hands-on with the tree or assign any experience points in the demo; the build was in its simplest form with basic combat and dialog, giving us just enough of an idea how the game is supposed to be played. Much more detail is obviously going to be added into the final release that I wasn’t privy to at Eurogamer.

Bloody hell!

The demo put me in control of ‘The Champion’ and I had the opportunity to either be a warrior, rogue or mage. Predictably to most of you, I chose the warrior for my quest. The story seemed to throw me right into the action as the Champion and a companion are fighting waves of Darkspawn. One thing I did notice is that DA 2 seems to have potential to be more graphic than the original. While I said combat handles the same, the actual moves the Champion performs are much different, and the animations accompanying them are less stunted and more intense.

As a warrior, I was able to charge into my enemies with the hulking broadsword, basically obliterating them into gibs upon impact. Then there is a cleave like swing that is good for when you’re outnumbered and about to be pounced by several Darkspawn at once. This cleave attack really sliced and diced my enemies and was very effective. The Darkspawn are pretty much the same as you remember them, ugly goblin esque creatures and of course, the giant, skull-crushing ogres with reindeer like antlers. I had great fun dicing them up.

Aside from the Darkspawn, the demo introduced me to a few different characters, including The Champion’s family and a mage who seems to help him out in battle. I was also given the chance to communicate with these individuals. The dialog tree is essentially the same, there are no real differences there as you’re still given a series of dialog choices which you need to chose, although graphically, the interface has undergone some spit and polish. It seems a lot less blocky and slapped together. In fact, the same can be said of the graphics as a whole which seem much tighter than the original’s very glitchy, texture fest.

One thing that did peak my interest, however, is that the game isn’t all about introducing the new. As you may now be aware, the game isn’t entirely without reference to the original and in the demo I was introduced to Flemeth, who players of Origins will know, played quite an integral role. It’s also quite surprising, to me at least, that she has made her way into the sequel and why we don’t learn much of her intentions, other than simply to make an offer to the Champion and his companions, it’s clear she has a rather large part to play. What Bioware have in store, however, is anybody’s guess, but it certainly gives me a wave of satisfaction knowing that these stories will link in someway.

Final verdict? It’s what you’d expect from a sequel; more of the same, but with a new coat of paint, some new animations and some added elements that will add to the gameplay. If you weren’t a Dragon Age fan before, this isn’t going to change your mind, but for the rest of us, this will definitely be one to watch in 2011!