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Game
Dragon Age II

Logo-dragonage2
Developed by:
Published by:
Release date:
March 8, 2011 (NA)
March 11, 2011 (Europe)
Engine:
Lycium
Mode:
Single-player
Version:
macIcon macpcIcon pc 1.04 (final)
ps3Icon ps3xbox360Icon xbox360 1.05 (final)

Dragon Age II is the sequel to Dragon Age: Origins developed by BioWare. It was announced for PlayStation 3, PC and Xbox 360 on July 8, 2010[1] and for Mac on January 12, 2011.[2] It was released on March 8, 2011 in the U.S., and March 11, 2011 in Europe. A demo was released on February 22, 2011.[3] The first CGI trailer, Destiny, was released on August 17, 2010.[4] A sequel, Dragon Age: Inquisition was announced by BioWare on September 17, 2012. [5]

Plot

Main article: Storyline for Dragon Age II

Spanning over a decade, Dragon Age II traces Hawke's rise to power in the political chaos of Kirkwall. Hawke's family flees the destruction of Lothering during the Fifth Blight, traveling to the Free Marches and eventually influencing the fate of all Thedas. Hawke ultimately becomes the Champion of Kirkwall, embroiled in intrigues that will change the world forever.

Hawke's story is framed by the narration of Varric Tethras, who is being interrogated by Cassandra Pentaghast - a Seeker of the Chantry who wants the Champion's aid (or reckoning).

Characters

Major characters

  • Hawke: The protagonist, a native of Ferelden.
  • The Arishok: One of the three supreme leaders of the Qunari. After being shipwrecked, he and hundreds of his people take shelter in Kirkwall, ostensibly waiting for the next opportunity to sail home.
  • Cassandra Pentaghast: A member of the Seekers of Truth, a secretive and powerful faction within the Andrastian Chantry answering directly to the Divine in Val Royeaux. She kidnaps Varric to extract information regarding Hawke.
  • Leandra Amell: Matriarch of the Hawke family since her husband Malcolm's death, she and her children are forced to flee Ferelden to her birthplace - Kirkwall, where Leandra's parents once held an estate.
  • Meredith Stannard: Knight-Commander of Kirkwall's Templar Order, which has grown extremely powerful in recent years, making her arguably the most influential person in Kirkwall.
  • Orsino: First Enchanter of Kirkwall's Circle of Magi, housed in the Gallows. He is an influential figure in spite of the templars' political dominance.

Companions

Secondary characters

  • Bartrand Tethras: Varric's elder brother, a merchant prince who organizes an expedition into the Deep Roads.
  • Bodahn Feddic: Well-traveled and something of a scavenger (for very high-quality items, to be fair), this dwarven merchant traveled with the The Warden and eventually settled in Kirkwall with his son Sandal.
  • Cullen: Sent to Kirkwall from Kinloch Hold after witnessing the horrors of uncontrolled magic, he is now second-in-command to Knight-Commander Meredith.
  • Grand Cleric Elthina: The supreme Chantry authority of the Free Marches, she is one of the most respected people in Kirkwall.
  • Flemeth: The legendary and notorious Asha'bellanar, Witch of the Wilds.
  • Gamlen Amell: The last lord of the Kirkwall Amells, Leandra's brother gambled, drank and whored the family fortune into oblivion. The ancestral estate at which the Hawkes expect to arrive is lost, and Gamlen now lives in the squalor of Lowtown.
  • Marethari: The Keeper of a Dalish clan which fled Ferelden and now occupies Sundermount, a huge mountain outside Kirkwall.
  • Marlowe Dumar: The Viscount of Kirkwall, officially the most powerful political office in the city-state, though in practice Dumar bears authority only at the sufferance of the Templar Order.
  • Petrice: A zealous member of Kirkwall's Chantry who attempts to drive out the Qunari.
  • Sandal: Bodahn's adopted son, somewhat dull of wit but highly gifted at "Enchantment!"
  • Thrask: A moderate templar who attempts to help mages, believing that the two groups can exist in harmony.

Cameos

Provided they survive the events of Origins, Awakening and any associated DLC, a few characters from the previous games may make cameo appearances at some point in Dragon Age II.

Gameplay

Key features

Dragon Age II gameplay

Dragon Age II gameplay

  • Protagonist's identity is fixed (other than gender). [6]
  • New narrative style, set over the course of a decade.
  • Overhauled combat mechanics that emphasize the uniqueness of each class.
  • Updated graphics and a new visual style.
  • More cinematic interactions and romance with companions.[7]

Races

Da2 races

Concept art of different races

Dragon Age II features a greater difference between races. Dwarves, elves and Qunari have all seen revisions since the previous game.[8]

Save file transfer

Main article: Imported saves and pre-built histories

Dragon Age II allows the player to import saves from any completed (or almost-completed) Dragon Age: Origins playthrough (and saves from add-on campaigns to which such a save was imported). While the main characters are completely different and separate, the choices of The Warden made in Origins will be reflected in Hawke's world.[9] Choices from Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, The Golems of Amgarrak, and Witch Hunt will also be imported (but see below; the information may simply be transferred in case of applicability to future content/sequels. The player must import saves in a single chain tracing all the way back to Origins to properly import all game data (i.e. rather than separate transfers to respective DLC).[10] PC and Mac saves are interchangeable by copying the character's folder between \Documents & Settings\Bioware\Dragon Age\Characters\ and ~/Documents/Bioware/Dragon Age/Characters/.

