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The following is a summary of the content of Game Informer's cover story on Dragon Age II:
- Dragon Age is a multifaceted story, Dragon Age II marks a shift to another facet; while the Grey Warden quelled the Blight in Ferelden, other people across Thedas had their own adventures.
- Dragon Age II takes place in a new region, with a new hero and story.
- The new hero's tale begins in Lothering.
- BioWare is one of the premier RPG developers in the world, gamers embraced Dragon Age: Origins' old-school aesthetic because of BioWare's skillful implementation.
- BioWare views Dragon Age as an enduring property with multiple installments, knows that old-school mechanics can't be counted on forever.
- Dragon Age II more than a sequel, establishes a new identity for the Dragon Age universe, no longer bound by being a spiritual successor to another series.
- Executive Director Mark Darrah: "At the core, what we're doing is trying to give Dragon Age a shot of adrenaline. It means amping everything up... but keeping what already works."
- Dragon Age II will not leave behind its roots, just allows players to experience elements in new ways and expand lore.
- Hawke is a legend in his time, Champion of Kirkwall; like all legends, his history is shrouded in mystery and rumor. He escaped Lothering as it was destroyed and fled to Kirkwall. What Hawke did between his escape and his rise to prominence is covered by Dragon Age II.
- No "ancient evil you have to defeat", the game revolves around the question of who Hawke is that is answered by player decisions.
- Hawke is a more defined character than the Warden from the previous game. He/she is human, but this allows BioWare to provide voice acting for the character, a cue taken from BioWare's Mass Effect franchise. BioWare felt limited by keeping the Warden mute.
- Dragon Age II will use a conversation system similar to Mass Effect, players will select dialogue options from a wheel. An icon at the wheel's center illustrates an option's intent, like aggressive or sarcastic.
- Mass Effect let players carry over decisions between games, Dragon Age players can expect a similar level of consistency from Dragon Age II.
- Choices the Warden from the first game made are reflected in the sequel, such as who is ruling Ferelden and who killed the Archdemon.
- BioWare's goal is to let decisions carry across different platforms as well. Executive Director Mark Darrah: "...If you played the first game on PC and the second game on console, we'd be able to react to your choices."
- Dragon Age II has an established canon if the player has not completed the first game.
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- Will we see any character from Origins in Dragon Age II? "We are certainly not done with Morrigan's story," hints lead designer Mike Laidlaw. "I can say that."
- Darkspawn are still a threat in Dragon Age II, but they are less dangerous without an archdemon to lead them.
"A Story in Pieces"
- Major goal of the game is to expand the player's understanding of the universe as a whole.
- Story will span 10 years of Hawke's life, new format has allowed BioWare to "mess around" with the narrative structure of their previous games: go through the intro, beat stand-alone areas, then play the final mission.
- Hawke's adventures occurred in the past, are being retold in the present where Hawke is already Kirkwall's champion.
- Story is essentially a conversation between a male dwarf named Varric and a female Chantry Seeker. At the time, the world is on the brink of war; the Seeker believes that by understanding Hawke's actions, she can prevent the war. Varric is a reluctant narrator of Hawke's story.
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- Dragon Age II begins as the events of Origins are still taking place, so you may see some familiar events from a different angle.
"Make Your Choice"
- Dragon Age II continues tradition of no defined morality system.
- Consequences of decisions will be experienced much sooner because the game encompasses a larger span of time. If you save a city, it will be there later in the narrative; if the city is destroyed, the player can see how that affects the region.
- Mike Laidlaw: "Instead of waiting 80 hours for an epilogue that tells me who got married and who did what, I get to see those interactions within hours."
- Like Origins, there will be a range of major and minor choices.
- In Origins, party members would abandon the Warden if he made decisions they did not like, resulting in players not using certain party members even if they were the best ones to use for a quest. This "meta-game" is gone in Dragon Age II. If a character disagrees with the player's actions, they may still complain. However, the player can now be openly hostile to party members and still unlock combat bonuses, previously only available when the player established positive relationships.
"A Makeover for Thedas"
- Origins' visuals did not translate well to consoles from PC, team is making an effort to "hot rod the art" and make it distinct.
- BioWare believes Origins' art style was "a little bit messy, kind of overwrought, pretty generic."
- New art style consists of "better use of negative space and more angular, grim depictions of your surroundings."
- Team felt that the "whimsical qualities" of Origins' art "didn't reflect the austere nature of the world."
"A Better Battlefield"
- Mike Laidlaw: "Warrior, mage, and rogue are archetypes for a reason, but I don't know that Origins delineated between the enough... A rogue dual-wielding was just a warrior with less armor in some cases. What I want to do is make sure that you feel like this unstoppable juggernaut, a lithe super-ninja, or field artillery."
- Mark Darrah: "What we want to do is give the player more depth of choice. So you might really like the fireball. We're going to let you customize and enhance the fireball itself, so by the end of the game you're actually tailoring that spell to the way you want it to be."
- Fewer abilities overall, but more ways to customize them as the player prefers.
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- This dragon is more than it appears. After swooping down and grabbing a darkspawn in its talons, it transforms into a familiar figure: Flemeth. Still holding the dead darkspawn in her hand, Flemeth walks through the flames and approaches Hawke, saying: "Well, well. What have we here?"
- Warrior, rogue, and mage are the three base classes, but each one will feature even more specializations.
"Two Dragon Ages"
- "BioWare acknowledges a disparity in the gameplay on the platforms. Where the PC version emphasized a pause-and-play approach heavy on strategy, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions couldn't deliver tactics on the same level."
- PC versions of Dragon Age II will retain the strategic feel of Origins, but console versions will be "more tailored to the strengths of the PS3 and 360." Console versions to be faster and more responsive, "no more shuffling into position as you wait for your maneuver to activate."
- Versions across all platforms will have the same content despite different gameplay methodologies.
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- Magic spells can now deal finishing blows, like making an ogre explode with crushing prison.