Part 1 of this series looked at the story of Dragon Age 3, and what potential plot hooks are available for the next game in the series. Part 2, here, will deal with other aspects of the new game, such as technical or gameplay changes.
Combat changed in feel quite a bit between the two games, and (other than the blatant re-use of dungeon maps) remains the biggest differentiator between Origins and 2 for me. Most battles in DA2 look better, more frenetic, but they don’t need a lot of planning or micromanaging. The ones that do are forced that way by having the ‘boss’ enemy become unhittable for a stretch to put you up against another wave of enemies. One battle like that is fun, but there are a few too many like that. It’s a cheap way to make a fight seem ‘epic’ by making it longer, especially if the mechanic doesn’t feel right for the character you are fighting.
Origins, on the other hand, had slower, more measured combat that was less exciting but required a bit more thinking. I still think back to fighting the High Dragon as one of the high points of the series. Overconfidently blowing the horn, the dragon swoops in…and just annihilates us. The second try, with careful positioning and use of the proper salves and buffs, made the fight actually epic. My hope is that combat ends up somewhere in the middle, taking the best of both worlds.
The art style between the two games was another difference. DA:O was a bunch of grays and browns, and monsters that were mostly forgettable. DA2 updated things quite a bit, added a bunch of color, but went a bit too far off from what Origins started. I did like the almost comic bookish nature of the interstitial art, but if that wasn’t there, I would get over it.
Character customization was another difference, specifically the armor and appearance for your cohorts. In DA:O, you had full control over the arms and armor used by all characters. In DA2, you could control the weapons of your companions, but the armor was set. You could find improvements that could be applied to them, but not actually change it out. Nice for making sure cinematics and other talky bits look normal, but lots of us really enjoy tweaking things like that. More useful in games with a real challenge as mentioned above though, as there were times where I’d tweak my front-line fighters’ gear to defend against the types of attacks we’d be facing (such as protecting against dragon breath).
My ideal version of Dragon Age 3 basically takes DA:O, gives it a graphical lift in the DA2 style, puts back fully customizable characters (perhaps with a ‘use best gear’ button or something similar for the more casual players), and tells a coherent story that’s good from beginning to end. Not too much to ask, right?
Part 3 of this series will look at what characters might make an appearance in DA3.