Note: BioWare has stated that the DLC packs Return to Ostagar, Darkspawn Chronicles, Leliana's Song, Golems of Amgarrak and Witch Hunt have no plot flags that are checked inside of Dragon Age II.[11]

There were initially several issues with the choices made in Awakening and Origins not importing correctly, most notably the reappearance of characters who may be killed in Origins and the apparent death of Nathaniel in Awakening if the player left him to defend the keep (even if the epilogue says he survived). David Gaider confirmed that Leliana was deliberately included regardless of her Origins survival status, but that the 'resurrection' of other characters were glitches.

Instead of importing, players may select from three pre-built histories (derived from the numerous epilogue possibilities of Origins):[12]

  • "Hero of Ferelden" (default if no choice is made): A young man from a noble family rose to become a Grey Warden, then ended the Fifth Blight by landing the Arch--which he survived. He always strove for the greater good, and placed his friend Alistair on the throne of Ferelden.
  • "The Martyr": Ferelden will forever remember the young Dalish elf who died to kill the fifth Archdemon. Even though she had reason to be cynical, her actions always benefited others. She left a kingdom ruled jointly by Alistair and Anora.
  • "No Compromise": A ruthless dwarven noble took command of Ferelden's Grey Wardens, then let nothing stand between him and victory. He exiled Alistair, sent Loghain to his death against the Archdemon, and left Anora on Ferelden's throne.

Dialogue

DA concept art

Flemeth's concept art from Dragon Age II

The dialogue system of Origins is replaced with a Dialogue Wheel, similar to those used in BioWare's Mass Effect series - a key difference being that in Dragon Age II, mousing over each dialogue option reveals a symbol indicating the tone of the line.[13] There are usually at least three options on the wheel each time Hawke has the opportunity to say something, never fewer than two, and never more than six.

Another added feature in contrast to Origins is that the player character is fully voiced - the male Hawke by Nicholas Boulton,[13] and the female Hawke by Jo Wyatt.

Relationships with companions

Dragon Age II uses a Friendship and Rivalry system. In addition to unlocking advantages and dialogue based on 'positive approval' (which the Origins system was limited to), it provides the option to develop an intensely antagonistic (but productive) relationship with any and each companion.[14] (As in Origins however, significant actions and plot developments can prompt a companion to turn on Hawke, regardless of relationship status. Also note that the Friendship and Rivalry system does not determine the respect a companion has for Hawke.) Gifts prompt their own distinct dialogues.[14]

Romances

Dragon Age II features romances "for all genders and orientations."[15] The potential partners are Anders, Fenris, Isabela, Merrill, and (with DLC) Sebastian.

Crafting

Main article: Crafting (Dragon Age II)

In Origins, making bombs, medicine, poison and traps required learning recipes and collecting the ingredients in Inventory. In the new system, rather than carrying components around, Hawke simply needs to discover a source for each ingredient. For example, once a strain of Elfroot has been found, all crafting vendors will stock it. The challenge is now to find sources for raw materials, particularly different strains of components. The system has been hailed as elegant for rewarding exploration rather than hoarding (and simplifying inventory in the process).[16]

Talent trees

Daskills-620x

Rogue's Dual Wield Talent Tree

Abilities isabella

Isabela's Swashbuckler specialization

Spell Tree

Mage's Talent Tree

The linear progression of the talent trees in Origins meant that the player frequently had to spend valuable points on talents the player never had any intention of using in order to acquire the one most wanted. The talent trees in Dragon Age II are, well, more like trees - even resembling webs on the Abilities screens - and offer more than one path to several abilities in each (for example, upgrades of an existing ability will branch off from the base ability while leaving open a path to one or more entirely different abilities). There are still restrictions to limit 'powergaming': the familiar "level required", and a new aspect of some abilities requiring a minimum spent anywhere else in the same tree.[16]

Technology

In an interview with Joystiq, BioWare VP Greg Zeschuk stated, "I think one of the key things we're working on in Dragon Age II is the technology. I can confirm that we're doing a lot of work on the Dragon Age engine, and doing a lot of stuff to pump it -- to make it visually super hot."[17] Mike Laidlaw has also confirmed the use of DirectX 11 for the PC version of Dragon Age II.[18]

Editions

Demo

Main article: Dragon Age II Demo

On February 22, 2011 a demo was released. It contained approximately one hour of play, taking players through the entire prologue plus a segment in Kirkwall featuring Isabela later in the game.

Downloadable content

Main article: Downloadable content (Dragon Age II)

Unlockables

Note: As of December 2012, all promotional and exclusive items (except for Blood Dragon Armor and Ser Isaac Armor) for Dragon Age II can be unlocked for free by anyone with a Bioware Social Network account. See here for more information.

