I played the Dragon Age 2 demo last night. Woah, nelly.
If you know me reasonably well, or had to put up with my continual tweets about it at the beginning of last year, you will know that I was pretty much obsessed with Dragon Age: Origins. We’d only just got one of these fancy console things, and it was the first game I totally loved; I loved the story, the gameplay, the voice acting, the characters… In fact I liked most of the companion characters so much I was devastated to see them go at the end of the game- I desperately wanted a scene like at the end of Labyrinth where all the jolly people you met during your adventures pop by for a bit of a dance about in your bedroom.
I played it through three times. I got up early to play it before work. I obsessively scanned the wiki pages to make sure I hadn’t missed any of the swords with really cool names. I bought t-shirts, I considered getting a tattoo. In short, I am a big fan.
Now, from what we’ve been told it seems the sequel is reasonably different from Origins. You’re not a Grey Warden anymore (sob!), you can only be a human, the storyline of the game takes place over an entire decade of history, and they’ve made a number of tweaks to the technical levelling up stuff, which I don’t really understand but I’m sure is dreadfully important. So, all these changes… am I concerned?
Well, no. I was happy with how the original game ended (how could I not be? I was the gorram Queen of Ferelden!) and I don’t think that story needs to be continued. What’s important to me is that we see more of that world and hear more of its stories, and DA2 certainly appears to be doing that, with a massive 10 years of history to play through. Having played the first five minutes of the game now, I can happily report that all the slicey dicey carnage and spell casting action is there- in fact, the gameplay has moved up several notches, so that instead of your Rogue sort of fading when you evade an attack, she now back flips away from the enemy. Excellent. And now backstab means that your Rogue vanishes (in an actual puff of smoke) and reappears behind the slathering Darkspawn to deliver a vicious doublebladed stab-a-thon. All the characters move fluidly and launch powerful attacks that look amazingly cool and will have you grinning like a loon (or if you’re me, shouting, “Yeah! Take it, bitch! You darkspawn bitch! In the face!!”).
My favourite thing about DA:Origins though was the interaction between characters. How well you did depended an awful lot on how you handled your companions; they could hate you, fall in love with you, betray you or even walk off in a huff if you weren’t careful. They bickered amongst themselves, made snide comments when you did something stupid, and had their own little stories and quests to complete. When you find yourself traipsing across the map to seek out a long lost girlfriend for the drunken lout of a dwarf who keeps shouting “assless chaps!” at you in camp, you know you’re deeply involved in a game. I hope that DA:2 keeps the characters as complex, funny and affecting as they are in Origins. If they do that, and give me plenty of Ogres to explode, then I will be a very happy gamer indeed. Bring on the 11th of March!