Items available through certain events

  • Hindsight (available from the official Dragon Age II website)
  • Staff of Parthalan (available by signing up for the newsletter)
  • Evra's Might (available by playing Dragon Age Legends on Facebook)
  • Evra's Trophy Belt (available by playing Dragon Age Legends on Facebook)
  • Air of Confidence (available by playing Dragon Age Legends on Facebook)
  • Ivo Family Crest (available by playing Dragon Age Legends on Facebook)
  • Dura's Blue Flame (available by playing Dragon Age Legends on Facebook)
  • Hayder's Razor (available by completing the Dragon Age II demo)
  • Lion of Orlais (available with any pre-order from participating retailers)
  • Fadeshear (available with any pre-order from participating retailers)
  • Lothering's Lament (available after 1,000,000 total downloads of the Dragon Age II demo; was attained on February 28, 2011)
  • The Far Cliffs of Kirkwall (available after 1,000,000 total downloads of the Dragon Age II demo; was attained on February 28, 2011)
  • Of Things Not Lost (became available when certain posts to the Dragon Age Facebook page before March 4, 2011 were shared and reached 1,000,000 Impressions)
  • Ring of Whispers (available through purchasing $15 or more from Epic Weapons' collection of Dragon Age II replica weapons, or a similar purchase from Razer™)
  • Boots of the Frozen Wastes (available upon registering your copy of Dragon Age II)
  • Blood Dragon Armor (available if previously redeemed for Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect 2)
  • Ser Isaac's Armor (available for players who have also played Dead Space 2)

Add-ons

Easter eggs

Main article: Easter eggs (Dragon Age II)

System requirements

Recommended System Requirements

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz Processor or equivalent
  • CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 Triple core 2.8 GHz or equivalent
  • RAM: 2GB (4 GB Vista and Windows 7)
  • Video: ATI 3850 512 MB or greater
  • Video: NVIDIA 8800GTS 512 MB or greater
  • DirectX 11: ATI 5850 or greater
  • DirectX 11: NVIDIA 460 or greater

Minimum System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP 32-bit with SP3
  • OS: Windows Vista 32-bit with SP2
  • OS: Windows 7
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo (or equivalent) running at 1.8 GHz or greater
  • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 (or equivalent) running at 1.8 GHz or greater
  • RAM: 1 GB (1.5 GB Vista and Windows 7)
  • Video: Radeon HD 2600 Pro 256 MB
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS 256 MB cards
  • Disc Drive: DVD ROM drive required
  • Hard Drive: 7 GB
  • Sound: Direct X 9.0c Compatible Sound Card Windows Experience Index: 4.5

Minimum System Requirements for Mac

  • OS: OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard or greater
  • CPU: 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or better
  • RAM: 2 GB or greater
  • Video: ATI HD2600, NVIDIA 9400, or better graphics card with at least 256 MB of dedicated VRAM
  • Disc Drive: DVD ROM drive required
  • Hard Drive: 9 GB of hard drive space required
  • Video Cards Not Supported: Intel GMA series, Nvidia 7x00 series, AMD 1x00 series, AMD 2400

Gallery

Trivia

  • The working title for the game was Dragon Age: Exodus. It can still be found in some of the game's files. This was also confirmed by Mark Darrah.[19]

References

  1. "Frequently asked questions". BioWare. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  2. BSN Chris Priestly. "Dragon Age II on Mac?" . The BioWare Forum.
  3. BSN Chris Priestly. "Dragon Age 2 Demo Announced" . The BioWare Forum.
  4. Totilo, Stephen. "Dragon Age II Debut Trailer Looks Slick, Pre-Rendered". Kotaku. 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  5. [1]
  6. "In the house with Dr. Greg Zeschuk". VideoGamer.com. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  7. Kelly, Neon. Interview with Dr. Greg Zeschuk.
  8. Cork, Jeff. "A look at the Qunari, Evolved". Game Informer. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  9. Plunkett, Luke. "Dragon Age 2 Following In Mass Effect's Footsteps". 2010-07-12. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  10. BSN David Sims. "Dragon Age Origins + Awakenings(sp) + DLC ---> DA2 Import" . The BioWare Forum.
  11. BSN Luke Barrett. "Found a bizarre Import Bug" . The BioWare Forum.
  12. Grabowski, Dakota. "Dragon Age II Hands-on Preview". GameZone.com. 2010-12-20. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  13. 13.0 13.1 BSN Mary Kirby"Question on the dialogue system" . The BioWare Forum.
  14. 14.0 14.1 BSN Mary Kirby"Will party approval be done the same way?" . The BioWare Forum.
  15. RPG France. Interview with Mike Laidlaw."Preview et Interview exclusives de Dragon Age II". 2010-12-19. Retrieved 2011-01-07. (Translated by AbouU)The french preview by RPG France
  16. 16.0 16.1 Arendt, Susan. "Preview: What's New in Dragon Age II". The Escapist. 2010-12-20. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  17. pklepek. "BioWare Already Name Dropping Dragon Age 2, Promises Better Visuals". G4tv.com 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  18. Barry White. "BioWare: Dragon Age 2 will be equal on all three platforms". news10.net 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
  19. Mark Darrah's Twitter.

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